Puzzles with clues and answers


*** Lateral thinking puzzle CHALLENGE ***

Submit your alternative answer to any lateral thinking puzzle. If I think it’s good and original, you’ll receive full credit for you, your business, your website, or your cause.

My lateral thinking puzzle pages receive more than 2,000-page visits per month. Growth is continuing exponentially. If you’d like to see you and your answer on display, submit your best effort!

(As if anyone can match … “the master” LOL)

11. Coal, Scarf, and Carrot

Eight pieces of coal, a carrot, and a winter scarf are found lying on the ground.

How did they get there?

     Clue – Winter is finally over.

Lateral thinking is the DELIBERATE breaking of the shackles that inhibit creative and original thinking

Imagination is the key:

Creative Memory Technique

What exactly IS lateral thinking? See definition here

     Answer – A melted snowman

Muxy’s Answer – The homeowner is a prankster and wanted to confuse his neighbors by making them try and remember the snowman that never was.

     What’s Your Answer? – (Scroll to the bottom of the page to leave your answer in the comments section)

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12. The Puzzle of Heaven

A man dies and goes to heaven.

When he gets there, everyone is naked and appears to be only 18 years old. He sees a couple and recognizes them immediately as Adam and Eve.


     Clue – Adam and Eve were the FIRST man and woman, but they had children in the usual way.

Puzzles that have ONLY one answer are technically NOT lateral

Good creative habits:


Practice exercises:

Lateral thinking exercises with examples to assist

     Answer – Adam and Eve weren’t born from a woman so they had no umbilical cords or navels.

Muxy’s Answer – The man is Cain or Able and therefore recognizes his parents

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13. The Surgeon

A father and son are in a car crash. The father dies while the son is taken to the hospital gravely injured.

When he gets there, the surgeon says, ‘I can’t operate. This is my son!’ The boy was NOT adopted.

How is this possible?

Clue – It’s a family affair.

I use puzzles to help me overcome writers’ block … it works!

Positive outcomes:

Creative Problem-Solving

Answer – The surgeon was the boy’s mother.

Muxy’s Answer – The father and son in the car crash aren’t related, but they are still a “father” and a “son”. (There may have been others in the car that weren’t injured, like the son’s mother and the father’s daughter).

     What’s Your Answer? – (Scroll down to leave your answer and “subscribe” to my blog)

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14. The Chicken Dilemma

Six eggs in a basket.

Six different people each take an egg.

How is it that there is still one egg in the basket?

     Clue The last person …

Lateral thinking is closely related to insight, humor, and creativity. All four processes have the same foundation. Insight, creativity, and humor can only be gifted, whereas lateral thinking is a more deliberate and learned process

Creativity is merely the combining of things that already exist … in new ways:

Creative Combinations

     Answer The last person took the basket with them.

Muxy’s Answer – Two of the people are conjoined twins.

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15. An Arm of the Postal Service

A man with no left arm receives a parcel in the post. He opens the parcel to find a severed human left arm carefully preserved. He then re-wraps the arm and sends it to a second man.

Several days later, the second man, who also has no left arm, receives the package. He inspects the arm and then throws it away satisfied.


     Clue – The left arm belongs to the man who mailed it in the first place.

Sideways thinking involves approaching a problem from a new direction—not deriving a solution from something that already exists, but actually backing off, looking at in alternative ways and thinking from the side

NO FEAR! Speak impressively on any subject at any time:

Creative Public Speaking

     Answer – The three men without left arms had been marooned on a deserted island together. Starving, they drew lots to give up their left arms for food. They had agreed that ALL three would give up their left arms no matter what. They were rescued when two of the men had given up their arms.

The third man was living up to his obligation.

Muxy’s Answer – The man who severed and mailed his own arm had been at fault in a terrible road accident that had cost the other two men their arms. He wanted to demonstrate his remorse.

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16. Bags of Marbles

You have 12 marbles and 3 bags.

How many different quantities can you load in each bag yet still have the same number of marbles in each bag?

And what are those quantities?

     Clue – There are three quantities … or not.

Creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, we wouldn’t have progress.

Exceptional goals require exception vision:

Creative Goal-Setting

What exactly IS lateral thinking? See definition here

     Answer – !2, 6, and 4. You can achieve this by putting one or two bags inside another.

