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## Sliding puzzles

Sliding puzzles are fun toys for kids and grown-ups, but most require a lot of thinking and even some math.

What are Sliding Puzzles

Usually, a sliding puzzle consists of a frame, wood in the past and plastic nowadays, and a number of tiles you must move around to solve the puzzle. Traditional sliding puzzles have 4×4 squares, but the contain only 15 tiles, as you need an empty slot to move the tiles around. This is why many such puzzles are known as 15-Puzzles.

The simplest sliding puzzles are meant for children and the aim is to rearrange the tiles to form a picture, most often a cartoon character.

Puzzles designed for adults have numbers on tiles and they have to be solved according to the rules. The classical 15 Puzzle requires the player to place the numbers 1-15 in ascending or descending order. Other math based sliding puzzles require using a mathematical operation and the numbers on the tiles in each row or column must add up to a certain magic number.

There are also sliding puzzles with letters and the solution is a certain phrase you must write on the board.

Finally, there are sliding puzzles where the tiles bear certain symbols on them. The aim is to make sure the symbols appear only once in a row, column or maybe even diagonal line.

See our in-house puzzle created by Animatopica

Watch Video

Sliding Puzzles Versions

One of the most famous sliding puzzles is the so-called Klotski puzzle, name derived from the Polish term for wooden blocks. As opposed to the numerous plastic sliding puzzles, Klotski is an old-fashioned toy and it was invented in the early 20th century. The wooden sliding blocks are of various sizes and the aim of the game is to move the largest of them to a designated place on the board.

The Japanese have a similar puzzle known as Daughter in the Box, in which you have to help the girl escape from the house where she is kept a prisoner. In such puzzles the main difficulty is that you have to move around the smaller pieces to make enough room to move the larger one.

This type of puzzle is very similar to the countless online sliding puzzles in which the goal is to move a certain block towards the exit.

See our in-house puzzle created by Animatopica

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## Situation puzzle

Looking for something to liven up a party? Try situation puzzles!

What are Situation Puzzles

The Internet is full of them as they provide a source of endless fun for children and adults alike. A situation puzzle is usually presented by a host who reads the little story to the other players who can ask simple questions, usually Yes/No questions to explain the mystery in the puzzle. This involves both logical thinking, as well as lateral thinking, that is looking for a creative solution that is not obvious right away.

There can be more than one answer to a puzzle as very creative players can come up with perfectly valid explanation to the original mystery. It must be said that not all the situation puzzles you can find online are credible. In many cases, yes, the provided solution makes perfect sense, but for others the solution can be a little far-fetched.

How to Solve a Situation Puzzle

Sometimes you are allowed only a certain number of questions, but that depends on the rules you agree to play by. If you’re having fun you can ask questions until there’s literally nothing else you can think of. With Yes/No questions, the host is usually allowed small variations to his answer. For instance, Yope means that the full answer to that question would look something like: ‘Yes, but…’.  Not applicable or irrelevant means that the question has nothing to do with the solution. Finally, the host can answer ‘Irrelevant, but assume yes’.

Types of Situation Puzzles

Many puzzles present perfectly realistic scenarios and the solution makes perfect sense. Here is an example:

An avid birdwatcher sees an unexpected bird. Soon he’s dead.’You might try to find an obvious answer, like the guy being attacked by a bird of prey, but the point of situation puzzles is to make you look for unconventional answers.

The solution to the puzzle is that the birdwatcher was in an airplane, hence the ‘unexpected’ bird. Then, the bird gets sucked into an engine and the plane crashes.

Here is an example of puzzle which is not very realistic and involves a lot of guessing.

A man is born in 1972 and dies in 1952 at the age of 25.’

And the solution is He’s born in room number 1972 of a hospital and dies in room number 1952.

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## Rubik’s Cube Puzzle

If you’ve never seen a Rubik Cube, you must have been living under a rock for the past 40 years!

What is a Rubik’s Cube

The colorful little cube is the most successful puzzle ever, with more than 350 millions items sold, and that’s probably not counting the countless ripoffs you can find at fairs all over the world.

The standard Rubik’s Cube has 9 squares on each side. A solved cube should have all the sides in a single color, that is use you should rotate the cubelets that make up the cube until all the squares of one color are grouped together. Originally, the colors were white, red, blue, orange, green, and yellow, but today you might find models in various shades. What is truly impressive about this little toy is the complex internal mechanism that allows the pieces to move against each other without the whole thing falling apart. Well, there have been many players fascinated with the concept who actually took apart a cube to see how it works.

