Thinking Contest

Thinking Your Way to Success

Thinking and problem solving could be the most important skill you ever develop. It doesn’t matter if you’re applying for a foreign scholarship, working as a plumber, a mother or the director of a national company…the ability to think clearly and carefully is invaluable. Yet how many of us have been taught or even encouraged to think?

Like in most things, practice makes perfect, or at least improves things dramatically. For this reason “@ My Library”, a free self-study resource centre in Luang Prabang, recently held a thinking contest with a new question posted every week. Unlike most tests, the correct answer didn’t win you any points. Points came only by showing how you got the answer and why it was correct. The first person to answer correctly scored 2 points, every other correct answer scored a single point, and because the most important thing was to learn, a correct answer on the second try scored ½ point.

At the end of 10 weeks, Bill Kiphavong, 17 and a first year student at the Law School in Luang Prabang, was the winner. Xaycha Kiaher, 18 and in his last year at Santiphab High School, came in second and Seangpheath Southnavong, 36 and a librarian, was third.

Winners: Starting from the left is Xaycha Kiaher who finished 2nd, Subill  Kiphavong who finished 1st and Seangpheath Southnavong who finished 3rd.

Question 2: Studying Question 2 to look for the patternAlong the way contestants learned to look for patterns, diagram the problem or pattern and double check their answers. Competition became more intense as students showed up at 6 o’clock when a new question was posted and those who missed the question studied the answer and explanation to learn.

It is almost addictive when a problem that seemed impossible or at best incomprehensible is suddenly clear and easy. Try it….you might like it!


  1. Which one of the 5 designs is the least like the other 4?
    A  Z  F  N  E
  2. What number comes next?
    4   10   22   46   ____
  3. Tongchan has 9 bags of rice to carry home from the field. He can carry 2 bags at a time. How many trips does he need to make?

Answers and explanations listed below….and like Xaycha said, “Don’t worry if you missed it this time, you’ll get another chance.

This event  was sponsored by The Language Project a small NGO working to encourage self-study and life long learning by providing access to materials through new or existing libraries.


  1. All have three lines except for E which as four lines and is the least like the others.
  2. The next number is 94. There are two possible patterns. If “#” is the previous number, the next number is either
    (2 X #) +2  or  (# +1) X 2.
  3. This problem requires math and common sense! Just math tells you the answer is 4.5 but then he is only half way on the last trip so the correct answer is 5.