For other uses, see Puzzle (disambiguation).

A puzzle is a game, problem, or toy that tests a person's ingenuity or knowledge. In a puzzle, one is required to put pieces together in a logical way, in order to arrive at the correct solution of the puzzle. There are different types of puzzles for different ages, such as crossword puzzles, word-search puzzles, number puzzles, or logic puzzles.

Puzzles are often devised as a form of entertainment but they can also arise from serious mathematical or logistical problems. In such cases, their solution may be a significant contribution to mathematical research.[1]

Solutions of puzzles often require the recognition of patterns and the creation of a particular kind of order. People with a high level of inductive reasoning aptitude may be better at solving such puzzles than others. But puzzles based upon inquiry and discovery may be solved more easily by those with good deduction skills. Deductive reasoning improves with practice.

Some notable creators of puzzles are Sam Loyd, Henry Dudeney, Boris Kordemsky and, more recently, David J. Bodycombe, Will Shortz, Lloyd King, and Martin Gardner.


The 1989 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary dates the word puzzle (as a verb) to the end of the 16th century. Its first documented use (to describe a new type of game) was in a book titled The Voyage of Robert the West Indies, 1594–95, narrated by Capt. Wyatt, by himself, and by Abram Kendall, master (published circa 1595). The word later came to be used a noun.

The word puzzle comes from pusle "bewilder, confound" which is a frequentive of the obsolete verb pose (from Medieval French aposer) in sense of "perplex". The meaning of the word as "a toy contrived to test one's ingenuity" is relatively recent (within mid-19th century).


The first jigsaw puzzle was created around 1760, when John Spilsbury, a British engraver and cartographer, mounted a map on a sheet of wood, which he then sawed around the outline of each individual country on the map. He then used the resulting pieces as an aid to the teaching of geography.

After becoming popular among the public, this kind of teaching aid remained the primary use of jigsaw puzzles until about 1820.[2]

By the early 20th century, magazines and newspapers had found that they could increase their readership by publishing puzzle contests.

Organizations and events

There are organizations and events that cater to puzzle enthusiasts, such as the World Puzzle Championship, the National Puzzlers' League, and Ravenchase. There are also "puzzlehunts," such as the Maze of Games.

Types of puzzles

Puzzles can be divided into categories. For example a maze is a type of tour puzzle. Some other categories are construction puzzles, stick puzzles, tiling puzzles, transport puzzles, disentanglement puzzles, lock puzzles, folding puzzles, combination puzzles, and mechanical puzzles.

There are thousands of computer puzzle games and a great many puzzles based upon letters, words, and mathematics,


See also


  1. ^ Kendall G.; Parkes A.; and Spoerer K. (2008) A Survey of NP-Complete Puzzles, International Computer Games Association Journal, 31(1), pp 13–34.
  2. ^ History of Jigsaw Puzzles The American Jigsaw Puzzle Society


  • Carter, Philip J. (1993). The IQ Challenge. New York: Barnes & Noble. ISBN 1-56619-164-5. 
  • Moscovich, Ivan (2010). The Little Book of Big Brain Games. New York: Workman Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7611-6173-8. 
  • Creative Puzzles of the World (1980). Plenary Publications International.
  • Denkspiele der Welt (1977, 1981). München: Heinrich Hugendubel Verlag.
  • R Clarke, Barry (2003). Challenging Logic Puzzles (Mensa®). Sterling. ISBN 978-1402705410. 
  • Slitherlink & Masyu. Puzzlewright. 2010. ISBN 978-1402757594.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  • Gardner, Martin (1986). Entertaining Mathematical Puzzles. Dover Recreational Math. ISBN 978-0486252117. 
  • A. Kordemsky, Boris (1992). The Moscow Puzzles: 359 Mathematical Recreations. Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0486270784. 
  • Linde, Nancy (2012). 399 Games, Puzzles & Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young. Workman Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0761168256. 
  • Shortz, Will (2006). The New York Times Supersized Book of Sunday Crosswords: 500 Puzzles. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0312361228. 
  • Sloane, Paul (2005). Outstanding Lateral Thinking Puzzles. Sterling. ISBN 978-1402703805. 
  • Gray, Theodore (2011). The Jigsaw Puzzle: Piecing Together a History. ISBN 978-1579128883. 
  • Green, Marilyn (2007). Made You Look: A Book of Picture Puzzles. Klutz. ISBN 978-1570548949. 
  • Bloom, Jonathan (2012). The Gigantic Sudoku Puzzle Book. 1500 Puzzles. Easy through Challenging to Nail Biting and Torturous. SUDOKIDS.COM. ISBN 978-0981426174. 
  • Conceptis, Puzzles (2013). Amazing Sudoku Variants. Puzzlewright. ISBN 978-1454906520. 
  • Murali, A V (2014). A Collection of Fascinating Games and Puzzles. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1500216429. 

External links

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