Solve and Create a Logic Puzzle

  • 01 of 04

    What Is A Logic Puzzle?

    Hours of Entertainment
    Sudoku puzzles. Wade Griffith / Getty Images

    Logic puzzles come in a few different flavors, the most common being logic grid puzzles, spatial acuity puzzles and lateral thinking puzzles.


    Logic grid puzzles (which include Sudoku puzzles and KenKen puzzles) are probably mostly encountered as 'who-owns-the-zebra' type puzzles. The challenge of these popular puzzles is to ascertain certain facts and reach certain conclusions using deductive reasoning to process a number of statements.


    These deduction puzzles are the most basic logic puzzles and...MORE can be easily constructed with varying degrees of complexity to appeal to all levels of solving ability. By differing the number of elements, the amount of information given as well as the inter-connectivity of the defining statements (direct/loose association, etc.), these puzzles can be easy as pie or tough as nails.


    Here's a simple logic puzzle that will serve as an example for this brief tutorial.


    If you're ready, grab a pencil and paper and we'll get started.


    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    A Day at the Races

    Group of jockeys riding horses in a horse race
    Day at the races puzzle. Glowimages / Getty Images

    To add some interest I've created a scenario to introduce the puzzle. Here goes.


    As an employee, Jack arrives at the racetrack to find three jockeys, Willie, Eddie and Fidel, sitting in the media room waiting for a press conference to start. Jack's boss (who loves puzzles) has left him a note instructing him to bring each jockey his racing silks and announce to the press which race each jockey has won and which horse he was riding.


    The challenge for Jack is that his boss' note contains only...MORE six statements:


    • 1. Willie has never won the Kentucky Derby.
    • 2. The jockey that rode Flash did not wear blue silks.
    • 3. The winner of the Belmont Stakes didn't ride Zipper.
    • 4. The winner of the Preakness is to the right of Willie.
    • 5. The jockey that rode Flash is seated to the left of the Derby winner.
    • 6. The jockey that rode Zipper is seated to the left of the jockey who wore yellow.

    Is it possible for Jack to know which jockey wore which silks, which race he won and which horse he was riding just by using deductive reasoning?


    Let's find out.


    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    Create a logic grid

    Jockey logic grid
    Fig. 1.

    To begin, Jack draws a grid with four columns and four rows and then subdivides the lower three rows into three rows each as illustrated above (Fig 1).


    In the top row, he writes in the names of the jockeys in order (Willie, Eddie, Fidel) and puts the nine variables in the left-hand column.


    He then writes the six statements out below the grid.


    Note: The statements that refer to left and right are from the perspective of the viewer when looking at the jockeys at the press conference (in the grid).


    Now...MORE Jack reads each statement to see what conclusions he can come to for each one.


    • 1. Willie has never won the Kentucky Derby.

    This is a straightforward statement and allows Jack to eliminate one race option for Willie.


    • 2. The jockey that rode Flash did not wear blue silks.

    This statement doesn't help until Jack knows either who rode Flash or who wore blue. He puts this aside for now.


    • 3. The winner of the Belmont Stakes didn't ride Zipper.

    Once again Jack needs to know who won Belmont or rode Zipper before he can deduce anything from this statement.


    • 4. The winner of the Preakness is to the right of Willie.

    Now Jack can make some progress. He previously eliminated the Derby as an option for Willie and now he can eliminate the Preakness which means he can pencil in his first conclusion. Willie won the Belmont Stakes. Tada! Furthermore, he can eliminate Zipper as an option for Willie (see statement #3).


    • 5. The jockey that rode Flash is seated to the left of the Derby winner.

    From this statement, Jack eliminates Flash as an option for Fidel since he is seated on the far right. He now knows that either Willie or Eddie rode Flash.


    • 6. The jockey that rode Zipper is seated to the left of the jockey who wore yellow.

    This statement allows Jack to conclude that Eddie rode Zipper because the only other jockey who is to the left of anyone is Willie who Jack has previously concluded did not ride Zipper. Also, it follows that Fidel must have worn yellow and Willie must have ridden Flash.


    Now Jack returns to statement #2. From this statement, he can deduce that Willie must have worn red which means Eddie must have worn blue.


    And that completes the puzzle. Way to go, Jack!


    Want to create your own logic puzzle? Here's how.


    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    Create a logic puzzle.

    blank logic grid
    Fig. 2.

    Want to create your own logic puzzles? Draw a simple grid. Use the one above as a guide (Fig. 2) or print it out.


    Make up a scenario: Three fishermen (fish, technique, locale), three musicians (instrument, song, music genre), three people in a bar (occupation, drink, snack), etc.


    After you pencil in the headings, assign three different values to each of the three characters.


    Once you have filled the grid, work backward and create statements that will allow the solver to deduce the values for each...MORE character.


    As well as stating what value the characters have, mix in statements that say what a character does not have/do ("the sax player does not write ballads") and/or that refer to the interrelationship of values and do not refer directly to the characters themselves (the R&B player sings jazz classics).


    Try to limit yourself to five or six statements. Test solve the puzzle to make sure it works. Also, make sure you don't have unnecessary or redundant clues. In other words, two clues or statements which lead to the same conclusion.


    It's a good idea to have someone test solve your puzzle for accuracy and fairness.


    Have fun!