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Third, Fourth, Fifth

Trick brain teasers appear difficult at first, but they have a trick that makes them really easy.


Puzzle ID:#50111
Fun:*** (3.08)
Difficulty:*** (2.35)
Submitted By:eighsseAus******
Corrected By:eighsse




David showed a piece of paper to Kenneth, while covering the top part of it with his hand. The visible portion below his hand read as follows:

David said, "My hand is covering two words, the first two words in this list of ten words. The list follows a completely and indisputably logical sequence. None of the words are repeated. I'll bet you $50 that you cannot tell me what those two words are on your first try. You can say the two words in either order."

Kenneth could not see any reason not to accept this wager, and said "First and second" for the easy $50 win. However, after David moved his hand away, Kenneth realized he had lost, and indeed, there was not even an argument to be made. What were the two hidden words?


"Whole" and "Half." The obvious idea is that the list is of ordinal numbers. However, it is actually a list of the names of the inverse fractions of the natural numbers. That is, 1/1, 1/2, 1/3, etc.

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Jan 31, 2014

This one was really cool, really clever
Feb 11, 2014

Another great teaser from the eighsse the master.
Feb 26, 2014

Had to check the category after reading the teaser, once I realised it was a "trick" it was fairly easy but a great puzzle nonetheless. Will have to try it on some friends.
Feb 26, 2014

Thanks everybody, glad you enjoyed it
Feb 26, 2014

I was thinking along family lines and got Senior, Junior. Good one.
Feb 26, 2014

It still seems almost nobody understands the meaning of "trick". Maybe.

Anyway, I was thinking it was "first" and "second", since "first and second" is THREE words.
Feb 26, 2014

The bet was that Kenneth COULDN'T tell him what the first two words were. Well, if the first two words really were "one" and "half," then Kenneth did win the $50.
Feb 27, 2014

Well, the words were "whole" and "half," not "one" and "half." But, if I understand correctly, you're saying that, even though Kenneth said incorrect words, it would still have been possible for him to vocally pronounce the correct words -- just that it didn't happen? In the same way one could say, "The Yankees won the game, but that doesn't mean it was impossible for the Red Sox to have won the game."? If so, I guess that could be accurate in a very literal way
Feb 27, 2014

Not getting the question nor the answer
Feb 27, 2014

C'mon, folks. It's a PUZZLE site!

That means entries should be challenging, problematical, and enigmatic; also original (mostly) and creative (often).

And the fact that this one was a "trick" even adds to the fun.

I think most of the quibbling here is because some players found it TOO creative, challenging, and tricky and are manufacturing their own excuses for that.

Live with it! Lighten up!

I thought it was an excellent entry. I couldn't solve it but still rated it tops for fun.
Feb 27, 2014

Basically, the whole idea is that, given this list...
Fifth, etc.
You are generally going to assume First and Second go in the blanks to complete the series. However, Whole and Half fit just as well (whole of a pie, half of a pie, third of a pie, fourth of a pie, fifth of a pie, etc.), but it likely wouldn't cross your mind to think of that.

@BadBunnee: Thanks!
Mar 01, 2014

Winner, runner-up. As in a race
Mar 01, 2014

@letapz2: Good thinking! The only thing is, "winner" and "runner-up" can still be call "first" and "second," whereas "whole" and "half" are never called a "first" or a "second." So I think in that case, Kenneth MIGHT have an argument to make. But still, that answer works for me.
Mar 02, 2014

what about 'winner', 'runner-up'?
Mar 02, 2014

Whoops, diodn't read last comment.. Sorry.
Mar 24, 2014


I'll admit, I didn't come up with the right answer on this one. My friend and I were thinking in the right area - mathematics - but were pondering that the numbers referred to 'roots' and not fractions, so our answers are were "whole" and "square." We realized our flaw though since using "square" would probably have led to the third word being "cube."

