Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Examination Time

Part Five
It's time for a challenge, as we get to the end of this series of posts on riddles it's time to put everything you've learned into practice.

First though we're going to take a look at what the ravages of time can do to a puzzle.

So hopefully you are feeling illuminated after the last post. We've looked at the constituent parts of riddles and how to identify them. We have also looked at the different types of riddle and the methods available for solving them.

Hopefully you've learned that riddles are all about definitions and semantics; it's about taking on the questions asked to the very letter and finding the one solution that matches the questions and the conditions.

Interestingly a couple of days ago I spotted a post on Lamebook about riddles; someone had, once again, garbled a classic riddle and got an answer that was both perfectly correct and not at all what was expected.

Here's the riddle as it appeared in someone's original Facebook post.

The person who makes it, sells it. The person who buys it never uses it and the person who uses it doesn't know that they are.

A friend of the poster suggested 'Rohypnol', which is a perfectly correct - if a little risqué - answer. Of course it's not the answer that the questioner was expecting. There are plenty of riddles in the world that have more than one possible answer, and of course older riddles get new answers as society and science develop. I've tidied the riddle up a little here, you might like to amuse yourself thinking up a few more answers.

False Economy

The man who makes it does not want it.The man who wants it does not use it.The man who uses it does not see it.

We've come to the end of this little section on riddles, although rest assured we'll be back; riddles are, after all; my favourite kind of puzzle. To finish here's a monster of a riddle, specially written for this blog by yours truly. It's a riddle within a riddle within a riddle and will require a little knowledge of quite a few areas.

The Baker and the Apprentice

There was once a famous solver of puzzles, who coincidently had a rather large collection of door fastenings owned by a famous pop star, spread around his many houses. One day he was talking about his past achievements in the world of problem solving to his young apprentice, who in turn was the son of a great physicist.

'Ah', said the puzzler, 'I remember one particular riddle that took me a good while to solve',

'First think of the the great carnival which has no beginning.

Then consider the man who brings sustenance but thinks only of others.

Third is the tree which is always with envy, but when with great anger becomes a monster as fierce as any.

Finally comes that which can be as small as a flake of soil, or as great as the whole world.'

'Goodness' said the apprentice, 'that's a really difficult one, after all it's really four separate puzzles'

'Yes,' replied the puzzler 'but there is a common theme between them all.'

'Ah, I think I see the connection, four disperate items but together they make a specific set. How did you manage to solve this puzzle the first time around?'

The puzzler smiled and looked to his apprentice and said just four words.

What did he say?

photo credit: nhuisman via photopin cc

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