Share on Facebook

20 Brainteasing Puzzles for National Puzzle Day 2021

Jan. 29 is National Puzzle Day—give your grey matter a workout with these tricky brain teasers!

1 / 41
Vector human brain composed of a puzzle.Nikolamirejovska/Shutterstock

Why National Puzzle Day (Jan. 29) is worth celebrating

Working on puzzles has huge benefits for brain health, especially as we age. An afternoon jigsaw puzzle or crossword keeps the brain in good shape and keeps stress at bay. Puzzles and brainteasers help develop critical thinking skills because they bolster memory, strengthen intelligence, and refine your methods of analysis—getting you thinking with a focus on details, dissection, and problem-solving. Puzzles are great for kids, too, as brainteasers cultivate thinking skills. Scroll on to test your skills with some challenges, followed by their solutions.

2 / 41
educational game for kids and adults development of logic, iq. Task game for children find the right wayrodnikovay/Shutterstock

Maze: Challenge

Maze puzzles purposely disorient you, and that is their power. Experiencing a sense of befuddlement presents a great challenge for your brain and makes your inner logician kick in to find a way to help you out. Illustrated mazes on paper are much easier to solve than the life-size mazes they’re named after. Mazes provide a fun challenge that allows you to flex your innate sense of direction.

Take the challenge above: Start at the red arrow, then carefully chart your way through. When you’re finished, scroll on to learn if the path you took is the right one.

3 / 41
educational game for kids and adults development of logic, iq. Task game for children find the right wayrodnikovay/Shutterstock

Maze: Solution

Take the longer path to start, pass the first intersection, then zig and zag your way through from there.

Marvel at the world’s most incredible mazes.

4 / 41
puzzleIgdeeva Alena/Shutterstock

Fox’s shadow: Challenge

One of the most important skills to develop for critical thinking is to look closer. This simple puzzle for children encourages them to look carefully and notice details—it might even stump a few adults because it makes you slow down and notice nuance. This is a puzzle that relies on close examination of shapes and specifics. Often these types of puzzles will have two answers that seem obvious after a quick glance. Finding the right answer requires a precise examination of the finer points to come up with the answer.

5 / 41
puzzle solutionIgdeeva Alena/Shutterstock

Fox’s shadow: Solution

The match is at the bottom left.

Ready for a bigger challenge? These fun brain games will truly test your problem solving ability.

6 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Rotate the view: Challenge

This domino puzzle encourages solvers to look from different angles. As the puzzle is two-dimensional, there’s no option to handle the pieces or move your body to gain a different vantage. All those shifts must take place within your mind. You’ll need to imagine the domino pieces from different angles, as well as from the top view. To solve this puzzle, you’ll need to mentally rotate the illustrated pieces. Get moving!

7 / 41
puzzle solutionCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Rotate the view: Solution

The answer is #7.

These Christmas brainteasers will leave you stumped!

8 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Mirror image: Challenge

This brainteaser exercises your spatial aptitude. You’re asked to find the mirror image of the ladybugs. That may seem like something you can figure out with a cursory glance. However, you’ll need to slow down, take your time, and find the trio that best reflects a mirror image. Mirrors don’t just show the reverse or opposite of the image. They reflect the inverse along the set plane.

9 / 41
puzzle solutionCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Mirror image: Solution

The answer is #3.

Too easy? Here are puzzles that less than 60% of people can solve.

10 / 41
educational game iq for kids and adults development of logic, iq. Task game find 2 idenical shapesrodnikovay/Shutterstock

Twin set: Challenge

Your brain gets a workout when you twist it into new perspectives and positions. At first glance, these color block shapes look identical. However, to notice which option is identical with the first image, you have to find ways to distinguish differences. Scan the shapes and once you find a noticeable difference you can discard that option and move on to the next. Once you find the answer, scan again to make sure you’ve got it exactly right.

11 / 41
educational game iq for kids and adults development of logic, iq. Task game find 2 idenical shapesrodnikovay/Shutterstock

Twin set: Solution

The answer is #4.

