10:56 pm PHT

“A man went into a restaurant, ordered penguin soup, tasted it, went home, and killed himself,” so starts the lateral thinking puzzle that kept us busy for two hours at Eileen’s get-together party last Saturday.

If you don’t know what lateral thinking puzzles are, these are puzzles where the storyteller lays down the basic premises of a tale. The participants then attempt to construct the whole picture (e.g., why did the penguin-soup-tasting man kill himself) by asking the storyteller questions that are answerable only by yes or no. The storyteller then answers each question with either “yes,” “no,” or “irrelevant” until the participants find out the whole story. The storyteller has the discretion of giving further hints or other statements in order to keep the game interesting.

Here’s a sample thread for the particular puzzle above:

Was the man allergic to penguin soup?
Did the man decide to order to penguin soup before coming to the restaurant?
Could it have been any other kind of soup and the man would still kill himself?
Did he kill himself with a gun?

Quite predictably, the word “irrelevant” was mentioned a bit too often. We probably spent too much time figuring out the solution. It appeared that we assumed a basic fact without asking about it; we ended up going around in circles as a result.

I missed playing these types of puzzle games. Another intellectual type of game I enjoy to the point of frustration are those “guess the pattern” puzzles. The classic example of such a game is “Around the World.” There is also another game of that type being played among my officemates (involving alcoholic beverages, hehehe) that I still haven’t figured out till now.

It’s obvious that I’m too nerdy, huh?  :P

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