Today’s problems are from Puzzlebomb, a monthly sheet of word, logic and number puzzles whose first issue came out earlier this month.

The first teaser – a meta-puzzle about bar graphs inspired by this xkcd cartoon – may well explode your head.

In the diagram below are three empty bar graphs that all refer to each other. Your task is to read the axes and the titles, and then fill in the bars. (All of which fit in the space provided.) There are three positions for bars in each graph, although some of the bars may have zero height. The only information you are given is that the total height of all the bars is 23.

How might you start? I’ll give you a leg-up. There are 9 bars across the three graphs. (Although some bars might have height zero.) Graph A asks you to group the 9 bars by height. The total height of the three bars in A therefore must be 9. Graph C asks you for the location of the tallest bar in each graph. The total height of the three bars in C must be 3. Carry on thinking logically across the three graphs and slowly you will be led to the unique solution.

The second teaser is a ‘spelling bee’ word puzzle. The challenge is to find two words (or phrases) that each use every cell in each honeycomb. Both words (or phrases) start and end on a gold cell, and follow a path through adjacent cells that passes through every cell exactly once. The cell with a bee hides two different letters (one for each of the solutions.)

For example, the solution for the example below is MILLIPEDES and SPEED LIMIT. (The bee is hiding an L for the first word, and a T in the second phrase.) Note that since the bee-cell is gold, words/phrases can begin or end there.


What are the two solutions for each of these two spelling bees?


If you want to print out both of today’s puzzles click here.

I’ll be back at 5pm with the solutions. Meanwhile, NO SPOILERS PLEASE!

If you liked these teasers, then I recommend that you subscribe to Puzzlebomb, a monthly sheet of similar, quirky puzzles written by the brilliant maths communicators Katie Steckles and Paul Taylor. Puzzlebombs are ‘dropped’ on the 15th of the month. If you want to read a sample sheet, or subscribe, go to Puzzlebomb’s Patreon page.

I set a puzzle here every two weeks on a Monday. I’m always on the look-out for great puzzles. If you would like to suggest one, email me.

Football School: the Ultimate Puzzle Book
Football School: the Ultimate Puzzle Book

I’m over the moon to report that Football School: The Ultimate Puzzle Book was shortlisted last week for best activity book in the Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Awards 2020. Football School is a book series series I write with Ben Lyttleton aimed at 7 to 13-year-olds that explores the world via football. The Ultimate Puzzle Book contains variations aimed at younger readers of the type of puzzles that appear in this column. If you want to see some extracts, see this column I wrote in May.



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