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99 Brain Games Guaranteed to Boost Your Brain Power

Every month, Reader's Digest publishes a few brain games in the magazine to help you become a genius. See how many you can solve.

Puzzle of various brain lobesDavid Malan/Getty Images

Brain games

Your brain isn’t a muscle—in fact, it’s mostly fat!—but the right kind of mental exercise can help keep it in shape. These puzzles are designed to give your problem-solving, reasoning, and concentration skills a workout. And they come in varying degrees of difficulty, so pace yourself! Also, try to solve these logic puzzles that will keep you guessing.

brain games - novemberSue Dohrin, The Noun Project (5)

The good life

Each of five neighborhood dogs is enjoying one of the following activities. Based on the clues, can you figure out what each pooch is doing?


  • Saber
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Pepper
  • Bear


  • Getting ears scratched
  • Playing catch
  • Taking a nap
  • Burying a chew toy
  • Going for a walk


  • Pepper is either playing catch or burying a chew toy.
  • Neither Ginger nor Saber nor Bear is on a walk.
  • One of the dogs named after a spice is getting her ears scratched (and loving it).
  • A dog who is not named for a spice is playing catch.
  • Bear is getting some exercise.

Try out some of the most challenging jigsaw puzzles you can buy.

brain games - novemberSue Dohrin, The Noun Project (5)


Saber is taking a nap, ­Ginger is getting her ears scratched, Nutmeg is ­going for a walk, Pepper is burying a chew toy, and Bear is playing catch.

brain games - novemberEmily Goodman, The Noun Project

Hidden hues

The names of six different colors are hidden between consecutive words in the silly story below. Can you find them all? Example: Much art reuses themes and motifs from previous eras. (chartreuse)

Sure, it’s fancy and all, but my brother’s car lets out a strange noise when you start it. I find I go too hard on him sometimes, but he did waste a lot of money customizing the exterior, only to leave the generic rims on it and forgo all routine maintenance. Hitting the road? Here are some of the best road trip games to play.

brain games - novemberEmily Goodman, The Noun Project


Cyan (fancy and), scarlet (brother’s car lets), indigo (find I go), teal (waste a lot), crimson (generic rims on), tan (it and). See if you can find the turtle hidden in this picture.

brain games - novemberMarcel Danesi

Cryptic equations

Each letter (A–G) has one of the seven values listed above. No two letters have the same value. Match each letter to a number to make the equations work. These are the best-reviewed board games to play during quarantine.

brain games - novemberMarcel Danesi


A = 2, B = 5, C = 7, D = 4, E = 6, F = 8, G = 11. If you want to try something a little easier, check out these riddles for kids.

brain games - novemberJeff Widderich


These four cogs are going to help you crack a safe. Naturally, when you turn one cog, the other three move as well. Imagine you turn all four the number of notches specified in the center of each cog in the direction indicated. The teeth that are then positioned next to the circles reveal a four-digit safe combination. What is it? Read up on these fascinating facts about your favorite games.

brain games - novemberJeff Widderich


8, 2, 8, 1. Try these easy riddles (with answers) that anyone can solve.

expand and conquer brain game. First row: 35, 15, 5. Second row: 68, 48, 32, 6. Third row: 79, 63, 18, 8. Fourth row: 87...Darren Rigby

Expand and conquer

Each of these sequences follows the same rule, and each one continues until it resolves to a number under ten, at which point it naturally comes to a stop. How should the sequence starting with 87 continue? For more of a challenge, check out the hardest puzzles you can get on Amazon.

expand and conquer answer: 87, 56, 30, 0Darren Rigby


87, 56, 30, 0. Multiply the digits in a number to get the next number.

In which group does this tile belong?Darren Rigby

Sort it out

The eight tiles above have been sorted into two groups according to a rule. Part of this rule is that in Group A, the three dots on each tile are arranged clockwise starting with the dot on top, and in Group B, they’re arranged counterclockwise.

Group BDarren Rigby


Group B. The dots on each tile are in alphabetical order by color (Blue, Green, ­Orange, Purple, Red, ­Yellow), with Group A ­going clockwise from the top dot and Group B counterclockwise.

Four playing cards, one of each suit, lie in a row on a table. They are a three, a four, a five, and a six. Using these clues, can you determine the cards’ suits and their order?Fraser Simpson

Here’s the deal

Four playing cards, one of each suit, lie in a row on a table. They are a three, a four, a five, and a six. Using these clues, can you determine the cards’ suits and their order?

  • The cards on either side of the four are black.
  • The club is to the right of the three but not next to it.
  • The spade is to the left of the heart.
  • The middle two cards add up to an even number. Neither of them is a club.
Left to right: Three of diamonds, six of spades, four of hearts, five of clubs.Fraser Simpson, The Noun Project


Left to right: Three of diamonds, six of spades, four of hearts, five of clubs.

Noel is about to put the finishing touches on the snowman he built. He has already placed the ­buttons and sticks (as shown), but he has a few other decorations as well. They are:Emily Goodman, The Noun Project (6)

The fashionable snowman

Noel is about to put the finishing touches on the snowman he built. He has already placed the ­buttons and sticks (as shown), but he has a few other decorations as well. They are:

  • A top hat
  • A festive scarf
  • A carrot, for the nose
  • A pipe
  • A vest

Noel might use all of these items, though he will certainly use no fewer than three. How many different combinations are possible?

