Lateral Thinking Puzzles

21. Too close for comfort.

A man can’t get to sleep.

He picks up the phone, dials someone, and says …

“You’ve won the lotto jackpot. I’ll call you back soon to let you know how much you’ve won”

He can sleep now.


     Clue – He called someone close to him.

Experts regurgitate

Lateral thinkers evolve

Self-improvement with creativity. Take a look at these:

     Answer – The man called his snoring neighbor

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22. NO CHARGE for the fly

A man orders a cup of black coffee. He notices a fly in it so he asks for a fresh cup.

The waitress takes away his cup with the fly in it and brings a fresh cup back. The man says to the waitress …

“This isn’t a fresh cup of coffee”

How did he know?

     Clue – Not everyone would be able to pick this. It depends on how you drink your coffee.

Imagine trying to build something without tools

Creative tools for evolutionary thinking:

     Answer – The coffee that the waitress brought out had sugar in it already.

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23. The Ping Pong Ball Retrieval

You’re locked in a room without windows. There is a light on.

In the center of the room is a twelve-inch tube solidly embedded six inches deep in a cement floor. At the bottom of the tube is a ping pong ball with a diameter slightly smaller than the tube.

You have an apple, a piece of chalk, and a six-inch piece of string.

How do you get the ping-pong ball out?

     Clue – The items and circumstances are a distraction.

Disruption to the ways we think … is a good thing

SEE . . . lateral thinking in “action”:

Classic Lateral Thinking Examples

Lateral Thinking Everyday Examples

Lateral Thinking Examples in Business

     Answer – Pee in the tube and the ping-pong ball will float out.

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24. No Compass Required

If you stand at the magnetic North Pole, your compass has only one direction . . . South!

If you stand at the magnetic South Pole, your compass has only one direction . . . North!

Where would you be, if you could go north or south, but not east or west?

     Clue – You can only be at this location in theory.

Life WITH creativity … is a better life

Try these useful pages:

     Answer – You are somewhere underground, exactly on the Earth’s axis.

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25. The Greedy Moneylender

A merchant owes a great deal of money to an old and evil moneylender. Due to unfortunate business circumstances, he finds himself unable to make a payment. He goes to see the lender, ready to accept the legal consequence of being sent to jail.

Not to worry”, the old man says. “You have something I want that could cover all of your debts. I took notice of your beautiful young daughter. If she accepts me as her husband, I wouldn’t throw my new father-in-law in jail”.

The merchant reluctantly brings this offer to his daughter and asks her if she is willing to make such a sacrifice.

I am terribly sorry papa”, she manages to say in between her sobs, “But he is over 70 years old and I am not even 20, I would be throwing my entire life away. I love you dearly but this is too much. I cannot possibly do this”.

So the merchant returns to the old moneylender and informs him of her response. Yet the moneylender is not discouraged; he has another proposal to make.

I understand. And, contrary to what most people think, I am not a cruel man”. He takes a moment to compose himself and smiles. “I am sure that your daughter will not object to the following agreement: tomorrow morning we shall go down to the river. In a leather pouch, I shall place two stones, a black one and a white one. I will swear in front of witnesses that if your daughter pulls out one of them, all debts of yours towards me are forgiven”.

Moreover”, he continues, “if she happens to pick the white one, she shall have no obligation to marry me. If however, she picks the black one, all debts will still be forgiven, but she will now have to marry me”.

When the new proposal is presented to the daughter she accepts, hoping that the 50–50 odds will be enough for her to escape the marriage.

The next morning they do go down by the river, both the merchant and the old man swear in front of witnesses of their agreement. However, the daughter catches with the corner of her eye the moneylender picking up two black stones, instead of a black and a white one, and dropping them both in his pouch. She dares not say anything because if she ruins the deal her father is going to jail.

So now you are in the daughter’s shoes.

The old man, smirking, is offering you the pouch for you to pull out the one stone agreed upon. The stone that will determine your future.

What do you do?

     Clues – Refusing to draw a stone or pointing out the moneylender’s trick does not work: you may feel vindicated – but your father ends up in jail for his debts.

