July, 2002 Puzzle Contests

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7/31/02 Contest:

At a train station, the Porter family is saying good-bye to the Robinson family. We don't know who is leaving and who is staying.

Each of the members of the Porter family says farewell to each of the members of the Robinson family. To say good-bye, two men shake hands, and both a man and a woman and two women kiss once on the cheek.

An eyewitness to the event counted 21 handshakes and 34 kisses.

How many men and how many women were saying good-bye?

NOTE: What? You don't think that I wrote this? Sure didn't. It's from the fine puzzle book Hard-to-Solve Brainteasers: Official American Mensa Puzzle Book.


10 men and 6 women. The number of handshakes and kisses adds up to 55. Each Porter said good-bye to each Robinson. If we multiply the number of members of both families, the result should be 55. There are two possibilities: 55 = 11 x 5 x 1 (one family with 11 members and other one with 5), or 55 = 55 x 1 (which could not be possible, since a family is not formed by only one person).

We now analyze the handshakes following the same procedure. There are two possibilities: 21 = 7 x 3 (7 men in one family and 3 in the other) or 21 = 21 x 1 (which could not be possible, because none of these families has so many members, as seen above). Therefore, one faily is formed by 7 men and 4 women, and the other by 3 men and 2 women.

Winner: "Jon" from Korea (no other info was given, and what I have is garnered from the winner's email address - folks, please TELL ME about yourself when you send in your answers!). We had over 20 completely correct submissions for this one.

7/30/02 Contest:

Here's another two part puzzler. You must answer both parts correctly to be entered to win:

1. What's the missing number next to the letter "E"?

P7 H4 O6 N6 E?

2. What four-letter word can be placed in front of each of the following words to form new words?


NOTE: You know I didn't make these. They're a couple of the easier teasers by puzzle king Terry Stickels. These two were taken from Mind-Bending Puzzles: More Bushels of Brilliance to Boggle Your Brain, which can be found from here.


1. The missing number is 3. The numbers correspond to letters on the telephone keypad or dial.

2. Head

Winner: JL Ward (no other info was given). We had close to 30 completely correct submissions for this one!

7/25/02 and 7/29/02 Contest:

Here is a two part analogy quiz. You must answer both correctly to be entered to win:

1. GOD is to DEIFY as HUMAN is to ? (answer contains 16 letters)

2. NUMBER is to EXPONENT as LETTER is to ? (answer contains 9 letters)

These two analogies were taken from Cliffs MAT Preparation Guide: Miller Analogies Test Preparation Guide and then modified into open-ended questions vs. multiple choice questions. After using it 2 times in this newsletter, even after providing hints in the last issue, no one has solved both of the problems. So, I'm throwing in the towel on this one and giving you a new puzzle!


1. Anthropomorphize

2. Diacritic (this is the one that gave people the most trouble. In fact, I don't recall anyone answering it correctly). Several answers were given that indicated a notation, letter, number, etc. beside or below a letter. Diacritic is the only answer I could find that could mean something above a letter, just as an exponent is above a number.

Winner: No one - sorry. Better luck today!

7/24/02 Contest:

Here is a two part quiz. You must answer both correctly to be entered to win:

1. How many odd three-digit numbers are there?

2. If each of the two dimensions of a rectangle is increased by 100%, by what percentage is the area increased?

NOTE: These are not my puzzles, but are from the book Math Puzzles for the Clever Mind, which I am selling here.


These are abridged from the book:

1. The last three-digit number is 999, and the last two-digit number is 99, so therea are 999-99=900 three-digit numbers, of which half are odd. That means there are 450 odd three-digit numbers.

2. The area of the rectangle is increased by 300 percent. Note than an increase of 100 percent for a side of the rectangle is the same as doubling it. Doubling both sides multiplies the area by four. And multiplying a number by four is the same as increasing it by 300 percent - not 400 percent!

Winner: Dave (aka "The Retiredbum"). We had about 40 answer submissions, of which 17 people had both parts correct. But ultimately, you were undone by a "retired bum." That's too bad ;-)

7/23/02 Contest:

What is the missing number in this grid?

16    36    148

25    50     ?

