Complete Book of Fun Maths: 250 Confidence-Boosting Tricks, Tests and Puzzles


The idea of this book is to help build confidence with maths via a series of tests and puzzles.  After a gentle 'warm-up' section, the puzzles and tests get progressively more challenging over the course of the book.  There is a hints section for readers who get stuck, as well as a complete set of answers for every test at the back of the book.

After the 'warm-up' section, there are puzzles and tests on 'lateral thinking', 'fun with numbers',  'logic puzzles', ...

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The Complete Book of Fun Maths: 250 Confidence-boosting Tricks, Tests and Puzzles

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The idea of this book is to help build confidence with maths via a series of tests and puzzles.  After a gentle 'warm-up' section, the puzzles and tests get progressively more challenging over the course of the book.  There is a hints section for readers who get stuck, as well as a complete set of answers for every test at the back of the book.

After the 'warm-up' section, there are puzzles and tests on 'lateral thinking', 'fun with numbers',  'logic puzzles', 'geometrical puzzles' and 'difficult puzzles'. Readers will soon become familiar and comfortable with a range of tricks and tests, from magic number squares to Fibonacci numbers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470870914
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 5/28/2004
  • Series: IQ Workout Series , #5
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Table of Contents


Section 1: Puzzles, tricks and tests.

Chapter 1: The work out.

Chapter 2: Think laterally.

Chapter 3: Test your numerical IQ.

Chapter 4: Funumeration.

Chapter 5: Think logically.

Chapter 6: The logic of gambling and probability.

Chapter 7: Geometrical puzzles.

Chapter 8: Complexities and curiosities.

Section 2: Hints, answers and explanations.


Answers and explanations.

Section 3: Glossary and data.



Section 4: Appendices.

Appendix 1: Fibonacci and nature’s use of space.

Appendix 2: Pi.

Appendix 3: Topology and the Mobius strip.

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First Chapter

The Complete Book of Fun Maths

250 Confidence-boosting Tricks, Tests and Puzzles
By Philip Carter Ken Russell

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-470-87091-5

Chapter One

The work out

All intellectual improvement arises from leisure. Samuel Johnson

Every work out, be it physical or mental, involves a limbering up session.

The puzzles in this chapter are such a limbering up session. They have been specially selected to get you to think numerically and to increase your confidence when working with numbers or faced with a situation in which a mathematical calculation is required, and, like all the puzzles in this book, they are there to amuse and entertain.

When looking at a puzzle, the answer may hit you immediately. If not, your mind must work harder at exploring the options. Mathematics is an exact science, and there is only one correct solution to a correctly set question or puzzle; however, there may be different methods of arriving at that solution, some more laborious than others.

As you work through this first chapter you will find that there are many different ways of tackling this type of puzzle and arriving at a solution, whether it be by logical analysis or by intelligent trial and error.

1 Two golfers were discussing what might have been after they had played a par 5.

Harry said 'if I had taken one shot less and you had taken one shot more, we would have shared the hole'.

Geoff then countered by saying 'yes, and ifI had taken one shot less and you had taken one shot more you would have taken twice as many shots as me'.

How many shots did each take?

2 A number between 1 and 50 meets the following criteria:

it is divisible by 3 when the digits are added together the total is between 4 and 8

it is an odd number when the digits are multiplied together the total is between 4 and 8. What is the number?

3 On arriving at the party the six guests all say 'Hello' to each other once.

On leaving the party the six guests all shake hands with each other once.

How many handshakes is that in total, and how many 'Hello's?

4 What two numbers multiplied together equal 13?

5 Working at the stable there are a number of lads and lasses looking after the horses. In all there are 22 heads and 72 feet, including all the lads and lasses plus the horses.

If all the lads and lasses and all the horses are sound in body and limb, how many humans and how many horses are in the stable?

6 How many boxes measuring 1 m × 1 m × 50 cm can be packed into a container measuring 6 m × 5 m × 4 m?

7 By what fractional part does four-quarters exceed three-quarters?

What weight should be placed on x in order to balance the scale?

9 My house number is the lowest number on the street that, when divided by 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, will always leave a remainder of 1.

