Try these devilishly tough secret service brainteasers to test your logic, imagination and nerves

30


If you think you’ve got what it takes to be a spy, then you need to give these devilishly tough secret service brainteasers a try. 

Sinclair McKay, author of Secret Service Brainteasers, has shared a few of the tricky conundrums which are out today in his new book.

If you can solve all ten featured here then you might just have what it takes.  

Have you got what it takes to tangle with the likes of 007? Sinclair McKay, author of Secret Service Brainteasers, has shared a few conundrums used by the secret service in recruitment tests. Pictured here is Daniel Craig playing James Bond in Skyfall

Have you got what it takes to tangle with the likes of 007? Sinclair McKay, author of Secret Service Brainteasers, has shared a few conundrums used by the secret service in recruitment tests. Pictured here is Daniel Craig playing James Bond in Skyfall

Have you got what it takes to tangle with the likes of 007? Sinclair McKay, author of Secret Service Brainteasers, has shared a few conundrums used by the secret service in recruitment tests. Pictured here is Daniel Craig playing James Bond in Skyfall

Some are historical conundrums of the sort that Edwardian and later agents would have been expected to tackle with speed. 

While others have been inspired directly by more modern secret service recruitment tests.

Describing his new work, Mr McKay said: ‘Of all idle childhood daydreams it must surely be one of the most common: what is it like to be approached out of nowhere and invited to become a spy? 

‘Espionage is an ever-evolving contest: wits matches against counter-wits. In an ever-changing, ever-unstable world, the spy will remain a constant.’

1. The dovetailed block 

This curious mechanical puzzle consists of two solid blocks of wood securely dovetailed together. On the other two vertical sides that are not visible the appearance is precisely the same as on those shown. 

How were the pieces put together? 

2. The monk and the bridges 

Below you will see a rough plan of a river with an island and five bridges. On one side of the river is a monastery, and on the other side is a monk in the foreground. 

Now, the monk has decided that he will cross every bridge once, and only once, on his return to the monastery. 

This is, of course, quite easy to do, but on the way he thought to himself, ‘I wonder how many different routes there are from which I might have selected.’ 

Could you have told him? 

3. Spy rings

Infiltrating spy rings is all part of secret service skills. The Cambridge Spy Ring, which recruited agents in the 1930s and the Portland Spy Ring, active in the 1950s, all have their place in history. Spy rings are all about connections. 

Which of the rings A to H has the most links? 

4. Tour of duty 

Our diplomat is taking part in an international tour of duty which takes him all over the world. CHINA is his first posting and the first name on the list. 

Use the symbols to work out the names of the other countries where he is posted and say where the tour of duty ends.

5. Parlour game 

Snakes and Ladders was a popular parlour game in the Victorian era. A similar game of Indian origin was called Moksha-Patamu.

Both these board games had a moral dimension with ladders allowing you to move to a higher plane and snakes providing a journey in the opposite direction. 

Fit the twenty-five words listed below on to the Snakes and Ladders board starting with the letter V. Follow the direction of the arrows. 

The last letter of one word is the first letter of the next. When your word finishes at the foot of a ladder, repeat the letter at the top of the ladder and continue with the word chain. 

Similarly, when your word finishes at the head of a snake, repeat the letter at the other end of the snake and and proceed until the grid is complete. 

6. Bird’s-eye view

A reconnaissance mission involves flying over a hostile airfield. The bird’s-eye view shows a plan of the area. The enlarged square denotes the precise location for a parachute drop. 

Unhelpfully, the square may or may not be the same way round as the areas in the sketch. All the same, there is only one squared area that correlates. 

Can you locate the place for the parachutist to land? 

7. Road block

Your mission takes you to the mountains of central Asia. Your cover is blown but in true gung ho spirit you are not going to give in without a fight. 

There are many roadblocks along your escape route. In order to create the maximum disruption you want to go through and smash as many roadblocks as you can. Exits can be made at any of the roads on the right. 

Without retracing or crossing a route, what is the maximum number of blocks that can be encountered?

8. Sir Edwyn de Tudor

Sir Edwyn de Tudor needed to rescue his lady-love, the fair Isabella, who was held a captive by a neighbouring wicked baron. 

Sir Edwyn calculated that if he rode fifteen miles an hour he would arrive at the castle an hour too soon, while if he rode ten miles an hour he would get there just an hour too late. 

Now, it was of the first importance that he should be a success, and the time of the tryst was five o’clock, when the captive lady would be taking her afternoon tea. 

The puzzle is to discover exactly how far Sir Edwyn de Tudor had to ride. 

9. Rendezvous

Four agents have planned a secret rendezvous. They have agreed to meet at the same station on an underground network. Alicia sets off from North Way, Boris from New Fields, Katarina from South Station and Dietrich from Lower Gate. 

1) If they all travel the same number of stops, what’s the least number of stops that will enable them to meet up? Which station is the meeting point? No one can revisit a station. 

2) They all decide to travel seven stops each. Again, no one can revisit a station. At which station will they meet?