Attempting to substitute a black stone with a white one of your own or trying to change the deal so that black now means no obligation to marry him do not work either: the old man is the one holding the pouch, he can feel its weight – and he is not stupid.

Throwing the old man into the river to drown is no solution either: your father goes to jail for his debts to the old man’s estate and you go on trial for murdering him.

Finally, this is not a play-on-words kind of a puzzle. So “drawing” a white stone on a piece of paper may sound cute but will not allow you to escape the old man’s intentions.

Lateral thinking puzzles are often strange situations that require explanation

     Answer – You drop the stone you pick as if by accident so that the stone falls amongst the many others on the ground and it is impossible to tell which is your stone.

You then point out that it is easy enough to know which stone you selected by looking at the stone left in the bag.

It is a black stone, so, you must have chosen the white stone.

The moneylender must accept the outcome or be found out as being a cheat.

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An important message from the author

Lateral thinking is my passion … just in case you hadn’t figured that out yet LOL.

The human ability to think creatively is what sets us apart from everything else; the essence of why we exist.

The meaning of life … is to evolve

No matter what you do, where you live, or what you believe in … creativity adds something.

Take the time to do the free lessons on this site and bring creativity into your life.

Check out the full range of free tools I’ve included here to assist you on your creative journey.

If you genuinely need help with something on this site, contact me.

All the best,

Michael Muxworthy

 – – – – –

You’re halfway!

Here’s a (non) lateral thinking puzzle to freshen you up

(Puzzles 26 to 30 continue below)

Puzzle I like

The answer to the Brain Teaser: FIVE

One rabbit, two monkeys, and two parrots. The six elephants (who aren’t heading to the river) all see the same two monkeys. LOL

Let’s keep going!

26. Dead Man and a Beetle

A man lies dead with a beetle on his chest.

How did he die?

     Clue – This beetle featured in several great movies.

“EXPERTS” are best utilized as “cogs in the machinery”

Experts are useful as they regurgitate their expertise … but they compete.

Lateral thinkers evolve … they avoid competition … they differentiate:

Advice for the entrepreneur

     Answer – The beetle is actually a Volkswagon beetle. It fell on the man as he was underneath doing repairs.

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27. No Trophy For You

Brian wins the race, but he doesn’t get the winner’s trophy.


     Clue – The trophy is never given to winners “like” Brian.

Lateral thinking is an ESCAPE from the prison we’ve constructed from our beliefs and experiences

Why is creative and lateral thinking so important?

Break the shackles of our “BLINKERED THINKING”

     Answer – Brian is a horse.

Alternative Answer – Brian cheated or was disqualified

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28. What Lights??

A man living an isolated life turns off the lights before going to bed.

His actions bring about the deaths of hundreds of people.


     Clue – His actions cause quite a storm.

Creativity can be learned, and should be practiced

Practice. Easy examples:

Lateral thinking exercises


     Answer – The man was a lighthouse keeper.

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29.  I Don’t Buy That Puzzle.

Think of a historic reason for items being sold for $1.99, $0.99, $0.49 etc, instead of $2, $1, or $0.50?

     Clue – It isn’t because it makes the items sound cheaper.

Everything evolves eventually

It is our creativity that makes our evolution exceptional

Embrace your creativity … realize your potential:

START this free creative course NOW!

     Answer – It is because it is necessary to give the customer change. This means that the register must be opened for each sale, discouraging staff from pocketing the sale proceeds.

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30.  Finger Puzzle

If we took the number of fingers on every left hand in the world and multiplied by each other, what will the answer be?

     Clue – The answer will always be the same.

Creativity enhances everything

Bookmark this page:

Lateral Thinking Tools

     Answer – Zero.

It only takes one person without fingers on their left hand for that result to happen.

Zero times anything is always zero.

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My work-in-progress first book is close …

Lateral thinking applied to the alien question.

Michael Muxworthy Sci-fi Novel
Coming soon – Michael Muxworthy

Michael Muxworthy – Lateral thinking author of fiction