Enigma 285: A dainty dish
From New Scientist #1432, 29th November 1984 [link]
Blackbird pie is popular at the Palace. The King and Queen help themselves to the pie in turn until it is finished. But court etiquette is strict. It is bad form to cut a blackbird in two. It is greedy to cut oneself a slice containing more birds than the previous slice taken. It would be the height of ill-breeding for the King, who has the first go, to take the whole lot straight away. But the King does like finishing the pie.
How many blackbirds should he take in his first slice to be sure of being able to do this?
There are, of course, four-and-twenty blackbirds in a pie.