However, when divided by 11 there is no remainder.

What is my house number?

10 My brother is less than 70 years old.

The number of his age is equal to five times the sum of its digits. In 9 years time the order of the digits of his age now will be reversed.

How old is my brother now?

11 A greengrocer received a boxful of Brussels sprouts and was furious upon opening the box to find that several had gone bad.

He then counted them up so that he could make a formal complaint and found that 114 were bad, which was 8 per cent of the total contents of the box.

How many sprouts were in the box?

12 If seven men can build a house in 15 days, how long will it take 12 men to build a house assuming all men work at the same rate?

13 At the end of the day one market stall has eight oranges and 24 apples left. Another market stall has 18 oranges and 12 apples left.

What is the difference between the percentages of oranges left in each market stall?

14 Peter is twice as old as Paul was when Peter was as old as Paul is now.

The combined ages of Peter and Paul is 56 years.

How old are Peter and Paul now?

The next two puzzles are of a very similar nature.

15 A bag of potatoes weighs 25 kg divided by a quarter of its weight. How much does the bag of potatoes weigh?

16 One bag of potatoes weighed 60 kg plus one-quarter of its own weight and the other bag weighed 64 kg plus one-fifth of its own weight. Which is the heavier bag?

17 An area of land, consisting of the sums of the two squares, is 1000 square metres.

The side of one square is 10 metres less than two-thirds of the side of the other square.

What are the sides of the two squares?

18 Find four numbers, the sum of which is 45, so that if 2 is added to the first number, 2 is subtracted from the second number, the third number is multiplied by 2 and the fourth number is divided by 2, the four numbers so produced, i.e. the total of the addition, the remainder of the subtraction, the product of the multiplication and the quotient of the division, are all the same.

19 Jack gave Jill as many sweets as Jill had started out with. Jill then gave Jack back as many as Jack had left. Jack then gave Jill back as many as Jill had left. The final exchange meant that poor Jack had none left, and Jill had 80.

How many sweets each did Jack and Jill start out with?

There is a hint to solving this puzzle on page 89.

20 Brian and Ryan are brothers. Three years ago Brian was seven times as old as Ryan. Two years ago he was four times as old. Last year he was three times as old and in two years time he will be twice as old.

How old are Brian and Ryan now?

21 Sums are not set as a test on Erasmus

Palindromes have always fascinated Hannah. Her boyfriend's name is Bob, she lives alone at her cottage in the country named Lonely Tylenol, and drives her beloved car, which is a Toyota.

A few days ago Hannah was driving along the motorway when she glanced at the mileage indicator and happened to notice that it displayed a palindromic number;13931.

Hannah continued driving and two hours later again glanced at the odometer, and to her surprise it again displayed another palindrome.

What average speed was Hannah travelling, assuming her average speed was less than 70 mph?

22 The average of three numbers is 17. The average of two of these numbers is 25. What is the third number?

23 You have 62 cubic blocks. What is the minimum number that needs to be taken away in order to construct a solid cube with none left over?

24 I bought two watches, an expensive one and a cheap one. The expensive one cost £200 more than the cheap one and altogether I spent £220 for both. How much did I pay for the cheap watch?

25 If

6 apples and 4 bananas cost 78 pence and 7 apples and 9 bananas cost 130 pence

what is the cost of one apple and what is the cost of one banana?

26 The cost of a three-course lunch was £14.00.

The main course cost twice as much as the sweet, and the sweet cost twice as much as the starter.

How much did the main course cost?

27 My watch was correct at midnight, after which it began to lose 12 minutes per hour, until 7 hours ago it stopped completely. It now shows the time as 3.12.

What is now the correct time?

28 A photograph measuring 7.5 cm by 6.5 cm is to be enlarged.

If the enlargement of the longest side is 18 cm, what is the length of the smaller side?

29 A statue is being carved by a sculptor. The original piece of marble weighs 140 lb. On the first week 35% is cut away. On the second week the sculptor chips off 26 lb and on the third week he chips off two-fifths of the remainder, which completes the statue.

What is the weight of the final statue?

