This is a guest blog post by Logan Schoolcraft.
Have you ever seen a math puzzle that only has 19 pieces? And you can hold it in your hand? I haven’t really gone out looking for these things, but when they’re brought to me, they grab my attention.
This little math puzzle is quite simple, yet very difficult. It is quite nicely constructed out of 19 hexagonal wood blocks that fit together on a matching wood backing plate. The plate is counter sunk to allow the blocks to fit together and not slide or fall off. All together, the thing is only about 7” square. Handy enough to play with in the car…if you don’t lose the blocks in the seat!
The idea of the game is to assemble all 19 of the blocks in the backing plate so that each row, column, and diagonal all sum to 38. Easy right!
Not for me!
I think this was the first puzzle I actually had to punt; and then get some help with (I’m sorry to admit that I needed Google help). The sad part is that there weren’t many hints, just pictures of the solutions. So after I saw that, I felt bad and went ahead and just put it together.
I’ll share my hint with you and a picture of the puzzle I have, but no more. If I give you a link, and/or a name, you might get the idea before even thinking about it (But you may do this anyway…).
The hint I gave myself, for when I try it again, is that the 5 is in the middle and the 19 is on edge between the 3 and 16. Maybe that’s too cryptic. Maybe it’s too much. I’m just going to wait another couple of months before trying this “easy” math puzzle again. Then I might be testing my memory more than my math skills; but either way, it will be a good exercise.
So, here’s a picture and you can decide to hunt the puzzle down on your own, or create a simple paper version at home. Just remember to have fun!
“Man is not the creature of circumstances; circumstances are the creatures of man.” -Benjamin Disareli
Logan Schoolcraft is a private math tutor specializing in distance math tutoring. You can find out more about him and his services at schoolcraftmath.com.