16Emily Goodman



D, blank, I, blank, y299 On-The-Go Games & Puzzles to Keep Your Brain Young (Workman Publishing Company)

Fill in the blanks

How many common English words can you make by adding a letter to each of the blanks below? We found seven. Proper nouns don’t count.

Daily, dairy, daisy, deify, deity, doily, drily.299 On-The-Go Games & Puzzles to Keep Your Brain Young (Workman Publishing Company)


Daily, dairy, daisy, deify, deity, doily, drily.

double trouble phrases

Double trouble

Rephrase each item below as a pair of rhyming words. Hint: Each item’s number is also the number of syllables in each word in the answer.

  1. A comfortably tight embrace
  2. A safari animal born in September or October
  3. A softcover book for a flannel-wearing woodworker
  4. A well-read office assistant
  5. A formal statement given by a witness at an official gathering
double trouble answers


1. Snug hug

2. Libra zebra

3. Lumberjack paperback

4. Literary secretary

5. Ceremonial testimonial

we leave you hanging brain game illustrationDarren Rigby

We leave you hanging

Each of these paintings must be hung on the wall on one of the hooks shown. Naturally, the hook goes in the middle of the top edge of the painting so it hangs straight. Paintings can touch but cannot overlap. How can you hang all five without moving any hooks?

we leave you hanging brain games answer illustrationDarren Rigby


three cheers brain games. three strollers.The Noun Project

Three cheers

Ruby and Lewis are expecting … triplets! They already know what they will name their children, but they aren’t sharing the names until the babies are born. For now, all they’ll say is this:

  • All three babies are boys.
  • Their names are six letters long and anagrams of one another.
  • Their names include both their parents’ initials but none of the other letters in their parents’ first names.

What will Ruby and Lewis name their triplets?

Text: Arnold Roland Ronald


Arnold, Roland, Ronald.

red shirt, yellow shirt, blue shirt, green shirt illustrationFraser Simpson, The Noun Project

True blue

Daniel, Emily, Marciano, and Christina are all wearing solid-colored shirts. The colors of their four shirts are red, yellow, green, and blue. Only the person wearing blue tells the truth, while the other three lie. They make the following statements:

Daniel: “Marciano is wearing red.”
Emily: “Daniel is not wearing yellow.”
Marciano: “Emily is wearing blue.”
Christina: “I’m going to wear blue tomorrow.”

Can you determine each person’s shirt color, and whether we can expect to see Christina in blue tomorrow?

answer illustration: shirts labeled with each nameFraser Simpson, The Noun Project


Daniel is wearing yellow, Emily is in red, Marciano is in green, and Christina is in blue. Christina will wear a blue shirt again tomorrow.

odd die out illustrationMarcel Danesi

Odd die out

Here’s a flat template that can be folded into a cube. Which of the views below does not represent the resulting cube?

odd die out answerMarcel Danesi


C. These brainteasers for kids will help to beat boredom.

In a State example illustration

In a state

All the letters in Ohio appear—albeit in a different order—in both North Carolina and South Carolina (but not in Washington, which has only one o). Can you figure out the state whose letters appear in a total of three state names?

In a State answer


The letters in Utah appear in South Carolina, South Dakota, and Massachusetts.

ufo illustration with starsThe Noun Project

Alien math

A visiting professor from a distant galaxy tells you that on her planet, half of 10 is 6. If the same proportion holds true, what would she say is one sixth of 30?

alien math answer: 6



icons illustration. gumball machine, crystals, cotton, pill, palm treesThe Noun Project (5)

This, not that

Matt is a bit odd. He likes only certain things. Can you figure out why he likes what he does from the following clues?

    • He likes gum, but not mints.
    • He likes the beach, but not the ocean.
    • He likes cotton, but not wool.
    • He likes medicine, but not doctors.
    • He likes crystal, but not quartz.
text: gumball, beach ball, cotton ball, medicine ball, crystal ball


Matt likes types of balls (gumball, beach ball, etc.).

hot dogs iconsThe Noun Project

Hot diggity dog

Charmaine is shopping for her big weekend barbecue. Her budget: $100. It costs $4 for a package of ten hot dogs and $3 for a package of eight buns. How many packages of each should she buy to maximize how many hot dogs she can serve? (Hint: She can have extra of either, but she won’t serve a hot dog without a bun.)

hot dogs iconsThe Noun Project


Charmaine should buy 13 packages of hot dogs and 16 packages of buns. She will spend exactly $100 and be able to serve 128 hot dogs.

number jumbler illustrationMarcel Danesi

Number jumbler

Find five numbers in the circle that add up to 35. None of the five numbers are used more than once.

Note: There are also combinations of fewer than five numbers that add up to 35, but those combinations don’t count. (Pun intended.)

number jumbler answer illustrationMarcel Danesi


3, 5, 6, 9, and 12.

fill in the blank illustration: (blank)(blank)I(blank)Z

Fill in the blanks

How many common English words (no proper nouns, please) can you make by adding a letter to each of the blanks below? We found five.

fill in the blank illustration with answers: blitz, fritz, frizz, glitz, whizz


Blitz, fritz, frizz, glitz, and whizz.

camp illustrations by maria amadorMaria Amador for Reader's Digest (4)

Summer camp

Abigail, Oliver, Rosa, and Blake all attend the same summer camp, where they can cook, kayak, rock climb, and zip-line. Each child has a different favorite activity. Can you figure out who likes what best based on the following clues?