10. Coffee shop

Secret Service Brainteasers is the latest book from Sinclair McKay. He's previously written Bletchley Park Brainteasers

Secret Service Brainteasers is the latest book from Sinclair McKay. He's previously written Bletchley Park Brainteasers

Secret Service Brainteasers is the latest book from Sinclair McKay. He’s previously written Bletchley Park Brainteasers

Evenings or weekends, four friends regularly meet in a coffee shop. One of them is very important and you must make contact with her today. 

They are queuing for a coffee and cake and it is the friend who is fourth in the queue who you must get in touch with. 

Who is she? 

Use the clues below to help you find out. 

  • Alice, Camilla, Lizzie and Mollie are ordering a Mocha, a Latte, a Cappuccino and an Americano. 
  • Foodwise there is a choice of flapjack, croissant, cupcake and muffin and they all choose a different treat. 
  • Lizzie is immediately behind whoever has ordered a mocha with a flapjack. 
  • The person with the Americano is at the front of the queue. 
  • The two at the back of the queue haven’t ordered a cupcake. 
  • The person with the latte is not in front of the person eating the muffin, who ordered a Cappuccino. 
  • No one is ordering a coffee or food with the same initial as their name. 

Secret Service Brainteasers by Sinclair McKay is out today and is available on Amazon for £12.99.

Were you bang on the Moneypenny, or should you Live And Let Try again? Find out the answers here: 

1. The dovetailed block

The mystery is made clear by the illustration. It will be seen at once how the two pieces slide together in a diagonal direction. 

 2. The monk and the bridges

The problem of the bridges may be reduced to the simple diagram shown in the illustration. The point M represents the Monk, the point I the Island, and the point Y the Monastery. 

Now the only direct ways from M to I are by the bridges a and b; the only direct ways from I to Y are by the bridges c and d; and there is a direct way from M to Y by the bridge e. 

Now, what we have to do is to count all the routes that will lead from M to Y, passing over all the bridges, a, b, c, d, and e once and once only. 

With the simple diagram under the eye it is quite easy, without any elaborate rule, to count these routes methodically. 

Thus, starting from a, b, we find there are only two ways of completing the route; with a, c, there are only two routes; with a, d, only two routes; and so on. It will be found that there are sixteen such routes in all, as in the following list:

3. Spy rings

G has most links, with four connections. A has no links. B has one link. C has one link. D has two links. E has three links. F has two links. H has one link.

4. Tour of duty

He goes from CHINA to IRAN to UKRAINE to GERMANY and ends in BULGARIA. 

5. Parlour game

VERDI – IDIOT – TOWED – DRESS – (UP L ADDER) – SCARF – FRUIT – TOTEM – MITRE – (DOWN SNAKE) – ESSAY – YOUTH – HOTEL – LIVER – RELIC – COYPU – UNITE – EQUIP – (UP LADDER) – PIANO – OWING – GREAT – (DOWN SNAKE) – TREES – SHACK – KOALA – (UP LADDER) – ALLOW – WALTZ – ZEBRA.

6. Bird’s-eye view

The square is I3.

7. Road block 

Twelve is the maximum. If you were looking for a hasty retreat, one is the minimum. 

 8. Sir Edwyn de Tudor

The distance must have been sixty miles. If Sir Edwyn left at noon and rode 15 miles an hour, he would arrive at four o’clock – an hour too soon. 

If he rode ten miles an hour, he would arrive at six o’clock – an hour too late. But if he went twelve miles an hour, he would reach the castle of the wicked baron exactly at 5 o’clock – the time he appointed. 

9. Rendezvous

1) Four stops is the minimum. They meet Eastway. 

2) The answer is Archgate. Alicia travels to Cold Lane (two stops). She then has a choice. She can take the Inner Line (two stops] and change at East Way taking the City Line (three stops] to Archgate.

Alternatively, she can stay on the train to New Fields (two stops), move on to the Southern Line (one stop) changing at Eastway and taking the Inner Line to City Road (one stop) before taking a City Line train to Archgate (one stop). 

Boris travels to Cold Lane (two stops), then takes an Inner City train to East Way (two stops), he changes on to the City Line and travels to Archgate (three stops). 

Katarina takes the Link Line to Downtown (one stop), she then gets an Inner Line train to Upper Gate (one stop) before changing on to the Southern Line and travelling to East Way (three stops). After that she travels on the Inner Line to City Road (one stop) before changing on the City Line (one stop) to reach Archgate. 

Dietrich can reach Archgate by three different routes. He can go to Upper Gate (one stop), change on to the Inner Line and travel to Tower Road (four stops), before taking the City Line to Archgate (two stops). 

He can also go to East Way on the Southern (four stops), and change to the City Line (three stops). Or a journey to West Point, via South Station (four stops in all) gives him a change to City Line (three stops).

10. Coffee shop

Your contact is Alice who is fourth in the queue with a Latte and a croissant. In first place is Mollie with an Americano and a cupcake. Behind her is Camilla with a Mocha and a flapjack, while in third place Lizzie is about to enjoy a Cappuccino with a muffin.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *