Answers to Brain Teasers
Brain teasers are easy to find in offices and classrooms across the country, but finding answers to brain teasers is a bit more difficult. The easiest way to solve a brain teaser is to look the answer up on the accompanying answer sheet or the Internet, but that ruins the fun and accomplishment of solving one of these tricky little puzzles without help. Each different type of brain teaser has a separate set of strategies and tips that make finding a solution easier and none of them include peeking at a cheat sheet.
Logic problems are puzzles that give a series of clues and ask the reader to make certain conclusions based on those clues. Puzzlers are required to use deductive reasoning to solve this type of brain teaser. There are two distinct types of logic problems: the classic logic problem, and ones that set up a matrix to help the reader figure out the problem. The first step in working this type of puzzle is to grab some scratch paper and create a matrix if one is not already provided. A matrix lists all possible combinations of solutions, allowing the reader to eliminate possibilities based on the given clues. A 'process of elimination' approach is the best way to tackle a logic problem. Figure out what can't be true, based on the clues. This should lead to at least one definitive answer, such as, "Bob lived in the blue house." If Bob lives in the blue house, then Richard, John, and David do not.
William T. Pelletier's logic problems page offers some great examples with solution matrices already set up. He also offers tips on constructing logic problems, and lists logic puzzle magazines and websites for further logical fun.
Lateral Thinking Puzzles
Lateral thinking puzzles are a unique type of brain teaser. This type of brain teaser gives the reader the answer, and he or she then has to fill in the details that led to the given scenario. This type often starts with the words, "a man lies dead in a room," and involves suicides, murders, and affairs. These puzzles will usually not be used in elementary school classrooms, because of their morbid subject matter.
Solving these puzzles is not usually a solitary pursuit, because it can be very difficult to solve the puzzle without additional information. Usually one person serves as the puzzle master, and he or she gives the participants the clues. The participants then ask the puzzle master questions, which he or she answers simply, "yes," "no," or "doesn't matter." One of the most interesting features of lateral thinking puzzles is that some have more than one possible answer. Participants are advised to stay open-minded, and questions the assumptions they make based on the clues. The puzzles are "lateral thinking" puzzles, because they require a creative and flexible reasoning process that differs from the methodical way in which many people approach a problem.
Cryptograms are words or phrases written in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the alphabet is substituted for another, and it's easy to solve a cryptogram once the code is cracked. Experienced puzzlers generally begin by examining the cryptogram for small, easily recognizable words like "is" and "the." After these words are decoded, add the known letters to the cryptogram. The next step is to note the most frequently used letters in the cryptogram. E is the most frequently used letter in the English language, and it's usually an easy letter to find in a cryptogram.
Answers to Brain Teasers
While looking up a solution online may be the fastest way to find answers to brain teasers, it's much more satisfying to work out the answer without help. Fortunately, brain teasers get easier with practice, and they're a great way to sharpen the memory and keep the mental juices flowing.
By Myrrh Hector