  • Abigail’s favorite activity isn’t rock climbing.
  • Oliver is afraid of heights.
  • Rosa can’t do her favorite activity without a harness.
  • Blake likes to keep his feet on the ground at all times.
camp answersMaria Amador for Reader's Digest (4)


Abigail likes to zip-line, ­Oliver likes to kayak, Rosa likes to rock climb, and Blake likes to cook.

full circle brain gameMarcel Danesi

Full circle

What number should appear in place of the question mark?

full circle brain games answerMarcel Danesi


4321. Moving right, the last digit in the circle becomes the first digit in the next. The other three digits stay in the same order.

shorthanded brain games questionMarcel Danesi


Which cards are missing in the third and fourth hands?

shorthanded brain games answerMarcel Danesi


Each hand has all four suits. The number on the fourth card in each hand is the sum of the numbers on the first and third cards, and the number on the second card is the sum of the numbers on the first and fourth cards.

double troube brain gameEmily Goodman

Double trouble

Rephrase each item below as a pair of rhyming words. Hint: A phrase’s number is also the number of syllables in each word in the answer.

  1. A purse from northern Europe
  2. A manly tortilla chip covered in cheese
  3. An eatery with a blasé attitude
  4. A docile teenager
  5. An association specializing in spontaneity
double trouble brain game answerEmily Goodman


  1. Dutch clutch
  2. Macho nacho
  3. Nonchalant restaurant
  4. Acquiescent adolescent
  5. Improvisation organization
may flowers brain games question. illustration by maria amador.Maria Amador for Reader's Digest

May flowers

Emma is playing in a field where there are bees buzzing around some flowers. She notices that if one bee lands on each flower, one bee doesn’t get a flower. She also notices that if two bees land on each flower, one flower doesn’t get any bees. How many flowers and bees are there? Also, try out these brain games that will help you get smarter.

may flowers brain games answer. illustration by maria amador.Maria Amador for Reader's Digest


Four bees and three flowers.

give my five question illustrationMarcel Danesi

Give me five

If all five grids share a common feature, what’s the missing number? Here are some word search puzzles that you can print for free.

give me five answerMarcel Danesi


5. (The numbers in each grid add up to 30.)

opposite day questionPuzzleopedia

Opposite day

In each of the following pairs of words, switch one letter from the first word with one letter from the second word to form pairs of opposites. The switched letters can come from anywhere in either word. If your dog needs a brain boost too, try one of these puzzle toys for dogs.


opposite day answerPuzzleopedia



jigsaw shuffler question. illustrated puzzle pieces by maria amador.Darren Rigby, Maria Amador for Reader's Digest

Jigsaw shuffler

Assuming all the tabs and slots on jigsaw pieces A and B are compatible with each other, how many different ways can you put these two pieces together? If you want a game for the whole family, try these best-reviewed board games.

eight. jigsaw shuffler answer.Darren Rigby



apple, orange wedge, pear, grapes. not hints to the answers.The Noun Project (4)The Noun Project (4)

Hidden produce

The names of five different fruits are hidden between consecutive words in the silly story below. Can you find them all?

Example: Washington, DC, and Lima, Peru, are on the same longitude. (melon)

A man goes to a lumberyard. He has little money, so he’s looking for cheap lumber. But the prices are too high. Suddenly feeling really cheeky, the man decides to steal the wood he needs and, like a skilled escape artist, manages to slip away without arousing suspicion. This is why jigsaw puzzles are good for your brain.

apple, orange wedge, pear, grapes. not hints to the answers.The Noun Project (4)The Noun Project (4)


Mango (man goes), lemon (little money), plum (cheap lumber), ­lychee (really cheeky), pear (escape artist).

sum-thing special questionMarcel Danesi

Sum-thing special

Each letter from A to I has one of the nine values listed below. No two letters have the same value. Match each letter to a number to make the equations work.

sum-thing special answerMarcel Danesi


A = 1, B = 4, C = 8, D = 12, E = 17, F = 5, G = 16, H = 21, I = 18

money icon on light green backgroundThe Noun Project

Fickle friends

Kristen’s friends want to buy her a wedding gift. Originally ten friends were going to chip in equally, but then two of them dropped out. Each of the remaining eight friends had to chip in another dollar to bring the total back up to the original amount. How much money did they plan to collect?

"$40" on light green background


$40 ($4 each split among ten friends or $5 each split among eight friends)

Dominoes questionMarcel Danesi


One of these dominoes is not like the others. Which one is it?

dominoes answerMarcel Danesi


The sum of the dots on the top and bottom halves of each domino is an odd number—except for the domino in the top right corner, where it is an even number.

crossfit question illustrationMarcel Danesi


Supply the missing numbers.

crossfit solution illustrationMarcel Danesi


3 and 7. In each grid, add the top number to the one in the center to get the number on the left. Then add the center number to the one on the bottom to get the number on the right.

time for a tune question illustrationSue Dohrin

Time for a tune

Musical notation divides time into equal sections known as measures. The ­legend shows what fraction of a measure each type of note takes up when you’re playing in 4/4 time. How many measures will have elapsed once you finish playing the sequence of notes above in 4/4 time?

time for a tune solution illustrationSue Dohrin


4 measures, as shown by the dividing bars.

kangaroo words question text

Kangaroo words

Kangaroo words contain the letters—in order—of another word that means almost the same thing as the original word. For example, the r, e, s, and t from respite form rest. Find the kangaroo words in the terms below.


kangaroo words solution text


Dead, tutor, raucous, spot, amble.

math with matches question illustration

Math with matches

Change the position of two matchsticks in order to create a correct equation.

math with matches solution illustration


anonymous calendar pagesMarcel Danesi

Presidents’ Day

George, William, John, Abe, and Millard have their birthdays on consecutive days. This year, all their birthdays land between Monday and ­Friday. Can you figure out whose birthday is on each weekday?

