When you're looking at a logical word puzzle, what sorts of clues should you try to look for to solve them? There have been quite a few puzzles posted to this site so far that I spent a few minutes pondering, and I just had no idea where to start. Once I saw the answers they usually made sense, but I don't seem to have a good gameplan for trying to figure it out on my own (which is the fun part!) I'd like to get better at solving puzzles like this, and I imagine there are techniques I'm unaware of to finding the important information and where to begin (because part of the trick to puzzles like these is that they give you extra information you don't need to throw you off, right?)
So here's a good example of one such puzzle. (Source; solution also displays at link).
You are the ruler of a medieval empire and you are about to have a celebration tomorrow. The celebration is the most important party you have ever hosted. You've got 1000 bottles of wine you were planning to open for the celebration, but you find out that one of them is poisoned.
The poison exhibits no symptoms until death. Death occurs within ten to twenty hours after consuming even the minutest amount of poison.
You have over a thousand slaves at your disposal and just under 24 hours to determine which single bottle is poisoned.
You have a handful of prisoners about to be executed, and it would mar your celebration to have anyone else killed.
What is the smallest number of prisoners you must have to drink from the bottles to be absolutely sure to find the poisoned bottle within 24 hours?
I thought about it for a little while, and I just had no idea where to start. All I could think is that, since you have 24 hours and it takes less than 24 hours to die of the poisoning, each of the 1000 people should test one bottle of wine. But that's clearly not the best answer, because that's obvious; they're asking what's the smallest number of testers. I reread the problem several times trying to pick out the piece of information that should be my starting point, but I was unsuccessful.
Once I read the solution it made sense, but it would never have occurred to me. How do you figure out where to start solving a puzzle like this when you're completely flummoxed?