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Category Archives: tantalizer

Tantalizer 369: Find the catch

From New Scientist #919, 17th October 1974 [link]

Hook, Line and Sinker returned separately from a day’s fishing and each reported his catch secretly (but accurately) to George Gudgeon, landlord of The Compleat Idiot. “Well, gents”, George announce later, “Hook caught most and Sinker least. Divide Hook’s by Sinker’s and you get Line’s”.

“Then I know how many each of the others caught”, Hook remarked on reflection.

“So do I”, said Line, after a pause.

“But I don’t”, Sinker complained, after a further pause.

“Never mind, old chap”, said George, “I’ll give you a clue. I’ve been out too and caught less than Hook. If you knew how many I caught, you could work out how many Line got”.

Sinker managed to work out Line’s total without a further word of help, this crowning a good day for him, in which he had caught twice as many fish as he had during the whole previous week.

How many did Hook, Line and Sinker each catch?


Tantalizer 370: Who’s who?

From New Scientist #920, 24th October 1974 [link]

It was one of those gripping telly games where competing families have to pin famous names on famous faces. The faces were numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and the names, as listed by the Pettigrew family of Pinner, were Caesar, Beethoven, Newton, Shakespeare and Wedgewood Benn.

Also competing where the Quintons of Quilhampton, who proposed an order of Shakespeare, Wedgewood Benn, Caesar, Newton, Beethoven. The Ropes from Ruislip opted for Beethoven, Shakespeare, Newton, Wedgewood Benn, Caesar. The Surbiton Smiths listed Shakespeare, Beethoven, Caesar, Newton, Wedgewood Benn; and the Tophams of Tooting gave Shakespeare, Wedgewood Benn, Newton, Caesar, Beethoven.

As no two families got the same number right, the prizes presented no problem. Which of them went home to the envy of their neighbours with the first prize (a set of chrome and teak marrow-stuffers)?


Tantalizer 371: Jolly jumbo

From New Scientist #921, 31st October 1974 [link]

Jumbo holidays announced a jolly fortnight by coach for married couples to Santa Quinina from the Costa Malaria. Despite the restriction, booking was so heavy that every room in every hotel in the place had to be reserved. This made the sums easy, since all the hotels were the same shape and size, each having as many floors as there were hotels and each taking as many guests on each floor as it had floors.

At the last minute some couples cancelled. After reshuffling, the top four floors of the Hotel Dolores were handed back with apologies and all possible spare coaches were laid off, otherwise everything went ahead as planned.

Each coach had seats for exactly four dozen holiday-makers and each holiday maker had a seat. (Drivers do not count, and there were no couriers).

How many empty seats were there on the coaches?


Tantalizer 372: O my hat

From New Scientist #922, 7th November 1974 [link]

Little Arthur is full of curiosity. “Uncle Ebeneezer, please”, he enquired the other day, “Why is it that you sometimes say ‘O My Hat’, when you are vexed, and sometimes say ‘Flip’?”.

“I am not conscious of giving vent to either expression”, his uncle replied with dignity.

“I’ve heard you lots of times. But I can’t find any rhyme or reason. Why the difference?”

“Then I expect there is no difference”, replied the old codger, whose hobby is cryptarithmetic, “and I’m sure a few moments’ thought will show you that they come to the same thing”.

Can you detect the basis of this (correct) prediction?


Tantalizer 373: Hidden thought

From New Scientist #923, 14th November 1974 [link]

“Regular tantalization possesses three advantages for practically everyone. If cheers, regalvanises, even transmogrifies”.

The expression of this striking thought contains four words of a, b, c and d letters respectively such that: 2b² = c²d and a³ – a = 20b and b² = 2bc.

What further thought should now occur to you?


Tantalizer 374: Buried treasure

From New Scientist #924, 21st November 1974 [link]

As is well known, the four famous landmarks on Pirate Island are at the corners of an imaginary square. But did you know that each landmark is the site of a pirate’s treasure? According to legend, Blackbeard buried his ten miles due north-west of Hangman’s Head; Redbeard buried his ten miles due north-east of Skeleton Rock; Yellowbeard buried his ten miles due south-west of Poison Well; Pinkbeard buried his ten miles due south-east of Blood Beach; and Yellowbeard buried his due south of Blood Beach.