  • George’s birthday is as many days before Millard’s as William’s is after Abe’s.
  • John is two days older than Abe.
  • Millard’s birthday is on Thursday.
smiley face calendar pagesMarcel Danesi


Monday: John; Tuesday: George; Wednesday: Abe; Thursday: Millard; Friday: William.

locking doors question illustrationDarren Rigby

Locking doors

Each of the symbols in this diagram represents a door that is closed but unlocked. When you open a door, all the other doors with the same symbol become locked and cannot be passed through. Can you get from one side of the maze to the other?

locking doors answer illustrationDarren Rigby


mix it up text

Mix it up

An anagram is a word or phrase created by rearranging the letters of a word or phrase into a new term. We call the ones below super-­anagrams because the mixed-up phrase creates a loose definition of the original. For instance, “acts phony” and “sycophant.” Can you figure out the super-anagrams for these terms?

  1. Moon starer
  2. Bad credit
  3. Bag manager
mix it up text


  1. Astronomer
  2. Debit card
  3. Garbage man

Can you find all of the hidden shapes in this photo?

high point question illustrationMarcel Danesi

High point

What’s the missing number?

high point answer illustrationMarcel Danesi


4. The number at the center of each triangle is equal to the sum of the numbers at its base multiplied by the number at its apex. For example, (8 + 3) x 2 = 22.

stylized minimal bowl of fruitThe Noun Project

Word play

Mary needs to bring a fruit salad to the annual holiday party, but some of her friends are very picky eaters. Based on her shopping list below, can you figure out what type of fruit they like?

Mary bought a banana, not a strawberry.
Mary bought a kiwi, not a pear.
Mary bought an apple, not an apricot.
Mary bought an orange, not a peach.
Mary bought a mango, not a grapefruit.

text "a, e, i, o, u"


Mary’s friends prefer fruits with names that end with vowels.

magic box illustration gridFraser Simpson

Magic box

Place a number from 1 to 9 in each empty cell of this square so that each row, each column, and both main diagonals add up to the same sum. (You must determine this sum.) The same number can appear more than once.

magic box answer illustration gridFraser Simpson


silhouette of a man in a push up positionFraser Simpson, Nebojsa Kontic/Shutterstock (silhouette)

Muscle building

Tom resolved to get in shape by doing push-ups every morning before work. Each day from Monday to Friday, he did ten more push-ups than he’d done the day before. If Tom did 50 push-ups on Thursday, how many push-ups did he do in total from Monday to Friday?

muscle building answer text "200"


200 push-ups.

square space question illustration with arranged checkersMarcel Danesi

Square space

There are 12 checkers on a table, arranged as shown. Four adjacent checkers can be united in a square. Including the one outlined, how many possible groupings are there of four checkers that form a square?

square space illustration with arranged checkersMarcel Danesi


Six groupings.

Shape Shuffle QMarcel Danesi

Shape shuffle

Rearrange the shapes into a new sequence that follows these rules:

  • The triangle is to the immediate left of the pentagon.
  • The circle is to the left of the square and to the right of the triangle.
  • The octagon is not the last figure in the sequence.
  • No shape remains in its original position.
Shape Shuffle AnswerMarcel Danesi


To boost your brain more, try these printable crossword puzzles.

Take the Stairs Question illustrationMarcel Danesi

Take the stairs

Proceeding up the staircase, the numbers form a logical sequence. What number belongs on the top step?

take the stairs answer text 840


840. Each number is found by multiplying the number that corresponds to its step by the number that precedes it.

bacon and eggs vector illustrationThe Noun Project

Bacon or eggs?

Gwen has very particular tastes. Can you figure out the rule behind her culinary preferences?
Gwen likes bacon, but not eggs.
Gwen likes lemon, but not lime.
Gwen likes jelly, but not marmalade.
Gwen likes pasta, but not rice.

bacon or eggs answer text five letters


Gwen likes foods that are five letters long.

Pointing the Way question illustrationJeff Widderich

Pointing the way

Move the numbers from the outer frame onto the board so they snake together vertically, horizontally, or diagonally in sequence from 1 to 25. (For example, 2 must touch both 1 and 3.) The catch: You can only move a number in the direction indicated on its home square. Each number fits in its own cell.

pointing the way answer illustrationJeff Widderich


timing is everything brain gamesSue Dohrin, The Noun Project (clock)

Timing is everything

Rich lives in the Eastern Standard Time zone. His sister, Barbara, lives in the Central European Time zone, six hours ahead of him. Rich works between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. in his local time and goes to sleep each evening at 10 p.m. on the dot. Barbara works between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and always goes to sleep at 11:30 p.m. in her own local time. Is there any window in which Rich could call Barbara after his workday without interrupting her on the job or disturbing her sleep?

timing is everything brain games


Yes, between 5 and 5:30 p.m. EST.

enigma brain gamesDarren Rigby


What should the next diagram in this sequence look like?

enigma brain gamesDarren Rigby


The diagrams are numbers counting up by 14, pushed together so they overlap slightly. The sequence leaves off at 70, so the next diagram should represent 84.

sum-thing special brain gamesFraser Simpson

Sum-thing special

Each letter from A through H has one of the eight values listed below, and no two letters have the same value. Which number goes with which letter to make all the equations true?

