Sunday, May 06, 2012

An Arsenal of Answers

Part One

Here is where the journey starts, we begin our trip into the world of puzzles with riddles, and more specifically the fabled GRY puzzle.

One of my friends once came to me with a puzzle, and challenged me to find an answer.

He said;

"There are only three words in the English language that end 'gry'; hungry and angry are two of them, what is the third"

Most people will have heard that puzzle in one form or another, and generally they get a garbled version; just as I did, and therefore don't understand the answer.

Thankfully it was a puzzle I knew quite well and I knew full well that he had got the asking of it very wrong.

You see, although there aren't any modern English words that end gry, there are loads of archaic ones hanging around not least gry itself which is an old word that can mean a small amount. Puggry is a nice one; it's a kind of scarf and aggry which are a type of glass bead.

Of course in those days we needed a trip to the school library and the multi-volume dictionary to settle the resultant argument. My friend was entertainingly frustrated because his puzzle hadn't been solved in the way he expected. He thought he knew the trick to the puzzle and why the answer isn't 'gry', 'puggry' or 'aggry'; so he imposed a condition.

"Ah, yes" he said "Everyone knows those archaic words but I meant words in common usage."

"Ah, yes" I said, "but then you puzzle has no solution."

He told me what he thought the solution was, and was very confused when I told him it wasn't correct.

He didn't understand how the puzzle worked so he had no idea that in changing the wording, he had also changed the answer. I'll come back to the right answer later.

The thing is, just like my aforementioned friend anyone can learn the answers to puzzles; but all the pleasure in puzzling comes from being able to work out the solutions. Even if a puzzle gets the better of you, it's important to go back and look at how you could have solved it, that way you learn just as much as if you'd solved it yourself.

That's where I want to help, I've been puzzling for well over 20 years and I've written quite a few of my own along the way. I want to give you enough knowledge so that you can enjoy solving a wider range of puzzles, but once you have the skills it will be down to you to find the answers.

So along the way I'll try and teach you how to recognise different kinds of puzzles; how to get into the mind of the puzzle setter; and how they're trying to trip you up. I'll let you in on some little secrets that make mathematical puzzles perfectly possible and I'll show you how to tackle word problems.

So, here is the famous 'gry' puzzle in one of it's original versions, see if you can work out the answer and along the way learn the very first rule of puzzle solving.

Rule 1: Make sure you understand the rules

The G-R-Y Puzzle

There are very few words in The English Language that end 'gry'. Hungry is one, and angry is a second. In fact there are only three words in The English Language. I want you to tell me what the third one is. It's a perfectly common word and if you think carefully you'll find I've already told you what it is. What is it?

That's it for this first entry on riddles, until next time, keep on puzzling.

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