 4     9     37
NOTE: This is not my puzzle, but a puzzle (slightly modified) from the Mind-Bending Puzzles: Math and Word Problems (number 5) card deck by Terry Stickels. I am selling this card deck here, along with many other puzzle, game and test-related items here.


190. In each column, divide the top number by 4 to get the bottom number. Then add 5 to the sum of the top and bottom numbers to get the middle number.

Winner: Joy Harrison, Thunder Bay, ON, Canada

7/22/02 Contest:

You must answer all of these correctly to be entered to win. Each of the puzzles plays on words:

1. In what elevated place can you find talented felines?

2. Where can you rend a conservative person?

3. What herb will make a drink break into song?


1. The Catskill (cat-skill) Mountains, of course.

2. A territory (tear-a-tory)

3. ginseng (gin-sing)

Winner: Art Harris, Colorado Springs, CO. And like the last contest, Art was 1 of 4 people to get all of them right.

7/19/02 Contest:

This is a 2 part contest. You must get both right to be entered to win:

1. What 2 words contain all 6 vowels (counting y as the 6th vowel) in order?

2. What word contains the same vowel repeated 6 times?

Note: I didn't make these, either. They are from the awesome puzzle book Games for the Superintelligent


1. Facetiously and abstemiously.

2. Indivisibility

Winner: Dawn Wolfson. Dawn was 1 of only 4 people who answered these correctly in time.

7/17-18/02 Contest:

Below is a challenging series puzzle. See if you can power your way through this. Decide what number should replace the ?.

1 33,554,432 43,046,721 262,144 625 ?

NOTE: I didn't create this one. It's from the Mind-Bending Puzzles calendar for 2000, by puzzle master Terry Stickels.

Answer and Explanation:
6.  The puzzle can be rewritten to look like this:

  6    5    4    3    2    1
 6    5    4    3    2    1
1    2    3    4    5    6
So, you get 1 to the 36th power, which is still 1, 2 to the 25th power, which is 33,554,432, etc.

Winner: Al Siller. Only Al and Andrew Silikovitz got this one. Andrew indicated that he somehow found the answer by putting the numbers into google... search engines will be the ruin of puzzle and trivia contests :-)

7/16/02 Contest:

For today, you need to match the lettered definitions with the words and names on the left. Sounds easy, right? Only one problem: the words and names are all missing their first AND last letters. So if the original word was puzzle, all you'd see is uzzl. So, match the definitions with the words and names, but first you must write out the original words or names. You get 1 point for writing out each correct word or name, and one point for each correct definition match, for a total of 20 points. In case no one gets a perfect score, the high score wins. Bargain? Here it is:
1. ecat 	A. Greek goddesses of the seasons

2. ummer 	B. a part in a machine

3. roqui 	C. an inhabitant of Ireland

4. relat 	D. an enchantress who helped Jason

5. elsit 	E. an ecclesiastic of superior rank

6. ibernia 	F. a rough draft

7. erm 		G. a Greek goddess

8. ede 		H. a unit of length

9. tato 	I. a type of rock

10. ora 	J. a ridiculous ceremony or performance


1. Hecate G. a Greek goddess 

2. mummery J. a ridiculous ceremony or performance 

3. croquis F. a rough draft 

4. prelate E. an ecclesiastic of superior rank 

5. felsite I. a type of rock

6. Hibernian C. an inhabitant of Ireland

7. fermi H. a unit of length

8. Medea D. an enchantress who helped Jason

9. stator B. a part in a machine

10. Horae A. Greek goddesses of the seasons
Winner: JWest. This contest proved to be more of a research problem than a good puzzler. We had 11 people with perfect answers. But you all did a great job!

7/15/02 Contest:

Two players take turns picking up 1 through 4 of 27 matches until they are all picked up. You are the first player to go. To win, you must have an even number of matches at the end. How do you win this game?

NOTE: This is a slightly altered version of the problem "AN EVEN NUMBER WINS" in The Moscow Puzzles: 359 Mathematical Recreations. It is an excellent puzzle book. The answer below is not the one in the book, but the one provided by the winner.

Answer and Explanation: An excerpt from the winner:

"You must begin by taking two matches.

There are only twelve positions for the game in which a player could lose. They are:

1. When it is the player's turn, they have an odd number of matches, and there are 5, 6, 11, 12, 17, 18, 23, or 24 matches remaining.

