classical puzzles

King’s Wise Men

by Lewis Carroll

When the King found that his money was nearly all gone and that he really must live more economically, he decided on sending away most of his Wise Men. There were some hundreds of them—very fine old men, magnificently dressed in green velvet gowns with gold buttons.

If they had a fault, it was that they always contradicted one another when he asked for their advice and they certainly ate and drank enormously. So, he was rather glad to get rid of them all.

But there was an old law, which he did not dare to disobey, which said that there must always be

“Seven blind of both eyes:
Two blind of one eye:
Four that see with both eyes:
None that see with one eye.”

So, how many did he keep?

Mixture

by Lewis Carroll

You are given two glasses. One contains 50 tablespoons of milk, the other 50 tablespoons of water. Take one tablespoon of milk and mix it with the water. Now take one tablespoon of the water/milk mixture and mix it with the pure milk to obtain a milk/water mixture.

Is there more water in the milk/water mixture or more milk in the water/milk mixture?

Herring

by Lewis Carroll

Three sisters at breakfast were feeding the cat,
the first gave it sole—Puss was grateful for that:
the next gave it salmon—which Puss thought a treat:
the third gave it herring—which Puss wouldn’t eat.
Why?

Son’s Name

by Lewis Carroll

A Russian had three sons.
The first, named Rab, became a lawyer.
The second, named Ymra, became a soldier.
The third became a sailor: what was his name?

Lewis Carroll’s Doublets

Doublet is a word game invented by Lewis Carroll. A doublet begins with two words and to solve the puzzle one must find a chain of other words to link the two, in which two adjacent words  differ by one letter.


POOR to RICH

solution


HEAD to TAIL

solution


BEAR to EASY

solution


TIME to WARP

solution


LEAD to GOLD

solution


COLD to WARM

solution


WOOD to FIRE

solution


HAND to FEET

solution


STAR to WARS

solution


FIVE to FOUR

solution


GRASS to GREEN

solution


WINTER to SUMMER

solution


CHASE to CATCH

solution


TRAIN to BIKES

solution

Order, Gentlemen, Order!

Bob and Benjamin were excitedly describing the result of the First Annual Pickwickian Commemorative Wheelbarrow Race at Dingley Dell.

Snodgrass, Tupman and Winkle had been the three contestants.

“Tupman won the race; Winkle was in second place,” reported Bob.

Benjamin disagreed. “It was Snodgrass who won. Tupman came second.”

In fact, neither Bob nor Benjamin had given a correct version of the result as each had made one true and one false statement.  

What was the actual placing of the three contestants?

Snakes and Escalators

On a recent visit to the home of Mr and Mrs Crummles, I observed the Infant Phenomenon playing a solo dice game which she had invented and to which she had given the name Snakes and Escalators.

On each turn she threw a pair of normal dice. But whereas the normal procedure is to calculate the score by taking the sum of the numbers that turn up, in this game the score is the multiple of the two numbers. Thus, throwing a 3 and a 2, or a 6 and a 1, would give a score of 6; a double 5 would give a score of 25; and so on.

She did explain to me the other rules of the game, but I am afraid they exceeded my comprehension. I do, however, recall that the score for her second throw happened to be 5 more than her score for the first throw; her third score was 6 less than her second; her fourth score was 11 more than her third; and her fifth score was 8 less than her fourth.

Can you tell me what the Infant Phenomenon’s score was for each of these five throws?

The Observer and The Times

Young Clutterbuck, the junior clerk, often found himself with time on his hands. On such occasions, he would resort to a certain window pane where a circular patch of clear glass showed where the circumambient grime had been purposefully removed. Thence, through the swirling yellowish fog, he could see the clock above the gate of the Workhouse which stood across the way.

As he was thus engaged one afternoon, he observed that the hour hand was exactly on a minute mark, and that the minute hand was six minutes ahead of it.

Later that afternoon, as he again stole from his desk to observe the Workhouse clock, he perceived that the hour hand was exactly on another minute mark, and now the minute hand was seven minutes ahead of it.

How much time had elapsed between Young Clutterbuck’s first and second observations?

Up Hill and Down Hill

by Lewis Carroll

Two travelers spend from 3 o’clock till 9 in walking along a level road, up a hill, and back home again: their pace on the level being 4 miles an hour, up hill 3, and down hill 6.

Find the distance walked: also (within half an hour) the time of reaching the top of the hill.

A Spiral Walk

by Lewis Carroll

An oblong garden, half a yard longer than wide, consists entirely of a gravel-walk, spirally arranged, a yard wide and 3630 yards long.

Find the dimensions of the garden.

The Monkey and the Pulley

by Lewis Carroll


A weightless and perfectly flexible rope is hung over a weightless, frictionless pulley attached to the roof of a building.

At one end is a weight which exactly counterbalances a monkey at the other end.

If the monkey begins to climb, what will happen to the weight – will it remain stationary, will it rise or will it fall?

The Captive Queen

by Lewis Carroll

A captive queen and her son and daughter were shut up in the top room of a very high tower. Outside their window was a pulley with a rope around it, and a basket fastened to each end of the rope of equal weight. They managed to escape with the help of this and a weight they found in the room, quite safely.

It would have been dangerous for any of them to come down if they weighed 15 lbs more than the content of the other basket, for they would do so too quick, and they also managed not to weigh less either. The one basket coming down would naturally of course draw the other basket up.

The queen weighed 195 lbs, daughter 105, son 90, and the weight 75 lbs.

How did they all escape safely?