Muxy’s Answer – Or Zero. The bags are too small for the marbles.

     What’s Your Answer? – (Scroll down to leave your answer, and PLEASE take a moment to “like” this page and “subscribe” to my blog)

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17. Which Light Switch

(Start young. Share the lateral thinking journey with your kids)

Three possible light switches are a long way from the cellar, with a difficult trip down rickety stairs to check which switch works the single light.

You only want to make one trip.

You are told that the other two switches should never be left on for extended periods as they no longer work and could cause a fire.

How do you determine which light switch is for the cellar light and only make a single trip down to do so?

     Clue – There is a ladder and/or tools available.

Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be easily learned

Challenge the way things are … even if they appear to be working well:

Escape Dominant Thinking

     Answer – Turn on the first light switch and leave it on for a few minutes, then turn it off and turn on the second light switch.

When you go downstairs, if the bulb is off, but warm, it is the first switch.

If the bulb is on, it is the second switch.

If the bulb is off and cold, it is the third light switch.

Muxy’s Answer – Drill a hole in the floor so you can tell when the light goes on or off.

Dwayne Kington”s Answer – Set up a series of mirrors so that you can see the light turn on and off.

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Something HUGE is on the horizon …

Michael Muxworthy Sci-fi Novel
Coming soon – Michael Muxworthy

‘That first domino began an endless chain of events that cannot be escaped …

not by the limitlessness of space,

nor even by the end of time itself …’

“We should NEVER have trusted the aliens”

Chapter ONE




18. Tall and Short

Two men want to open a high window in a completely empty room.

One man is big and very tall, the other short.

The short man gets onto the shoulders of the big and taller man, but he is just short of reaching the window catch.

Without leaving the room, or receiving any help or tools, how do they open the window?

     Clue – Their combined heights may be the same, but their combined heights plus . . .

You might be lucky and be born intelligent, but everyone can learn to become a lateral thinker

“WHY?” … is never a silly question:

Challenge Existing Concepts

     Answer – If the taller man stands on the shoulders of the shorter man, they achieve the extra reach of the taller man’s arms.

Muxy’s Answer – The taller man throws the shorter man through the window. Or, the taller man jumps up (with the shorter man on his shoulders).

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19. The Secret Entrance

During a war, a man builds an underground bomb shelter for his family.

The very heavy steel cover of the deep verticle entrance must remain unattached as it often serves a purpose elsewhere.

The man is not worried that the heavy steel might accidentally fall through the hole and onto one of his children or wife though.


     Clue – Manhole covers do this.

If you never change your mind, why have one?

Creative advice for the entrepreneurial spirit:

Entrepreneurial Creativity 

What exactly IS lateral thinking? See definition here

     Answer – The cover is round and can’t fit through the hole

Muxy’s Answer – The cover is attached to a tether that allows it to reach the “other purpose” but can only just reach the cover of the underground shelter.

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20. Marble in a Bottle

You place a marble inside a bottle and put a cork firmly into the neck.

Is it possible to get the marble out without removing the cork or breaking/cutting the bottle?

     Clue – It happens sometimes at a dinner party.

“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window” – Gilles Deleuze.

Creative role-play:

Alternative Perspectives

     Answer – Push the cork into the bottle

Muxy’s Answer – Drill a hole through the cork

     What’s Your Answer? – (Take a moment to “like” this page and “subscribe” to my blog)

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What is lateral thinking?

And what does its future look like?

Our world is consumed by groupthink. Our children are taught conformity … not creativity. Is this the future?

Maybe not.

Check out the concise definition: What is lateral thinking?

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For the complete lateral thinking menuClick here


Activities for children that teach creativity

Puzzles: 1 to 10

Puzzles: 21 to 30

Puzzles: 31 to 40

Puzzles: for kids (too)


Brought to you by Michael Muxworthy – Lateral thinking author of fiction

Michael Muxworthy author

“Life’s purpose … is to evolve.

It is our capacity for creativity … that makes our human evolution so exceptional“

Coming soon from lateral thinking author, Michael Muxworthy: a powerful exposition into the alien question.

Lateral thinking investigations … of the third kind


Chapter ONE