2. When it is the player's turn, they have an even number of matches, and there are 7, 13, 19, or 25 matches remaining.

When not in one of these positions, it is always possible to force the other player into one of these positions. Starting with 27 matches, the first player can force the second player into a position of type 2 by taking two matches. From then on, the first player need only make sure that the second player stays in a losing postion.

e.g. Suppose player one has taken two matches and 25 remain. If player two takes one match, then player one also takes one match, forcing player two into a losing postion of type 1 as player two has one match with 23 remaining. If player two takes two matches, then player one takes four matches forcing player two into another losing position of type 2 as player two now has two matches with 19 remaining, etc..."

Winner: Kyle Petersen, Greeley, CO

7/12/02 Contest:

A monstrous analogy - replace the ? with the most appropriate word:

musical instrument with strings played by plucking is to HARPY as herb used as flavoring is to ?

Answer and Explanation: BASILISK. The analogy goes: definition of a word is to word with something added to it to make it a monster, as definition of a word is to word with something added to it to make it a monster. HARP becomes HARPY, and BASIL becomes BASILISK. I received a lot of answers like minty, dilly, spicy, etc., and while those are herb-related words with a 'y' added, just as with harp and harpy, it is not really a "monstrous analogy." Also, the analogy goes noun is to noun as noun is to noun. These 'y' words are all adjectives. They were all good guesses, though.

Winner: Only Maureen Clegg and Cathy Kemper (aka puppygirl) got this one, and the "puppygirl" was randomly chosen the winner of the basilisk puzzle. PS Cathy is from Binghamton, NY.

7/11/02 Contest:

An artist has been hired by an advertising agency to create a display for a grand opening. The head of the agency has told the artist that she needs the display to feature colored, transparent planes of glass intersecting each other to connect to seven points arranged in some global fashion. The agency wants the maximum number of different planes possible. If a plane is determined by three different points, how many planes will the artist have to construct?

NOTE: I did not create this puzzle. It is a "Killer" In the excellent puzzle book Are You As Smart As You Think? by master puzzler Terry Stickels.

Answer and Explanation: Instead of using the answer from the book, I'm using the answers submitted by the only 3 people to get this right:

"Since a plane is determined by three points, the maximum number of planes for seven points would be the number of combinations of seven points taken three at a time.

That is

7!         7*6*5*4*3*2*1
-------- = ------------- = 35
(7-3)!*3!  4*3*2*1*3*2*1

So the maximum number of planes is 35."

- Al Siller

"35 (5+4+3+2+1)+(4+3+2+1)+(3+2+1)+(2+1)+1"

- David Pipe

"You are essentially asking for the number of possible combinations of three points from a "pool" of seven points. The mathematical formula for this is 7!/(3!x4!), where the exclamation indicates a factorial. The result is 35."

- Zaheer Jhetam

Winner: Of the 3, Zaheer Jhetam was randomly chosen the winner. But all of you did a good job, especially those of you who did not get it right, but indicated you had gotten help from a friend, spouse, parent, etc. or tried a number of ways of looking at this. This was a tough mathematical problem, and if you missed it but learn to understand it, you'll be ready for next time :-) The book may contain a clearer answer, and 149 other great problems (many of which are easier and less math-intensive).

7/10/02 Contest:

What word does the following suggest? Look for the BEST answer:

"Yadda yadda yadda yadda yadda 4, yadda yadda yadda yadda."

Answer and Explanation: Well, I was going for aforementioned or aforesaid, but today's winner chose FORETOLD. The idea here is that while we can't know exactly what the person was talking about (i.e. "yadda yadda yadda"), we do know they mentioned, said, or told of a four. The word fore is a homophone of four.

Winner: Kyle Petersen. Kyle was the only person to submit a correct answer.

7/9/02 Contest:

Replace the ? in the following sequence with a letter, and indicate why it is the best answer (you must answer both parts correctly to be entered to win):

S H O N I X ?

Answer and Explanation: This was taken (and slightly modified) from the World's Greatest Vacation Puzzle in the book the World's Greatest Puzzles. This was of course written by the "world's greatest puzzler," Charles Barry Townsend - Oh, the answer is Z. All of the letters are unique in that they appear the same when viewed upside down. The only remaining letter that was not in the set is Z. The sequence has no particular meaning, and if anything serves as a red herring.