30 The ages of five family members total 65 between them.

Alice and Bill total 32 between them Bill and Clara total 33 between them Clara and Donald total 28 between them Donald and Elsie total 7 between them.

How old is each family member ?

31 Five years ago I was five times as old as my eldest son. Today I am three times his age.

How old am I now?

32 At my favourite store they are offering a discount of 5% if you buy in cash (which I do), 10% for a long-standing customer (which I am) and 20% at sale time (which it is).

In which order should I claim the three discounts in order to pay the least money?

33 Add you to me, divide by three, The square of you, you'll surely see, But me to you is eight to one, One day you'll work it out my son.

34 In two minutes time it will be twice as many minutes before 1 pm as it was past 12 noon 25 minutes ago.

What time is it now?

35 Find the lowest number that has a remainder of

1 when divided by 2 2 when divided by 3 3 when divided by 4 4 when divided by 5 and 5 when divided by 6.

There are 11 stations on line AB. How many different single tickets must be printed to cater for every possible booking from any one of the 11 stations to any other?

37 In a game of eight players lasting for 45 minutes, four reserves alternate equally with each player. This means that all players, including the reserves, are on the pitch for the same length of time.

For how long?

38 Between 75 and 110 guests attended a banquet at the Town Hall and paid a total of £3895.00. Each person paid the same amount, which was an exact number of pounds. How many guests attended the banquet?

39 My sisters April and June each have five children, twins and triplets. April's twins are older than her triplets and June's triplets are older than her twins.

When I saw April recently, she remarked that the sum of the ages of her children was equal to the product of their ages. Later that day I saw June, and she happened to say the same about her children.

How old are my sisters' children?

40 The difference between the ages of two of my three grandchildren is 3.

My eldest grandchild is three times older than the age of my youngest grandchild, and my eldest grandchild's age is also two years more than the ages of my two youngest grandchildren added together.

How old are my three grandchildren?

41 Atrain travelling at a speed of 50 mph enters a tunnel 2 miles long. The length of the train is 1/8 mile. How long does it take for all of the train to pass through the tunnel from the moment the front enters to the moment the rear emerges?

There is a hint to this puzzle on page 89.

42 How many minutes is it before 12 noon if 28 minutes ago it was three times as many minutes past 10 am?

43 The highest spire in Great Britain is that of the church of St Mary, called Salisbury Cathedral, in Wiltshire, England. The cathedral was completed and consecrated in 1258; the spire was added from 1334 to 1365 and reaches a height of 202 feet, plus half its own height.

How tall is the spire of Salisbury Cathedral?

44 A manufacturer produces widgets, but not to a very high standard.

In a test batch of 16, five were defective.

Then they carried out a longer production run, in which 25 of 81 were defective.

Had they improved their quality control performance after the test run?

45 A ball is dropped to the ground from a height of 12 feet. It falls to the ground then bounces up half of its original height, then falls to the ground again. It repeats this, always bouncing back up half of the previous height.

How far has the ball travelled by the time it returns to the ground for the fifth time?

46 In a race of five greyhounds, red jacket, blue, black, striped and white, in how many different ways is it possible for the five dogs to pass the winning post? For example: black, red, white, striped, blue would be one way.

47 A man is playing on the slot machines and starts with a modest amount of money in his pocket. In the first 5 minutes he gets lucky and doubles the amount of money he started with, but in the second 5 minutes he loses £2.00.

In the third 5 minutes he again doubles the amount of money he has left, but then quickly loses another £2.00. He then gets lucky again and doubles the amount of money he has left for the third time, after which he hits another losing streak and loses another £2.00.

He then finds he has no money left.

How much did he start with?

There is a hint to this puzzle on page 89.

48 By permitting just two of the three mathematical signs (+, -, ×) and one other mathematical symbol, plus brackets, can you arrange three fours to equal 100?

There is a hint to this puzzle on page 89.


Excerpted from The Complete Book of Fun Maths by Philip Carter Ken Russell Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2012


    This is alsome, as far as i'm conserned. The questions make you think. Most of them are the things you learn in school so it's real good practice. My parents love it too. You shiuld read it if you need extra practice in math or need to study fir a math test.

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