Monthly Archives: November 2019


There are few good puzzle games. Puzzles rarely make good games, and good games rarely contain puzzles.

The first classical exception is mastermind. In recent years, Escape room shave become popular. A game which I learned as a student is Eleusis. This post concentrates on Eleusis. I wrote about Eleusis before in December 2013, you can find that post here.

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 plays 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.

In the image above, the Rule Inventor started the row with 10 of clubs and jack of spades. The first player played 3 of spades, which was wrong. The next two cards, 3 of diamonds and 6 of spades, were also wrong. The fourth player tried 9 of hearts, which was correct.

The question is of course: With your hand depicted at the bottom, which of the 5 cards labeled A-E do you play?

You can check your solution here

Playing card puzzles by Henry Dudeney

For the past couple of months, I have been publishing puzzles with playing cards. Henry Dudeney was British formost puzzle master of the late 19th / early 20th century. In this series his puzzles, as published in “Amusement in mathematics”, may not be omitted.

1) The card frame puzzle***/*****
In the illustration we have a frame constructed from the ten playing cards, ace to ten of diamonds. The children who made it wanted the pips on all four sides to add up alike, but they failed in their attempt and gave it up as impossible. It will be seen that the pips in the top row, the bottom row, and the left-hand side all add up 14, but the right-hand side sums to 23. Now, what they were trying to do is quite possible. Can you rearrange the ten cards in the same formation so that all four sides shall add up alike? Of course they need not add up 14, but any number you choose to select.

You can check your solution here

2) The cross of cards***/*****

In this case we use only nine cards—the ace to nine of diamonds. The puzzle is to arrange them in the form of a cross, exactly in the way shown in the illustration, so that the pips in the vertical bar and in the horizontal bar add up alike. In the example given it will be found that both directions add up 23. What I want to know is, how many different ways are there of rearranging the cards in order to bring about this result? It will be seen that, without affecting the solution, we may exchange the 5 with the 6, the 5 with the 7, the 8 with the 3, and so on. Also we may make the horizontal and the vertical bars change places. But such obvious manipulations as these are not to be regarded as different solutions. They are all mere variations of one fundamental solution. Now, how many of these fundamentally different solutions are there? The pips need not, of course, always add up 23.

You can check your solution here

3) The “T” card puzzle***/*****

An entertaining little puzzle with cards is to take the nine cards of a suit, from ace to nine inclusive, and arrange them in the form of the letter “T,” as shown in the illustration, so that the pips in the horizontal line shall count the same as those in the column. In the example given they add up twenty-three both ways. Now, it is quite easy to get a single correct arrangement. The puzzle is to discover in just how many different ways it may be done. Though the number is high, the solution is not really difficult if we attack the puzzle in the right manner. The reverse way obtained by reflecting the illustration in a mirror we will not count as different, but all other changes in the relative positions of the cards will here count. How many different ways are there?

You can check your solution here

4) Card triangles***/*****
Here you pick out the nine cards, ace to nine of diamonds, and arrange them in the form of a triangle, exactly as shown in the illustration, so that the pips add up the same on the three sides. In the example given it will be seen that they sum to 20 on each side, but the particular number is of no importance so long as it is the same on all three sides. The puzzle Pg 116is to find out in just how many different ways this can be done.

If you simply turn the cards round so that one of the other two sides is nearest to you this will not count as different, for the order will be the same. Also, if you make the 4, 9, 5 change places with the 7, 3, 8, and at the same time exchange the 1 and the 6, it will not be different. But if you only change the 1 and the 6 it will be different, because the order round the triangle is not the same. This explanation will prevent any doubt arising as to the conditions.

You can check your solution here

Bongard problem 40

Which rule satisfies the 6 figures on the left but is obeyed by none of the 6 figures on the right?
1)Bongard problem 40***/*****

In 1967 the Russian scientist M.M. Bongard published a book containing 100 problems. Each problem consists of 12 small boxes: six boxes on the left and six on the right. Each of the six boxes on the left conform to a certain rule. Each and every box on the right contradicts this rule. Your task, of course, is to figure out the rule.

You can check your solution here

You can find more Bongard problems here on this site and at Harry Foundalis’ site.

Pradeesh Mutalik can be credited for taking Bongard problems from the realm of geometry to the realm of numbers and language.

New puzzles are published at least twice a month on Fridays. Solutions are published after one or more weeks. You are welcome to remark on the difficulty level of the puzzles, discuss alternate solutions, and so on. Puzzles are rated on a scale of 1 to 5 stars.