A Pair of Brain Teasers From Your Fellow PuzzleNationers!

[Image courtesy of SharpBrains.com.]

We love brain teasers here at PuzzleNation Blog. Whether they’re riddles, logic problems, math puzzles, or challenging bits of wordplay, we take on all comers here.

We’ve solved some doozies in the past, like the Brooklyn Nine-Nine seesaw brain teaser, the diabolical long division brain teaser, and the curious way to tell time brain teaser.

In April 2019, we did a whole week of brain teasers while your friendly neighborhood blogger was at a convention. Last year, we honored the life of mathematician and puzzle icon John Horton Conway by sharing two of his favorite brain teasers.

There’s a long, proud PuzzleNation Blog tradition of cracking whatever brain teasers come our way, whether we find them ourselves, stumble across them in pop culture, or receive them from our marvelous PuzzleNationers when asked for solving assistance.

A friend of the blog discovered two brain teasers in a book of riddles and puzzles during a bookshelf cleanout recently, and they sent them our way to share with you!

We’ll post them below, and share the solutions next week! Good luck, fellow puzzlers!


Brain Teaser #1: There is a three digit number. All three digits are different. The second digit is four times as big as the third digit, while the first digit is three less than the second digit. What is the number?

Brain Teaser #2: When asked about his birthday, a man said, “The day before yesterday, I was only 25, and next year I will turn 28.” This is true only one day in a year – what day was he born?

Have you unraveled either of these brain teasers? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.


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PN Product Review: ThinkFun’s Cold Case: A Pinch of Murder

pinch of murder box

[Note: I received a free copy of this game in exchange for a fair, unbiased review. Due diligence, full disclosure, and all that.]

A puzzle can leave you baffled for the longest time. You think you’ve examined it from every possible angle, and yet, you’re still left without a solution. Then a fresh pair of eyes arrives, and suddenly all of the pieces fall into place.

Maybe it’s a friend or colleague who sees something you’ve missed, or simply hasn’t been stuck running through the same paths over and over. Or maybe it’s you, having taken a break from the puzzle, stepped away, and returned, now recharged and refreshed and ready to start again.

And that’s the mindset behind ThinkFun’s new Cold Case series. In this puzzle game, you are picking up where a previous investigation left off, trying to close an unsolved murder case.

pinch of murder 2

In today’s spoiler-free review, we’re looking at A Pinch of Murder, the second of two Cold Case mysteries being released in the next few weeks.

A Pinch of Murder presents players with the story of Harold Green, a loyal churchgoer found dead late one afternoon in 1983.

You have transcripts of police interviews with suspects, witness statements, evidence, photographs, and other items collected by the police during their initial investigation. But it’s up to you to comb through the evidence and find what they missed.

There is so much material here that it’s a bit daunting at first. The dizzying array of suspects and names takes a while to get a handle on, even as you carefully read through every scrap of evidence. The presentation is very impressive, with different types of paper and full-color reproductions of photographs and other materials really adding to the immersive feel of the game.

And this case file feels totally different from the one included in the previous entry in the Cold Case series, A Story to Die For. You receive bits of evidence in unfamiliar formats, the interviews are presented differently, and it genuinely feels like a separate team of investigators put this set together.

pinch of murder 1

Harold Green’s life unfolds before you in little bits and bobs, and the glimpses you get of his town, the people around him, and his day-to-day existence feel so credible.

And once you think you’ve cracked the case and found answers for all of the questions left behind by the initial investigation, you can test your theory by going to the ThinkFun Cold Case website and submitting your answers.

If you’re on the wrong track, the replies from the website will give you clues on where to look in order to correctly solve the case. And if your detective skills are in tiptop condition, you’ll get more information and a chance to read the suspect’s confession!

But with no shortage of suspects and a wealth of material to pore over in order to track down the killer and tie up every loose end, this is hardly a cakewalk. You’ll need to pay attention, read between the lines, and make connections like a proper detective.

Solving puzzles is great fun, but to actually feel like you’re solving a murder? That’s something special. Whether you’re solving alone or with friends, the hour or two you spend eliminating suspects and narrowing down the truth in this mystery game will absolutely be worthwhile. When you have that a-ha moment and you know you’ve earned it, there’s nothing quite like it.

ThinkFun has only made two of these so far, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next ones.

[Cold Case: A Pinch of Murder is part of ThinkFun’s Cold Case series, designed for players ages 14 and up, and is available for $14.99 from ThinkFun and other associated retailers. Pre-orders start June 1st! Links coming soon!]


