Perhaps it’s the curse of being an only child, but ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a fascination with riddles and logic problems. In fact, I’m mad about them – mad, I tell you!
Occasionally, when free time has seemed possible, I’ve even been known to purchase mini-mystery collections and those giant puzzle books often available on the bargain racks of Borders and Barnes & Noble. Although such volumes usually teem with crossword puzzles, acrostics, and other similar word challenges – all of which I happily attempt – I’m truly tickled when I stumble across a logic problem, which is essentially a complicated riddle.
When I was really young, the riddles were fairly simple, but I have no doubt that they still helped to develop my intellect and stimulate my creativity. Here’s one that I recently remembered:
What word can be written forward, backward, or upside down, and can still be read from left to right? (Hint: You must use capital letters to figure it out, and although there’s only one accepted answer, I’ve since figured out at least two more.)
As the years passed, I began looking for harder and harder riddles, especially the philosophical ones... which is probably why I liked Gollum so much. Although he’s a selfish, pathetic, conniving creature in J. R. R. Tolkien’s masterpieces, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, he won me over with his repertoire of riddles. Here’s one of the oft-quoted ones (which Bilbo figures out by accident):
This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
As a teenager, I was especially intrigued by the rash of mystery riddles (usually involving a murder or suicide) that my classmates and I exchanged in the schoolyard. Here’s one that I actually figured out on my own:
A dead man is found in a locked room, hanging from the ceiling a few feet above the floor. The room is completely empty, except for a puddle of water below him. How did he die?
No doubt, you’ve heard all of these before. But, if not, do you care to venture a guess? Oh, and please feel free to share a riddle of your own – I’m always on the lookout for a challenge.
(Note: If you’re curious about other clever – and not-so-clever riddles – check out RiddleNut.com or Riddles.com.)
4 hours ago