Legend thus makes five claims but only four of them are correct.

Where should you dig for what?

A correction to the puzzle was published with Tantalizer 382, this has been incorporated into the text above.


Tantalizer 375: Dandelions

From New Scientist #925, 28th November 1974 [link]

Soccer is a novelty in Deadweed, Idaho. Last year was only the second of the infant League Cup and twenty-five teams competed. This being too many for all to play all, the league was split into two sections, with all the newcomers in one and all the veterans of the opening year in the other. In each section each team played each once, scoring 1 for a win and ½ for a draw. The newcomers played 36 more games than the veterans.

The Dizzy Dandelions once again survived the season without losing a game and emerged with a handsome total of 8 points.

How many of their games had they drawn?


Tantalizer 376: Dealers in death

From New Scientist #926, 5th December 1974 [link]

The four undertakers in our town are named Mumps, Measles, Shingles and Gout. Just at present, believe it or not, each has a son afflicted with the ailment suggested by the name of one of the others and a daughter smitten with the malady expressed by the name of yet another. No two sons have the same disorder; nor do any two daughters.

To put it picturesquely, one illness could be called “the father of the girl with shingles” and Master Gout and Miss Shingles both have it. “The father of the lad with mumps” has been caught by the girl whose father’s name is that of the illness caught by Miss Measles.

In plain English, what’s the matter with Mr Shingles’ lad?

A correction to the puzzle was published with Tantalizer 382, this has been incorporated into the text above.


Tantalizer 377: The case of the fried egg

From New Scientist #927, 12th December 1974 [link]

PC Bobbin, being duly sworn, deposed as follows:

“Acting on information received, I called at the vicarage at midnight on the night in question. There I found the four defendants standing over the charred body of Miss Emily Gertrude Guillemot, better known as The Egg. After completing my inquiries, I administered the usual caution and each of the accused then made two statements. Harry the Horse stated: “I did not kill her. If was Fingers Smith or Little Audrey”. Fingers Smith stated: “I did not kill her. She killed herself”. Mad Mitch stated, “It was not Fingers. It was Harry the Horse or Little Audrey”. Little Audrey stated: “It was not Harry or Fingers. It was Mad Mitch”. I then invited them to accompany me to the station”.

The truth of the grisly affair never did come out at the trial. It is that The Egg was indeed killed by just one of the persons referred to by PC Bobbin in the course of his evidence and that each of the four defendants had made exactly one true statement.

Who, therefore, was the person responsible?


Tantalizer 378: Say when

From New Scientist #928, 19th December 1974 [link]

The Nigma of Ukhbekhishthan are a courteous people, whose custom it is to lend any honoured guest a wife for the night. The Grand Nigma himself has five wives and he gives his guests an ingenious form of choice.

The ladies are lined up at random behind a curtain and are then paraded one at a time. The guests get the one he says “When” to. He cannot summon back any he has once passed over and, if he fails to say “When” to the first four, he gets the fifth.

This is all explained to him, together with a guarantee that no two ladies would prove equally satisfactory by any criterion. Assuming he knows no more about the ladies in advance but does know what quality he is looking for, how should he set about maximising his chances of picking the best? And what are the odds of success?

There are now over 2,100 puzzles available between the Enigmatic Code and S2T2 sites.


Tantalizer 379: Playfair, chaps!

From New Scientist #929, 26th December 1974 [link]


This cryptic message reads, when decoded, “To be or not to be that is the question”. It has been encoded on a 5×5 grid, one which a key phrase has been entered (ignoring duplicate letters) followed by the rest of the alphabet (ignoring X, for which Q does duty when needed). Here the key phrase is “TANTALIZERS” and the grid as in the diagram.


