Previous Page Print this page
Chinese Puzzle

"Chinese Puzzle" is great. I have no idea why it should have this name or where I learned it!

Have your group stand up in a close circle (10 to 16 people is best). They close their eyes put their hands into the circle and find two hands and hold on. Then they open their eyes and sort out glitches where some people are in a "three" or have an unconnected hand.

Then the group has to try to get back into a circle without letting go, though they can change their grip, of course. 

Sometimes they end up in a circle, or interlocking circles, separate circles or intractable knots. This "silly game" always causes much laughter, which releases energy and can also encourage people to take a few more risks later. 

It is light hearted but the learning can be about closeness, risk taking, touch, status, the value of play and whether "dignity" is worth standing on.

I would only use this when you judge the group is ready. 

"Silly" exercises can be powerful. I once ran with a friend a short session with a group of trainers at a conference. We all had a few minutes to design and test an activity that was too "silly" to be able to run at work. The results were terrific, we learned a lot as trainees and trainers. The session stretched us all out of our comfort zone into our creative zone.


Please use any of the buttons below to share this article more widely.


Contact me

Phone +44 (0)1707886553, or +44(0)7879861525 email or Skype nickheap

Using these materials
I am entirely happy for you to use or draw on any these materials in any way you think will be helpful. I am keen to have my work, and the work of the people I have learned from, used.  


The language on this site is correct UK English throughout. There are differences in spelling and meaning between UK and US English. The context should make the material understandable in the US.

Further Information

There are free articles, exercises, designs, book references and links to other sources about many aspects of personal, team, management and organisation development on this website. I will add other resources as I learn what you want.

View Nick Heap's profile on LinkedIn