Archive for the ‘Puzzles’ Category.

4th March 2019, 05:51 pm

Last year, when I read an application file of Wayne Zhao to PRIMES, I
got very excited because he liked puzzles. And I’ve always wanted to
have a project about puzzles. After Wayne was accepted to PRIMES we
started working together. Wayne chose to focus on a variation of Sudoku
called Sudo-Kurve.

We chose a particular shape of Sudo-Kurve for this project, which ended up being very rewarding. It is called *Cube Sudo-Kurve*.
The Cube Sudo-Kurve consists of three square blocks. The
gray bent lines indicate how rows and columns continue. For
example, the
first row of the top left block becomes the last column of the middle
block and
continues to the first row of the bottom right block. As usual each row,
column, and square region has to have 9 distinct digits.

Wayne and I wrote a paper *Mathematics of a Sudo-Kurve*, which has been published at Recreational Mathematics Magazine.

A Cube Sudo-Kurve needs at least 8 clues to have a unique solution. Here
we have a puzzle with 8 clues that we designed for our paper.

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3rd March 2019, 02:31 pm

I’ve been invited to help with the Puzzle Column at the MSRI newsletter *Emissary*. We prepared six puzzles for the Fall 2018 issue.

I love the puzzles there. Number 2 is a mafia puzzle that I suggested. Number 6 is a fun variation on the hat puzzle I wrote a lot about. Here is puzzle Number 3.

**Puzzle.** Let A = {1,2,3,4,5} and let P be the set of all nonempty
subsets of A. A function f from P to A is a “selector” function if f(B)
is in B, and f(B union C) is either equal to f(B) or f(C). How many
selector functions are there?

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2nd February 2019, 02:12 pm

4th January 2019, 11:13 am

14th December 2018, 12:19 pm

Alex Bellos sent me his new book Puzzle Ninja: Pit Your Wits Against The Japanese Puzzle Masters. What has he done to me? I opened the book and couldn’t close it until I solved all the puzzles.

This is a fantastic book. There are many varieties of puzzles, including
some types that I’ve never seen before. Also, the beautifully designed
puzzles are great. Often puzzles of the same type target different
solving ideas or have varied cool themes.

This book is more than a bunch of puzzles; it also contains poetic
stories about puzzle histories and Japanese puzzle designers. Fantastic
puzzles together with a human touch: this might be my favorite puzzle
book.

I present two puzzles from the book. The puzzle type is called *Wolf and Sheep Slitherlink*.
The Slitherlink is a famous puzzle type with the goal of connecting
some of the neighboring dots into a single non-self-intersecting loop. A
number inside a small square cell indicates how many sides of the
square are part of the loop. *Wolf and Sheep Slitherlink* is a variation of *Slitherlink* in which all sheep should be kept inside the fence (loop) and all the wolves outside.

Ignore the numbers in the title as they just indicate the order number
of Wolf and Sheep Slitherlink puzzles in the book. The number of ninja
heads shows the level of difficulty. (The hardest puzzles in the book
have four heads.) The difficulty is followed by the name of the puzzle
master who designed the puzzle.

The first puzzle above is slightly easier than the second. I like the
themes of these two puzzles. In the first one, only one cell—lonely
wolf—marks the relationship to the fence. In the second one, the wolf in
the center—who needs to be outside the fence—is surrounded by a circle
of sheep who are in turn surrounded by a circle of wolves.

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5th December 2018, 12:50 pm

25th September 2018, 04:08 pm

I found this puzzle on the Russian QWERTY channel.

Five people sit around a table playing Mafia. Among them are two innocent people, two Mafiosos, and one detective. The Mafia people know each other; the detective knows who each of them is; and the innocent people have no information whatsoever about anyone at the table.

During this particular game, the innocents and the detective always tell the truth, while mafia people always lie. They start by going around the circle making the following statements:

- A: I know who B is.
- B: I know who the detective is.
- C: I know who B is.
- D: I know who E is.

Who is who?

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29th August 2018, 02:59 pm

My coauthor, Konstantin Knop, sent me a coin-weighing problem that is really good. Surprisingly, it is old: it first appeared in a Russian math journal, *Kvant*, in 1973.

**Puzzle.** At a trial, 14 coins were presented as material evidence. The expert tested the coins and discovered that seven of them were fake, the rest were real, and he knew exactly which coins were fake and which were real. The court only knows that counterfeit coins weigh the same, real coins weigh the same, and fake ones are lighter than real ones. The expert wants to use not more than three weighings on a balance scales without weights to prove to the court that all the counterfeit coins he found are really fake, and the rest are real. Could he do it?

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25th August 2018, 06:29 pm

23rd August 2018, 05:57 pm