Hidden in Sight

This puzzling verse, from a contributor named “Maude,” appeared in the Weekly Wisconsin of Sept. 29, 1888:

Perhaps the solvers are inclined to hiss,
Curling their nose up at a con like this.
Like some much abler posers I would try
A rare, uncommon puzzle to supply.
A curious acrostic here you see
Rough hewn and inartistic tho’ it be;
Still it is well to have it understood,
I could not make it plainer, if I would.

(In the second line, “con” means “contribution.”)

What are the concealed words?

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A Curious Exchange

Census Taker: How old are your three daughters?

Mrs. Smith: The product of their ages is 36, and the sum of their ages is the address on our door here.

Census Taker: (after some figuring) I’m afraid I can’t determine their ages from that …

Mrs. Smith: My eldest daughter has red hair.

Census Taker: Oh, thanks, now I know.

How old are the three girls?

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The Canals on Mars


From Sam Loyd:

Here is a map of the newly discovered cities and waterways on our nearest neighbor planet, Mars. Start at the city marked T, at the south pole, and see if you can spell a complete English sentence by making a tour of all the cities, visiting each city only once, and returning to the starting point.

When this puzzle originally appeared in a magazine, more than fifty thousand readers reported, ‘There is no possible way.’ Yet it is a very simple puzzle.

I’ll withhold the answer.

Arms Race

Four missiles are located in the corners of a square 20 miles on each side. All are launched simultaneously, and each homes in on the one on its left at 1 mile per second. How much time will pass before they meet?

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Claws and Effect

From Lewis Carroll’s first textbook in symbolic logic:

  1. No kitten that loves fish is unteachable.
  2. No kitten without a tail will play with a gorilla.
  3. Kittens with whiskers always love fish.
  4. No teachable kitten has green eyes.
  5. No kittens have tails unless they have whiskers.

What conclusion can be drawn from these premises?

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Escape From Elephantistan

Well, you’ve gone and murdered someone again. And this time you’ve done it in Elephantistan, which is renowned for its peculiar justice system.

The jury is divided, so you will decide your own fate. You’re presented with two urns, each of which contains 25 white balls and 25 black ones. Blindfolded, you must choose an urn at random and then draw a ball from it; a black ball means death, but a white one means you go free.

Tradition gives you the option to distribute the balls however you like between the two urns before you don the blindfold. This is thought to be a formality, as the total proportion of white balls to black does not change.

What should you do?

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