Most famous brainteasers from around the world

Brainteasers are a fun and challenging way to exercise your brain. From riddles to puzzles, there are countless brainteasers from around the world that have become famous for their difficulty and creativity. Here are 6 of the most famous brainteasers from around the world.

1. The Riddle of the Sphinx

The Riddle of the Sphinx originates from Greek mythology, specifically the story of Oedipus. In this tale, the Sphinx, a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a woman, was sent by the goddess Hera to plague the city of Thebes as punishment for an ancient crime. Perched on a mountain cliff near the city, the Sphinx guarded Thebes with a riddle she had learned from the Muses. The riddle went as follows: “What goes on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?” Each time a traveler failed to solve her riddle, the Sphinx devoured them, effectively preventing anyone from leaving or entering the city.

Many people attempted to solve the riddle, but it wasn’t until Oedipus, fleeing from Corinth, arrived at Thebes that the riddle was finally answered. Oedipus correctly deduced that the answer was “Man,” who crawls on all fours as a baby, walks on two legs as an adult, and uses a walking stick in old age. Upon hearing the correct answer, the Sphinx jumped from the cliff to her death, lifting the plague from Thebes.

The Riddle of the Sphinx is not only a captivating puzzle but also a reflection of the stages of human life. It highlights the progression from infancy to adulthood and eventually to elderhood, emphasizing the cyclical nature of life. This riddle has been the subject of much philosophical debate, with some interpreting it as a paradox of self-reference that contradicts known laws of science.

2. The Monty Hall Problem

The Monty Hall Problem is one of the most famous brainteasers from around the world. Named after the original host of the American television game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” Monty Hall, this counter-intuitive probability puzzle has left many people scratching their heads. The problem was first introduced in a letter by Steve Selvin to the American Statistician in 1975 and gained widespread attention when it was featured in Marilyn vos Savant’s “Ask Marilyn” column in Parade magazine in 1990.

The Monty Hall Problem presents a scenario where a contestant on a game show is faced with three doors. Behind one door is a car, while the other two doors hide goats. The contestant chooses one door, and then the host, who knows what is behind each door, opens another door revealing a goat. The contestant is then given the option to either stick with their original choice or switch to the remaining unopened door. The question posed is whether the contestant should switch doors or not.

At first glance, it may seem that the odds are 50-50, as there are only two doors left. However, the correct answer is that the contestant should switch doors. By switching, the contestant has a 2/3 chance of winning the car, whereas sticking with the original choice leaves them with only a 1/3 chance. This counter-intuitive result can be better understood by considering a larger number of doors, such as a million. In this case, after the host eliminates 999,998 doors with goats, the odds of the remaining door containing the car are overwhelmingly in the contestant’s favor.

The Monty Hall Problem has been the subject of numerous studies, books, and articles, as it challenges our intuitive understanding of probability. Cognitive psychologist Massimo Piattelli Palmarini noted that even Nobel physicists have been known to give the wrong answer and insist on it. Interestingly, pigeons exposed to the problem learn to switch doors more quickly than humans, demonstrating that our cognitive biases can sometimes lead us astray.

In conclusion, the Monty Hall Problem is a fascinating brainteaser that has captured the imagination of people around the world. It serves as a reminder that our intuitive understanding of probability can sometimes be misleading, and that taking a step back to analyze a situation more thoroughly can lead to surprising insights.

3. The Bridge and Torch Problem

Here’s the scenario: Four friends need to cross a rickety bridge at night. They have only one torch, and the bridge is so narrow that they can only cross it two at a time. To make matters more complicated, the bridge is in such poor condition that it can’t be crossed without the torch to guide their way.

Each friend takes a different amount of time to cross the bridge:
– Friend A takes 1 minute
– Friend B takes 2 minutes
– Friend C takes 5 minutes
– Friend D takes 10 minutes

When two friends cross together, they must go at the slower person’s pace. Also, once a pair reaches the other side, one person has to return with the torch before the next pair can cross.

The challenge is to figure out how all four friends can get across the bridge in just 17 minutes. Keep in mind that they can’t risk crossing without the torch or in groups larger than two. Give it some thought and see if you can come up with a solution!

Once you’ve tried solving it yourself, here’s the answer:

1. Friend A and Friend B cross together, taking 2 minutes.
2. Friend A returns with the torch, taking 1 minute.
3. Friend C and Friend D cross together, taking 10 minutes.
4. Friend B returns with the torch, taking 2 minutes.
5. Finally, Friend A and Friend B cross together again, taking 2 more minutes.

This results in a total of 2 + 1 + 10 + 2 + 2 = 17 minutes.

