So here is the situation. You are walking along the street and suddenly two men jump out of a van. They blindfold you and bundle you into their vehicle. You are driven for miles before being taken into a house and your blindfold removed. You find yourself sitting in a dark, damp, room. There is a small table in front of you containing 11 matches and a small ball of paper.

A hungry looking lion is sitting opposite you, and out of the corner of your eye you can see four hats (two red, two blue) and a candle lying on the ground.

The lion leans forward and arranges the matchsticks and paper ball into the following dog-like shape.


He then turns around, takes a piece of chalk from behind his ear and writes on the wall….


Can you escape with your life? As ever, feel free to say if you think you have solved it, and how long it took, but no answers. Solution on Monday. Have fun.

Update:  OK, so it turns out that there are two answers!  Can you get both of them?

The answer to this puzzle, and 100 others,  can be found in a new kindle ebook called PUZZLED, and is available in the UK here and USA here.


  1. *groan*

    Just like the last # puzzles, this one is old…like Atari – can be found in any puzzle book.

    Here’s a riddle a bit more challenging:

    What do you get when you cross your T’s and dot your I’s?

  2. While I was sitting her pondering this, my wife leaned in with a clever solution. Took her 5 seconds. I’d already given it a good 2 minutes….

  3. Simple…at least I have a simple solution.
    We’ll see how wrong I am later.
    Ya, I’m a pessimest but that way I’m always pleasantly surprized and never disapointed.

  4. I got it in about 10 minutes half of which spend on translating English into Chinese.
    –Eh…what’s wrong with ur little dog? Is he all right?
    –Oh, all right,& me 2. 😛

  5. Oh i got that right away, before i had finished reading the question. But yeah that one is great, it would be fun as a party trick, as it plays with logic.

  6. Think I have it (it’s kind of cheating but then…isn’t that the point?) but I am surprised how many people are saying it’s the oldest one in the book. Not in my book! I’ve seen a fair few and this one is new to me..or was I guess.

    1. >>I’ve seen a fair few and this one is new to me..or was I guess.

      Obviously not. It’s as old as the hills.

  7. Bloody hell, what is it with you and hungry lions, Richard? Give the poor beasts some slack! 😉

    Anyway, easy one this time. It took me 20 seconds.

  8. I think I got it, didn’t seem too difficult. I have seen one similar to this but it involved the poor matchstick dog getting run over by a car, so it was much darker! 🙂

  9. Simple, if I didn’t misunderstand the instructions. Also, I’m beginning to suspect that the lion is the real mastermind behind all this, and the evil man is its sidekick at most… 😛

  10. Well, I think I have both … if the dog is as flexible as i think it should be!!
    Does Richard have a habit of personifying lions cos I see a theme running through the 2 Friday puzzles I’ve looked at????

  11. I take a match and light it hoping that the damp hasn’t got to it, applying it to the candle, so that I can see better in the dark. I have no intention of getting the dog to look the other way, it’s the lion I want to look the other way. So far he hasn’t eaten me because I have only moved one match. I use the candle to set fire to the small paper ball and flick it at the lion’s mane, he still doesn’t eat me because I’ve so far moved one match and the paper ball, he flinches and blinks, during which brief distraction I, grab a second match, stand in front of the door to the room, arrange the red and blue hats in front of my body, noting where the door is, which I’m assuming is unlocked because I didn’t hear the people who kidnapped me lock it, I blow out the candle. In spite of his ‘night vision’ the lion has less colour receptors and in the ‘dark’ I’m camouflaged by the hat’s breaking up my body shape. The lion is amazed that I’ve ‘disapeared’ and tries to listen for the beating of my heart and sniffs the air to find me. I am standing in front of the door and just as the lion locates me and moves in I light the second match right in front of the lion’s eyes, blinded he recoils, I throw the hats at him and beat a hasty retreat through the door closing it behind me.
    The lion throws himself at the door roaring in hunger and anger, (a little asonance goes a long way), bringing the kidnappers running. Just as they arrive I fling open the door, step aside and the lion falls on the first man satiating his hunger. The second kidnapper is feeling queasy and I easily overpower him alone, leaving him unconscious to the mercy of the lion. I take the keys to the van and am about to run when I realise that I don’t know where I am. The lion is no longer hungry, but he is thirsty. I ask him where we are and he tells me. He also says that he is thirsty. I say if he shows me the way home I’ll buy him a drink. We drive away with the lion in the back of the van. We find a bar near my home. The lion after his big meal and being out of the room for the first time in ages gets car sick.
    A man and a lion walk into a bar and the barman says ‘What can I get you?’
    The man says ‘I’ll have pint and the lion will have water no ice.’
    The barman says ‘Doesn’t he drink?’
    And the man says ‘Usually yes but he’s feline sick?’
    bdoom tsah!
    It’s not the answer you were looking for, I expect, but that’s the way it is with humans; a chaotic white noise of creativity proceeding from the electric energy of the ‘ghost in the machine’.

    (From Richard Wiseman – Formerly of the University of Hertfordshire Humanities class of 1989)

  12. I’ve got the first solution in about half a min but the second one took a while to figure out….if the definition of a dog’s tail is taken loosely (which I hope with a two dimensional match dog may be the case), then I have got it.

    Hopefully the solution is more satisfying than 2 weeks ago:)

  13. OK – don’t really think it counts as another solution though.

    Haven’t worked out the answer to Splinternails’ riddle. Are you going to tell us?

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