The Chatroom

A place for general discussions and social chat but not for posting puzzles.

Moderators: kalira, peter365, JenBurdoo, Balin, Tiger

The Chatroom

Postby Balin » Sun Jan 01, 2017 5:30 pm

Happy New Year, LTPF friends.

With a new year comes a new chatroom thread. Let's get it rolling.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Grip » Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:07 am

Happy New Year to all! :)
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby GalFisk » Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:46 am

Happy new year! How did your year start?
Mine started with the cat bringing a mouse uninjured into our bedroom. After many attempts to corral it using a broom and sheets of cardboard, I managed to chase it into a slipper and carry it out.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby peter365 » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:09 am

Happy new year to all my puzzle pals. Lets hope for a better 2017.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Doriana » Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:26 pm

Happy new year to my fellow puzzlers! 2016 was a rocky and difficult year for me, but I hope that 2017 will treat me better. After a longish absence, I'm back at the LTPF, and I promise this won't be a one-month stint after which I disappear into darkness again. No, this time I'm here to stay. <3
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Grip » Tue Jan 03, 2017 6:39 pm

Good to hear, Doriana!

For myself, 2016 was a pretty good year, thankfully!
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby WiZ » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:35 am

Happy new year, LTP fans!

I'm on holiday in the tropical North. The weather is impeccable, but internet connectivity is pretty spasmodic.

This morning, I spent three quarters of an hour helping a family of tourists whose SUV had got stuck in the sand on Ninety Mile Beach. Later this afternoon, I found the same car stuck in a ditch an hour and a half North of our first rendezvous.

I briefly saw the welfare state through a conservative's eyes.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby WiZ » Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:46 am

Not a birthday, but an anniversary nonetheless: Mrs. WiZ and I have been married for 6 years today. We have had the house to ourselves, so we are taking advantage of this and spent all of yesterday baking, and all of today eating. Mmm.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Lynne » Tue Jan 17, 2017 5:06 pm

I can get into the Chatroom here but I can't get to the active puzzles. It just takes me back to the old front page. Can anybody help. It certainly looked as though the DNS was down earlier.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby peter365 » Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:58 am

I had an email from Paul yesterday evening to say that he had his Tech guy working on the problem. It all seems to be working this morning so well done that man.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby peter365 » Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:11 am

Something I'm enjoying on the forum at the moment is the rather witty ways people are finding to mark their puzzle as solved. Keep it up folks.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby peter365 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:13 am

I'm sure people from Atlanta are feeling pretty deflated right now. Incredible game.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Grip » Mon Feb 06, 2017 6:18 pm

I agree on both counts! Atlanta is a young team, they'll have another chance.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby peter365 » Tue Feb 07, 2017 9:07 am

Balin will be very happy I'm sure. I don't think I've ever seen a quarter and a bit of sport where every little break went for one team. Not saying they were lucky , but there was probably 10 plays where even a slightly different outcome would have meant an Atlanta victory.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Balin » Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:27 pm

Oh I am very happy.

I went to the victory parade yesterday; never been to one before. It was crowded and freezing, and I loved it.
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Forgotten Puzzle

Postby trebor » Fri Feb 10, 2017 6:27 am

I can't remember who posted it or what the title was, but does anyone remember a puzzle from, I think, last year (certainly before I joined) that was something along the lines of, "Brian is having a great day! He just got a promotion at work...." and then goes on to him being saved by a stranger from being hit by a car, and then later that day he kills the stranger, kills a vendor on his street, and then travels across the country and kills his boss. Am I losing my mind? Did that puzzle exist? And if so, what was it called? I would love to read through it, as I never saw the $poiler.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby RedWine » Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:13 am

That puzzle definitely existed, I looked for it too and cannot find it. I'd also love to learn the solution!
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby trebor » Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:31 am

Thanks, RedWine! I thought maybe I was losing my mind. I remember reading a few posts in one day and coming back a while later to find that I couldn't find the thing! It was such a brilliant set-up, too! This has been an Earhart-level mystery for me ever since.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby RedWine » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:08 am

As far as I remember, it was Konnie's puzzle, "There is nothing wrong with a dark puzzle", or similar title. I'd love to know the solution.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Hobbsicle » Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:10 am

It's good to be back on here after a long hiatus. Was around somewhere in the 2003-2005 vein as Paradox, dropped off, came back in 2010-2011 as It_So_Happened, dropped off after having some kids and such, and back on again as Hobbsicle. I don't know why I change my username all the time, but so be it.