If you can solve this puzzle, you could qualify to be a British spy!

12 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Piece it together: Challenge

This is another visual brain-twister that asks you to mentally pick up the pieces to find the one that fits in the cube. This puzzle works with your visual and spatial intelligence. Look at the sides of the cube and notice the shaded, geometric patterns. You’ll need to align these to find the right cube answer and figure out how it fits in to the larger puzzle.

13 / 41
cubeCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Piece it together: Solution

It’s the cube on the top right.

An MIT professor called this “the hardest logic puzzle ever.” Can you solve it?

14 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Look at the sequence: Challenge

For this brainteaser, you’re asked to find the sign to replace the question mark in the sequence. The images in the squares have a relationship with each other. You need to establish the pattern of that relationship in order to apply it and find the missing shape. Look carefully at the first three squares. Notice the similar shapes in the first and third squares. This relationship creates a rule. (Hint! In the first and third squares the top and bottom switch places, while the horizontal components disappear.)

15 / 41
puzzle answerCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Look at the sequence: Solution

The answer is #2.

Once you crack a rule, use it to solve the puzzle, then try your hand at solving 25 of the hardest riddles for kids.

16 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Pencil it in: Challenge

If you want to develop spatial thinking skills, work on puzzles that ask you to change your sense of direction. This puzzle requires a bird’s-eye view to make sense of the pyramid shape. Use the pencil’s colours and their relationship to each other to determine the base pieces and those that create the pyramid. Looking from that vantage should help you find the answer.

17 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Pencil it in: Solution

It’s the middle right.

Try your hand at solving Einstein’s riddle—very few can!

18 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Reverse-a-roo: Challenge

At first glance, these equations are befuddling. How could 22 + 81 ever equal 40? Like many brainteasers, this one asks you to look at the puzzle from a different perspective. This puzzle tests your intelligence quotient by testing out your math skills when they’re combined with analysis. If you’re stumped, consider the numbers from different angles. (Hint: read the addends backwards or in reverse.)

19 / 41
puzzle solutionCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Reverse-a-roo: Solution:

The ? = 38.

These 13 words will help you solve almost any crossword puzzle.

20 / 41
IQ, memory and spacial reasoning skills training abstract visual puzzle: How is it done? Which two pieces were used to produce the pattern 2? Answer included.; Shutterstock ID 1570897735; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): RDShutterstock

Hidden gem: Challenge

Abstract visual puzzles test your spatial reasoning skills and your memory. This challenging puzzle asks you to put together two separate pieces to find a larger whole. Though the answer is right in front of you, it takes reasoning, logic, and discernment to detect the precise pattern and shapes that create the larger gem. You’ll be thinking about details and the bigger picture at the same time. Way to flex your brain muscle!

21 / 41
IQ, memory and spacial reasoning skills training abstract visual puzzle: How is it done? Which two pieces were used to produce the pattern 2? Answer included.; Shutterstock ID 1570897735; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): RDratselmeister/Shutterstock

Hidden gem: Solution

Pieces 6 and 7 combine to produce the pattern.

Try this quiz to test your knowledge of royal terms!

22 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Match game: Challenge

You develop critical thinking skills when you work on brainteaser puzzles like this one. Analysis isn’t always second nature; it’s a mode you move into by thinking in new ways about familiar problems. Looking at two squares, it’s hard to imagine how you’d manipulate the current shapes to make ten squares. Use spatial reasoning to use the matches from one square to create more. Don’t forget that while you’ll make smaller squares, you can also count the larger square that contains them all.

23 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Match game: Solution

Move four matches from the lower square into the upper square and you’ll have squares within squares.

For a tricky word test, see if you can figure out if these real Jeopardy! questions about words.

24 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Bright idea: Challenge

This brainteaser asks you to look closely at the details. First, look for the pattern in sequence by examining the fringe pieces of the lantern. You can eliminate options by looking for the sequence. Next, you’ll have a few choices left and you can continue by finding a distinguishing pattern in the circles and colours and finding its replication in the templates. Puzzles like this force you to look carefully at each panel.

