Lateral thinking puzzle

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Lateral thinking puzzles are often referred to as Situation puzzles, "yes/no" puzzles, or "no, no oh my dear god no!" puzzles.

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Lateral thinking puzzles

9 dot puzzle
A classic visual lateral thought puzzle. By using maximum of four lines, and not lifting the pen off the paper, are you able to join every one of these dots?
This is often referred to as thinking outside the box
The answer is below.

Lateral thinking puzzles are usually played in a group, alone, in pairs, with limited resources, by deep sea divers, or in other situations. It is most often used to stimulate lateral thinking. Depending upon the settings and level of difficulty, other answers, hints or simple explanations of why the answer is "yes", "****", or "please, God, no more" may be considered acceptable.

How to play

One player initiates the game by asking in a high-pitched and awkward voice whether anybody wants to play a lateral thinking puzzle. Once all other alternatives are exhausted, the game begins. The initiator of the game "tosses" to the players a confusing or counter-productive situation while the players are allowed to ask the aforementioned "tosser" yes/no questions until they either arrive at an explanation for the situation or beat him savagely about the head and body with a blunt instrument.

As the tosser has already determined the answer of the puzzle, much of the lack of enjoyment of lateral thinking puzzles comes down to the tenacity of the tosser. For example, you may have the correct answer to a puzzle (ie He was run over by a car) but if it doesn't fit in with the answer in the tossers mind (ie He was run over by a 1957 Chevrolet which had had the standard engine replaced with a 1982 Datsun 180B motor) then the tosser will tell you that you are incorrect. This, of course, leads to frustration, and as such is often used to break the spirit of the individual in terrorist training camps. As a result one may conclude these types of puzzles caused 9/11.


  • Yope is a word devised to answer a question with yes and no simultaneously. You can think of it as an answer saying Yes, but ... and No, but ... at the same time. This would be used when it would be too easy to give a straight answer.
  • Yaybino is a word devised to answer yes, no and maybe simultaneously. It means that the tosser has lost interest in the game and is stalling to try and remember what the hell they were talking about again.
  • Yaybiyes is a word devised to answer yes, maybe, and yes simultaneously. It doesn't give any further indication as to the situation, however it does add an air of mystery to the tosser[1].
  • Irrelevant (or n/a) is used when a question is not applicable to the current situation. It is also used to describe the impact that the puzzle will have on the remainder of your life.
  • Irrelevant, but assume no is used when the situation is the same regardless of what the correct answer to the question is. An example question that might have this answer is: "Do you have a large penis?"

Classic lateral thinking puzzles

There are a great many lateral thinking puzzles available. Compendiums of puzzles can be bought in bookshops or stolen from farmers; alternatively, you might like to try and make up your own! Here are a few simple lateral thinking puzzles to get you started:

The Bar Enigma

Q. Tom is found dead in the living room, with a bar across his back. How did he die?
A. An enormous bar fell on him. (Roll over for answer)

The Riddle Of The Adults And The Children

Q. Adults are holding children, waiting their turn. The children are handed to a man, who holds them while a woman shoots them. Their parents are pleased. Why?
Clue: It is X-Mas time
A. Because the cost of raising children has increased beyond the average increase in wages in the Western world, and as such children are a financial burden that can be done away with. Of course, at Christmas, the cost of toys is an additional burden. (Roll over for answer)

The Albatross Soup Puzzle

Q. A man walks into a restaurant and orders a bowl of albatross soup. He takes one bite, then runs out of the restaurant and hurls himself off a nearby cliff, killing himself. Why?
A. A force named gravity accelerates all bodies within the Earth's atmosphere towards the planet's centre of mass. The acceleration during the time the man was falling brought him to a high speed. When he hit the ground at the bottom of the cliff, the sudden deceleration ruptured several vital internal organs, causing him to bleed to death. (Roll over for answer)

The Cocky Maid

Q. A maid was heating water to be added to a bath. Suddenly, the butler walked in and said: "Don't you know that the longer you heat that water for, the colder the bath will be?" Why did he say that?
A. Butlers in Victorian households generally hold the highest rank that downstairs staff can hold, and they wield this in cruel and sadistic ways to torture their peers. (Roll over for answer)

Milo's Grandson

Q. Tom is visiting his friend, Milo, when he notices a strange portrait on Milo's wall. Tom asks Milo who it is. Milo replies: "That is clearly my grandson." But Milo is twelve. What is going on?
A. Milo is clearly insane. (Roll over for answer)

Eggs in a basket

Q. There were six people, and six eggs in a basket. Everyone took one, but yet there was still one left over. How can this be?
A. One/Two of them was/were Siamese twins with only two arms and he/she/it/they could only take one egg. (Roll over for answer)

The Miraculous Baby

Q. A baby falls out of a twenty-story building and survives. How?
A. Because the parent of the baby hung the baby over the edge of a balcony so it could see the view, and in the process somehow lost hold of the child. However there was enough cushioning material that the child could live, but was paralyzed from the neck down with significant brain damage.(Roll over for answer)

The Unexpected Firing

Q. A man was fired at work on his first day for doing his job. Why?
A. He was working as a practise target at a shooting range. (If you haven't worked out what to do yet for an answer, you may be thinking too laterally.)

Antony and Cleopatra

Q. Antony and Cleopatra are found dead in a room. Around them are bits of broken glass and puddles of water. How did they die?
A. Antony stabbed himself as he thought that Cleopatra had committed suicide, and when it was found that she hadn't he had his supporters carry him to Cleopatra and he died in her arms, and then Cleopatra was bitten on the asp. The broken glass and the water was simply because Cleopatra was a terrible housekeeper. Either way, they were alive in 44AD, Did you really expect them to be alive today? For a more complete story, check out The Complete Work of William Shakespeare Jnr. (If you still haven't worked out what to do for the answer, you may have more of an issue than thinking too laterally.[2])
9 dot puzzle solved
A classic Lateral Thought answer. At no time were you told that the lines needed to be straight.


  1. In the tosser's mind only
  2. Stupidity
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