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Solution to our May the 4th Jedi Logic Puzzle!

Last week, we celebrated Star Wars Day (aka May the Fourth) with a Jedi-themed brain teaser for our fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers to solve!

How do you crack this Star Wars-inspired Jedi mystery? Let’s find out together!


On a small planet in the Mid Rim, a group of Jedi defeated several squads of battle droids. Reporters had a hard time piecing together descriptions of the five Jedi who saved the day, even after interviewing many witnesses.

The only thing the reporters were sure of? The names of the five Jedi:

  • Drosco Wrs
  • Ko Duus
  • Pramyt Gorc
  • Wendo Grars
  • Seredwok

Each of the Jedi wielded a different color lightsaber (green, yellow, blue, orange, or purple). Each held a different title within the Jedi Order (Padawan, Knight, Master, Instructor, or Council Member). And each of them was a different species (Barabel, Bith, Nautolan, Twi’lek, or Wookiee).

Based on the information gathered below, can you figure out which lightsaber color, title, and species belongs with which Jedi?

1. Drosco Wrs (whose lightsaber is either orange or green) is neither the padawan nor the knight.

2. Either Ko Duus or the Bith is the council member, and the other has the yellow lightsaber.

3. The Jedi with the blue lightsaber (who isn’t on the council) is either the Twi’lek or the Wookiee; if Twi’lek, then Drosco Wrs is the instructor, but if Wookiee, then Seredwok is the instructor.

4. The padawan (who has neither the blue lightsaber nor the green lightsaber) is not Seredwok.

5. Wendo Grars (who isn’t the knight) doesn’t have the yellow lightsaber or the blue lightsaber.

6. The Barabel (who is either Pramyt or Seredwok) isn’t the Jedi with the purple lightsaber.

7. The master has either the purple lightsaber or the yellow lightsaber. Neither the purple lightsaber nor the yellow lightsaber are wielded by the Nautolan.

So, where do we begin?

Well, there’s a lot of information here about the lightsabers, and that’s where we can start.

We know that the Nautolan doesn’t have the purple or yellow lightsabers (rule 7) or the blue lightsaber (rule 3). Similarly, we know that the Barabel doesn’t have the purple lightsaber (rule 6) or the blue lightsaber (rule 3). But we can also deduce that it doesn’t have the yellow lightsaber, because either Ko Duus or the Bith have the yellow lightsaber (rule 2), and Ko Duus isn’t a Barabel (rule 6).

That means the green and orange lightsabers are split between the Nautolan and the Barabel. That also means that Drosco Wrs is either the Nautolan or the Barabel, because his lightsaber is either green or orange (rule 1). But since he can’t be the Barabel (rule 6), Drosco Wrs is the Nautolan.

Let’s start our chart there:

sw puz 1

But we know more about Drosco Wrs. He is neither the padawan nor the knight (rule 1) and according to his lightsaber color, he is not the master (rule 7). He is also not the council member, who must be the Bith or Ko Duus (rule 2), so he is the instructor.

Because he is the instructor, we now also know that the Twi’lek has the blue lightsaber (rule 3).

We also know that the Jedi with the blue lightsaber isn’t the padawan (rule 4), the master (rule 7), the council member (rule 4), or the instructor (since Drosco Wrs is the instructor and his lightsaber is either green or orange). That means that the blue lightsaber is with a Twi’lek who is a knight.

Let’s update our chart:

sw puz 2

If we return to the Barabel, according to our chart they’re not the knight or the instructor, and they can’t be the master based on their possible lightsaber color. So they’re either the padawan or the council member. But the council member is either Ko Duus or the Bith (rule 2), and Ko Duus can’t be a Barabel (rule 6). So the Barabel must be the padawan.

And since Seredwok isn’t the padawan (rule 4), Pramyt Groc is the Barabel and the padawan.

But that’s not all. We know that the Barabel’s lightsaber is either green or orange, and the padawan’s lightsaber can’t be green (rule 4), so we have our first complete row.

sw puz 3

It’s taken a lot of work to get here, but now things are rolling.

Drosco Wrs, our Nautolan instructor, could only have a green or orange lightsaber (rule 1), and since orange is the padawan’s color, we now know his lightsaber is green.

So green, blue, and orange are all accounted for, and the council member cannot have a yellow lightsaber (rule 2), so the council member has a purple lightsaber, and the master has a yellow lightsaber.

Wendo Grars can’t have orange, blue, or green, based on our chart, nor can she have yellow (rule 5), so she has the purple lightsaber, making her the council member.

