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11 Lateral Thinking Challenges

 Keep your brain in tip-top shape while trying to solve these 11 challenging riddles that require you to fine-tune your logic skills, and then send them on to your friends to see how they do!



Photo: pakorn/ freedigitalphotos.net

1. You are driving down the road in your car on a wild, stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop and you see three people waiting for the bus:

       1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.

       2. An old friend who once saved your life.

       3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Knowing that there can only be one passenger in the car, who would you choose?



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The old lady of course! After you help the old lady into the car, you can pass the keys on to your friend, and wait with your perfect partner for the bus!

2. How could a baby fall out of a twenty-storey building onto the ground and live?


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The baby fell out of a ground floor window.

3. There are six eggs in the basket. Six people take each one of the eggs. How can it be that one egg is left in the basket?


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The last person took the basket with the last egg inside.

4. The famous 'Penny Black', the world's first postage stamp, was introduced in England in 1840. The idea of postage stamps was a great success and was taken up worldwide. Yet the 'Penny Black' was in use for only one year before it was replaced by 'Penny Red'. Why?


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The postmark used at the time was always black. It was therefore difficult to tell whether a stamp had been franked or not. This led to people re-using stamps. On a 'Penny Red', the black postmark was clearly visible and therefore it could not be reused.

5. Acting on an anonymous phone call, the police raid a house to arrest a suspected murderer. They don't know what he looks like but they know his name is John and that he is inside the house. The police bust in on a carpenter, a truck driver, a mechanic and a fireman all playing poker. Without hesitation or communication of any kind, they immediately arrest the fireman. How do they know they've got their man?


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The fireman is the only man in the room. The rest of the poker players are women.

6. There is one recluse who never left his home. The only time anyone ever visited him was when his food and supplies were delivered, but they never came inside. Then, one stormy winter night when an icy gale was blowing, he had a nervous breakdown. He went upstairs, turned off all the lights and went to bed. Next morning, he had caused the deaths of several hundred people. How?


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He was a lighthouse keeper who switched off the lighthouse. Electric illumination in the form of carbon arc lamps was first employed at lighthouses early on, even when oil lamps were still popular. The first of these was in Dungeness, England in 1862, followed by a number of others. In the beginning of the 20th century, Swedish inventor Gustav Dahlen invented the AGA Lighthouse which effectively made lighthouse keepers obsolete. However, for many years, lighthouses still had keepers because they also served as a rescue service if necessary. The last lighthouse keepers were removed in the 1990s once GPS and advanced maritime navigation was invented and put into use. Today, the majority of lighthouses are fully automated and no longer require a keeper.

7. A woman has incontrovertible proof in court that her husband was murdered by her sister. Both the woman and her sister are before the judge. The judge declares, "This is the strangest case I've ever seen. Though it's a cut-and-dry case, this woman before me cannot be punished." How can this be?


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The sisters are conjoined twins.

8. A man fell off a smuggling boat into deep water. He could not swim and he was not wearing anything to keep him afloat. It took 30 minutes for the people on the boat to realize someone was missing. The missing man was rescued two hours later on the return trip. Why didn't he drown?


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He fell into the Dead Sea, which lies between the countries of Israel and Jordan. The water is so salty and dense that anyone in it can float very easily.

9. A man and his son are in a car crash. The father is killed and the child is taken to the hospital in critical condition. When he gets there, the surgeon says, "I can't operate on this boy - he is my son!" How can this be?


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The surgeon cannot operate on her own son because she is his mother.

10. Five pieces of coal, a carrot and a scarf are lying on a hill near a remote house. Nobody put them on the lawn but there is a perfectly logical reason why they should be there. What is it?


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They were used by children who made a snowman. The snow has now melted.

11. A police officer saw a truck driver clearly going the wrong way down a one-way street, but did not try to stop him. Why not?


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The truck driver was walking.

What's Your Score? 

0:  Back to riddle school with you! Next time, try and think a bit more outside the box, we know you can do it!

1-3: You're a novice riddler, who still misses most but is starting to grasp the basics of riddling. 

4-6: You're a riddler in the making, no doubt about it! Your ability to think outside conventional answers is quite impressive, good for you!

7-11: Are you some kind of super riddler? How did you DO that?? We take our respective hats off before your mighty riddling powers, and can only hope you can teach us your clever, clever ways.

Image courtesy of: AKARAKINGDOMS / freedigitalphotos.net


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