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Puzzles and Oddities

The first piece is directed at causing transderivational search using several of the techniques discussed in the interrupts section on this site. To be entirely effective, it must be presented orally and without repetition.

Board of Civil Service: Entrance Examination 1999

Paper A. Oral: ie to be spoken to the candidate. No repetition, pens, pencils, paper or conferring permitted (or aloud). Time allowed five minutes. Answer as many questions if you can.

1. There is a duck in front of a duck, a duck behind a duck, and a duck in front of that one. How many ducks are there?
2. A man builds a house with all the walls facing South. One day, he looks out of the window and sees a bear walking by. What colour is the bear?
3. A woman breaks down in her car out in the countryside and calls the rescue services. The mechanic appears, examines the car and has the woman tow his van to the garage. Why?
4. Murphy has eight cows, four goats, thirty-six chickens, a sheep and a wife named Martha. George and Orville Wright, who did not play Fender Stratocaster guitars in a heavy metal band, were the inventors and developers of the first powered aircraft. The third letter in the alphabet may not be 'D', a cube has six faces - whilst a clock has one, and the first word listed in the Oxford Dictionary is 'A'. How many goats does Murphy have?
5. You have a dice on a table before you: three sides are visible, showing 6, 5 and 4 spots respectively. What do the spots on the hidden faces add up to?
6. Which word has more letters, 'visualise' or 'fantasise'?
7. What would you call a donut shaped object made of metal that someone might put on a finger?
8. If you had only one match, one apple, a feather, but no lighter, and went in a pitch black room which contained an oil lamp, an open fire and a gas heater, which would you light first?
9. If you drove a bus containing thirty people from New York stopped at Washington to pick up seven & drop off three, went on to Toronto and picked up seventeen whilst dropping off six, and arrived five hours later back in New York, what would be the driver's name?
10. How many pairs of animals did Moses take into The Ark?
11. Some months have thirty days, some thirty-one. How many have twenty eight?
12. Rearrange the following letters to make an everyday word: R-S-E-D-I-E
13. Visualise the answer to the last question. Now change the 'I' to a 'P', the 'R' to a 'P' and say the new word out loud.
14. Take two apples from three apples, an orange and a banana. What do you have?
15. The wizard rushed out of his castle, raised his wand and shouted "Slacsar! I'm going to have you!" at the peasant girls. If the wizard's curses were always made up from words spelt backwards, what did he actually say? Slacsar is spelt S-L-A-C-S-A-R.
16. These are the instructions on a treasure map. "Starting at point A, walk twenty paces North, sixty paces due East, and twenty paces due South and dig." You follow the instructions and find you are back where you started. Where, geographically, is the treasure buried?
17. A farmer has sixteen sheep, and all but nine die, then three come back to life. How many does he have left?
18. Which is bigger, 17x2, or 19+16?
19. Say the words in this sentence backwards: 'mat the on sat cat the'.
20. If you start from one-hundred, and count down in threes, what's the fifth number you come upon?
21. If LEG=3, ARM=5 and BLUE=4, what is ARM - BLUE + LEG?


This next piece is in a different class: the questions are difficult - but appearr innocent. Pencil and paper is definitely allowed (nay required).

Board of Civil Service: Entrance Examination 1999.

Paper B. Time allowed is as much as you need (and that may be more than you think). Answer as many questions if you can.

1. There are three rivers, The Del, The Moil and The Yerd. The combined length of the rivers is two hundred and forty miles. The Moil is 20 miles shorter than The Del which is 40 miles longer than The Yerd. How long is The Del?

2. A man makes cylindrical barrels to contain apples. The barrels are constructed from plywood of uniform thickness & have a flat circular bottom and a flat circular lid which are both the same thickness as the barrel wall. What should be the ratio of barrel diameter to length to maximise barrel volume & at the same time minimise on the use of plywood?

3. If CROSS + ROADS = DANGER, and S = 3, what is the value of E ?

4. The man was held in a cell with two doors, one of which led to freedom, the other to the gallows. With him in the cell were two warders, one of whom always spoke the truth, the other always told lies. There warders did not converse & there was no way to determine which warder was which. The man was to leave the cell by one of the doors & was allowed to ask one question of one of the warders. The man asked the question & walked out through the door to freedom. What was the question?

5. The clean shaven barber shaves everyone in the village, but nobody shaves the barber. Why?

6. There are twelve billiard balls in a room, each the same colour and exactly the same diameter. One of the balls is a slightly different weight to the others; whether it is heavier or lighter is unknown. In the room, there is also a perfectly accurate balance, the type with two pans. You are allowed three weighings only on the balance. Devise a method to determine which ball is the odd one out and if it is heavy or light.

7. Three men are in the prison for life. It being the King's birthday, they are given a puzzle to solve, the one who can solve it going free. If they try to solve it & get it wrong, death is the punishment. The warders take them into a pitch black unlit room where there are three black hats & two red hats in a box. Each man puts a hat on. In total darkness, they are then led out into a long dark narrow mirrorless corridor & lined up in single file. The warders instruct them that they must walk along the corridor in single file until one of them shouts out the colour of hat he has on. Any attempt to communicate with the other prisoners is punishable by death as is any attempt to turn around or cheat in any other way. The light in the corridor is then turned on & the men walk along in single file for two minutes until one of them shouts out his hat colour & is released. Which one is it & what colour is his hat?