Our chart is looking pretty full now:

sw puz 4

Since Wendo Grars is the council member, Ko Duus must be the wielder of the yellow lightsaber (rule 2), which also makes Wendo Grars the Bith.

And process of elimination gives us one name left — Seredwok — and one species left — Wookiee — to assign.

So our completed chart looks like this:

sw puz 5

Oh, we also hid a little puzzly easter egg in this puzzle. Each of our Jedi names were anagrams of popular puzzles:

  • Drosco Wrs = Crossword
  • Ko Duus = Sudoku
  • Pramyt Gorc = Cryptogram
  • Wendo Grars = Rows Garden
  • Seredwok = Word Seek

Did you manage to unravel this devious Jedi-themed logic puzzle? Did you spot the wordplay in the Jedi names? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.


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PN Product Review: ThinkFun’s Cold Case: A Story to Die For

a story to die for box

[Note: I received a free copy of this game in exchange for a fair, unbiased review. Due diligence, full disclosure, and all that.]

Detective novels, police procedurals, murder mysteries, forensic shows… there’s an entire entertainment industry out there built on the idea of solving crimes. And why do we watch and read and participate?

Because we all like to believe we can catch the crook. Deep down, we all want to be Batman or Miss Marple or Sherlock Holmes or Temperance Brennan or Jessica Fletcher or Gil Grissom or the NCIS team or members of the NYPD or any of those quick minds who unravel cases and bring the guilty to justice.

Board games are no different, encouraging us to solve crimes through process of elimination (Clue/Cluedo), careful examination of the evidence (Deception: Murder in Hong Kong), or exploring Victorian London through maps, directories, and newspapers (Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective).

ThinkFun has taken a different route with their new line of Cold Case mysteries for you to solve.

Today’s review is based on A Story to Die For, the first of two Cold Case mysteries being released in the next few weeks.

In A Story to Die For, you try to solve the 1988 murder of a young journalist.

Yes, this is a cold case, meaning you’re coming in after an investigation has already taken place, yet the case remains unsolved.

You have transcripts of police interviews with suspects, evidence, photographs, and other items collected by the police during their initial investigation. But it’s up to you to comb through the evidence and find what they missed.

There is an absolute wealth of material here to read, creating an entire world of suspects, motives, events, and red herrings for you to unravel. And the materials are top-notch. Full-color photographs, plus different papers and fonts to represent the different sources of information collected.

a story to die for 1

I was very impressed by the presentation of the case. A lot of hard work and detail went into crafting the materials for you to read and reread as you assimilate more information about Andy Bailey’s life. (I would love to tell you specifics, but I want to keep this review spoiler-free!)

And once you think you’ve cracked the case and found answers for all of the questions left behind by the initial investigation, you can test your theory by going to the ThinkFun Cold Case website and submitting your answers.

If you’re on the wrong track, the replies from the website will give you clues on where to look in order to correctly solve the case. And if your detective skills are in tiptop condition, you’ll get more information and a chance to read the suspect’s confession!

It’s a game built on observation, deduction, and wits, and I think it’s one of ThinkFun’s most impressive creations yet. Whether you’re solving alone or with friends, the hour or two you spend unraveling this mystery will be time well spent.

[Cold Case: A Story to Die For is part of ThinkFun’s Cold Case series, designed for players ages 14 and up, and is available for $14.99 from ThinkFun and other associated retailers. Pre-orders start May 18th!]


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May the Fourth Be With You!

Hello fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers! It’s Star Wars Day, and what better way to celebrate than with a puzzly Star Wars brain teaser!

Yes, we’ve created a Jedi-themed logic puzzle for you to unravel! Can you crack this Star Wars-inspired mystery?


On a small planet in the Mid Rim, a group of Jedi dispatched several squads of battle droids. Reporters had a hard time piecing together descriptions of the five Jedi who saved the day, even after interviewing many witnesses.

The only thing the reporters were sure of? The names of the five Jedi:

  • Drosco Wrs
  • Ko Duus
  • Pramyt Gorc
  • Wendo Grars
  • Seredwok

Each of the Jedi wielded a different color lightsaber (green, yellow, blue, orange, or purple). Each held a different title within the Jedi Order (Padawan, Knight, Master, Instructor, or Council Member). And each of them was a different species (Barabel, Bith, Nautolan, Twi’lek, or Wookiee).

Based on the information gathered below, can you figure out which lightsaber color, title, and species belongs with which Jedi?

