The Mutilated Chessboard

Take an ordinary chessboard and cut off two diagonally opposite corners. Now: Is it possible to tile the remaining 62 squares with 31 dominoes?

This calls for inspiration rather than trial and error. Most people see the solution immediately or not at all.

Click for Answer

“Ambiguous Lines”

First published in 1671, this anonymous verse came with a simple instruction that would render it into sense. Can you discover it?

I saw a peacock with a fiery tail
I saw a blazing comet drop down hail
I saw a cloud with ivy circled round
I saw a sturdy oak creep on the ground
I saw a pismire swallow up a whale
I saw a raging sea brim full of ale
I saw a venice glass sixteen foot deep
I saw a well full of men’s tears that weep
I saw their eyes all in a flame of fire
I saw a house as big as the moon and higher
I saw the sun even in the midst of night
I saw the man that saw this wondrous sight.
I saw a pack of cards gnawing a bone
I saw a dog seated on Britain’s throne
I saw King George shut up within a box
I saw an orange driving a fat ox
I saw a butcher not a twelvemonth old
I saw a great-coat all of solid gold
I saw two buttons telling of their dreams
I saw my friends who wished I’d quite these themes.

Click for Answer

Kangaroo Words

Kangaroo words contain smaller versions of themselves. INDOLENT, for example, contains the letters I-D-L-E, in order. Can you find the hidden synonyms in each of these words?

  • ABIDE
  • ALLOCATE
  • ASSEVERATE
  • ASTOUND
  • CALUMNIES
  • CATACOMB
  • DEPOSITORY
  • DESTRUCTION
  • ENCOURAGE
  • HONORABLE
  • ILLUMINATED
  • INEFFECTIVE
  • REVOLUTION
  • SCOUNDREL
  • TRANSGRESSION
  • UMPTEENTH
  • UNSIGHTLY
Click for Answer

Round and Round

http://www.teamten.com/lawrence/puzzles/mobius_chess.html

A chess puzzle set on a Mobius strip, via Lawrence Kesteloot’s puzzles page.

There are no pieces on the hidden sides, and don’t worry about the direction of the black pawn. White to move and mate in two.

Click for Answer

Breakfast of Champions

Christopher Columbus's Egg Puzzle

“Christopher Columbus’s Egg Puzzle,” as it appeared in Sam Loyd’s Cyclopedia of Puzzles (1914):

The famous trick-chicken, Americus Vespucius, after whom our great country was named, showed a clever puzzle wherein you are asked to lay nine eggs so as to form the greatest possible number of rows of three-in-line. King Puzzlepate has only succeeded in getting eight rows, as shown in the picture, but Tommy says a smart chicken can do better than that!

Can you?

Click for Answer

The Smith Jones Robinson Riddle

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/311973

On a train, Smith, Robinson, and Jones are the fireman, the brakeman, and the engineer (not necessarily respectively). Also aboard the train are three passengers with the same names, Mr. Smith, Mr. Robinson, and Mr. Jones.

(1) Mr. Robinson is a passenger. He lives in Detroit.

(2) The brakeman lives exactly halfway between Chicago and Detroit.

(3) Mr. Jones is a passenger. He earns exactly $20,000 per year.

(4) The brakeman’s nearest neighbor, one of the passengers, earns exactly three times as much as the brakeman.

(5) Smith is not a passenger. He beats the fireman in billiards.

(6) The passenger whose name is the same as the brakeman’s lives in Chicago.

Who is the engineer?

Click for Answer

Holiday for Vowels

“In an old church in Westchester county, N.Y., the following consonants are written beside the altar, under the Ten Commandments. What vowel is to be placed between them, to make sense and rhyme of the couplet?”

P.R.S.V.R.Y.P.R.F.C.T.M.N.
V.R.K.P.T.H.S.P.R.C.P.T.S.T.N

— Charles Bombaugh, Facts and Fancies for the Curious From the Harvest-Fields of Literature, 1860

Click for Answer