All posts by Teun Spaans

About Teun Spaans

Hi, I'm a puzzle collector & designer. I have collected and designed puzzles for about 30 years, though not always with great intensity. Other stuff: my blog about plants and nature my professional blog my website You can contact me leaving a message below a blogpost, or by emailing me at teun.spaans@gmail.com

Masyu


Alex Bello’s bi-weekly puzzle column at The Guardian wrote about Masyu puzzles.

More about these puzzles:
* https://krazydad.com/masyu/ – Krazy Dad has hundreds of puzzles/
* https://www.kakuro-online.com/masyu/ – contains both puzzles, a generator and a solver

Bongard letters (1)


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 conforms to a certain rule. Each box on the right contradicts this rule. Your task, of course, is to figure out the rule.

1)Bongard problem letters 1*/*****

2)Bongard problem letters 2**/*****

Though I’m in the midst of a series Bongard problems on Dates and times, I throw in a couple on letters just for a change.

New puzzles are published at least once 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. You can check your solutions here and here

Happy puzzling!

Five five’s



Some of you may know the problem to make all the numbers from 1 to 20 with four fours.
I wrote about it here. It may come as a surprise to you that it is possible to make all the numbers from 0 to 100.

Today’s problem is to make all numbers from 0 to 20 using exactly five fives. For example:
(5*5 – 5*5) / 5 = 0

You can find my solutions here.

Squirrels go nuts


When I returned from Burkina Faso early January, my wife presented me with a copy of Smart Game’s new “Squirrels go Nuts!” puzzle.

I already had several of Smart Games puzzles, such as “IQ link” and “IQ Fit”, and they usually provide a decent amount of puzzles, starting easy and gradually toughening. This one is no different.

The puzzle consists of a tray with four holes, and four squirrels who have to drop their acorn into one of the four holes. Your task is to slide the squirrels over the board so that the acorns are dropped into a hole.

The puzzle comes with a booklet with 60 problems, and you may wish to skip the first half of them – personally I found them ridiculously easy, and no, I’m not a super genius.

Bongard dates (2)


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 conforms to a certain rule. Each box on the right contradicts this rule. Your task, of course, is to figure out the rule.

1)Bongard problem dates 3*/*****

2)Bongard problem dates 4*/*****

The original Bongard problems were geometrical and thus, in theory, culture free. These dates are western dates, and thus not culture independent. I have used the Italian/Dutch format. The 2-weekly puzzle column in the Guardian in the past already expanded the scope from geometry to language, but as far as I know the dates are a new territory. During my recent visit to Burkina Faso I wrote up 12 problems, so I have enough to trouble you the first half of 2020.

New puzzles are published at least once 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. You can check your solutions here

Happy puzzling!

Three cubes


In the picture above, when we calculate the sum of the three cubes on the left side, we see that two of the digits are present in the sum.

There are no 2-digit numbers which are equal to the sum of the squares of their digits.
There are 3-digit numbers which are equal to the sum of their third powers. Which are they?

(My sincerest apologies for not providing a link to a solution. WordPress has changed the interface and I have been unable to master it. I’m still looking for the right way to switch to html editing and add images and links)

Bongard dates (1)


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 conforms to a certain rule. Each box on the right contradicts this rule. Your task, of course, is to figure out the rule.

1)Bongard problem dates 1*/*****

2)Bongard problem dates 2*/*****

The original Bongard problems were geometrical and thus, in theory, culture free. These dates are western dates, and thus not culture independent. I have used the Italian/Dutch format. The 2-weekly puzzle column in the Guardian in the past already expanded the scope from geometry to language, and the dates are a new territory. During my recent visit to Burkina Faso I wrote up 12 problems, so I have enough to trouble you the first half of 2020.

New puzzles are published at least once 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. You can check your solutions here and here

Happy puzzling!

2020


It’s 2020, a new year! Here are a couple of 2020 related brainteasers:
1) 0-9!**/*****
Make each and every of the numbers 0-9 by combining the four digits 2, 0, 2, and 0 with arithmetic and mathematical operators. For example 0*(2+2)+0=0

2) two different digits**/*****
The year 2020 has only 2 different digits, 0 and 2. How many of those years do we have in this centur?

3) 0-9!**/*****
And as a sequel on 2): how many such years are there in this millennium?

You can check your solutions here

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.

Dudeney’s Christmas puzzles


For years on end the famous British puzzle maker Henry Ernest Dudeney published puzzles in his weekly and monthly columns. Several of these have a Christmas theme, most of which I brought here together.

I know that some people claim other puzzles as Dudeneys Christmas puzzles, and I may or may not elaborate on that later. These have been selected because they have the word “Christmas” in them.

In his book “The Canterbury Puzzles” we find:
1) 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 here

2) Tasting the Plum Puddings**/*****

“Everybody, as I suppose, knows well that the number of different Christmas plum puddings that you taste will bring you the same number of lucky days in the new year. One of the guests (and his name has escaped my memory) brought with him a sheet of paper on which were drawn sixty-four puddings, and he said the puzzle was an allegory of a sort, and he intended to show how we might manage our pudding-tasting with as much dispatch as possible.” I fail to fully understand this fanciful and rather overstrained view of the puzzle. But it would appear that the puddings were arranged regularly, as I have shown them in the illustration, and that to strike out a pudding was to indicate that it had been duly tasted. You have simply to put the point of your pencil on the pudding in the top corner, bearing a sprig of holly, and strike out all the sixty-four puddings through their centres in twenty-one straight strokes. You can go up or down or horizontally, but not diagonally or obliquely; and you must never strike out a pudding twice, as that would imply a second and unnecessary tasting of those indigestible dainties. But the peculiar part of the thing is that you are required to taste the pudding that is seen steaming hot at the end of your tenth stroke, and to taste the one decked with holly in the bottom row the very last of all.

You can check your solution here

3) Under the Mistletoe Bough***/*****



“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 any one to kiss me in that manner had I known that so unfair a watch was being kept. Other maids beside were in a like way shocked, as Betty Marchant has since told me.” But it seems that 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[Pg 92] 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 mistletoe 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 here

Dudeney lists another puzzle, “Buying presents”, but this involves now outdated British coins, for which reason I do not include it in this collection.

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.

Eleusis


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