2 3 4 5 8 12 13 17

F + A = C
G + B = D
F + D = H
B + H = C
E + G = B

sum-thing special brain games


A = 13, B = 5, C = 17, D = 8, E = 2, F = 4, G = 3, H = 12.

an imperfect fit brain gamesSue Dohrin

An imperfect fit

Imagine the two-dimensional shape D is fixed in place and sits in a three-sided box. Shapes A, B, and C can be rotated and placed onto D only from above and cannot stick out past the box on the right or left. One of the three cannot be placed onto D without leaving blank space beneath it in the box. Which one?

an imperfect fit brain gamesSue Dohrin



Marcel Danesi

Counting digits

How many times does the digit 5 occur in the numbers from 1 to 100?

Marcel Danesi


Twenty times. The digit 5 appears ten times as a last digit (5, 15, 25 … 95) and ten times as a first digit (50, 51, 52 … 59). Check out these word puzzles that will leave you stumped.

Fraser Simpson

Match play

The grid contains matches of different sizes, any of which may be completely unburned, partially burned, or completely burned. Matches burn from the head (the red end) to the tail without skipping segments. The numbers outside the grid indicate the number of burned segments in the corresponding row or column. Can you shade in the burned segments to “match” the numbers?

Fraser Simpson


Try these morning brain boosters to keep your mind sharp.

Marcel Danesi

Lost time

Sophie and Caroline made arrangements to meet at a café at 2 p.m. Sophie thinks her watch is 25 minutes fast, although it is actually 10 minutes slow. Caroline thinks her watch is 10 minutes slow, while it is actually 5 minutes fast. What will happen if they both aim to arrive exactly on time?

Marcel Danesi


Sophie will be 35 minutes late. Caroline will arrive at 1:45 p.m., 15 minutes ahead of time. See if you can solve these really tricky brain teasers.

Meteor showers bring spring flowers

Space dust has landed on Earth, carrying with it seeds for exotic new alien flowers. One of them still lacks a name. If the xenobotanists follow the same rules they used to create the other terms, what should they call the last flower?


Cosmofilium jupibristo. The first half of the top term tells the color of the flower’s center; the last half is the petal color. The first half of the bottom term tells the shape of the flower’s center; the last half is the shape of the petals.

Quick crossword

Place the words listed below in the crossword grid.


Only the smartest people can solve these detective riddles.

Marcel Danesi; illustration: iStock

The long and short of it

Six neighborhood children—Leisha, Benito, Delia, Charlotte, Weldon, and Zina—were measured yesterday. Weldon is taller than Delia but shorter than Zina. Leisha is taller than Benito but shorter than Delia and Weldon. Benito is not the shortest. List the kids in order of height from tallest to shortest.

Marcel Danesi


Zina, Weldon, Delia, Leisha, Benito, Charlotte.

Roderick Kimball

Bubble math

A whole number between one and seven belongs in each of the seven bubbles. Each number occurs once. The sums of some of the numbers are revealed in the areas where their bubbles overlap. Can you figure out which number goes in each bubble?

Roderick Kimball


Test your numbers knowledge with these math riddles.

Darren Rigby


None of the white squares in this diagram have their edges lined up. One of the squares is a different size from the others. Can you find it?

Darren Rigby


These are the toughest riddles ever. Can you solve them?

Marcel Danesi

Family relations

Carmela receives a text message from an unfamiliar number, so she texts back, “Who is this?”

The strange response: “It’s one of your female relatives. Your mother’s mother is my father’s mother-in-law.” Even assuming that this information is true, it doesn’t help Carmela pinpoint an individual, since there are two relationships it could describe. What are they?

Marcel Danesi


Sister or first cousin.

Word sudoku

Complete the grid so that each row, each column, and each three-by-three frame contains the nine letters from the black box at the top. The hidden nine-letter word is in the diagonal from top left to bottom right.


Only 2 percent of people can solve Einstein’s Riddle. See if you can beat it!

Darren Rigby

More or less

Place the hexagons below into the pyramid so each number is either greater than the sum of the two numbers below it or less than the difference between them. For instance, if two adjacent numbers were 20 and 50, any number higher than 70 or lower than 30 could be on top of them. (And no, do not turn 98 upside down to make it 86!)

Darren Rigby


If you can solve the secret word in this logic puzzle you might be a genius.

Coffee addicts

Kate and Faizal both believe that they need a cup of coffee every three hours to stay awake and function. They both drink their first cup at 8 a.m. and another one every three hours thereafter until they go to sleep. Considering the following facts, who is spending more on coffee each week?

  • Kate stays up until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Faizal stays up until 10 p.m. every day.
  • Kate pays $3 per cup of coffee. Faizal drinks higher-grade organic coffee and pays $4 per cup.


Faizal. He spends $140 per week, while Kate spends $111. See if you can find the doll hidden in this picture.

