When I was growing up one of my favorite things to do was to work on brain teasers.
My favorite type of puzzle was a logic puzzle, the kind where you have to do things like find the matching first and last names of five guys, what house they live in, what their favorite food is, and what their job is. Such puzzles could easily occupy me for a few hours.
Many of you may have seen the puzzle below where you have to guess which line is the longest. I learned the answer to that 50 years ago, and when I see it now I think, “who does not know the answer to such a question?”:
Which line is longer?
OK, so that was a trick question. Here is the usual one:
Like I said, I’m guessing most people have seen this image often enough to know which line is the longer one.
What triggered my memory of brain teasers was an image I saw today that reminded me of one of my favorite brain teasers of all time. I’m not sure why this puzzle has stuck with me for 50 years.
In this puzzle, each letter represents a different number, but each time a letter is used, it represents the same number. So for example, the letter E in the puzzle below is the same number everywhere it appears.
I’ve provided a solution to this problem, in incremental steps, starting here. But if you like these sort of problems, I’m sure you can solve it without resorting to any of the hints.
It was while solving such problems that I gained respect for the people who created such problems; to me, they were the creative geniuses. As far as I was concerned, Martin Gardner was the smartest person in the world while I was growing up. Today, Will Shortz is the puzzle master I most admire.
And you wonder why I didn’t go to my junior or senior proms…
By the way, based on reader reaction to this post, I may make brain teasers a regular part of my blog.
*image from Amazon.com