Doesn't seem quite as lively as the 2010-ish time, but glad it's still fairly active, and I see some old faces here, too. So I think I'll stick around, at least until 2018, when I'll have to take another 5-year break. Wouldn't want to break the pattern.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby peter365 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:55 am

Welcome back, I remember you as 'It so Happened' .

The board is very active at present but the chatroom a lot less so. Happy puzzling.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Balin » Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:16 am

I remember you also. Welcome back - hope you can stick around longer this time!
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Grip » Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:50 pm

Welcome back!
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Doriana » Fri Mar 03, 2017 10:37 am

I don't know if this has already been discussed, but is there a way to move the chatroom to the active puzzles board (and maybe pin it there)? I remember people being a lot more active in the chatroom on the old forum, probably because it was more visible. :)
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby peter365 » Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:30 pm

I'm pretty sure we could do this but the difficulty would be that as puzzles get posted on the position of the chatroom would constantly change given that most recent posted on topics get brought to the top . I wouldn't have a problem with this but I'd like to hear other views. NIce idea.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Hobbsicle » Fri Mar 03, 2017 5:28 pm

So no sticky option to keep it at the top? It would be better there, but I'm not sure having it swimming around among the puzzles would work that well.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby WiZ » Sun Mar 05, 2017 11:36 pm

It looks like we're equipped with this functionality:

From faq.php#f3r6

Sticky topics within the forum appear below announcements and only on the first page. They are often quite important so you should read them whenever possible. As with announcements and global announcements, sticky topic permissions are granted by the board administrator.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby kalira » Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:05 pm

Personally I think making it an "announcement" rather than a "sticky" is a better option. Making the Chatroom a global announcement thread would make it show up in each subsection of the forum at the top (see the xkcd forum for examples -- they have their forum rules thread and a thread about last year's forum migration that show up in every subforum you visit). Sticky-ing it would just make it stick to the top of the list of topics, but if we're set up anything like xkcd, announcement-ing it would separate it into its own area (always at top and noticeably distinct from the puzzle topics. This would be nice for time-sensitive things (setting up online meetups or picking the puzzle of the year, for example) as well, keeping them easy to see and access while not getting them mixed into the puzzles. You can set announcement threads to show up as announcements for only certain amounts of time, or forever until a mod un-announcements them. As a side note, I believe making it sticky requires it to be native to the subforum it is sticky in -- so the chatroom would have to reside natively in "Active Lateral Thinking Puzzles," whereas if it was an announcement thread it could reside natively where it already currently does (I think).

As far as I can tell, I don't have the rights to make anything sticky or announcement at the moment -- I'm guessing the other mods are in the same boat. Likely we'd have to ask Admin for those rights. (I'd also love to have the ability to delete banned people from our members list, but having just looked that up, that seems to be a right mods can't be given and is reserved solely for administrator accounts... :( )
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby peter365 » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:21 am

Hi Kalira

This sounds great. I'd suggest you contact Paul and ask for whatever permissions you need to effect what sounds like a really good idea. I must admit this is not an area that I'm overly knowledgeable on .
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Doriana » Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:08 pm

Hi puzzlers, do we still adhere to the age-old LTPF tradition of announcing our birthdays on the forum? In any case, it was my birthday yesterday, and I would appreciate some questions on my puzzles as a belated birthday present :D
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Grip » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:52 pm

Well, then, happy belated birthday! :)
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Balin » Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:18 am

Happy just-after-your-birthday!
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby kalira » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:08 pm

Hey mods, just letting you know to check your PMs when you get a chance (in case you don't have those notifications on/didn't notice)! :)
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Konnie » Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:19 am

Hey, everyone. I'm back! I've had a lot going on in the past, and to be completely honest, kind of forgot how much I loved this site. I'll try to post new puzzles today if possible. :D
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Doriana » Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:04 pm

Welcome back! :)
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Hobbsicle » Fri Mar 24, 2017 3:01 am

Ok, I'm just curious, and I think it would be interesting to know: for those of you who are able to consistently keep three puzzles going, no matter how quickly they get solved (Doriana and Balin, I'm looking at you), how many puzzles do you currently have queued up?
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Balin » Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:26 am

Actually, right now I don't have any queued up. When I do come up with a good situation for a puzzle and I've got three running, I keep it in a Google Doc so I won't forget it. Recently, though, when a puzzle of mine has been solved, I try to think of a situation as quickly as I can (from something I've read, something I've watched, or something I just think up right there) and turn it into a puzzle statement without much forethought.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Doriana » Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:38 pm

I usually have one puzzle lined up, sometimes two, but I don't write the puzzle ideas down anywhere. Sometimes I hit a dry spell, but lacrosse and my workplace have proven to be great sources for puzzles, so I just wait for the next funny thing to happen :D
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Grip » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:36 pm

Welcome back, Konnie!
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby WiZ » Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:14 pm

Hello, my name is WiZ, and I am suffering from puzzler's block.