Winner: Only 4 people, Andy Wright, Al Siller, Kyle Petersen, and Lisa Stevenson answered this one correctly before 8 AM today. I randomly selected Kyle as the winner, but congrats to all of you!

7/8/02 Contest:

What is unusual about this paragraph? Is it anything you'd normally find, but do not? Think about it. Look in a book, and you'll probably pick up on what I'm saying, and quickly. Good luck to you!

Answer and Explanation: The paragraph did not contain the letter "e" which several people mentioned is the most common letter in the English language. A few people answered that the paragraph was not indented, and my clue to look in a book may have inadvertently thrown a few people off this way. But it's not the best answer because none of the paragraphs in my newsletter are ever indented, and I'm not sure if we can indent them. I almost wanted to count this one right, but it's just not the best answer. In total we had 35 people answer this correctly before 8 AM today, which is a record. It looks like this puzzle was a wee bit too easy :-)

Winner: Tracy Crosley was the randomly pulled name from 35, but congratulations to all of you!

7/1/02 - 7/2/02 Contest:

No one was able to solve the 7/1 contest, so it was reissued with hints on 7/2, and with an additional puzzle contest:

The Last Last Puzzle Contest:

Each of the following hints at a word or name. Determine which word or name is alluded to. You must answer all of these correctly to be entered to win -

a water fountain with several heads (think of a monster from mythology. If you grew up in Springfield, Missouri in the 1980s, you may remember a water slide with this name)

a squid that requests that you phone Mr. Povich (think food)

an evil southpaw (think of a word, not a name)

Answers and Explanations:

Hydra - reference was to the mythical monster plus the hydra/hydro aspect which relates to water. Someone answered Hecate's Fountain, which I counted as correct, but I don't know if it's the best answer.

calamari or calamary

sinister or sinistral

Winner: Harry Calhoun, Content Developer, D&ID Marketing and Sales

The Last Puzzle Contest:

You must answer both of these correctly to be entered to win:

What is "Mr. Owl ate my metal worm"?

What is unique about the following ad? Be specific in your answer, and look for the BEST answer:

"Want a wooden overcoat? Buy
honest John Whitworth's health-re-
energizing sulfo-uranyl-impreg-
ated 'Comfi-Vest' with its unique
quasi-xyloid fibers -- obtainable
only from the Paradise Vending
Company, Harpurville Heights,
Nineveh, New York."

Answers and Explanations:

The first one is a palindrome. Some people said it reads the same backwards as forwards, and that's true, but the question asked what it is, and palindrome is the correct answer.

For the second one, the most common answer was that it contained all of the letters of the alphabet. That's true, and it's unique, but it's not the best answer. A number of folks answered "quasi-xyloid fibers," as the ad says "unique quasi-xyloid fibers," and I almost had to score that one correct, due to my absent minded wording of the original question (not the ad itself, which I didn't write - see below). HOWEVER, I said what is unique ABOUT the ad, not what is unique IN it, so that's my snaky way of getting out of that one :-) The best answer follows:

"Want a wooden overcoat? Buy
hONEst John WhiTWOrth's healTH-RE-
Energizing sulFO-URanyl-impreg-
ated 'ComFI-VEst' with its unique
quaSI-Xyloid fibers -- obtainable
only from the ParadiSE VENding
Company, Harpurville HEIGHTs,
NINEveh, New York."

Did you see that? It contains, in order, the words one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine. Oh, and these last two I didn't create myself. They're both from The Word Play Almanac, which is a prize we offer on http://www.Puzz.com/prizes.html (sorry, folks, one of our past winners cashed in his puzzle piece for this book as soon as I mentioned this, so it's no longer available as a prize...) - the ad appeared as a fake ad in a 1968 Mensa Bulletin. GAMES Magazine is better known for that kind of thing, but Mensans can be quite creative as well, when they want to be.

Winner: Only 2 people answered this one correctly, Donna Webb and Barbara Voyles. I rolled a die, odds or evens, and a 2 came up. Our winner is therefore Barbara, but congrats to both of you!

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