I hope you enjoyed this brain teaser as much as I did! It’s always fun to challenge ourselves with puzzles like this and keep our minds sharp. If you have any other brainteasers or puzzles you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them!

4. The Fox, Goose, and Bag of Beans Puzzle

Have you ever come across a riddle that left you scratching your head, wondering how on earth you could solve it? Well, let me introduce you to one of the most famous brainteasers from around the world: The Fox, Goose, and Bag of Beans Puzzle. This ancient river-crossing puzzle dates back to at least the 9th century and has been challenging people’s minds for centuries.

Imagine this: A farmer goes to the market and purchases a fox, a goose, and a bag of beans. On his way home, he comes across a river and rents a boat to cross it. However, the boat can only carry the farmer and one of his purchases at a time. To make matters more complicated, the fox cannot be left alone with the goose, as it would eat the poor bird. Similarly, the goose cannot be left alone with the bag of beans, as it would devour the beans. The farmer’s challenge is to transport himself and his purchases to the other side of the river without any of them being eaten. So, how does he do it?

The solution to this intriguing puzzle involves a series of strategic moves by the farmer. First, he takes the goose across the river, leaving the fox and the bag of beans safely behind. He then returns to the original side and takes either the fox or the beans across next. However, since he cannot leave the fox and goose together, he brings the goose back with him. Now, he can take the remaining item (either the fox or the beans) across the river and finally return to fetch the goose. In summary, the farmer’s actions are as follows:

1. Take the goose over.
2. Return alone.
3. Take the fox or the bag of beans over.
4. Return with the goose.
5. Take the remaining item (fox or beans) over.
6. Return alone.
7. Take the goose over.

In total, there are seven crossings: four forward and three back. This clever solution ensures that none of the farmer’s purchases are eaten, and all make it safely to the other side of the river.

The Fox, Goose, and Bag of Beans Puzzle is just one example of the many fascinating brainteasers that have captivated people throughout history. 

5. The Liar and Truth-Teller Riddle

The Liar and Truth-Teller Riddle is a classic brainteaser that has been around for centuries. It’s a logic puzzle that involves two people, one of whom always tells the truth and the other always lies. The riddle goes like this:

“You come to a fork in the road and there are two men standing there. One of them always tells the truth and the other always lies. You can only ask one question to figure out which road to take. What do you ask?”

The answer is to ask one of them, “If I were to ask the other person which way to go, what would they say?” If you ask the truth-teller, they will tell you what the liar would say, and if you ask the liar, they will lie about what the truth-teller would say. This will help you determine which way to go: you have to take in both cases the opposite direction.

This riddle is a great example of how logic puzzles can challenge our thinking and problem-solving skills. It requires us to think outside the box and consider different scenarios. It’s also a fun way to pass the time and challenge our friends and family.

6. The Missing Dollar Riddle

Imagine this scenario: three friends decide to spend a night at a hotel, where they are initially told that the cost of their room is $30. Each guest pays $10, making a total of $30. However, after they’ve settled in their room, the hotel manager realizes that there was a mistake and that the actual cost of the room should have been $25. To rectify the situation, the manager gives the bellhop $5 in one-dollar bills to return to the guests.

As the bellhop makes his way to the guests’ room, he realizes that he cannot evenly divide the five one-dollar bills among the three friends. So, he decides to give each guest $1 back and keep the remaining $2 as a tip for himself. Now, each guest has paid $9, totaling $27. Add the $2 kept by the bellhop, and you get $29. But wait, the guests originally handed over $30! So, where did the missing dollar go?

This riddle has left many people scratching their heads, trying to figure out what happened to that elusive missing dollar. The trick to solving this puzzle lies in understanding that there is no actual missing dollar. The confusion arises from the misdirection in the riddle, which leads us to believe that the amounts should add up to $30 when, in fact, they don’t need to.

To clarify, let’s break down the payments: the hotel received $25 for the room, the bellhop kept $2 as a tip, and the guests got $1 each, totaling $3. When you add these amounts together, you get the original $30 that the guests paid. The riddle’s deception lies in making us think that the $27 paid by the guests and the $2 kept by the bellhop should add up to $30, which is not the case. 

It’s amazing how a simple change in perspective can make all the difference in solving a riddle like this. The Missing Dollar Riddle is a perfect example of how our minds can be tricked into seeing a problem where there isn’t one. 


These brainteasers not only provide entertainment but also serve as a means to stretch our minds and challenge our preconceived notions. By engaging with these puzzles, we can expand our thinking and foster creativity, ultimately benefiting both ourselves and the world around us.

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