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Can you figure it out? Puzzles that can be solved at a pub.

Pubs are not just for drinking and socializing, but also for solving puzzles. This is according to Headscratchers, a recently published collection of puzzles from New Scientist magazine. The brain teasers featured today are taken from this compendium.

The initial puzzle is a traditional one found in pubs. (Could it be called an inn-igma? A bam-booze-ler? A conun-dram?) In other words, it is a mathematical problem that is best solved with a team and may spark lively discussions.

1. Creative addition

The digits 1 through 9 have been inscribed on cards and placed on a surface.

creative addition

The sum of the numbers in the left column is 21, while the sum of the numbers in the right column is 24. Rearrange one card to make both columns have the same total.

There’s a classic “aha” solution. Yet when this appeared in New Scientist, readers came up with at least ten more solutions. The level of lateral thinking tolerated may depend on personal taste, or on how many pints you have consumed.

2. The book of numbers

Polly is compiling a book that lists all whole numbers from zero to infinity in alphabetical order. The initial number listed is ‘eight’.

What is the second number in the list? What is the second-to-last number in the list?


There are currently no new numerical terms, as Polly combines numbers by linking them, such as 10.18

The value is equivalent to ‘1,000,000,000,000,000’ or ‘one million billion’ in numerical form.

3. Sick sweeks

Which is greater: the factorial of 10 (1 x 2 x 3 x…x 9 x 10, also written as 10!) or the number of seconds in six weeks?

You cannot use a calculator to solve this problem.

I will return at 5pm UK with solutions and a discussion. Please refrain from sharing spoilers. Instead, share your favorite pub puzzles and games.

These puzzles are sourced from Headscratchers: The Puzzle Book by Rob Eastaway and Brian Hobbs. Rob is responsible for selecting the New Scientist’s weekly puzzles, and the ones in the book are chosen from there. It’s an excellent and diverse compilation of challenges created by top puzzle creators.

UPDATE: Click here to access the solutions.

Every other Monday, I post a new puzzle here. I am constantly searching for interesting puzzles. If you have any suggestions, please email me.

Football School Encyclopedia

I, along with Ben Lyttleton, have co-written the book series Football School. This series uses football to explore the world. Our first full-color hardcover book from the series, titled The Football School Encyclopaedia, is now available! If you know a football fan who is 7 years old or older, this would make a great gift. It’s a no-brainer!

Source: theguardian.com