*polite applause*
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Grip » Mon Apr 10, 2017 10:35 pm

Welcome to the club!
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby peter365 » Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:03 am

Not only am I a long standing member of the club I'm this years President.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Doriana » Tue Apr 11, 2017 2:16 pm

After having been on a roll for a couple of weeks, I'm also suffering from puzzler's block. You're not alone.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby JenBurdoo » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:15 am

I used to have a good fund of ideas based on historical incidents, but I've used them all up. Now I post quickly when an idea strikes so I don't forget it -- provided (unlike in the past) it actually could be a puzzle rather than just something unusual. I struggle with writing the opening statement, because there's a particular style of doing it to make the answer most satisfying - it has to BE a puzzle, rather than "This is something weird, but it really happened. Under what circumstances?" which is a good description of a lot of my attempts. So I post less often than I used to, and because I enjoy hosting puzzles better than solving them, I also participate less.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby WiZ » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:59 am

I have always appreciated that you take that approach, Jen. Indeed, I try to do the same. This is why mine sometimes get solved in 5 posts :P
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Hobbsicle » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:06 pm

I feel like there are multiple types of puzzles each with their own merits. The "This is something weird, but it really happened. Under what circumstances?" is a fine format, and can be successful, but I think there are other factors that determine just how satisfying. I enjoy seeing everyone's different styles, though there are perhaps some methods and styles that end up being more successful than others. I've been experimenting with different ones myself. It would be interesting to discuss the theory of good puzzle design more, though. Interesting to nerds like me, anyway.

On another note, we need some help getting these puzzles out of the forgotten depths of the bottom of the list. The latest few puzzles tend to get the most attention, while the others languish. I try to make it a habit to ask questions on at least one or two on the bottom of the list every couple of days or so, and it tends to make others notice them again as well.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Doriana » Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:35 am

Happy Easter to those who are celebrating :)
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Grip » Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:05 pm

Happy Easter!
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby WiZ » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:12 pm

Happy Easter to all.

Hobbsicle (and others who may be curious): There were some good discussions on what makes a 'good' puzzle on the archived forum. I mentioned them in an earlier chatroom archive, but I will copy-paste the relevant bit again:

Consider this Chatroom archive from 2013, which deals with sources of inspiration and how these are converted from stories and explanations to puzzle questions and statements, and which elements are important to include or leave behind, and the sort of thought processes you want players of your puzzle to undergo in their quest to reach the solution: http://www.lateralpuzzles.com/discus/me ... 1364893979 (begin with Balin's post at 12:44 on January 25).

or this, which deals with the feasibility of hosting a 'classic style' puzzle on a forum populated by people specially trained to quell false assumptions in the first post, ask good, broad questions in the early stages, and apply creativity where required: http://www.lateralpuzzles.com/discus/me ... 1375437525 (begin with Beachbum's post at 6:05 on April 14).


I certainly have my own preferences when it comes to puzzles. A terse question that illustrates a contradiction or great unlikelihood, but providing enough detail that the host's answer strikes me as the most fitting explanation, rather than just one of many. For me, that is the most satisfying approach. However, given that we are a small forum (15-20 active users per week), we have a lot to lose from any infighting as to personal style, and I'm certainly not going to impose this taste on anyone else :)

Edit: Fixed links.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Hobbsicle » Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:34 am

Thanks, Wiz! Those were worth reading.

Generally, I agree with what you said. My favorite puzzle statements seem to have either seeming paradoxes or strange occurrences/behavior as their premise. Or at least have something especially intriguing about them to make the solvers want to know more. They also should have a solution that is satisfying given the statement, and seems to be the best solution. They are also at their cleverest when they instill a false assumption right off the bat, though, as was pointed out, there are some really obvious FA's that get discovered instantly with this crowd, so there's usually some subtlety required there.

