An Ingenious Match Puzzle

dudeney match problem.png

Lay out six matches in the way depicted in the illustration. The objective is to shift one match without displacing the others so that the resulting arrangement would represent an arithmetical fraction equal to 1. You are not allowed to move the match forming the horizontal fraction bar. 

Solution

In the 1916 issue of Strand MagazineHenry Ernest Dudeney wrote that a French correspondent sent him this matchstick puzzle but the solution was not given to him. Hence, he solved it himself.

Dudeney said that he’s certain that the solution to this puzzle was the same as his solution.

dudeney match solution

You can see that one of the I in VII is shifted to form a square root or radical sign. The square root of 1 is 1 and 1 divided 1 is equal to 1.

This is one of the best “easy” matchstick puzzles I have ever seen. I’m not sure if I would be able to figure this out if someone challenges me to solve it without prior knowledge of the solution.

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About Edmark M. Law

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. I blog at learnfunfacts.com. You can find me on Twitter @EdmarkLaw and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com
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15 Responses to An Ingenious Match Puzzle

  1. The Roman Numerals threw me because i could not see how to make them into a fraction of 1 except something raised to the power of zero is always one. I did not think of square roots. have you any others?

    Like

  2. If we accept the match on the bottom left as leaning, but still “1,” and use the 2nd from the bottom left, to cross over the 3rd from the left, we have 1 X 1, which also works. But only in Pisa, Italy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Viola Bleu says:

    Love stuff like this …. I bought a book once for my children when they were smaller and it was full of seemingly straight forward similar puzzles, which always make us thing and draw for hours. Real brain-teaser stuff. The back-page answers usually revealed a more obvious, yet invisible at first glance, solution.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. now I am prepared for another “genius” question

    Liked by 1 person

  5. paolsoren says:

    Very neat. I would have never got iy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Alfie says:

    I also tried something related to maths. Hope you see that

    Liked by 1 person

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