The 'Zen' of Puzzles

There are in my opinion, two kinds of people in the world; those who love puzzles and those who don't. However, did you know that solving puzzles can be a measure of your self-esteem? From my own experiences in teaching thinking and creativity to varied audiences and different cultures, I have found that many people feel pleasantly surprised after solving a puzzle that they thought was beyond their capabilities. With an updated measure of their abilities, which usually follows the 'aha' magic moment when the solution appears, a new confidence in oneself takes root, which in turn helps individuals to reassess and adjust their personal goals.

Many puzzles can be solved by learning to approach them from a different angle. Many problems can be solved by 'thinking' rather than by knowledge or IQ proficiency. However, the thinking required is not the normal, logical type of thinking that we are accustomed to; it is the type of thinking that encourages an approach that moves away from the self-organised, perceptual and assuming nature of the brain.

It is, in fact, what we refer to as..............
Thinking Out of the Box!

The purpose of these puzzles is to provide a simple method to 'exercise' the brain and help make 'new' connections. Learning to think creatively is a skill that anyone can learn. Test yourself and see how flexible your mind is.

Good Luck!


PS. The solutions are not included, because also from my experience, people are lazy, and will rather rush to the solution than spend some time 'looking' for the answer. Have a go first, and if you are having a problem with the answer, drop us an e-mail at and we will tell you how to approach the problem.


1. There is one in a minute, two in a moment, but only one in a million years. What are we talking about?

2. What letter comes next in the following sequence: O T T F F S S E ?

3. If 24 = 8+8+8, can you reach the same total (i.e.24) using 3 identical digits, but not using the digit 8?

4. What letter should replace the question mark?

? =0.5

5. Add ONE straight line to make the statement correct. 20 10 5 = 4.40

6. There are 2 plastic jugs filled with water. How could you put all of this water into a barrel, without using the jugs or any dividers, and still tell which water came from which jug?

7. Can you think of a way in which you put a sheet of newspaper on the floor so that when 2 people stand face to face on it, they won't be able to touch one another?

8. Some months have 30 days. Some have 31 days. How many months have 28 days?

9. What are the elusive characters?
Missing two letters or numbers?
W A T E ?
M ? L O N

10. A tramp collects cigarette ends from the street and makes a new cigarette out of four ends. He collects 32 cigarette ends in one morning. How many cigarettes can he smoke that day?

11. How many grooves are there on a standard long-playing record?

12. A water lily doubles in size every 24 hours. If it takes 30 days to cover the pond completely, after how many days does it cover exactly one half of the pond?

13. A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over 5 minutes. Finally she hangs him.
But 5 minutes later they both go out together and enjoy a wonderful dinner together. How can this be?

14. How can a bottle be lifted using only a single straw?

15. A snail is at the bottom of a well 30 feet deep. It can crawl upward 3 feet in one day, but at night it slips back 2 feet.
How long does it take the snail to crawl out of the well?

16. A ship is at anchor. Over its side hangs a rope ladder with rungs a foot apart. The tide rises at a rate of 8 inches per hour.
At the end of six hours how much of the rope ladder will remain above water, assuming that 8 feet were above the water when the tide began to rise?

17. You have 10 grey socks and 20 white socks in your chest of drawers. If you reach into it in the dark, how many socks must you take out to be sure of having a pair that matches?

18. Two men played checkers. They played 5 games and each won 3 games. How come?

19. What special property do all these letters of the alphabet have?

20. The following number is formed by a special pattern and is only ONE of it's kind: 8549176320
What is the basis for the order in which these numbers are written??

21. What do the following words have in COMMON with each other??
deft, first, calmness, canopy, laughing, stupid,
crabcake, hijack??

22. In a balloon, stationary off the coast of Ireland, I dropped two wine bottles off the side. If one was full and the other one empty, which one hit the ground first?

23. A prisoner survived 10 weeks in a cell without water, and with a 20cm thick steel door between him and a fresh water well in the next cell. How?

24. My favourite team have won seven times this season, but they haven't scored a goal. How come?

25. What will you find in the centre of Paris, which can't be found in London or Milan?

26. Who played for both England and Argentina on the same afternoon at Wembley Stadium?

27. Which game begins with a T, has four letters in its name, and is played all over the world?

28. When can you add two to eleven and get one as the correct answer?

29. How would you rearrange the letters in the words NEW DOOR to make one word? (Note: There is
only one correct answer).

