- Five Puzzles
- Hinky Pinkies
- Puzzle Games
- Puzzle Story
- Oodles of more puzzles
I grew up in a family that enjoyed puzzles of all kinds. Sharing them with each other was part of the fun.
Here are five puzzles that I remember from my growing up years.
Each letter in the addition problem stands for a different digit 0-9. Can you figure out how much money
the college student needs? (Hopefully it's cents and not dollars!)
- A man without eyes
Saw pears on a tree.
He did not take pears.
He did not leave pears.
How could this be?
- A man had three very intelligent daughters. He decided that he wanted to leave all his wealth to the
smartest one so he devised a test for them.
He brought all three girls into an empty room and blindfolded them. Then he told them that he would put a
black or white dot on the forehead of each of them. At the signal they were all to remove their
blindfolds. If they saw a black dot on either or both of their sisters' foreheads they were to raise their
hand. The first person to figure out the color of her own dot would win the inheritance.
The father then proceeded to put a black dot on each of the daughters' foreheads. The girls removed their
blindfolds at the signal. Since each of them saw two black dots they each raised their hand. After a few
minutes one of the girls figured out that she had a black dot on her forehead.
How did she do it?
- A boy is going to market with a goose, a sack of corn, and a pet fox. He needs to cross a river in
a row boat, but it's only large enough to carry him and one of his three items at a time. If he leaves
the fox and goose together, the fox will eat the goose. If he leaves the goose and corn together, the
goose will eat the corn. He can cross the river as many times as he needs to. How does he get all
3 items safely across?
- The parents received their first letter from their teenager who'd just gone off to college. The letter
said only "Please..." and the following:
Draw a 3 x 3 grid with nine squares. Place the numbers 1-9, one in each square, so that the sum of the numbers in every row, in every column, and in both diagonals is the same.
Hinky Pinkies were another kind of puzzle which my family enjoyed. In
these you think of two rhyming words and then give a one-word clue for each one. (The puzzles are best if
the two rhyming words make at least some sense together.) If the words are one syllable, it's called a
"hink pink," two syllables, a "hinky pinky," and if you're clever enough to think of a
three-syllable rhyme, then it's a "hinkety pinkety." I've given you two examples below and then some for you
to test your thinking on. There's a new one posted each week on the Puzzle Page, too. Enjoy!
- hink pink: plump kitten -- fat cat
- hink pink: damp airplane -- wet jet
- hinky pinky: humorous rabbit
- hink pink: large hog
- hink pink: distant sun
- hinky pinky: skinny horse
- hink pink: angry father
- hink pink: nice evergreen
- hinky pinky: cowardly guy
- hink pink: petrified rib
- hink pink: tardy escort
- hink pink: tuna platter
- hinky pinky: bloody tale
- hink pink: timid fellow
- hinkety pinkety: career site
We also had great fun with Puzzle Games when I was growing up. These games were
usually played at a party, but any group setting would do. They always had a trick to them, which the leader and sometimes
an accomplice knew. The fun was in trying to figure out the puzzle trick. The games were played until everybody solved the
puzzle or until people got tired of playing. If some people still hadn't figured out the puzzle at that point, we usually didn't tell
them---that way we could play the game some other time. Here are four of the puzzle games.
- Smiley Face (or Pumpkin Face): Everybody, including the leader, sits in a circle. The leader has a long stick,
such as a yardstick, and says, "Observe me very carefully and see if you can do everything exactly as I do it. I'm going to
draw a smiley face. First I draw the head. Then I draw 2 eyes, the nose, and the mouth. Now it's your turn." She
makes a great to-do about "drawing" each thing on the floor in front of her with the stick as she mentions them. She uses her
right hand to draw. As she says, "Now it's your turn," she inconspicuously changes the stick to her left hand before passing it
to the person on her left. That person then tries to imitate the procedure. When he asks, "Did I get it right?" the leader asks,
"Are you finished?" If he is, she answers, "Yes" or "No." The tricky part is that to have done the procedure correctly, the
person must have passed the stick to the next person, after switching it to his left hand, and said, "Now it's your turn."
- Black Magic: For this game the leader has an accomplice who knows the secret. The accomplice leaves the
room and the group decides on some object visible in the room to be the secret object. When the accomplice returns the
leader points to various objects in the room and asks each time, "Is this the secret object?" The accomplice, seemingly by
magic, is able to guess the object correctly. The entire sequence is repeated as many times as desired, with a different
object being picked each time. When people think they know the secret, then they can be the one to leave the room and test
their theory. The actual secret is the fact that the leader will always point to something black immediately before the secret
object (hence the name "Black" Magic).
