Puzzling over logic problems

(This post by Monica Lim first appeared on her blog on 20 April 2015. It is reproduced with permission.)

I'm sure by now, all of you have read about the problematic Cheryl who wouldn't just tell Albert and Bernard her birthday but made them guess in a roundabout way.

Later, it was revealed that it wasn't a p5 question as originally thought but a math olympiad question. To me, this isn't really a math problem - it's a logic puzzle. That's because I don't love maths that much but I love logic puzzles and I'd much rather do this sort of question than: "Prove why aw32p+b53xy divided by √7421h = a gazillion".

I've been doing logic puzzles for about 20 years (at night, before I go to sleep) and I love them. Somehow, they satisfy this little part in my brain that likes to solve stuff without massive real-life consequences. So this post is for all the people out there like me who love logic puzzles.

Did you know there are actually magazines with loads of these puzzles? I posted about them many years ago on my blog but thought I'd write about it again, in case you're interested.

Where I get my fix: Dell and Penny Press Logic Puzzles. These are magazines which you can subscribe to (6 issues a year). Each issue is organised by level of difficulty, from 1 to 5 stars (well, the Dell ones. Penny Press is similar but they don't list the stars). If you're new to this, I recommend getting one of their value packs of back editions because it's very good value for money. Cheaper than subscribing (partly because you only pay for international shipping once).

I thought I'd give you a glimpse into the type of puzzles that are in the magazines. Here's an example of a 2-star one, in a similar vein as the Cheryl type of problem:

There are also placement type puzzles, where you have to figure out where each item belongs:

Then you have the puzzles which are solved using an elimination grid. Personally, I don't like these and I usually skip them (there are a lot of them in each issue though):

And then towards the end of the magazines, you'll get the whopper 5-star puzzles which usually take me a few nights to complete (if at all). Often frustrating but when you solve them, you feel a sense of accomplishment!

So there you go. Logic puzzles have been around a long time so the Cheryl question isn't revolutionary in any way. I think it only made headlines because it appeared as a math question. More importantly, if you don't think of it as "maths", which instantly conjures up all the negative connotations of "school", "work" and "impossibly difficult exams", it can actually be *gasp* fun!



Writing is my profession and my passion. I run a professional writing outfit, where I do all my corporate writing. Blogging takes care of the miscellaneous excess thoughts. I'm a mother of two completely polar opposite children. Maybe God figures the challenge would do me good. Or perhaps He just likes to have a good laugh. Whatever it is, I'm enjoying the roller coaster ride.


Creative writing: Let it be his own work

The Significance Of Cheryl's Birthday

Primary school science questions having ‘model’ answers