Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Riddle Me This

Part Four

Puzzle fans will disagree on how to categorise certain puzzles; but I think it's important to be able to give a name to each kind of puzzle and therefore each strategy for solving them. A cerebral sort of 'know your enemy' if you will.

Today we'll look at the different kinds of riddles available to the dedicated puzzler.

The three puzzles we have looked at so far are what I would term riddles. Riddles have a few things in common. They are language puzzles that play with the definitions of words; often they will give you definition and ask you to supply an example as in 'Things Aren't Always What They Seem' we'll call these short riddles, as they're usually only a few words long.

Some riddles may use clever grammar and unusual word order to conceal a hidden meaning; 'G-R-Y' for example. They might be masquerading as a language or number puzzle. These are misdirection riddles.

Thirdly there are the riddles that children often favour; the ones we can see told by a follysome jester. Such as, when is a door not a door; when it's a jar! These small asides, I think of as puns, plays on words where we're not really expected to know the answer, just to be amused when it is given.

Finally some riddles are longer, with multiple lines all having the same definition. These often rhyme,  just like 'Flight' from the previous post. These are the true riddles.

The Flight

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

In this true riddle we are offered four definitions of the same word. Riddles often use quite loose or flowery definitions of words. The aim of the writer is to produce something both pleasing and puzzling, you can use this knowledge to help produce your solving strategy. A forced rhyme or a break in rhythm might give an indication of a key phrase.

The reverse can be true however some words are added just to make up the numbers; essentially they are just flavour.

Let's break down this puzzle to help get around the verbose wording. We'll hang on to the title, puzzle setters do love hiding a hint in the title.

The Flight

A non-flightless bird
Something diamond shaped; possibly found in the sky
A box well known for being Asian
A toy

So, the same puzzle without the flowers. The key is to find the line with the fewest possible objects of the definition, then to test your object against the other lines. Very few objects are even vaguely diamond shaped; it's an inconvenient shape as it doesn't stand up on the ground easily.

This of course ties back in with the 'in the sky' part of the puzzle.

Have a good think about what that might be, but if in doubt you could google for inspiration. That should be enough to get you the answer if you find the right picture. Here's a riddle from the great Fort Boyard to be going on with.

The Golden Glow on The Hill

At night they give light, on hills; daffodils.

With that puzzle set I'll bid you farewell, and dont forget, keep puzzling. 

No comments:

Post a Comment