Take the first two letters “TO“. They are the corners of a rectangle whose other corners are “LJ“. Next take “BE“. These lie in the same row so complete the rectangle downwards to get “YU“. (If you have to go off the grid, treat it as a cylinder. Thus “BZ” would encode as “IT“). Equally pairs in the same column like “TZ” are completed by the rectangle to the right, “AE“, with the grid treated if necessary, as a vertical cylinder. If the next pair every consists of two identical letters, insert a “Z” into the original text. If the text has an odd number of letters in total, add a “Z” at the end. Encode each pair by moving clockwise from the first letter of the pair on the grid.

That is the famous Playfair cipher. Now here is another message suited to the time of year and based on a two-word key, which I got from a mad hep psychiatrist. Can you decode it?



Tantalizer 380: Tribute

From New Scientist #930, 2nd January 1975 [link]

Tantalos of Thrace bowed low before King Xerxes and declared, “I bring your Majesty some goats, more sheep and yet more oxen, may it please your Majesty.”

“How many of each?” inquired the king.

“3150, Sire, …”

“That is satisfactory.”

“… If multiplied together.”

“That is not satisfactory. How many of each dolt?”

“As many in total, when added together, as the number of your Majesty’s wives.”

“I cannot deduce the exact number of each from that, O base Greek. How many of the beast are oxen?”

“Less than half the total, Sire.”

“Now I can deduce the number of each and it is not satisfactory.”

How many of each had Tantalos brought?

This completes the archive of Tantalizer puzzles from 1975. So we have a complete archive of puzzles from 1975 – 1989 (15 years), and also from 1998 – 2013 (16 years).

Between Enigmatic Code and S2T2 there are now 2078 puzzles available.


Tantalizer 381: Mastermind

From New Scientist #931, 9th January 1975 [link]

“Our next contestant is Thomas Chalk, a retired schoolmaster from Uxbridge. Good evening, Mr Chalk, your chosen subject is Ruritanian royalty. The house of Kohlenbuttel, I need not remind you, gave Ruritania seven kings, the crown descending throughout directly from father to son on each occasion. Your task, Mr Chalk, is to say how many of these seven statements are true.

1. King Dachs was not the grandson of King Fruhling.
2. King Adolf was not the great grandson of King Gunther.
3. King Eiche was a descendant of King Dachs.
4. King Gunther was not the great great grandson of King Carolus.
5. King Bohnen was not great great great great grandson of King Eiche.
6. King Gunther was the son or grandson of the first Kohlenbuttel king.
7. King Dachs was not the first Kohlenbuttel king.

Well, Mr Chalk? You said, “Two”. That is perfectly correct. Perhaps you would just list the kings in their right order…”


Tantalizer 382: Tally ho!

From New Scientist #932, 16th January 1975 [link]

The Jorrocks Club is for those who hunt, shoot and fish, as the five silver cups in the foyer bear witness. Kitty Kite won one of them this year — the first woman ever to do so. The other four changed hands among last year’s winners, one of whom, as you can see, failed to get a cup at all.

Oliver Osprey, previously successful only on horseback, has won one of the two shooting cups. Micky Mouse has won the cup won by Nathaniel Newt last year. The Walton Cup is the only one for fishing and it has just gone to the man whose previous cup Larry Lamb has won. Kitty Kite gained her cup from the present holder of the Bisley Cup for shooting. Last year’s winner of the Walton Cup has won the Target Cup for shooting. Peter Pigeon held the Stirrup Cup for hunting last year. The other one for hunting is the Jockey Cup.

Who now holds which cup?


Tantalizer 383: Peace plan

From New Scientist #933, 23rd January 1975 [link]

Little Fiddling has a bench of eight magistrates, whom we may call A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H. Their worships sit in threes and try to strike terror into the poaching fraternity.

Be that as it may, there is a rule that each trio must contain at least one man and at least one woman. This causes the Clerk to the Justices great trouble but he tries his best. Here is his list of trios for the next 10 courts:

(1) A B G;
(2) A B H;
(3) A C D;
(4) A E F;
(5) A E H;
(6) B C E;
(7) B D E;
(8) B F H;
(9) C G H;
(10) D G H.

Has he broken the rule or has he not or is there no way of telling?