Amazing job! I applaud with paws galore!
Mar 24, 2014

Hey thanks fox! Glad to entertain you and glad to have my work appreciated!
Apr 08, 2014

One thing wrong though; "FOURTH" would have been the word "QUARTER" if it was in area statements. Just letting you know.
Rest of the teaser was great! Keep up the good work!
Apr 08, 2014

Agreed benjiboo, I thought of that and recognized it in a comment to the editors when I submitted this teaser. My argument is that fourth/quarter is pretty much the only one that can be called either of two things. So I see either one equally fit. Good catch, and though I still think the teaser and answer is valid, I do agree with you that it is an issue.
Jan 16, 2015

My thought was "MAIN" and "SECOND", the sequence being streets in the town they were in. Lots of towns with numbered streets call the first street in the sequence Main rather than First (I just read an article about this recently, over on, I believe (I think it was about the frequency of street names in Google Maps).

Nice trick, but there are multiple valid solutions.
Jan 16, 2015

And of course, Kenneth is a fool for taking an obvious sucker bet - no way does David offer the bet if it's really that easy. From the play "Guys and Dolls":

Sky Masterson: One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to show you a brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken. Then this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of this brand-new deck of cards and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, do not accept this bet, because as sure as you stand there, you're going to wind up with an ear full of cider.
Jan 16, 2015

Hah, good quote dewtell. And yes he is quite the fool.

And I agree, there are multiple solutions, but one that stands out, especially since my solution uses two words that are neither "first' nor "second." Perhaps the bet should say that he need only get ONE word correct to win.

And also, although this is clearly a trick teaser, maybe it should be in the situation category, since it's not an ENTIRELY unanimous solution.

Good input
Apr 16, 2015

I tried this on a friend and won, but I had to give the money back because "fourth" is called "quarter" in the UK!
Apr 16, 2015

Ah, but I disagree! It's called "quarter" here in USA too. But like I've said, "quarter" and "fourth" are interchangeable names of 1/4 (or at least in US they are). Just because there are two options doesn't mean the unambiguous one ("quarter") MUST be given, rather than the ambiguous "fourth".
Apr 23, 2015

Ok. I lost £5.
Sep 27, 2015

Best one today
Feb 06, 2016

I, too, dismissed 'whole' and 'half' because it said 'fourth' and not 'quarter'. I ultimately went with 'winner' and 'runner-up', but was disappointed to find the solution was the first thing I wrote off.
Feb 06, 2016

Sorry Sly. That is always frustrating. But think about it. If I said "A fourth of the pie is gone," would you say, "No, that's wrong, it's clearly a quarter that is missing." They're synonymous, you never have to use one or the other. But I agree, it would be a MORE consistent and parallel sequence of it said 'quarter.' Maybe someone could submit a correction leaving all of the first four entries blank instead of just three.
Feb 06, 2016

Instead of just two*, that is.
Jun 17, 2016

Listed with my Favourites; thanks! However, I'd prefer it to be in Logic - I can't find a trick; it's quite logical. In fact, it illustrates that there can sometimes be several solutions for logical sequences.
Jun 17, 2016

Maybe the best answer is FIRST and SECOND because no one would be silly enough to guess something so obvious for $50.
Jun 17, 2016

Thanks dalfamnest. And you might be right about this not being a trick teaser. I suppose it's more of a 'trick' teaser for the character in the story; however, the reader already knows that the bait answer is incorrect. So it's impossible for the reader to take that bait, and he is forced to search for any other option. Ideally, the teaser would be the actual trick from the context of the story, rather than the story itself, but if I were to submit that, it would never get accepted. Obviously, "FIRST, SECOND" would be a valid alternate answer, even if the given answer were "WHOLE, HALF".
Jun 19, 2016

So I gave this to a maths class yesterday - and the only one to get it "right" first time was a girl who always struggles with maths! She was delighted - and earned her first chocolate prize! [I wasn't so delighted with her logic however! ... "I don't like maths, especially fractions, so they were the first thing I thought of!!"
Jun 19, 2016

I presume my check for 1% of your salary is in the mail. Kidding, that's great!
Feb 19, 2017

that was awesome .. I couldn't get anyone to shake on 50 bucks, but I did win some pretty decent french fries ..

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