This is a review of the book entitled “The 125 Best Brain Teasers of All Time: A Mind-Blowing Challenge of Math, Logic, and Wordplay”
Date: April 6, 2021
Best place to buy: Amazon.com
Author: Marcel Danesi, PhD
As stated on the Amazon product page: “Put your noggin to the test with the most famous brain games of all time. Puzzles and brainteasers can be found throughout history and around the world. This book collects 125 of the most popular and challenging mind benders for hours of fun-filled entertainment that helps sharpen your logic, language, and problem-solving skills….” “Get ready to sharpen your mind with the ultimate book of mind-blowing brain teasers.”
This book will provide hours of entertainment and mental challenge.
Did you know. . .
Since the dawn of civilization, we have been fascinated by conundrums, rebuses, riddles and enigmas of all kinds. The oldest known cipher is a Sumerian text written in cuneiform, a form of communication which dates back to 2500 years BCE.
The Riddle of the Sphinx
One of the oldest puzzles in existence is the Riddle of the Sphinx.
The Sphinx was a monster who stopped all those about to enter the city of Thebes and asked them a riddle. Those who failed to answer the riddle were killed on the spot. The hero Oedipus finally came up with the right answer, and the Sphinx destroyed itself.
For the curious among you, the riddle of the Sphinx (No. 25) is included in this collection:
“What creature moves on four legs at dawn, two at noon, and three at twilight? (Answer: Humans, who crawl on all fours as babies (the dawn of life), then walk on two legs as grown-us (the noontime of life), and finally need a cane in old age (the twilight of life) to get around.”
A few fascinating facts about puzzles and brain teasers (as pointed out by author Marcel Danesi):
- There is no culture on earth without puzzles and game traditions.
- Many puzzles are associated with myth and legend.
- The Alzheimer’s Association in the United States has endorsed Sudoku as a preventive therapy against the disease.
- The number of possible sukoku puzzles that can be made with the first nine digits is calculated to be 6,70,903,752,021,072,936,960! It would take a computer over 211 billion years to solve them all!
- Cryptograms greatly appeal to our sense of mystery, as evidenced by their frequent use today in mystery and adventure movies.
- Perhaps more than any other puzzle, the riddle genre has appeared in several movies, notably “Die Hard With a Vengeance” and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.
Lateral-thinking puzzles truly sharpen the brain. A classic example: “How can it be that someone can fall from the window of a 50-story building and still survive? The answer: “He or she fell from the ground-floor window”.
Chess is an important element in the movie “Blade Runner” (1982), suggesting that the game is a gauge of human creativity and intelligence.
The most famous use of chess in film is Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 film “The Seventh Seal”.
What you’ll find in this book
Here of some examples of the brain-teasers that you’ll find in this book, grouped in levels of increasing difficulty:
Level 1: SmartyPants
17: Palindrome – Round and Round
The problem: What seven-letter English word starting with r can be read forward and backward, and refers to something which makes things go round and round?
Level 2: Prodigy
27: Odd One One: Shapes
Which of the words in this set does not conceptually belong?
triangle, cube, square, octagon, pentagon
Answer: Cube is the odd one out because it is a three-dimensional figure; the others are all two-dimensional.
Level 3: Brainiac
56: Anagram – Space Traveler
If you put together the worlds “roast” and “tuna” and anagramatize them, you will get a word meaning “space traveler”.
Level 4: MasterMind
79: Number Riddle: A Warm-Up:
I’m a number between 20 and 30. If you multiply me by 3 and divide the result by 9, you’ll get 11. What number am I?
Answer: 33.33 multiplied by 3 = 99 divided by 9 = 11.
Level 5: Genius
106: What Day Is It:
Alma, Barb, Charlene, Dina, Emma, and Fanny are good friends, but they love to argue – literally over the time of the day! Here, they are arguing over what day of the week it is, only confusing the issue further.
Alma: Yesterday was Friday.
Barb: Today is Saturday.
Charlene: No, today is not Saturday. Nor is it Monday or Wednesday.
Dina: The day after tomorrow is Tuesday.
Emma: Tomorrow is Wednesday.
Fanny: Tomorrow is Friday.
Only one of their statements is true. All the others are false. Can you determine which day of the week it is?
Friday. Barb and Charlene give contradictory statements, namely that today is Saturday (Barb), or that today is not Saturday (Charlene). So one statement is true and the other is false. With that deduction, we have located who gave the only true statement,either Barb or Charlene. This means that the other statements are all false. Fanny’s statement implies that today is Thursday, since she says that tomorrow is Friday. That being false, we can eliminate Thursday. Emma’s statement implies to today is Tuesday, since she says that tomorrow is Wednesday. That being false, we can also eliminate Tuesday. Dina’s statement implies that today is Sunday, since she says that the day after tomorrow (Monday) is Tuesday . So we can eliminate Sunday too. Alma’s statement implies that today is Saturday (since she says that yesterday was Friday). That being a lie, as well, we can also eliminate Saturday. We can now see that Barb lied, claiming that today is Saturday, so Charlene told the truth. She allows us to eliminate Monday and Wednesday from the list, as we can now see from her statement. This leaves Friday as the only possibility.
The book contains 10 puzzle-solving tips to solving these puzzles and brain teasers
Here are four examples out of the 10 puzzle-solving tips included in this book:
Before attempting to solve any particular puzzle, ask yourself the following questions: what does it ask me to do? What linguistic, logical or mathematical feature is applicable? You have to grasp the basis of the puzzle before attempting to solve it.
If a puzzle seems particularly difficult or complicated, ask yourself: Can the puzzle be reduced to, or compared to, a simplier version that I have solved before?
Don’t underestimate the usefulness of trial and error. If one approach works, end of story. If it does not, examine it to find out why . On that basis, try out a new hunch.
If you do not get the correct solution to a puzzle, read the answer at the back of the book, which generally explains the reasoning behind the solution.
Pros and Cons
You cannot go wrong doing puzzles and brain-teasers. They will sharpen your brain without any doubt! And these will force you to think “outside the box”. All are goals that I strongly believe in!
I cannot think of any. You can never be too smart!
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