Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Puzzling Roy Keane

Part Three
Today I had cause to sit through a presentation about Euro 2012 followed by a question and answer session with one Roy Keane, who I am informed is some kind of football player turned broadcaster. I must admit to not particularly looking forward to this training course. Sport, while a great source of puzzle material; has never been of great attraction to me.

Naturally I was quite surprised when I found myself engaged and entertained by Mr Keane, he was funny and intelligent and he understood his specialism in great detail and certainly wanted others to do so too. Perhaps we aren't so different after all.

It just goes to show that:

Rule 2: Things aren't always what they seem.

Of course in tackling the last puzzle you'll have already worked out that puzzle setters can get more definitions from one word than some dictionaries manage with a whole language. Let's take another look at it:

What has a neck, but no head?

Mary Queen of Scots I hear you tastelessly cry, as the great Roy Walker has a habit of saying - it's good but it's not right.

Misdirection, or trafic management
at it's best?
Naturally we can apply the first rule to this rather short puzzle. It has a direct question, and a condition. Except it isn't, because puzzle setters have a fourth type of content they can bring into cerebral battle.  We can stop trying find a creature that used to have a head and now doesn't have one, because this puzzle has this hidden fourth element - the element of misdirection.

What has a neck, but no head?

You can think of misdirection as flavour in disguise, it usually takes the form of carefully chosen words in the question or condition, designed to throw off the unwarily puzzler.

One you think you've identified some misdirection, treat it with caution, since it is either a question or a condition it's needed to solve the puzzle, but it's also working against you.

Let's try abandoning the misdirection from our puzzle and working on what we know.

What has a neck?

Animals, two people (as in kissing), woods (neck of the woods), bottles and clothes are just a few suggestions from the dictionary.

Now, let's bring back the misdirection and apply it's condition. Remember, head can also have multiple meanings.

Animals tend to have heads as do people, that rules them out. Head also means a cluster of flowers so that more or less eliminates wood. Clothes starts out as a good possibility until you think of their use, and their pattern - either of which could give them a head; and we implicitly want no head.

That leaves bottle; indisputably has a neck, indisputably has no head.

Head is one of the puzzle setters best friends as it has loads of meanings, some of them are quite rude too. Bonus points, therefore; if 'first dates' was your answer to the previous question.

So bearing in mind rules one and two, and having a dictionary close at hand. Try this puzzle I wrote when staring at the sky one calm summers day.

The Flight

A bird flies on high.
A diamond in the sky.
A box from the East.
A children's toy at least.

Four direct questions with the same answer but two also have misdirection and one has a condition.

Good luck, and do keep puzzling!

photo credit: clappstar via photopin cc

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