1. Drosco Wrs (whose lightsaber is either orange or green) is neither the padawan nor the knight.

2. Either Ko Duus or the Bith is the council member, and the other has the yellow lightsaber.

3. The Jedi has the blue lightsaber (who isn’t on the council) is either the Twi’lek or the Wookiee; if Twi’lek, then Drosco Wrs is the instructor, but if Wookiee, then Seredwok is the instructor.

4. The padawan (who has neither the blue lightsaber nor the green lightsaber) is not Seredwok.

5. Wendo Grars (who isn’t the knight) doesn’t have the yellow lightsaber or the blue lightsaber.

6. The Barabel (who is either Pramyt or Seredwok) isn’t the Jedi with the purple lightsaber.

7. The master has either the purple lightsaber or the yellow lightsaber. Neither the purple lightsaber nor the yellow lightsaber are wielded by the Nautolan.

Good luck, fellow puzzlers! This puzzle requires NO actual knowledge of Star Wars to solve. All you need are your puzzly wits!

Let us know if you solved it in the comments below! And May the Fourth Be With You!


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Be a Sleuth with Detective Riddles!

cluedupp1

Brain teasers come in many forms. Riddles, logic problems, math puzzles, and deduction games all fall under the umbrella of brain teasers.

One variety of brain teasers that has always appealed to me is the detective riddle. It’s probably because, deep down, who wouldn’t want to glance at a crime scene and deduce what happened, a la Sherlock Holmes?

While brain teasers can consist of all sorts of scenarios, detective riddles usually center around a crime committed or a police investigation to be completed.

crossword mysteries td 0

Here’s an example of a detective riddle:

A dead female body lies at the bottom of a multistory building. It looks as though she committed suicide by jumping from one of the floors.

When the detective arrives, he goes to the first floor of the building, opens the closed window, and flips a coin towards the floor. He goes to the second floor and does the exact same thing. He continues to do this until he gets to the top floor of the building.

When he comes back down, he states that it was a murder and not a suicide. How does he know that?

This is a good example of the detective riddle, because you’re given all of the information you need in the writeup. Some detective riddles involve making strange, unlikely assumptions, which are a sign of a poorly constructed brain teaser. This one is fair, but not ideal.

The solution, of course, is that the window was closed on every floor, meaning that someone shut the window after the person’s body went out the window. (We ARE told that the body fell from “one of the floors,” but doesn’t that necessarily preclude the roof? That little question mark keeps this riddle from being an ideal example of the form.)

bestpuzsherlock

Now, here’s an example of a bad detective riddle:

Nicole went to the police to report that someone had stolen her vintage ring. When the police got to her house they notice that the window was broken, there was a total mess inside, and there were dirty footprints on the carpet. But, there were no other signs of a break-in.

The next day, the police arrested Nicole for fraud. Why?

The solution? Well, according to the source I found: As soon as the police got to the “crime scene,” they knew that Nicole has most likely staged the break-in. The glass from the broken window was all outside of the house, meaning that it had been broken from the inside.

But the riddle doesn’t mention any glass. In fact, it says there were “no other signs of a break-in,” which would include the glass on the OUTSIDE.

See? This one is full of holes.

Now that you have a sense of how detective riddles work, let’s test your puzzly skills with a few!


#1

A Japanese ship was leaving the port and on its way to open sea. The captain went to oil some parts of the ship and took his ring off so it wouldn’t get damaged. He left it on the table next to his bunk. When he returned, it was missing. He suspected three crew members could be guilty and asked them what they had been doing for the ten minutes that he had been gone.

The cook said, “I was in the kitchen preparing tonight’s dinner.”

The engineer said, “I was working in the engine room making sure everything was running smoothly.”

The seaman said, “I was on the mast correcting the flag because someone had attached it upside down by mistake.”

The captain immediately knew who it was. How?


chemistryfluxx

#2

A chemist was murdered in his own lab. The only evidence was a piece of paper that had the names of chemical substances written on it. The substances were nickel, carbon, oxygen, lanthanum, and sulfur. The chemist only had four people come by his lab on the day of the murder: fellow scientist Claire, his nephew Nicolas, his wife, and his friend Marc.

The police arrested the murderer right away. How did they know who it was?


#3

A man was found on the floor dead with a cassette recorder in one hand and a gun in the other. When the police arrived at the scene they pressed play on the recorder. It was the man’s voice. He said, “I have nothing else to live for. I can’t go on,” followed by the sound of a gunshot.

After listening, the police knew that this was a murder, not a suicide. How?


Did you unravel these detective riddles? Let us know in the comment section below! We’d love to hear from you.

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You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!