How to Solve a Rubiks Cube

Many novices make the mistake of being overly confident when they first lay their hands on a Rubik’s cube. It can’t be that hard, you move some cubelets around and they’ll fall into place, right? Such an approach is dead wrong, as many soon discover.

The first one to come up with a method to solve this puzzle was British math teacher David Singmaster who published a book on Rubik’s Cube in 1981. According to him, you should not focus on a side, but rather concentrate on layers. Solve the top layer first, then go on with the middle and solving the bottom layer should be easy. If you take this approach, you should be able to solve the puzzle in less than a minute.

Another method is to try to solve the corners first.

Computer programs have also been used to analyze the best way to solve a Rubik’s Cube and in 2010 a team of researchers came to the conclusion that it can be rearranged in 20 moves. Well, that depends on the starting configuration so don’t beat yourself if you’ve been scrambling the little cubes for 30 minutes and you’re no way near a solution.

History of Rubiks Cube

As the name says, the puzzle was invented by this Rubik guy, whose full name is Erno Rubik, a Hungarian sculptor and architecture professor. He invented the game in 1974 and took out a patent in 1975. At first, it was only sold locally, but in 1980 it had reached the Western world where the Rubik craze began.

Today, the versions of the popular cube are produced by various companies, and sometimes it’s not even a cube anymore. There are some easy 4×4 versions, but there are some models increasingly complex, with dozens of rotating cubes. If you’re new to this game, better start with the basic model.

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## Riddle Puzzles

One of the most popular games to test your wit, played by children as well as by serious grown-ups who love a challenge.

What are Riddle Puzzles

There are two types of riddles – the so-called engimas who use metaphorical language and conundra, which are basically puns. They’re both solved the same way, by furiously scratching your head until you guess! To be fair, creators of good riddles deserve as much credit as those who can guess the answer, if not even more. And they’re much more than a fun pastime, as many linguists and folklorists have spent their whole lives collecting, categorizing and studying riddles, which can be found in every culture.

Famous Riddle Puzzles

Some riddles only make sense to a certain people or part of the world, but others can easily be translated in any language as they refer to universal values.

For instance, a riddle like “This woman has not been to the riverside for water, but there is water in her tank” would make no sense to people who don’t understand African culture and have never seen a coconut in their lives, for that is the answer.

On the other hand, the famous Riddle of the Sphinx can easily be guessed by anyone.

It goes in the morning on four feet, at lunch-time on two, at evening on three.’ That’s a man (or woman), of course, who crawls as a baby, then walk on two feet, and ends up using a cane in old age.

History of Riddles

The oldest riddles in the world were discovered in Babylonian manuscripts, but unfortunately they did not contain the answers so they are hard to guess since we don’t know that much of their culture. Who can say what ‘my knees hasten, my feet do not rest, a shepherd without pity drives me to pasture’ meant for them?

In Ancient Greece, riddles were a form of entertainment at public meetings and they were usually in verse.

In modern times, riddles tend to be more humorous, being frequently referred to as jokes. Here’s an example. ‘Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 (ate) 9.’

Riddles are sometimes featured in game shows as well as in books or movies. Perhaps the most famous example is the riddle contest between Bilbo Baggins and Gollum in Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’

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## Rebus Puzzles

Creating a rebus puzzle is the art of combining images, letters and symbols to form words or phrases.

What are Rebus Puzzles

What would you understand if someone put in front of you a piece of paper with the picture of a bee, followed by the cryptic message + N on it? Why, that’s a rebus of the easiest type and the answer is been? What about H+ the picture of an ear? This has two possible answers, equally easy – hear or here. You get the idea.

We use rebuses in our modern messaging systems, CU is such an example, and so is K9 for canine.

The basic principle behind rebuses is the use of pictograms and symbols to transform them into phonograms, to create new words. If you see the picture of an eye in a rebus it has nothing to do with seeing, it stands for I.

Want an example of a sentence fully made of images?eyecanseaewe reads I can see you.

The history of Rebus Puzzles

Rebuses are so old nobody knows when they first appeared. However, many linguists believe that this process of using drawings to represent sounds was fundamental to the development of language. They say the Chinese alphabet was probably derived from this picture to sound technique, which is also evident when you look at Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. If you’ve ever seen one of those memes saying we’re reinventing hieroglyphs, know that’s not accurate – emojis are ideograms, not pictograms.

Rebuses were frequently used in the Middle Ages in heraldry, knights and noblemen paying handsome prices to those who could come up with clever ideas to represent their name or the name of their estate using pictograms.

Rebuses were sometimes used to teach the Holy Bible to children who were to young to read, while missionaries in Latin America made use of pictograms to teach the Lord’s Prayer to the natives, in Latin, nonetheless.

