On Friday I set these 2 puzzles.  If you have not tried to solve them, have a go now.  For everyone else the answers are after the break…

1) What 5-letter word actually becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?

2) Find a number less than 100 that is increased by one-fifth of its value when its digits are reversed.

1) ‘Short’

2) 45

Did you solve them?

I have produced an ebook containing 101 of the previous Friday Puzzles! It is called PUZZLED and is available for the Kindle (UK here and USA here) and on the iBookstore (UK here in the USA here). You can try 101 of the puzzles for free here.


    1. Both puzzles have alternate solutions.

      The word SORTE is a perfectly good olde englishe word meaning “sort”. Add a H and an R and you have SHORTER.

      The number answer could also be -54.

      This shows the need to discuss the Friday puzzle before Monday so that those of us who care about it are able to arrive at the right answer among often a plethora of possible alternatives.

      For example a few weeks ago the answer was either 22 or 11 depending on how one read the question. I was given much criticism for discussing the options. But in doing so I enabled the pleasure of others as they were better able to attempt the ambiguous puzzle,

    2. Er, no. The value of -54 is not one-fifth greater than -45.

      And there’s no need to resort to obsolete spellings when SHORE and SORER work just as well.

      The trouble with this “discussion” that you think there is a need for is that people such as yourself were giving the actual answer. The criticism which you received was not for simple discussion of alternate possible answers but because you
      1) gave away the answer despite being asked not to
      2) confused people by misunderstanding and misstating the question
      3) were often incorrect anyway but refused to admit it even when it was pointed out to you
      4) failed to address these concerns when raised by others or change the behaviour which caused them to be raised
      5) set yourself up as some sort benign omniscient being who has taken it upon themselves to explain things in the comments section of someone else’s blog when nobody here asked for that.

    3. Simon,
      Thanks for pointing out to Barry that his over-thought answer to the second question was incorrect.
      Regarding posting the answer – Richard no longer asks us not to do this when he posts the puzzle.

    4. @Simon

      Thank you!

      I must say that I do not feel like any sort of divine godlike being. But it others see me that way it is quite a compliment.

      I am just trying to be helpful by making contributions that are of use to the non-troll followers of this blog.

      Your support tells me I am indeed on the right track. Though I have no wish to be the type of “superstar” that you seem to see me as. I remain just a humble contributor who has (I will be objective) recieved some outstanding praise.

      Thank you again for your warm comments

    5. Barry, yet again you have misconstrued what was written. It’s obvious that this is just a game to you and you have wilfully misunderstood what Simon is saying. It’s also obvious that it is only you who has the high opinion of yourself. Nowhere does Simon mention “divine” or “godlike” – those are figments of your own fevered imagination.

      For someone who earlier claimed not to be a troll, you certainly are doing a good impression of one.

    6. Barry
      I note that you are now claiming to be humble.
      Does your humility stretch to admitting that your answer of -54 is wrong?

    7. @Jonno

      Thank you four taking the time to add a comment.

      You are right. Simon described me as a “benign omniscient being”. That is a remarkable compliment but not the same as a divine being. The taxonomy of higher beings is precise and we can distinguish the two, even though they share many characteristics.

      As a humble constructor of star charts and occasional traveller in the higher realms of spiritual consciousness (as opposed to consciousmess where we spend our psychic lives usually) I am personally acquainted with the difference and I should have been more precise. Even though this is not a scholarly journal that calls for such linguistic precision.

    8. Er, again no. You know perfectly well that I didn’t describe you as a “benign omniscient being”. You are neither benign nor omniscient, not even close. And clearly also not humble.

      -54 is still wrong.

  1. I over thought the second one, run a spreadsheet with every number from 99 to -99 run some functions to flip the numbers and add 20% to the original and then tried to match the result with the inverted numbers…..slapped my self in the face for a little while and looked for the simple way to calculate, then considered that the numbers would have to be that close to each other it really could only be 4 and 5, and them I asked has my life actually come to this and went and had a beer

    1. I’ll ne honest – there was no magic number popping into my head this time. I thought about it till my brain hurt then gave up! I don’t usually but this time the only way I could think of getting an answer was to write all the options down and then eliminate

    2. Perhaps you should have gone for the beer first – I find that can reveal obvious answers to many questions, albeit not always the correct ones!

  2. I quickly realized that number had to be divisible by 5 and that the digits had to be close to each other. That made it easy.

  3. I nearly wrote down some equations. Something along the lines of (10x+y) =1.2*(10y+x). Then I realised that the first number had to be evenly divisible by 5 and the answer just popped into my head.

    1. That’s exactly what I did too …. figured out what the equation would be, and then realized the only way the answer would be a whole number is if the second digit was 5.

    2. the first number is increased by 20%, hence:
      1.2 (10X + Y) = (10Y + X).
      x = .8 y,

      the only integers less than 10 that satisfy this relationship are X = 4 and Y = 5.

  4. I worked out the first almost immediately, I think I’d probably seen it elsewhere.
    The second one, well my gut, almost immediately, said 45 but I did confirm on a spreadsheet because I didn’t trust my brian to work that quickly!

  5. As I was always being told by my computer that “Your password is too short” I used to use “too short” as my password.
    Fascinating n’est pass?

    1. Two alternatives along similar lines:
      “Your password is incorrect” (literally!)
      There’s also a Matt cartoon with someone using “amnesia” as their password.

      As for passwords in comics, hopefully xkcd fans are intelligent enough not to use “CorrectHorseBatteryStaple” (which has probably made it into hackers’ password dictionaries by now).

    1. But they don’t “actually become” “shorter” when you add two letters. Only “short” becomes “shorter” by adding two letters.

    1. I kind of had fun doing it algebraically. 🙂 I don’t many chances to use algebra, which I love, and even though I suspected trial and error might be quicker, I still enjoyed it.

  6. Given,
    c < 100  (1)\\ c = (10*a + b)  (2)
    \begin{cases}     0 <= a < 10 \\     0 <= b < 10  \\ \end{cases}
    based on equation (1), (2) and, a, b are integers.

    c_{reverse} = (10*b + a)  (3) \\ c_{reverse} = (1\frac{1}{5}) * c (4)
    is given as well.

    Let's find a solution from what is given by combining (2), (3) and (4)

    (10*b + a) = (1\frac{1}{5}) * (10*a + b) \\ or\\ (10*b + a) = (\frac{6}{5}) * (10*a + b)\\ or\\ (10*b + a) = \frac{60*a + 6*b}{5}\\ or\\ 50*b + 5*a = 60*a + 6*b\\ or\\ 50*b - 6*b  = 60*a - 5*a\\ or\\ 44*b = 55*a\\ or\\ 4*b = 5*a\\  or\\ \begin{cases}     a=4 \\     b=5  \\ \end{cases}

    Final answer is 45 based on (1).

    1. @Alex.

      I think you are over thinking this.

      We know the digital root of any number subtracted from a different order of its digits is 9. We need two numbers that differ by 1/5th. Therefore 9 times 5 is 45.

  7. I still like my elegant solution: novel becomes novella. Ok, so the word ‘novel’ does not become ‘shorter’, but the thing does. Well, the length of it does. Based on word count, that is, not physical size.

    1. I like ‘novel’ to ‘novella’. I got the ‘short’ answer but I prefer ‘novel’.

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