The Puzzle Kings


“Where do you want to go first?” said the Actuary, standing at the control panel of his time machine. “Forwards? Backwards? Earth? Some other planet?”

“How about backwards and Earth, to begin with?” I replied.

“I know just the place.”The Actuary punched a sequence of numbers into the console. “The USA in 1898. The day Sam Loyd and Henry Dudeney, the two puzzle kings of their time, first met face to face.”

The time machine made a whooshing noise and then the Actuary opened the door to a room filled with old-fashioned furniture and two men arguing.

“You lying, cheating, thief,” said one of the men. “You stole my puzzles.”

“You sent them to me,” said the other man. “What did you think I’d do with them?”

“Oh dear,” said the Actuary. “I forgot. This was the day Henry Dudeney confronted Sam Loyd because Loyd had published some of Dudeney’s puzzles as his own.”

The two men spun around and faced the Actuary. They didn’t seem at all surprised that we had just materialised in the middle of their house.

“Actuary! Thank God you’re here,” said the first man, Dudeney. “You’re just in time. Loyd here stole my puzzles. Do something!”

“That’s a very serious accusation,” said the Actuary. “Where I come from, we’d settle that with a puzzle duel. Each of you tells me a puzzle. I judge the best one. Loser is banned from writing puzzles for the next year.”

The two men reluctantly nodded agreement.

“And one more thing,” added the Actuary. “I choose the topic. The puzzles must be about clocks or time.”


Loyd took out his pocket watch and checked the time. “By my reckoning, it is now eight o’clock exactly. At some point within the next half hour, the angle between the six and the hour hand of my watch will be exactly the same as the angle between the six and the minute hand. What time, in hours, minutes and seconds, will it be when this occurs?”


“Is that the best you can offer?” said Dudeney. “I can do better than that.” He turned to the grandfather clock in the corner of the room. “See that clock over there? It has an hour hand, a minute hand and a second hand, but at no point in the next 12 hours will the hour hand be exactly 120 degrees ahead of the minute hand and the minute hand exactly 120 degrees ahead of the second hand.”– What time, in hours, minutes and seconds, will it be when the hour hand is exactly 120 degrees ahead of the minute hand and the minute hand is as close as possible to being 120 degrees ahead of the second hand?”



The fifty movie titles that can be identified from the wordsearch in Actuaries 187 (with column number, row number and direction given in brackets) are: Airforce One (1,9,NE), The Three Amigos (20,13,S), Twelve Angry Men (2,2,E), Four Brothers (19,9,S), Sixteen Candles (19,1,S), Catch Twenty-Two (7,3,W), The Twelve Chairs (8,3,SW), Code 46 (1,16,E), The Ten Commandments (17,3,SW), Eight Crazy Nights (11,12,NW), One Crazy Summer (6,19,N), 101 Dalmatians (10,2,SW), District 9 (14,13,W), 27 Dresses (17,1,SW), Five Easy Pieces (16,14,W), The Zero Effect (15,20,W), The Three Faces of Eve (17,15,N), The Fantastic Four (10,17,W), The Four Feathers (8,19,NW), 50 First Dates (9,20,NE), One for the Money (1, 13, NE), 13 Ghosts (13,6,NE), Two Hands (5,18,W), 127 Hours (4,15,NE), Jennifer 8 (4,9,NE), 21 Jump Street (11,19,E), Three Kings (2,9,N), Ladder 49 (20,1,SW), Eight Legged Freaks (12,1,W), Less than Zero (1,20,E), Ten Little Indians (12,1,S), The Magnificent Seven (9,8,E), Three Men and a Baby (9,8,SE), Eight Mile (14,9,S), One Missed Call (15,7,S), Twelve Monkeys (11,15,W), The Three Musketeers (10,6,SW), Ocean’s Eleven (16,7,S), Passenger 57 (18,13,N), The Power of One (12,18,E), Seven Psychopaths (20,2,S), Nine Queens (17,17,W), Four Rooms (3,15,NE), Seven Samurai (1,4,S), The Three Stooges (14,16,W), Super 8 (16,20,E), Suspect Zero (1,19,E), Tell No One (10,7,NE), The Wild One (11,4,SW), Eight Women (13,15,SW).

Once these titles have been removed, the remaining letters can be used to identify the movies: Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

CPD: Actuaries Institute Members can claim two CPD points for every hour of reading articles on Actuaries Digital.


No comments.

Comment on the article (Be kind)

Your comment will be revised by the site if needed.