Rebuses were also very popular in Japan and even today they are still used, most notably on corporate logos.

The ancient rebus has adapted well to modern times, such puzzles being featured in many TV game shows. Also, you can find on the Internet so-called guessing games that use pictures to represent in a visual manner common phrases, book or movie titles etc.

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## Prisoners and Hats Puzzle

This puzzle has some pretty high stakes – One wrong guess and all the prisoners die!

What is the Prisoners and Hats Puzzle

This is one of the most famous riddle in the Hat Puzzle category. It’s a story about four prisoners accused of some crime, but the problem is the jail is full so the warden comes up with an idea. He’ll have the prisoners solve a puzzle. If they win, they go free, if they fail they will be executed. Three of the prisoners are made to stand in a line – B is facing a wall, C has B in front of him, while D is last and can see both B and C. Poor A is placed is an another room so he cannot see anyone or be seen. The warden explains he will give them 4 party hats, two white and two black. The prisoners can not see the hats on their own heads. If any of them feels confident that he knows the color of his own hat, he only has to say it out loud and they all walk. Can they save their lives?

How to Solve the Prisoners and Hats Puzzle

Poor A is pretty much useless since he is isolated, so it’s up to the other three to find a solution. B is staring at a wall, so he doesn’t know anything either. Their lives depend on C and D. There are two possible solutions. Remember that D has a vantage point as he can see the heads of both B and C. If their hats are both black, it’s obvious that D must be wearing a white hat so he can cry out the answer and save everybody. The game assumes that all prisoners are smart and have the same reasoning skills, so they will wait to see if D has the answer. If they don’t hear anything, C will realize that he and B must be wearing hats of different colors, which explains why D wasn’t able to figure out the color of his hat. Now, all that C has to do is look at B’s hat. If it’s black, this means that he is wearing a white one and he gets to save their skins.

Prisoners and Hats Puzzle Variants

There are variants in which there are more or less prisoners and the number of hats of each color vary accordingly, but they generally follow the same logic. The most interesting is that with 10 prisoners and 10 hats, either red or blue, but they don’t know how many of each color are there. They are lined single file and they can see all the hats in front of them, but not behind, obviously. It’s an each for his own game and there is a simple solution for 9 of them to survive, while the other one will have to guess so he has a 50/50 chance to survive. Can you figure it out?

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## Pirate Loot Puzzle

You wouldn’t believe how many animated debates this puzzle has generated.

What is the Pirate Loot Puzzle

It’s a situation game that requires logic to find the answer. The idea is that there are five pirates, A, B, C, D, and E, and they found 100 gold coins. In order to divide the loot they decide that each pirate will propose a plan and the other will vote on it. In case of a tie, the proposer has the deciding vote. Now, don’t think they should agree to each getting 20 coins, because the pirates have other laws. First of all, they don’t trust each other so there can be no alliance between any of them. Then, they’re all interested in surviving and, if possible, throwing some of their mates overboard. The proposals will be presented by order of seniority, starting with A, so they can also figure out how the negotiations might go.

How to Solve the Pirate Loot Puzzle

Now, the logical deductions are a bit difficult to follow so it’s best to start with the official solution to this puzzle, which is A proposes to keep 98 coins for himself and offer one each to pirates C and E. Unfortunately, B and D don’t get anything. Why would the others accept? Because that’s the most they can get.

To understand the logic behind this you have to work your way backwards. If A,B, and C are thrown overboard, and only D and E remain, it’s obvious D will keep all the loot as he has the deciding vote. If there are three pirates left, C, D and E, pirate C can figure it out that D won’t give E anything, so he can propose giving E one coin. If there were four pirates left B, C, D and E, pirate B is smart enough to understand he only had to give one coin to D and leave C and E empty handed. Basically, knowing their mates, C and E they won’t get anything if they don’t agree to A’s plan.

However, this elegant solution has generated a lot of discussions among puzzle lovers, with many believing there’s not enough information to reach a conclusion on how the pirates will divide the loot. What do you think?

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## Pentomino Puzzle

This puzzle started as a recreational math game and kept people entertained as they waited for someone to invent Tetris

How to Solve a Pentomino Puzzle

The term Pentomino comes from the shape of the 12 tiles in the game which are made of five squares of the same size. The 12 tiles resemble letters from the Latin Alphabet and are sometimes referred to as the L, the Y or the X tile.

The starting board, the rectangular frame you need to fill in using the tiles, has exactly 60 squares, the same number as in 12×5, the total number of squares in the tile. This means you must find a way to fit all the tiles inside the frame with no gaps or overlaps. Obviously, you are allowed to rotate the tiles as you see fit, just like in

Tetris.