Happy Campers Puzzle

Happy campers

You just bought nine beautiful lakeside campsites, which you can rent to campers with tents for $20 per campsite per night. You can also upgrade the sites with electrical hookups. This will cost you $60 per campsite but will allow you to rent to RVers for $40 per night. Suppose you can always fill your campground to capacity. If you’re starting without any cash on hand, how many nights will pass before you’ll be able to upgrade all nine sites?

Happy Campers Answer


Three. On the first night, you’ll host nine tents and make $180, which you’ll use to upgrade three sites. On the second night, you’ll host three RVs and six tents, earning $240, letting you upgrade another four sites. On the third night, you’ll host seven RVs and two tents, earning you more than enough to upgrade the last two.

Arithme-pick PuzzleFraser Simpson


Place one of the four basic arithmetic operations (+, –, ×, ÷) in each box to make a correct equation. All operations are performed from left to right, ignoring the mathematical order of operations. The result at each step must be a positive whole number. What’s the equation?

Arithme-pick Answer


5 + 7 ÷ 3 × 9 – 4 = 32

Suit Yourself PuzzleFraser Simpson

Suit yourself

The playing card suits in the cells above are placed according to a pattern. What’s the missing symbol?

Suit Yourself Answer


Spade. Each suit has a numerical value: diamonds equal one, hearts equal two, spades equal three, and clubs equal four. Or, if you prefer, diamonds equal four, hearts equal three, spades equal two, and clubs equal one. Either way, each row and column adds up to ten, and the missing symbol is a spade.

Animal House PuzzleMarcel Danesi

Animal house

How many pets live in my house if all of them are snakes except two, all are hamsters except two, and all are rabbits except two?

Animal House Answer


One of each, for a total of three.

Win or Lose PuzzleDarren Rigby

Win or lose

The Reds, the Grays, the Blues, and the Blacks have a round-robin tournament wherein each team plays each other team once, for a total of six games. The Blacks won more games than the Blues, and the Grays lost more games than the Blues. The Reds tied the Blacks, the only tie in the tournament (a tie counts as neither a win nor a loss). Who won the game of the Reds versus the Blues?

Win or Lose Answer


The Reds. The Blacks tied one game, so they won a maximum of two games. They won more than the Blues, so the Blues won a maximum of one game. Since the Grays lost more times than the Blues, the Grays must have lost all three matches. The match that the Blues won must have been against the Grays, so the Blues lost the match against the Reds. Can you find the missing number in this puzzle?

Quick Crossword Puzzle

Quick crossword

Place the words listed below in the crossword grid.

100-Word Mystery Puzzle

100-word mystery

Lois and Helen, ­widowed sisters, lived together out in the country. Their habits never changed: up at dawn, breakfast, some housework and gardening until lunch. In the afternoon, Helen napped while Lois watched her shows—Helen never watched TV. Then Helen would clean the vegetables for dinner and Lois would cook. In the evening, they’d read before bed. One night before they turned in, a storm knocked out the power. Every­thing was pitch-black, and Lois began to panic. “What should we do?” she cried. Helen just smiled and kept reading. Why did Helen stay calm while her sister did not?

100-Word Mystery Answer


Helen was blind.

Jake Loves Steak; Trish Loves Fish PuzzleSamantha Rideout

Jake loves steak; Trish loves fish

Jacob enjoys steak so much that the probability that he’ll have it for dinner on any given evening is one in three. The favorite dish of his wife, Patricia, is fresh fish. The probability that she’ll have it for dinner on any given evening is one in two. Because Jacob and Patricia always dine together, they’ll never have steak and fish on the same night. On average, how many times in a 30-day month will they be having either steak or fish?

Jake Loves Steak; Trish Loves Fish Answer


25 nights.

Changelings Puzzle


Each of the three lines of letters below spells the name of a fruit, but four letters from the first word are in the third line, four letters from the third word are in the second line, and four letters from the second word are in the first line. What are the words?

Changelings Answer



Net Worth PuzzleMarcel Danesi

Net worth

Tamara has $20,000 saved up. If four-fifths of what Tamara has equals eight-ninths of what Martina has, how much money does Martina have?

Net Worth Answer



Sum-Thing SpecialFraser Simpson

Sum-thing special

Each letter from A through H has one of the eight values listed below, and no two letters have the same value. Which number goes with which letter to make all the equations true?

Sum-Thing Special Answer


A = 6, b = 13, c = 1, d = 7, e = 16, f = 3, g = 5, h = 10

Jerry Mander Strikes Again PuzzleRoderick Kimball of Enigami Fun

Jerry Mander strikes again

Your name is Jerry Mander, and you must draw your town’s voting districts so that George Greene becomes dogcatcher rather than Barbara Blue. To do that, Greene must win the majority of the city’s five voting districts. Each district comprises three households. This map shows how each of the town’s 15 households will vote (the tree represents a park that’s not in any district). The catch: The three households in each district must share at least one border with at least one other household in the district. Can you draw the five districts in a way that guarantees Greene defeats Blue?

Jerry Mander PuzzleRoderick Kimball of Enigami Fun


Next, try your hand at some of the most famous riddles in history.

Arithme-pickFraser Simpson


Place one of the four arithmetic operations (+, –, ×, ÷) in each box to make a correct equation. All operations are performed from left to right, ignoring the mathematical order of operations. The result at each step must be a positive whole number.

Arithme-pick Answer


25 + 24 − 1 ÷ 8 = 6

Have a ChocolateMarcel Danesi

Have a chocolate

Dad: “Where are the chocolate bars I bought?”
Daughter: “I gave half of them to Mom and half of a bar to my little brother. Then I gave half of what was left to Grandma and half of a bar to my little sister. That left me with one bar, which I gladly ate myself.”
How many bars did Dad originally buy?