I think there is sometimes a tendency (mostly I've been seeing this from the archives of years past) to strip too much information out of a puzzle statement to make it harder. For example, one of those posts you linked to by Liquizt showed his/her process for creating a puzzle. Starting with an interesting premise, they ended up with "The men are dressed erotically," which, in my opinion, was too stripped down, and could have been referring to pretty much anything. Part of what helps with the satisfying aspect is to give enough information to eliminate certain more mundane solutions. Even if their statement was, "The soldiers are dressed erotically", that would have improved it, I feel.

Example using a classic: "A man lies dead in the forest." That's not particularly intriguing. Could be he was taking a hike and had a heart attack.
"A man lies dead in the forest wearing scuba gear." Considerably more intriguing, though maybe it's a forest on an island and he got thrown by a big wave.
"A man lies dead in the forest wearing scuba gear, miles from any body of water." Now we're getting somewhere. If it's hard to immediately imagine a plausible solution, then that's preferable, in my mind. Actually, I'm not sure how satisfying that puzzle is anyway, because I'm not sure how possible that scenario is, but still, a good example of how more information makes it a better puzzle, ultimately, even though it makes it shorter to solve.

Those are some of my thoughts, anyway, though I've enjoyed puzzles that didn't really follow that particular set of guidelines, I've posted some that didn't follow it all that much, and even some memorable classics don't.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby WiZ » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:24 pm

Excellent points, Hobbsicle.

By and large, I have no issues with steps one through four of Liquizt's approach (identifying the most salient lateral twist in an unusual situation, and refining a puzzle around this point). But step five bothers me; not least of all for the plethora of perfectly acceptable alternate solutions, but also for the fact that it's not at all clear just what explanation the statement is screaming out for.

His example is actually quite mild compared to some of the opening posts one could find here around the turn of the millennium. These were often in the vein of 'It was square', 'They were facing the wrong way', 'We trusted his judgment, and he did not let us down', 'Playing the sport resulted in my injury', 'As he sat on the bus, people started moving away from him'. All of which are perfectly acceptable, if annoyingly vague, submissions at face value. None of these present a contradiction or something that defies belief. This doesn't make me terribly motivated to unravel whatever mystery the host thinks it presents, especially as...

... the solutions were often entire news articles, several paragraphs long. Since the hosts would refuse to give anything away for free, the puzzlers often had to stop their questions and ask what else had to be determined. The host would then prompt them with an entirely new question that was entirely subsidiary to the puzzle statement, and bore no resemblance to it.

This tends not to happen nowadays, which is nice.

(One trap I find myself falling into from time to time is including a detail which serves only to eliminate an obvious line of questioning, but is conspicuous enough to prompt an entirely different line relating to it. In my puzzle Vincent, I stipulated that the teenage boy was deaf, as, without it, the puzzle question would lead one to naturally assume that his decision to stop the artwork and run was based on an audible cue. I then fielded several rounds of questions relating to his deafness. There's an early puzzle by Paul (from either Lateral Thinking Puzzlers or Challenging Lateral Thinking Puzzles, I forget which) about a deaf man who gets run over by a train on his morning jog. The first question in the clues section basically reads as: 'Q. Is his deafness relevant?' 'A. Yes, but only inasmuch as he couldn't hear the train coming. Forget I said anything, OK. Sheesh'.)
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Admin » Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:46 am

I had a great meeting with Jen Burdoo in Barnes and Noble, Pembroke Pines today. We discussed our favourite lateral thinking puzzles.

20170426_184933[1].jpg
20170426_184933[1].jpg (3.03 MiB) Viewed 86 times
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby JenBurdoo » Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:37 am

It would seem inserting photos is a little tricky - or maybe it's just my own settings? I see what looks like the left half of a very large image there...
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby WiZ » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:21 am

So, what were your favourite puzzles?
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby JenBurdoo » Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:34 am

The one of my own I'm most pleased with is "Honesty" from the old forum, about the Askari soldiers of German East Africa. I've always liked my very first puzzle, "A man spends several months patiently collecting used toilet paper," also about German East Africa, but it's another of my "weird incident but maybe not a proper puzzle statement" series. It's hard to choose just one, though, and I thought of quite a few others on the way home afterward, particularly Peter's Irish-border puzzles and Markobr's German apocryphal stories (Two I remember were about Frederick the Great, and "the shooting of Hornberg.") Oh, and there was the one about illiterate Bushmen in the Kalahari tapping on cell phones.