30. How many of each species did Moses take onto the ark with him?

31. Mr and Mrs Brown have five children. Half of them are boys. How is this possible?

32. When Laurie was purchasing her new parrot, the salesman assured her that it would repeat any word it heard. About a week later, Laurie returned the parrot complaining it hadn't uttered a single word. Given that the salesman had spoken the truth about the parrot's abilities, why wouldn't the bird talk?

33. If you were to put a coin into an empty bottle and then insert a cork into the neck, how could you remove the coin without taking out the cork or breaking the bottle?

34. A woman had two sons who were born in the same hour of the same day of the same year, but they were not twins. How could this be so?

35.  The King asked his court jester for a magic love potion of which the jester need exactly 4 fluid ounces.. To measure the volumes, the jester has only two unmarked jars, one of them containing 5 fluid ounces, and the other 3 fluid ounces.  How can the jester measure exactly 4 ounces?

36. You have two perfectly identical mugs; one contains 15 ounces of wine, the other 15 ounces of water. You take a spoonful from the water mug and empty it into the mug of wine before mixing it thoroughly. Next you fill the same spoon from this second mug and empty it into the first. So, once again, you have 15 fluid ounces of liquid in each mug. Which of them has more water in the wine, or wine in the water?

37.  During a bicycle race, Nicky passes the rider in second place, then, as he approaches the finishing line, he is himself passed by two riders on their bikes. In what place does he finish?

38. What do you need to do, without touching any matchstick, to make this equation valid
                                                    XI + I = X

39. Complete this series:    E O E R E X ......

40.  What word properly completes the following sentence?
       The number of e's in this statement is___.

41.  One has 1.
       Two has 2.
       Three has 3.
       1,2 and 3 of what?  (Hint: Four, five and six also have 2.)

42. In what order are these cities listed?
                            Rio de Janeiro

43. If a coat and umbrella cost $ 110 and the coat cost $ 100 more than the umbrella, how much does the coat cost?

44.  Mary's dad has three daughters. One daughter is named April. Another is named May. What is the name of the third daughter?

45. A mute man enters a store to buy a toothbrush. Since he can't talk, he expresses himself by imitating the action of brushing his teeth. The salesperson understands and the man buys a toothbrush.  A blind man enters a store to buy a pair of sunglasses. How can he express himself?

46. A horse is tied to a rope. The rope is 10 feet long. There is a bale of hay 23 feet in front of the horse. The horse is able to eat the hay, yet does not break the rope. How is this possible?

47. Two chess players got up one Monday and played six games of chess. The first player won four games and lost two. The second player also won four games and lost two. How is that possible?

48. Using only the letters C and Y, can you spell a five-letter word that is good to eat?

49. A man went out for a walk in the country. He wasn't carrying an umbrella. He didn't wear a hat, and he did not seek shelter or refuge of any kind, and yet not one hair on his head got wet. How come?  ( NO - He wasn't BALD !! )

50. This is an old classic puzzle. Jason's mother told him to go to the river and bring back exactly 9 gallons of water. She gave him a 6-gallon bucket and a 5-gallon bucket to complete his task. Of course, Jason's mother told him she would bake his favorite cake if he came back with the 9 gallons. Jason had his cake and ate it, too. Can you ?

51. A man born in 1947 died in 1984 at the age of 55. How come?

52. Circle exactly six of these numbers so their total equals 21.
1 1 1
3 3 3
5 5 5

53. What is the final letter? TAHWSIEHTLANIFRETTE?

54. Why were so many great classical composers German ?

55. Nigel's mother has three children. She also has three coins to give to each of them. All three coins come from the US, and are given out as follows: Penny receives a penny(1c), Nicholas receives a nickel(5c), so who receives the 10c dime?

56. 5 + 5 + 5 = 550
Correct the equation above by inserting one straight line.

57. A man walked into a pub and bumped into an old school friend he hadn't seen sincethe war.
" My goodness!", he exclaimed. "What have you been doing all these years?"
" Well, I moved abroad and married someone you never knew, and this is our daughter".
" How do you do. What is your name?" asked the man.
"The same as my mother's" replied the daughter.
"Well Alison, can I buy you a drink?" said the man.
How did he know the daughter's name?




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