asifAs I said on Friday, my new book has just come out in the USA!  It is called Rip It Up in the UK, but in the USA it’s called The As If Principle.

Also, on Friday I posted this puzzle (created by Lloyd King)….

Can you fill in the missing letters in the following sequence: ??E, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE, TEN, ????, ???EN, ?IN?

If you have not tried to solve it, have a go now.  For everyone else the answer is after the break.


Did you solve it? Any other answers?


  1. NO!

    The QUESTION ended in ?IN? meaning that the last word has only three letters, last one “N”, because everone knows the ? at the end belongs to the question itself and not the last word! Unless, of course, we are to forget that the English Language has rules of grammar.

    1. In previous puzzles, it has been essential to read the question exactly as written, as an apparent “mistake” has been the clue to the solution – indeed it is often only with a pedantic reading of the question that a soution can be found. Accuracy is essential in setting puzzles. How, then, is it “Sour Grapes” to point out that the question as published has no solution? I think that if Richard had used another symbol for the missing letter, he would ot have missed the ? at the end of the question, as it would have ended, for example, “%%%EN, %IN%?”.

    2. Assuming that a ? at the end of the question is proper punctuation rather than part of the last word comes natural to educated people. Some puzzles are designed to deceive and if that had been the case here, falling for the wrong solution then complaining would indeed seem to be “Sour Grapes”. In this case, the question has been mis-typed and is therefore unsolveable. Complaining about a question which has no correct answer because of a “Typo” is a valid complaint.

    3. If anything, the colon should be replaced by a question mark. The list is just a list, not a question.
      Having said that, I didn’t get it either.

    4. > “soution”
      > “would ot have missed”
      > “comes natural to educated people”
      > “unsolveable”

      It’s cracking me up that you clearly don’t hold yourself to the same standards of accuracy to which you hold others.

    5. I apologise for the fact that my computer occasionally misses some of my key presses (l, n, ly) and also that I did not proof-read my comment well enough and therefore missed the spelling mistakes. This applies to my first three accidental mistakes. Unsolvable was my big mistake as I didn’t bother to look it up. If only WordPress helped with an automatic spell-checker!

      We all make mistakes from time to time, Myself and Richard included. However, my mistakes do not invalidate any puzzle!

      Julia, I agree that a ? instead of a : would have been better as long as it is followed by the list starting on another line, as this would separate the list from the question. However the list is written as part of the question, continuing on the same line and therefore there is still a missing ? at the end, to finish the sentence.

      As for whether I could have got the solution, I really don’t know. All I know is that I saw a 3-letter final word and this led me to conclude that there was no possible solution. Added to my interpretation of the final ? as being punctuation rather than a missing letter was the fact that, with the exception of “JACK”, where all letters were substituted, all other words had their final letter intact.

    6. So – not sour grapes then. Just feeling really hard done by. Isn’t it the case, though, that these puzzles have always had little inconsistencies, errors and tricks in them just to throw the reader, especially pedantic ‘Mr. Logics’ with inflexible approaches to solving them. If you’d said you had got the solution, but that the question was grammatically incorrect, I’d have had more sympathy. But to insist that the problem was insoluble, digging deeper with every comeback is just childish. Better luck next week! We’ll be looking out for you.

    7. If there had been an extra question mark at the end, most people would be complaining that they expected a five-letter word. If you felt it was ambiguous, you could have simply approached the puzzle both ways, and seen whether the assumption of a three-letter word OR a four-letter word would lead to a solution. I don’t think I even looked at the last word except to verify that I was right; the solution jumped out at me as soon as I got to the eleventh word. So it isn’t “unsolvable,” you just failed to solve it.

    8. That threw me for a few minutes, too. Once I thought of the last ? as a missing letter and not the question mark terminating the question, I got it in a second. The puzzle should have been better phrased.

    1. Most people say TWO rather than DEUCE, as most of us are not regular card players. The choice of DEUCE would probably have made it more obvious.

    2. As a long-time poker player who currently works in a casino, I will confirm that dealers are trained and expected to use the terms “deuce” and “trey” (and for dice, where the terms come from, as well as cards). Among players, using the word “Two” will instantly mark you as a newbie. “Three” is used by some experienced players, though.

  2. Those chuntering about the use of the ? may well have chuntered if the question had ended ?n??
    Come on get over it! I worked it out having read a comment of how easy it is a having a look at what the relationship of the numbers could be. The Jack was the give away for me.
    Perhaps though, in future, Richard could use * in placr of ? to assist everyone?

    1. In one of my earlier comments I used % as a possible placemarker, but only because * is commonly used to represent multiple letters. An example is that if you tried to send an email to *@*.* it should reach every possible email address in the world. Of course it wouldn’t get past SPAM filters.

  3. An excellent puzzle!
    Ha me scratching my head, really could not figure it out at all. Then I saw the answer – such a blindingly obvious answer!
    Well played Richard! 🙂

    (Looks like someone on this thread really let it wind them up, too 😉 )

    1. Same for me. Great puzzle with an obvious answer which didn’t dawn on me. Will use it on my friends as well now.

  4. I’m annoyed that i didn’t solve it considering how easy and obvious it was. I have solved tougher ones so win some lose some….

  5. Perhaps I’m the only one that although I did not guess the answer I DID NOT read the final ? as a question mark, but a missing letter.

  6. I agree with safec4ever and others who have pointed out that this puzzle, as well as at least one other recently, have been badly worded. The ? at the end is, indeed, a necessary part of the sentence the way it is constructed. In fact, I copied and sent this puzzle to my son, but
    I knew how to re-word it so that it is properly constructed. Simply “Fill in the missing letters in the following sequence:” Eddie and others who call “sour grapes” may want to notice that I did in fact get the answer — because I know from experience that richard wiseman is not meticulous in his framing of his questions, and has framed them badly before.

    1. I agree with Safc4ever
      I have gone back to look at several week’s worth of puzzles.
      All end in a question mark.
      Why should we assume that last Friday’s was any different?

    1. No, otherwise you could have; … nine, ten, five, seven, nine. Maybe even; … nine, ten, nine, seven, nine.
      Perhaps even; … nine, ten, Gold, seven, nine.
      Gold was a Spandau Ballet number!

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