Have a Chocolate Answer



Quick Crossword

Quick crossword

Place the words listed below in the crossword grid.

Quick Crossword Answer


Try to spot the difference in these ten pictures. It’s really tricky, hopefully, you have a good eye.

There Goes the NeighborhoodRoderick Kimball of Enigami Fun

There goes the neighborhood

Each of the six people quoted below lives in one of the six houses in the neighborhood shown. The houses are white, brown, green, blue, yellow, and orange. Assuming that everyone is telling the truth, whose house is painted which color?

Mrs. Antonini: Mrs. Borden lives due north of me.
Mrs. Borden: I live in the orange house. I can walk to Mrs. Englehardt’s house without crossing any streets.
Mr. Cruz: I live due east of a green house.
Miss Dubois: There’s a white house north of mine, but I can’t see it from my house, because there’s a brown house in the way.
Mrs. Englehardt: I live directly across a street from both a yellow house and a white house.
Mr. Fung: I live in the green house.

There Goes the Neighborhood Answer


Antonini: Blue
Borden: Orange
Cruz: White
Dubois: Yellow
Englehardt: Brown
Fung: Green

Buttons PuzzleMarcel Danesi


Erik bought some identical brass buttons for a jacket, each for the same price. It just so happens that if you add two to the number of buttons he bought, you get the price of each button in cents. If he spent a total of $4.83, how many buttons did he buy?

Buttons AnswerMarcel Danesi


21 buttons (For 23 cent each).

School Supplies PuzzleDarren Rigby

School supplies

You need to acquire at least six pencils, six pens, and six erasers for $5.20 or less. If the packages listed below are the only combinations that are available, which do you take? You can buy more than one of the same package.

A. Two erasers for 70 cents

B. Four pencils, one pen, and two erasers for $1.30

C. Three pencils, four pens, and three erasers for $3.20

D. One pencil, three pens, and two erasers for $1.90

E. One pencil and five pens for $2.30

School Supplies AnswerDarren Rigby


Buy one B and two D’s for $5.10.

Three-in-One Puzzle


Using all the letters listed below only once, can you find the names of three spices?


Three-in-One Answer


Cardamom. Cinnamon. Nutmeg.

A-to-K Fit-In PuzzleFraser Simpson

A-to-K fit-in

Insert the letters A to K, one per square, so that no two letters in consecutive alphabetical order touch, not even at a corner. Five letters have been placed to get you started.

A-to-K Fit-In AnswerFraser Simpson


Can you pass the world’s shortest IQ test? It’s really hard, less than 20 percent of people can.

Top Drawer PuzzleDarren Rigby

Top drawer

You need to empty the contents of two of the five boxes listed below into a bag. Which two will give you the best chance of drawing a red ball at random from the bag?

Box A: 3 red balls, 5 silver balls
Box B: 4 red, 6 silver
Box C: 7 red, 9 silver
Box D: 1 red
Box E: 12 red, 14 silver

Boxes D and E, which give you a probability of 13/27 (48 percent) of getting a red ball.


Boxes D and E, which give you a probability of 13/27 (48 percent) of getting a red ball.

Age Unknown PuzzleMarcel Danesi

Age unknown

Francesca is as old as the combined ages of her brothers, Harry and Ernie. Harry is two years younger than Ernie. When everyone was a year younger, the combined ages of the three siblings was three quarters of the sum of their present ages. How old is each sibling now?

Francesca is six, Harry is two, and Ernie is four.


Francesca is six, Harry is two, and Ernie is four.

Change One Puzzle

Change one

Replace one letter from each of these words to form a common two-word phrase.

Change One Answer


Replace the B in the first word with an R and the S in the second word with an H for rush hour.

Crossword Puzzle

Tricky crossword

Place these commonly misspelled words in the crossword grid.


Crossword Answer



4. Climactic

6. Prevalent

7. Incredulous

8. Accede


1. Aural
2. Pallet
3. Sophomoric

5. Collegial

Gemstones PuzzleMarcel Danesi


There are eight semiprecious gems in Ellen’s collection. At current market prices, four are worth $5, three are worth $10, and one is worth $25. She gives them to her three children: Matthew, Aaron, and Jeremy.

The total value of each child’s gift is the same.
Jeremy receives exactly three stones.

Matthew receives the lowest number of stones.

How are the gems distributed?

Gemstones AnswerMarcel Danesi


Matthew: one stone worth $25

Aaron: one stone worth $10 and three worth $5

Jeremy: two stones worth $10 and one worth $5

Under the Same Flag PuzzleDarren Rigby

Under the same flag

On the top are the names of five boats that belong to the same company. Which one of the five names on the bottom would fit in with the rest?



Under the Same Flag AnswerDarren Rigby


The top names contain a Roman numeral and a number that matches its value, so NAXIR 11 fits in with them.

What Am I?

What am I?

I run but never walk. I gurgle but don’t talk. I have a bed but never sleep. And I have a mouth but never eat. What am I?

What Am I?


A river.