- I'm Going on a Trip: The leader starts by saying, "I'm going on a trip and I'm taking __ with me." (For example, I
might say that I'm taking a cantaloupe with me.) Each person takes a turn saying what they want to take. The leader responds to
each by saying, "Yes, you can go on the trip with me," or "No, I'm sorry you can't go." The leader takes one turn each round
just like everybody else, telling something he or she will take. The secret to this game is that the thing the person takes must
start with the same letter as the person's last name. Alternatively, you can have it be the person's first name, especially if
you're playing with a lot of family members. This game can be fun for the car also.
- My Aunt Tillie Likes Coffee but not Tea: The leader shares something that Aunt Tillie likes and something she
doesn't like. Examples: she likes summer but not winter, she likes pepper but not salt, she likes rummy but not concentration,
she likes daffodils but not dandelions. After the leader shares one thing Aunt Tillie likes and one she dislikes, each person in the
group gets a chance to suggest one of each. The leader tells whether Aunt Tillie likes or dislikes the things suggested. The
game continues around with each person taking turns, including the leader. [This is a fun car game as well as party game.] Oh,
did you figure out the puzzle from my examples? If not, you can email me
When I was in high school I was delighted to discover a Puzzle Story entitled "Ladle Rat Rotten Hut" by Howard L. Chace and had
great fun memorizing most of it and then quoting excerpts like "Comb ink" and "Hoe-cake" at appropriate times. It was intriguing to
puzzle out what the words in the story meant. And it had obviously been a puzzle for Chace to figure out how to write it!
Maybe you'd like to change another story into a puzzle the way Chace did this one, without a single word being the correct
Ladle Rat Rotten Hut
Wants pawn term dare worsted ladle gull hoe lift wetter murder inner ladle cordage honor itch offer lodge, dock, florist. Disk
ladle gull orphan worry putty ladle rat cluck wetter ladle rat hut, an fur disk raisin pimple colder Ladle Rat Rotten Hut.
Wan moaning Ladle Rat Rotten Hut's murder colder inset, "Ladle Rat Rotten Hut, heresy ladle basking winsome burden barter an
shirker cockles. Tick disk ladle basking tutor cordage offer groin-murder hoe lifts honor udder site offer florist. Shaker lake!
Dun stopper laundry wrote! Dun stopper peck floors! Dun daily-doily inner florist, an yonder nor sorghum-stenches, dun stopper
torque wet strainers!"
"Hoe-cake, murder," resplendent Ladle Rat Rotten Hut, an tickle ladle basking an stuttered oft. Honor wrote tutor cordage offer
groin-murder, Ladle Rat Rotten Hut mitten anomalous woof.
"Wail, wail, wail!" set disk wicket woof, "Evanescent Ladle Rat Rotten Hut. Wares are putty ladle gull goring wizard ladle
"Armor goring tumor groin-murder's," reprisal ladle gull. "Grammar's seeking bet. Armor ticking arson burden barter an shirker
"O hoe! Heifer gnats woke," setter wicket woof, butter taught tomb shelf, "Oil tickle shirt court tutor cordage offer groin-murder.
Oil ketchup wetter letter, an den-- O bore!" Soda wicket woof tucker shirt court, an whinny retched a cordage offer
groin-murder, picked inner windrow, an sore debtor pore oil worming worse lion inner bet. Inner flesh, disk abdominal woof lipped
honor bet, paunched honor pore oil worming, an garbled erupt. Den disk ratchet ammono pot honor groin-murder's nut cup an
gnat-gun, any curdled ope inner bet.
Inner ladle wile, Ladle Rat Rotten Hut a raft attar cordage, an ranker dough ball. "Comb ink, sweat hard," setter wicket woof,
disgracing is verse. Ladle Rat Rotten Hut entity bet rum, an stud buyer groin-murder's bet.
"O Grammar!" crater ladle gull historically, "Water bag icer gut! A nervous sausage bag ice!"
"Battered lucky chew whiff, sweat hard," setter bloat-Thursday woof, wetter wicket small honors phase.
"O, Grammar, water bag noise! A nervous sore suture anomalous prognosis!"
"Battered small your whiff, doling," whiskered dole woof, ants mouse worse waddling.
"O Grammar, water bag mouser gut! A nervous sore suture bag mouse!"
Daze worry on-forger-nut ladle gull's lest warts. Oil offer sodden, caking offer carvers an sprinkling otter bet, disk
hoard-hoarded woof lipped own pore Ladle Rat Rotten Hut an garbled erupt.
MURAL: Yonder nor sorghum stenches shut ladle gulls stopper torque wet strainers.
(See Ladle Rat Rotten Hut for