Monthly Archives: December 2013

Magic snake

The magic snake is a plastic puzzle manufactured by Shuo Yi toys factory, Shang Hua town, China. It is constructed of a series of half cubes, cut diagonally, and connected with what loooks like a string. I don’t know the price, it’s a present given by “Black Pete”.

The packaging looks cheap, and the back carries the images of 9 3D figures which can be constructed with it.

Here are some more figures which you may wish to create:
magic snake flower mini 20131201_203705

magic snake stairs mini20131201_190442

magic snake knot white mini 20131201_130846

magic snake knot green mini 20131201_130547

magic snake cylinder mini 20131201_123846

magic snake cobra 20131201_121013

magic snake rectangle mini 20131201_092023

figuren en kerst 001

figuren en kerst 009

figuren en kerst 011

figuren en kerst 012

figuren en kerst 006


Christmas puzzles

For Christians, Christmas means that God is not just a distant being who judges us miserable beings from far away up in heaven, but is someone who became like us: he was born as a baby in Bethlehem.

For most people in the western world, it means having one or more days off, meeting family, and having fun. Fur puzzlers, mean having time so solve a few brainteasers. For this occasion I dug up some classic christmas teasers.

In “The Canterbury puzzles” H.E. Dudeney tells of the squire’s Christmas puzzle party. One of them was:
1) Under the mistletoe bough
canterbutry puzzles 092
“At the party was a widower who has but lately come into these parts” says the record; and to be sure, he was an exceedingly melancholy man, for he did sit away from the company during the most part of the evening. We afterwards heard that he had been keeping a secret account of all the kisses that were given and received under the mistletoe bough. Truly, I would not have suffered anyone to kiss me in that manner had I known that so unfair a watch was being kept. Other girls were in a like way shocked, as Betty Marchant has since told me.” But it seems the melancholy widower was merely collecting material for the following little osculatory problem.

The company consisted of the squire and his wife and six other married couples, one widower and three widows, twelve bachelors and boys, and ten maidens and little girls. Now everybody was found to have kissed everybody else, with the following exceptions and additions:
No male, of course, kissed a male. No married man kissed a married woman, except his own wife. All the bachelors and boys kissed all the maidens and girls twice. The widower did not kiss anybody, and the widows did not kiss each other. The puzzle was to ascertain just how many kisses had been thus given under the misstletoe bough, assuming, as it is charitable to do, that every kiss was returned – the double act being counted as one kiss.

You can check your solution at here

2) The Christmas Geese
Squire Hembrow, from Weston Zoyland—wherever that may be—proposed the following little arithmetical puzzle, from which it is probable that several somewhat similar modern ones have been derived: Farmer Rouse sent his man to market with a flock of geese, telling him that he might sell all or any of them, as he considered best, for he was sure the man knew how to make a good bargain. This is the report that Jabez made, though I have taken it out of the old Somerset dialect, which might puzzle some readers in a way not desired.
“Well, first of all I sold Mr. Jasper Tyler half of the flock and half a goose over; then I sold Farmer Avent a third of what remained and a third of a goose over; then I sold Widow Foster a quarter of what remained and three-quarters of a goose over; and as I was coming home, whom should I meet but Ned Collier: so we had a mug of cider together at the Barley Mow, where I sold him exactly a fifth of what I had left, and gave him a fifth of a goose over for the missus. These nineteen that I have brought back I couldn’t get rid of at any price.”
Now, how many geese did Farmer Rouse send to market? My humane readers may be relieved to know that no goose was divided or put to any inconvenience whatever by the sales.

You can check your solution at here

Sam Loyd, of course, also had a nice christmas puzzle, though it disappoints me a bit that a quick scan revealed just one:
3) The Christmas Turkey
Loyd 136 the christmas turkey
Here is a pretty puzzle for the juveniles which affords considerable scope for ingenuity and cleverness. This Turkey Gobbler has led “Jolly old Santa Claus” a merry chase around the field, as shown by the tracks in the snow, before he was caught. You can see that they entered from the right side and did some lively circling before arriving at their present position, where the gobbler seems to be upon the point of surrendering. Our young folks are asked to study the situation carefully and to tell just how many times Santa Claus must have turned completely around during the chase, before pouncing upon the turkey?

You can check your solution at here

Please try to solve the puzzles on your own. You are welcome to remark on the puzzles, and I love it when you comment variations, state wether they are too easy or too difficult, or simply your solution times. Please do not state the soultions – it spoils the fun for others. I usually make the solution available after one or two weeks through a link, which allows readers to check the solution without the temptation to scroll down a few lines before having a go at it themselves.


Yes, I know my slogan is “just puzzles”. So I shouldn’t be writing about games. Having said that, let me first explain the game of Eleusis before proceeding to the puzzles.

The game of Eleusis was invented by Robert Abbott in 1956, and is totally different from such games as bridge or poker. Eleusis is played with a standard card deck of 52 cards. One player thinks of a secret rule and preferably writes this down. He playes two cards which obey the secret rule. All other players receive a number of cards, for example each player receives 5 cards.

The two cards are the beginning of a line of cards. The other players now take turns in playing a card to the end of the line. When a player plays a card, the Rule Inventor indicates whether the card obeys the rule. If it does, it is added to the end of the line. If it does not, the card is placed below the line and the player draws two extra cards from the deck. In both cases, the turn passes to the next player. The player who first gets rid of all his cards wins.

Eleusis - demo

In this sample game, the Rule Inventor played Ace of diamnonds and 2 of Hearts. The first player played 3 of diamonds, which the Rule inventor turned down. The second player played Jack of diamonds, which turned out to be also incorrect. The 3rd player tried 3 of clubs, which the Rule Inventor added to the top row. The next two cards played were a 9 of hearts and a 10 of diamonds, which the Rule Inventor both declared to be wrong. The last card played was the Ace of spades.

Now here is a rule to find out.
1) Rule 1*
Eleusis - problem 1 - exercise

In your hand you have:
Eleusis - problem 1 - hand

Which of them do you play? And why?

2) Rule 2**
Eleusis - problem 2 - exercise

In your hand you have:
Eleusis - problem 2 - hand

Which of them do you play? And why?

In the explantion of the game above I omitted 2 complications:
– if the player thinks he can not play a valid card, he may claim this and exchange his hand. If he is right, he exchanges his hand for a hand with one card less from the deck. If he is wrong, the RuleInventor plays a correct card and the player draws two cards from the deck.
– if a player thinks he knows the secret rule, he may declare himself prophet. The prophet now first judges all cards played, before the Rule Inventor. If he keeps his job till the end of the game, he wins the game instead of the player who first gets rid of all his cards.

Though I am out of touch with him now, I have very good memories of my correspondence with him about two decades ago, and he is a very kind man.

As usual, you are welcome to report your solution times and comment on the solution, but please do not give away the answer – that may spoil the fun for others. I will publish the solution in one or two weeks after posting the puzzle.

You can check your solution here and


New puzzles are published every Friday, at which time also the solution to the previous weeks puzzle is published.

You can expect more Eleusis based puzzles in one of the upcoming free e-books.

Incidentally, this is the 100th post on this blog. The game Eleusis is an old favourite of mine, and thus a worthy subject of this celebration.