Tantalizer 384: Twice two is eight

From New Scientist #934, 30th January 1975 [link]

“Can you spell softly?” Humpty-Dumpty asked next, cupping a hand to his ear. Alice obligingly shouted as load as she could, “S-O-F-T-L-Y.”

“That wasn’t softly, child. Why you nearly deafened me. Perhaps you are better at multiplication. What is twice two?”

“Four”, Alice replied, pleased to know the answer for once.

“Wrong. Twice two is eight.”

“But twice two are four”, protested Alice, starting to cry.

“I never said they aren’t. What I meant was ‘TWO × TWO = EIGHT‘. Each different letter stands for a different digit, you see, and you must make H larger than G. Now can you do it?”

Well, can you?


Tantalizer 385: The Masked Mauler

From New Scientist #935, 6th February 1975 [link] [link]

Hokum Fair bids all comers fight a bout with the Masked Mauler, starting this Sunday. £1 to the winner. Or brave souls can undertake to fight the fellow on four consecutive nights and win £10, if successful on three consecutive nights. Those trying for £10 must fight only those four bouts and will win £10 or nothing at all. The fair closes next Saturday.

Nevertheless, young Jim Hawkins is proposing to risk it. A little bird has told him that the Masked Mauler is in truth three bruisers, of whom Artful Alf (the weakest) will perform on Sunday and Wednesday, Battling Bertie (the toughest) on Monday and Thursday and Cauliflower Charlie on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.

Which four nights do you suggest that Jim has his go?


Tantalizer 386: A boring problem

From New Scientist #936, 13th February 1975 [link]

Professor Pfiffelsammler is quite pleased with his new monograph on Milton’s treatment of insects in Paradise Lost. In length it cannot, of course, match Professor Wahnsinn’s 1000 page study of the topic but it is livelier and contains four jokes, one of which may be original.

He has just had a copy from the printers and is delighted with everything, even down to the printing of the page numbers. These occur at the bottom of each side and, he has noticed, the right hand digit of each number is in exactly the same place. In other words, if a small bookworm chanced on the book when closed and ate its way vertically downwards from the number “1” on page one to the end, it would bore a hole through the digit on each of the first nine sides and through the right hand digit on every other side. If it then ate its way back vertically upwards, starting with the left hand digit of the even number on the final side, it would bore a hole through 46 digits on its upward path by the time it got back to page one.

How many numbered sides are there in the book?


Tantalizer 387: Fair deal

From New Scientist #937, 20th February 1975 [link]

Here is a little test of your skill at dealing for Bridge. Counting 4 for an Ace, 3 for a King, 2 for a Queen and 1 for a Jack, you must give each player 10 points. No one is to have both red Aces or more than one Queen. The King and Queen of Diamonds are to be in different hands. North is to have no Kings and South no Jacks. South and West are to be void in the same two suits. The King and Queen of Clubs are not to be in the same hand. East is not to have the Jack of Hearts.

Who will get which of the key 16 cards?


Tantalizer 388: Consequences

From New Scientist #938, 27th February 1975 [link]

Mickey Mouse met Princess Margaret in the coal shed;
he said to her, “Let’s elope”;
she said to him, “Not before breakfast”;
and all the world wept.

That was what was written on the bit of paper I had at the end of Consequences at Aunt Gertrude’s Christmas party.

My sisters, too, were able to restrain their laughter. One had:

Liberace met Twiggy at Euston;
he said, “Let’s elope”;
she said, “Vive la difference!”;
and all the world cheered.

The next had:

King Kong met Princess Margaret in the coal shed;
he said “Let’s elope”;
she said, “Golly!”;
and all the world whistled.

The next had:

The Pope met Boadicea at Euston;
he said, “Ave Maria”;
she said, “Not before breakfast”;
and all the world sighed.

The last had:

Attila met Princess Margaret on the moon;
he said “Ave Maria”;
she said, “Whoopee!”;
and all the world forget.

“Jolly Good!” brayed Auntie, passing the swede wine. “Mine ends: ‘and all the world snorted’. As for the rest, each of you have two bits of it in their places. I’ll just go and make some semolina for supper, while you word out what’s on my paper.”


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