Party at Charlie's PuzzleRoderick Kimball

Party at Charlie’s

You’ve been invited to a party at Charlie’s house. As part of the fun, you’ve agreed to solve a puzzle to figure out where he lives. He has seven friends who live nearby. They’ve given you a map showing all of their houses and Charlie’s house, along with the following information:

Daniel: I can’t see Benita’s house, because Greta’s house is in the way.
Adam: I live directly (not diagonally) across the street from Daniel.
Benita: Elena lives due west of me.
Elena: I have to cross three streets to walk to Franco’s house.

Hal: I live east of Benita.

Where does Charlie live?

Party at Charlie's AnswerRoderick Kimball


Toy Workshop PuzzleThe Noun Project

Toy workshop

You own a toy-making studio with two employees.

Carving a toy takes two hours. Painting one takes one hour. Packaging one takes one hour.
You can’t paint a toy until it has been carved. Similarly, you can’t package one until it has been painted.
Both of your employees are capable of doing any of the three tasks, but they can’t both work on the same task for the same toy at the same time.
What is the lowest number of hours it would take your employees to carve, paint, and package three toys?

Toy Workshop Answer


Six hours.

What Am I? PuzzleThis is Insider

What am I?

Turn me on my side and I am everything. Cut me in half and I am nothing. What am I?

What Am I? AnswerThis is Insider


The number 8.

Kangaroo Words PuzzleThe Noun Project

Kangaroo words

Each of these words contains the letters—in order—of another word that means almost the same thing as the original word. For example, the u, s, e, and d from accustomed form the word used. Can you figure them out?

1. applaud
2. barren
3. blossom
4. catacomb
5. charisma
6. chicken
7. disappointed
8. honorable
9. infuriated
10. investigate

Kangaroo Words AnswerThe Noun Project


1. laud
2. bare
3. bloom
4. tomb
5. charm
6. hen
7. sad
8. noble
9. irate
10. vet

Runs in the Family PuzzleThe Noun Project

Runs in the family

Tim and his daughter, Carol, both ran in a 10K race. Tim finished in 49 minutes; Carol, in 54. Tim ran at a perfectly steady pace, but Carol lost steam and took exactly 25 percent more time to complete the second half of the race compared with the first. Tim’s wife and Carol’s mother, Marcie, stood at the halfway mark to cheer them on as they passed. Who went by her first?

Runs in the Family Answer


Carol, by half a minute (24 minutes).

The Missing Link PuzzleDarren Rigby

The missing link

Two of the identical rings in this pile are actually linked together. Which two?

The Missing Link AnswerDarren Rigby


Getting Started Puzzle

Getting started

These words sometimes share a first name. What is it?

Getting Started Answer


Add the prefix PARA- to each word to form a new word.

Forest for the Trees PuzzleDarren Rigby

Forest for the trees

A spanning tree (or just a tree, for short) is a diagram made of dots and straight lines, in which every line goes between two dots, all the dots are connected, and no lines connect with others to form closed loops. Some examples are in the image above.

A drawing that has several spanning trees is called a forest. If a forest has three trees and 27 lines in it, how many dots does it have?

Forest for the Trees AnswerDarren Rigby


30 dots. Any tree you draw will contain one dot more than its number of lines. So add three (the number of trees in the forest) to 27 (the number of lines).  Now, try these word puzzles that will leave you stumped.

Brain Puzzles Feb21 Darren Rigby

Four in a row

In this bird’s-eye view, each of the nested squares represents a stack of four blocks, with smaller ones sitting on top of larger ones. Can you find a line of four blocks in the same row, column, or long diagonal that are all the same color? The line must be straight in three dimensions, meaning it spans blocks sitting at adjacent heights, going from smallest to largest (or vice versa), or at the same height.

Brain Puzzles Feb21 2Darren Rigby


Brain Puzzles Feb21 3Emily Goodman

Word ladder

In the “ladder” of words below, one letter changes between consecutive rungs. The red blanks indicate which letter changes as you move from one rung down to the next. Can you fill in the words using the definitions given—and the one letter we placed for you?

Brain Puzzles Feb21 4Emily Goodman


Saga, sage, page, pate, path, math, myth.

Illustration of GroundhogEmily Goodman, Maria Amador

Groundhog Day

In a curious little town, Prognostication Peyton (the local groundhog) declares if there will be six more weeks of winter. But Peyton doesn’t make his judgment based on whether he can see his shadow. He makes his call based on his dream from the previous night.

  • If Peyton has a good dream the night before Groundhog Day, there’s a 70 percent chance he will declare an earlier start to spring.
  • But if Peyton has a bad dream the night before, there’s a 70 percent chance he will declare six more weeks of winter.

Assuming half of his dreams are good and the other half are bad, what’s the overall likelihood that Peyton will declare six more weeks of winter?

Brain Puzzles Feb21 6Emily Goodman


50 percent (half of 30 percent plus half of 70 percent).

Brain Puzzles Feb21 7Marcel Danesi

What’s next?

Logically, which group of shapes (A, B, or C) should come next in the sequence?

Brain Puzzles Feb21 8Marcel Danesi


A. From left to right, the number of sides on the outer shape decreases by two, the number on the middle shape increases by one, and the inner shape alternates between an octagon and a pentagon­.

Mind Stretchers

Great minds love games

Doing a crossword or a Sudoku every day to keep your mind sharp may seem like a recent concept. In fact, people have been challenging their brains with puzzles as far back as 3,600 years ago, when the ancient Egyptians developed math problems on papyrus and wooden tablets. Want more puzzles? Our Mind Stretchers books are available online and wherever books are sold.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest