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This year for my birthday, my sons gave me a ‘challenging’ gift – a Mensa tear-off day-by day calendar with a Mensa puzzle to solve each day! Good, I thought! I have 365 opportunities to prove to my sons how smart I am! Well, I was in for a bit of an awakening…

Mensa, the global high IQ society with members in more than 100 countries, provides a forum for intellectual exchange. Activities include lectures, discussions, local through international gatherings, and assistance to researchers, particularly where the study of intelligence is concerned.

You see, membership of Mensa is open to persons who have attained a score within the upper 2% of the general population on an approved intelligence test that has been properly administered and supervised.

Mensa was originally founded in England in 1946 by Roland Berrill, a barrister, and Dr. Lance Ware, a scientist and lawyer. They had the idea of forming a society for bright people, the only qualification for membership being a high IQ. The original aims were, similar to today, to create a society that is non-political and free from all racial or religious distinctions. The society welcomes people from every walk of life whose IQ is in the top 2% of the population, with the objective of enjoying each other’s company and participating in a wide range of social and cultural activities.

Mensa has three stated purposes: 1) to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity; 2) to encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence; and 3) to promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members.

There is no one prevailing characteristic of Mensa members other than high IQ. People become members for a number of reasons. There are, for example, Mensans for whom Mensa provides a sense of family, and others for whom it is a casual social activity. There have been many marriages made in Mensa, but for many people, it is simply a stimulating opportunity for the mind. Most Mensans have a good sense of humour, and they like to talk. And, usually, they have a lot to say.

Mensa takes no stand on politics, religion or social issues. Mensa has members from so many different countries and cultures with differing points of view that for Mensa to espouse a particular point of view would go against its role as a forum for all points of view. Even so, individual Mensa members often have strong opinions – lots of them. In a room with 12 Mensans you will find at least 13 differing opinions on any given subject!

Mensans have ranged in age from 2 to more than 100, but most are between 20 and 60. Some are pre-schoolers, some high school dropouts, and others who have achieved multiple doctorates. Some are on welfare and others are millionaires. Some are unknown and others are famous. As far as occupations, the range is just as staggering. Mensa has professors and truck drivers, scientists and firefighters, computer programmers and farmers, artists, military people, musicians, labourers, police officers and glassblowers.

So…let’s see how we do on some Mensa puzzles. And NO Googling!

CHALLENGE 1

Each word below contains the name of an animal found in either the Chinese or western zodiac. In each case, delete exactly one letter, then rearrange the remaining letters to come up with the zodiac animal. After you’ve found all six animals, take all the deleted letters and rearrange them to name one more animal that belongs in this grouping.

TANGO

GOITER

BRACE

KOSHER

ORGANDY

RESTROOM

CHALLENGE 2

Take the name of a certain six-letter European capital city, change its fourth letter to a letter later in the alphabet, then add a different letter to the end to get the name of a country. There is no need to rearrange any of the letters. What is the name of this city and this country?

CHALLENGE 3

Fill in the blanks with 3-letter words to form eight 6-letter words that end in TON. Proper names are not allowed.

_ _ _ TON

_ _ _ TON

_ _ _ TON

_ _ _ TON

_ _ _ TON

_ _ _ TON

_ _ _ TON

_ _ _ TON

CHALLENGE 4

Find a six-digit number containing no zeroes and no repeated digits in which the second digit is three less than the fourth digit, the sum of the first and third digits is the fifth digit, the fifth digit is five more than the fourth digit, and the sum of the second, third, and fourth digits is the sixth digit.

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