8. A man pushes his car into a hotel car park, pays the hotel owner 200 and then pushes it out. Why?


A literary 'Crossword' type quiz follows.

Kryptokwiz 12: Literature - Find the Titles of the Works

Sonnets from hell
Don't believe a word this Capricornian says
Look in this glen to find Barbie and Ken
Colourless painting of musical scale
Lecherous look from the ruler
There's space in the penthouse
Russian sits above the sound at Plymouth
In June's coming of age, there's a dark fantasy
Ageing Welsh singer?
Cat's mother's brother has a log house
Relativity man loses an eye & becomes straightforward
Knot is tied by these laughing, tipsy women
Missionary's position between a miller and a bird with webbed feet
We've seen the back of these strange haircuts
How narcissists see themselves
Bacon has been rented off
Where's the planet gone?
Business part of vice
Sleepy goat gets abducted
Continue to grind the tooth cleaner
Knack of taking care of your bike without thinking
Solve Conservative victory
Story of the biggest, sharpest, sucker of them all
Belgian gangster's woman
Turn the sprinkler on the infants
Weeping trees have indigestion
She didn't want it, but the cruel EC man made her have it by force
Two fingers with the right hand, and two with the left
Negative physician
Speciality of Bailey the elder
'Who, and where the f*** am I,' she asks.
Tom? Harry? Dick? The latter
US agent in Vietnam? What a wind up!
Main ingredient of furious, raging wine
When he got to the round table, the other eleven had arrived first
Christian gets revolting chocolate bar
Tarzan's woman is going to make a mistake
Chain pulled in by fisherman: get out of that
Wig put on by big clock
Fancy man for gossiping aristocratic woman
Fourteen months pregnant, and the baby's still growing...
Reynolds goes with it & gets the bird
Opportunity for scavenger
Lindisfarne sends quavers
Dance is getting stormy
Turn off M6 near Leigh & walk on water
Dig deep for 'effin coffee
Antique store where they kill cats
Stamp collection, as explained by lisping man
Mammals till the fields here
Satan tosses coin to decide
James got six up in lottery
When they ring time, it's for you
Cops in the dairy cellar?
Middle note on piano deals viciously with others
Baseball player in rough grass
Three Chigago grid-iron players encounter blonde woman


There follows a 'Fantasy' type quiz, which makes use of imagery and symbol. Use it as you will.

Fantasy Quiz: Instructions:

This is a 'fantasy', a psychological quiz specifically designed to probe your subconscious attitudes with some deep, searching questions. The nine questions presented below will tap into and explore your deeper feelings. You will find they are relatively easy to answer logically at first, but will shift from the logical as your imagination becomes engaged to ncreasingly evoke more vivid, uninhibited, emotional responses as you proceed. Write your answers down in the space provided, or alternatively on a clean sheet: be sure to 'let go' and answer with the first thing that comes into your mind; all results are confidential. The only rule is that you must not interrupt/break off or confer. Time limit is fifteen minutes. Remember there are no 'right or wrong' answers (indeed, some previous results from this exercise have been colourful in the extreme - and have proven to be of great benefit to the participants). When you're ready lean back, close your eyes, take a couple of big breaths, see, and feel yourself relaxing, and go with it.

1) You can hear the background sounds around you in your present location, feel the weight of your body against it's support and as you feel the temperature of your hands, you can easily pretend that you're reclining comfortably on a velvety sofa. As your breathing begins to slow down as you relax and the background sounds bgin to fade as you give your attention to the feel the silky texture of the sofa rubbing against your skin. You can still feel the warmth of your hands as you notice that the aroma in the room you are in is unfamiliar but gorgeous. As you bathe in it, and the silky feel of the sofa, it becomes more and more intense and somehow reminds you of the happiest moments of in your life, which you can easily visualise now. The only sounds you can hear in this room are the vague noise of your own breathing and the soft ticking of a clock somewhere behind you and. The gentle, rhythmic ticking seems to slow and become richer, more intense and clear as you listen to it. You stand up slowly and turn, to see an old-fashioned clock lit by a single, tall, scented candle, the only light source in the room. The flame flickers gently as you watch, and you can feel it's gentle warmth. You can see the clock face - the colour, the texture - in great detail; the hands indicate the time is two-fifty and the second-hand is stuck in the twelve o'clock position. Above the hands there's an inscription, the first words of which say 'The pen is ready...' You can't quite make out the rest from where you are, so you move in closer to read it. The rest of words suddenly become perfectly clear: what do they say?

