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I have gathered here some of my favourite puzzles. I can't remember the source of most of them. A good few I picked up from the Radio programme "Puzzle Panel", but others come from friends or from books I read donkey's years ago.

DON'T CHEAT! - Try to work out the answer before you click on the solution.

Two buckets : Brass in pocket : Snooker : Tennis : Bridge : Worst Defence : Three switches : Americans' beards : Two Tribes : Pirates' plunder : Anagrams

(only a few done so far - others pending)

There is also a whole section of Odd-one-out puzzles for you to wrap your brains around.

The Two Buckets

I have two identical buckets. One contains water at 30 degrees Fahrenheit, the other contains water at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I also have two identical pennies and I drop one into each bucket simultaneously. Which penny reaches the bottom of the bucket first?

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Brass in Pocket

(Note: Now that two-pound coins have been introduced, the following puzzle doesn't quite work. For the sake of this puzzle, please assume that the only coins in circulation are of the following denominations: 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, 1. For anyone unfamiliar with British coinage, the one pound coin is worth 100 pence.)

I have several coins in my pocket.
I cannot produce from my pocket exactly one pound in the correct change.
What is the largest amount of money I could have in my pocket?

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A peculiar snooker break

Whilst playing snooker I made a break of eight points.
During this break I potted the yellow ball four times.
How is this possible?

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The Tennis Score

I turned on the radio the other day to hear the commentator say:
"The last six points have been aces by Henman, but Rusedski is still ahead in the match."
From this information I was able to work out the score. What was it?

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Bridge Bidding
(for those who know the system of bidding in the game of bridge)

If the bidding of a hand in bridge went like this: Pass; one spade; pass; pass; double; pass; pass; pass, then for the purposes of this puzzle that would count as eight bids.
Two simple questions:
What is the minimum number of bids possible? - (surely all players must be allowed chance to bid, even if it is only to pass, so the minimum can't be less than four - or can it?)
What is the maximum number of bids possible?
(Note that the answers involve hypothetical bidding patterns which are highly improbable in any real game.)

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The Worst Defence

Here is a nice challenge I came across in The Independent. In the following hand, spades is trumps. If the defenders (West-East) play well then South is unlikely to win more than one trick. But what if the contract is badly defended? Assuming the worst possible defensive play, how many tricks can South make?

SOUTH: spades A J 2: hearts 2: diamonds 9 8 7 6 2: clubs 8 7 6 5
WEST: spades K 10 7 4: hearts K J 8: diamonds J 10 3: clubs A Q 10
NORTH: spades 8 5: hearts Q 9 7 6 5 4 3: diamonds 5: clubs 4 3 2
EAST: spades Q 9 6 3: hearts A 10: diamonds A K Q 4: clubs K J 9

It would help to get a pack of cards and lay out the four hands so that you can appreciate how difficult it is going to be for South to win more than a few tricks. But have a go. You may be surprised how many South can win against a really bad (and completely unlikely) defence.

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The three light switches

Under the stairs in the downstairs hall there are three light switches, each clearly labelled ON and OFF. One of the three controls a light bulb in an upstairs cupboard, and I want to find out which.
There is no way of determining whether the light is on or off without physically walking upstairs to check, but I am feeling lazy and don't feel like tackling the stairs more often than I need to.
Fortunately, there is a method for finding which switch controls the upstairs light which involves fiddling with the switches downstairs and making one single trip upstairs.

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Americans' beards

Statistically speaking, it is a fact that on average Americans' beards grow at half the rate of Englishmen's beards. Why?

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Two Tribes

A shipwrecked sailor woke to find himself on a desert island. One of the natives was sitting nearby. The native, who happened to speak excellent English, explained that the island was inhabited by two tribes - the Mumbo tribe who always spoke the truth, and the Jumbo tribe who always lied.

The sailor asked the native which tribe he belonged to and the native replied, "I am a Jumbo." Should the sailor trust him?

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The Pirates' Plunder

Following a particularly bloodthirsty pirate raid, only four pirates survive. In order of decreasing rank they are the Admiral (only a captain really, but with delusions of grandeur), the Bosun, the Cook and Danny the cabin boy. They have one thousand gold doubloons plunder to share between them. They agree to the following method of deciding how the treasure should be shared.

The pirate of lowest rank will propose a division of the loot and everyone will vote. If the proposal is agreed by more than half of the pirates, then the loot is divided accordingly. If not, the proposer is thrown into the sea and the remaining pirates start again with a new proposal from the next lowest rank.

Danny the cabin boy gets to make his proposal first. What does he suggest?

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A few anagrams

Can you find one-word anagrams of the following?

What about a numerically equivalent anagram of TWELVE PLUS ONE?

Can you turn A SCOTTISH WRITER and A NOVEL into a Scottish writer and a novel?

Which pop star comes from unscrambling PRESBYTERIANS?

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