I read many "gotcha" puzzlers as a kid, especially in Martin Gardner books, and got more from Isaac Asimov mysteries. I heard the "cabin in the woods" one during an Outward Bound trip in Utah (had to figure it out on my own, though). The first "twenty questions" style puzzle I ever heard was over a campfire in Arkansas, and it was the lighthouse story.

How were you guys introduced to lateral thinking puzzles? What was the first you remember solving or telling?
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby kalira » Thu Apr 27, 2017 2:22 pm

It wasn't your settings, Jen. I edited Admin's post to place the attachment inline, which (essentially) makes it show up smaller, so it should be far more easily viewed now.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Doriana » Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:45 pm

JenBurdoo wrote:How were you guys introduced to lateral thinking puzzles? What was the first you remember solving or telling?


I was first introduced to lateral thinking puzzles by this book that I somehow got my hands on as a kid. The book is about thinking techniques in general and only has a couple of lateral puzzle in it, mostly classics such as the Romeo and Juliet one, but the author nicely explains how to avoid common pitfalls and how to ask the right questions.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby JenBurdoo » Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:25 pm

Liquizt's directions and Hobbsicle's refinement of them are actually quite useful, and I wish I'd had them years ago. They can definitely help me with selecting puzzles and statements.

Nimue's statements were always vague but intriguing, and I remember trying to imitate her style once or twice.
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby WiZ » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:10 pm

Nimue was one of the few who always clung resolutely to the 'classic' puzzle question format. Though a number of her puzzles were in the vein of 'I found out I had a scrund about x, and I bet you do, too', she would typically give enough information in the puzzle question to give us all something to go on.

Growing up, I would find a few of the classic lateral puzzles, such as the man in the elevator and the surgeon refusing to operate on their son, in joke books. The first reference I saw to the lateral puzzle as a codified concept was in the book Improve your Lateral Thinking: Puzzles to Challenge your Mind, by Paul and Des. It had been given to my (much) older brother as a Christmas present from my grandmother. Pre-teen me ended up enjoying it at least as much as he did. Perhaps it was my naivete, or perhaps it was that, at that point in the series, the puzzles in the book had struck an ideal balance between simplicity and difficulty, but I found the puzzle questions intriguingly implausible and the solutions satisfyingly terse, fitting and 'obvious'.

https://www.amazon.com/Improve-Your-Lat ... 0806913746

I'm not sure what my all-time favourite puzzle is. I think it's a toss-up between the deadly punchbowl and the man who knows what's in the closed box. My favourite puzzles to tell are the coconut millionaire and 'No, don't shoot me, John!', because people will guess every answer under the sun before twigging to the most obvious one. The best puzzle I've ever hosted on these forums is this one: http://www.lateralpuzzles.com/discus/me ... 1382453901

Idle thought: Perhaps we could have a Chatroom thread with Liquizt/Hobbsicle's puzzle construction tips in the OP. And any others that we might encounter and deem useful. I find the idea of pooling our knowledge in the interest of helping us all create better puzzles appealing. Maybe extend the thread to offer tips for playing puzzles, too (test assumptions, ask broad initial questions, be creative...)
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby Hobbsicle » Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:24 am

I don't remember exactly when I first heard of lateral thinking puzzles, but it may have first been in Boy Scouts, when some fellow scouts told a lot of the "dead guy lying in a field" ones. I was always into puzzles of all kinds as a kid, so I got one of the earlier Sloane books as a kid, and have been meticulously collecting them since. My wife has a couple of times made the suggestion that I get rid of them, but I assured her that no such thing would occur. We later realized she had the scrund that lateral thinking puzzle books were as common and disposal as Sudoku books or the sorts of logic puzzles you can get on the magazine racks at drugstores.

I joined the old forum somewhere around 2002 I believe, though the archive doesn't go back far enough for me to see my original puzzles, and I don't remember what they were off-hand.

Back on the topic of puzzle statements, I read one in the archives recently that was just this: "Nonabelian". That one gets top prize for most obscure puzzle statement as far as I'm concerned. I read through the solution and admittedly wondered, "Interesting...I wonder what that has to do with nonabelian..."
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Re: The Chatroom

Postby WiZ » Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:33 am

Hobbsicle wrote:I got one of the earlier Sloane books as a kid, and have been meticulously collecting them since. My wife has a couple of times made the suggestion that I get rid of them, but I assured her that no such thing would occur.


*Hi-5*
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