Pentomino Puzzle Versions

Since the frame for the traditional version needs to have exactly 60 squares, there’s little room for variation. You can play a bit with the height and width of the rectangle, but that’s about it

There is also a 3D version of the Pentomino Puzzle and the goal there is to create a cube.

The Pentomino Puzzle Board Game

The board game version is called Golomb’s Game, in reference to the game’s inventor. The game is played on an 8×8 board and there can be 2 or 3 players who take turns placing tiles on the board so they fit in with the others without gaps or overlaps. The last player who manages to place a tile on the board wins the game. The French have created a board game called Blokus, which incorporates all the 12 pentominoes in Golomb’s Game and added other tiles made of 1, 2, 3, or 4 squares.

History of the Pentomino Puzzle

The Pentomino Puzzle was invented by American professor Solomon W. Golomb who presented it in a 1965 book on polyominoes. In Math speak, a Pentomino tile is a polyomino of order 5. The puzzle became popular in the US after Scientific American published an article on it in October 1965.

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## Peg Solitaire Puzzle

Something to do when you’re feeling bored and computer games have not bee invented yet.

How to Solve Peg Solitaire Puzzle

Peg Solitaire is a game played on a wooden board with lines of holes that have pegs in them. In the classical version of the game the 32 pegs are placed in a cross pattern, leaving the hole in the middle of the board empty. The player is allowed to move up and down, left and right, jumping over a peg, which is then removed from the board. You can start with any peg you want, but the rule is that you need to land on an empty space, which doesn’t leave you many options. Since at the beginning the only empty space is that in the middle you will have to start with a peg in that area.

You can, of course, try to solve this puzzle by using random moves, but this might give you quite a headache as you’ll soon find it impossible to make a new move.

The best solution is to start by focusing on the areas that are further from the centre and try to clear all the pegs there before moving to another part of the board. For instance, focus on eliminating the pegs in the lower part of the board, calculating each move to empty some spaces to be able to do your jumps.

Peg Solitaire Puzzle Version

The puzzle with the cross-shaped pattern is also known as the English version, while in the European variant the holes and pegs are displayed in an oval shape. Other popular versions of the starting pattern shape are triangle, hexagon and diamond. Obviously, you can find Peg Solitaire Puzzle online and, even better, there are many tutorials offering the winning strategy.

History of the Peg Solitaire Puzzle

It’s hard to say when this game was invented, but the oldest reference to it can be traced to the times of King Louis XIV of France. An engraving dated 1687 presents a princess at the court with a Peg Solitaire puzzle on the table beside her. That’s probably why the game is also known as Solo Noble, as it was a pastime for noble people.

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## Packing Puzzles

How many balls can you fit in one sphere?

What are Packing Puzzles

Packing puzzles are part of what is known as recreational math, but they are also called optimization problems. Indeed, some regular people might consider this types of problems fun, but for manufacturers they can bea real problem. A company that produces tennis balls actually needs a solution to fit as many as possible in one container to cut costs. Did you know that a Japanese company once invented square watermelons, not as a novelty to impress the public with, but to solve a simple packing problem. (The public did not appreciate the odd-looking melons and the idea was dropped!)

All packing puzzles have basically the same goal, finding a way to fit as many identical items in as few containers as possible.

Types of Packing Puzzles

Puzzles in two dimensions are just for fun as they have no practical utility. One example refers to packing sand, specifically grains of sand wasting as little space as possible. The grains are represented as circles and the idea is to find a compact way of stacking them.

Most packing puzzles in three dimensions concern spheres, as cubes are way easier to stack, not much of a puzzle there, you only need basic geometry.

Since most real-life packaging problems revolve around boxes, many puzzles ask the players to find the highest number of spheres that can be crammed into a cuboid. Unlike many other puzzles that require logical deductions or lateral thinking, to solve packing puzzles you have to use what you learned in school.

Famous Packing Puzzles

One of the best-known packing puzzle is the so-called SlothouberGraatsma puzzle which challenges the player to pack six 1 x 2 x 2 blocks and three 1 x 1 x 1 blocks into a 3 x 3 x 3 box. Unlike other puzzle, this one has only one solution.

Another example is the Conway puzzle, in which you have to pack rectangular blocks of various dimensions into a cubic

box.

The Knapsack problem is a more complex packing puzzle as it adds another element, which is value. What you have is a set of items with different weights and value. The goal of the puzzle is to determine the number of items to put in a knapsack so that the total weight is less than or equal to a given limit and the total value is as large as possible.