You have two straight iron bars that look the same. One is a magnet and one is not. How can you tell which is which only by touching them together?
Written in prison by Arthur Connor, a prominent figure in the Irish Rebellion of 1798:
The pomps of Courts and pride of kings
I prize above all earthly things;
I love my country, but the King,
Above all men, his praise I sing.
The Royal banners are displayed,
And may success the standard aid.
I fain would banish far from hence
The “Rights of Man” and “Common Sense.”
Confusion to his odious reign,
That foe to princes, Thomas Paine.
Defeat and ruin seize the cause
Of France, its liberties and laws.
Connor escaped in 1807 and made his way to France, where he became a general in the army. “These two apparently loyal verses, if properly read, bear a very different meaning,” writes Henry Dudeney. “Can you discover it?”
By Sam Loyd. White to mate in two moves.
A poser from Jerome S. Meyer’s Puzzle Quiz and Stunt Fun (1956):
“The mark above is the mark of evil. It is the symbol of murder and terror. Millions have died for it and millions have died because of it. Can you tell what it is?”
Twenty-five basketball teams compete in a knockout tournament — each team is eliminated after its first loss. How many games must be played to establish a winner?
1. P-K4 P-K4 2. B-B4 P-R4 3. Q-B3 P-R4 4. QxP mate:
That’s a pretty colorless chess game, but Mike Keith points out that the game score makes an alphametic:
P-K4 + P-K4 + B-B4 + P-R4 + Q-B3 + P-R4 + QxP = IWIN
Replace each letter and symbol (-, x) with a digit, leaving the numbers as they are, to produce a valid equation.
1. You are midway through dealing a bridge hand when a nuclear apocalypse destroys civilization. The bridge table is still upright, and your friends are willing to keep playing, but you can’t remember where you left off dealing. How can you finish dealing this hand without having to start over?
2. Can I stand behind you while you stand behind me?
3. My bed is 10 feet from the light switch. But last week I turned off the light, dashed across the room, and was in bed before the room got dark. How did I manage this?
By James Kipping. White to mate in two moves.
A puzzle by Henry Dudeney:
A robber broke into the belfry of a church, and though he had nothing to assist him but his pocket-knife, he contrived to steal nearly the complete lengths of the two bell-ropes, which passed through holes in the lofty boarded ceiling. How did he effect his purpose? Of course, there was no ladder or aught else to assist him. It is easy to understand that he might steal one rope and slide down the other, but how he cut the two, or any considerable portion of them, without a bad fall, is perplexing.
In a chess game, White plays 1. f3 2. Kf2 3. Kg3 4. Kh4. Black’s fourth move checkmates White. What is the game?
1. f3 e5 2. Kf2 Qf6 3. Kg3 Qxf3+! 4. Kh4 Be7#
White’s play is so suicidal that the task sounds easy, but “this problem is almost impossibly difficult because Qxf3+ is such a horrible move by normal chess standards,” writes former U.S. champion Stuart Rachels. “It is hard for a competent player to consciously consider it.”
Here’s another problem by Sam Loyd:
White to mate in two moves. In 1907 J.H. Blackburne chose this as one of his all-time favorite problems. “It was first published in this country about fifty years ago, and greatly puzzled the solvers of that day, the idea then being entirely new.”
It’s a perfectly fair two-mover — there’s no trickery.