25 / 41
puzzle solutionCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Bright idea: Solution

The answer is #8.

Here are a few math lessons you’ll actually end up using in real life.

26 / 41
Visual Game for children summer. Task: find the missing item shaperodnikovay/Shutterstock

Holding pattern: Challenge

A great puzzle requires you to look and then look again. This puzzle has six repeating elements, three blue and three red. You’ll need to figure out what those elements are for each color and how the sequence goes in order to figure out the two elements that must be in the final square for the pattern to make sense.

27 / 41
Visual Game for children summer. Task: find the missing item shaperodnikovay/Shutterstock

Holding pattern: Solution

The answer is #2.

28 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Flipping burgers: Challenge

If you’re a type who can do math in your head, this puzzle will be a breeze. All you have to do is use a little algebra—just substitute variables to solve for unknowns in an equation. You get a big clue in the center equation when you see that juice, fries and the ice cream cone equal 10. The first equation in the image is your second clue because you know their sums are five. Finally, use the last equation to solve for the individual values of the fries and juice (you already know their combined value is five!) From there, you can figure out the value of the hamburger. Check your answers by plugging in the values to each equation.

29 / 41
shutterstockCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Flipping burgers: Solution

The answer = 5 hamburgers.

30 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Think inside the box: Challenge

Spatial thinking flexes your brain. This puzzle asks you to use spatial recognition to solve a problem. The challenge is to figure out how to fit the remaining pencils in the box. Carefully arrange the pencils, making sure to use space efficiently.

31 / 41
shutterstockCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Think inside the box: Solution

Start with largest pencil (#8) and go from there.

Only the smartest can get these math riddles right. Are you up for the challenge?

32 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Roll the dice: Challenge

In this challenge, you’re looking from the top view, and angling it to find the right sequence. You’re home free if you can find a three, two, five, four sequence moving clockwise. Keep your directions straight so you don’t get messed up. Don’t get tricked by the dimensions. Instead, consider your viewpoint as a flat plane from the top. If you’re in the mood for something trickier, try this logic puzzle with a challenging solution.

33 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Roll the dice: Solution

The solution is #5.

34 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Make it rain: Challenge

Test your spatial intelligence by looking for patterns, but also by examining them from a different perspective and angle. These brainteasers flex that muscle in puzzles, but the idea is that you’ll apply those same skills to larger, more conceptual issues. Here, you’re looking at the detailed patterns in the umbrellas, but your clues come from looking at them from a different vantage point. That’s a lot like the problems you’ll face in real life.

35 / 41
puzzle solutionCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Make it rain: Solution

The solution is #3.

36 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Thinking cap: Challenge

This mushroom puzzle seems super easy, but only if you’re super methodical! Choose one mushroom to start with and go through the others through slow elimination of details. Be careful! Look at subtle distinctions like the green foliage and number of dots. This mushroom art may appear childlike, but this puzzle is challenging for adults too because you’re encouraged to slow down and examine with precision.

37 / 41
puzzle solutionCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Thinking cap: Solution

Mushrooms in #4 and #9 are identical.

These smart jokes will make you sound like a genius.

38 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Card up your sleeve: Challenge

According to Success, critical thinking skills impact your ability to make effective choices and have productive communication. Brainteasers allow you to develop ways to analyze information so you can make better choices across various sectors. Here, you’ve got a 6 card in every suit, but you’ll need to look at the images while noticing spatial direction and orientation.

39 / 41
puzzle solutionCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Card up your sleeve: Solution

The answer is #7.

40 / 41
puzzleCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Easy peasy: Challenge

After all these challenging puzzles, here’s a gimme for your brain workout cool down. To solve this child’s puzzle, pay attention to spatial orientation and detailed elements. This brainteaser asks the solver to notice nuances and find the correct placement for the cut-outs on the side.

41 / 41
puzzle solutionCernecka Natalja/Shutterstock

Easy peasy: Solution

The matches are the top right and bottom left.

If you can find a way to solve the most challenging maze in the world, you can consider yourself a genius.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest