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How to Get Riddle Answers

How do you arrive at riddle and puzzle solutions? It depends on the type of riddle. Here are examples of a few different ones, and some simple rules or techniques you can use to solve them.

The Key Element

If your sock drawer has 6 black socks, 4 brown socks, 8 white socks, and 2 tan socks, how many socks would you have to pull out in the dark to be sure you had a matching pair?

For riddles like this, the fastest way to get an answer is usually to find the "key element." Like many riddles, this is designed to mislead you by mentioning the numbers of socks of each color. The key element, however, is the total number of different colors. You see this easily once you imagine trying to get a matching pair out of a hundred different colors. Since there are only four colors in this case, taking out five socks will guarantee that two of them will match. Look for the key element.

Misleading Clues

Are you good at math? Complete the last two in this sequence: 1=3, 2=3, 3=5, 4=4, 5=4, 6=3, 7=5, 8=5, 9=4, 10=3, 11=?, 12=?

Again, a riddle usually tries to mislead. As soon as you read "Are you good at math?" you should suspect that this is more than a math problem. In fact the answers for both are 6, because that is the number of letters in the name of the numbers. Look for misleading clues.

Look for the "Trick"

A frog fell into a hole that was 14 1/2 feet deep. He could jump 3 feet, but he slid back a foot each time he jumped. How many jumps does it take him to get out of the hole?

The riddle answer might appear to be 8 jumps, because the frog only makes 2 feet of progress each time he jumps. By this reasoning he is at 14 feet after 7 jumps, so he needs one more to get out. However, he actually jumps 3 feet each time, and though he normally slides back a foot, his 7th jump, starting from 12 feet, would take him up and out of the hole. Look for the "trick."

Riddle Answers You Can't Get

What English word is nine letters long, and can remain an English word at each step as you remove one letter at a time, right down to a single letter? List the letter you remove each time and the words that result at each step.

You won't often get the answers to riddles like this. This is more "word trivia" than riddle, because to find the answer, you would probably have to just start going word-by-word through the whole dictionary, testing each nine-letter word. You could try "reverse engineering" your own solution, starting with a one letter word, like "I," and adding a letter at a time: I, in, tin, tint, stint, stints...

Well, that one only makes it to six letters, but you get the point. This, of course, doesn't give you the answer to the original riddle. It is a way to create a new riddle, though, and one for which you'll know the solution.

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