2) OK. We're moving location and time. You can visualise the years slipping away backwards. You're going way back down the ages, whilst maintaining your present form, back to primitive, primeval, prehistoric times, the times of earliest human memory when our ancient ancestors stalked the Earth.
This is a green, primitive, untainted Earth that you have come to, and you've landed in a deep valley. Imagine you're walking up the valley. Where you are, it's wide with a flat slightly undulating, springy, light-coloured floor, but far up ahead it narrows. The walls of the valley are high and comprise smooth limestone walls with rounded tops which stretch well into the distance where they appear to join and form a plateau. You can hear birds singing happily in the distance and the weather is pleasant and sunny with a gentle breeze that you can feel in your hair. You are curious about the structure of this valley, so you walk over and gently rub one of the walls: it sends an exquisite tingle right through your body, a tingle that makes you quiver and remember. You are naked, but feel entirely carefree and unembarrassed since this is a fantasy and anything goes. You'd like to caress the wall some more, but you have to get on: maybe later. As you move along, you notice that just before you there's something on the ground. You approach and inspect it carefully, but unobtrusively. Observe it in great detail now, make it large and give it vivid colours. What is it?

3) What do you do with it? Be sure.

4) What would you have really liked to have done with it?

5) You move on up deeper into the valley and notice something hiding behind a boulder. Em he em oh are why and a spring wells up through the ground to your left. Although a little apprehensive, you know you are safe here and creep over and peek behind. This sets your mind off, reminds you of something. Just picture the scene carefully and describe in detail what's there.

6) You keep on going. The end of the valley comes into view. The walls rear up higher on either side to meet the plateau on which, in the distance, you can make out the outlines of two distant mountains. At the end of the valley there's a forest. A gentle breeze whispers 'Why does the sun shine?' A small seedling in the valley floor smiles, says 'I sometimes pretend that I'm bigger,' then rapidly grows and grows into a huge, vibrant, reassuring tree as you watch. You immediately realise the truth of this and think it's really funny. There's a faint rumble from ahead, and the valley floor begins to shake slightly, but then it stops and the birds begin to sing. Describe your feelings.

7) You press on to the edge of the forest. The trees have the same scent as the candle lighting the clock. Everything before you, you can sense vividly, with great clarity, especially your breathing and the touch of your feet on the ground. You come across an ancient totem pole fashioned from a stripped oak; it bears an inscription. As you are about to read it, a carved head at the top of the pole says: 'Happiness Stands Before You' and winks. For some reason, this gives you a good sensation. You read the inscription. What does it say?

8) You penetrate the outer fringe of the woods and find a man waiting for you. He smiles, embraces you like an old friend and says he's been waiting, hoping you would come. Although the man is a primitive type, you find him attractive in some deep, indefinable way: he reminds you vaguely of a former lover. You feel good, and are neither frightened nor embarrassed. He clasps you by the hand, points to a little hill in the distance with a cave beneath it and slowly grunts in a deep voice: 'One, Two, Four?' What you say?

9) He shakes himself and metamorphoses into a sophisticated modern man. You return to being a modern woman, but remain acutely keenly aware of your ancient roots. He looks deeply into your eyes, gently caresses your face and hair and says softly: ' I sometimes think I live in make-believe land. Empathise: open wide for joy to come deep in thy heart.' The gentle, firm touch of his hand gives you the same quivering sensation as the valley wall. What happens next?


And now another 'Crossword' type quiz.

Kryptokwiz 1: Musical Performers -Find the Artistes Names

Welshman with big knife
Sometimes open, sometimes shut
Creepy crawlies
Not how, why or what...
He's sitting on the toilet with a novel
Guitarist with heavy dose of Pox
This goat-bird divorcee has an old US aircraft
Jewel worshipper's attitude
Blushing TV cook
The low notes are subject to an aerial assault
Who's sleeping with Kruger?
26,26 uppermost
US president's future mode of transport?
With thanks from the coffin
Materially soft walled tunnels
A beam for a prince
This lot originate in Ireland's capital
Picks up the BBC between his ears...
Welsh poet moves up and down
They're meeting in a pleasant harbour
Some bald, some golden
Labour with this cheese spread
Inventor of seed drill
This restaurant is miserable
The first biblical book
Three Canadians in a hurry
German's friends all live alone
Eat your greens in this temporary building
Two Scottish town-criers perhaps
Old motorbike essence?
What do you do when you change abode?
Friends of this little goat fly the Jolly Roger
Wagers on a kangaroo?
How to score 160 with four darts
Pigs, sheep, cows, dogs, etc.
Someone did this (but who?) on the first day Anno Domini
Not city dwellers
Swallowed by a whale? His little lady sounds like she's on the billiard table
Not how, why or what, but...
DDDBMT
Clean out the pretender
Tea served with Kalashnikovs
Social classes 1 and 2, and 2 and 1
R101 in metal?
Little features
You'd be happy to have it if you had a serious disease
Oscillating, Evertonian hose
Zippodee silly canine ensemble
Good looking woman mending the roof
Trio of backward yobs having a very good time
Wendy's captain needs medical assistance
Double take on an obsolete type of machine gun
More than a feeling, a tea party
Soaking, saturated, sodden.
In the affirmative
These lads always start the week with a smile
What John Holmes gave a woman
Would he offer his kingdom for a horse on the edge of a precipice?
Skaters on San Francisco water side
Dancing lessons in Hess's old place?
This is precisely what necessity is
...bam, thank you Ma'am


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