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Amusements in Mathematics

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"They also serve who only stand and wait."


It will be seen in the first diagram that every square on the board is either occupied or attacked by a rook, and that every rook is "guarded" (if they were alternately black and white rooks we should say "attacked") by another rook. Placing the eight rooks on any row or file obviously will have the same effect. In diagram 2 every square is again either occupied or attacked, but in this case every rook is unguarded. Now, in how many different ways can you so place the eight rooks on the board that every square shall be occupied or attacked and no rook ever guarded by another? I do not wish to go into the question of reversals and reflections on this occasion, so that placing the rooks on the other diagonal will count as different, and similarly with other repetitions obtained by turning the board round.



The puzzle is to find in how many different ways the four lions may be placed so that there shall never be more than one lion in any row or column. Mere reversals and reflections will not count as different. Thus, regarding the example given, if we place the lions in the other diagonal, it will be considered the same arrangement. For if you hold the second arrangement in front of a mirror or give it a quarter turn, you merely get the first arrangement. It is a simple little puzzle, but requires a certain amount of careful consideration.



Place as few bishops as possible on an ordinary chessboard so that every square of the board shall be either occupied or attacked. It will be seen that the rook has more scope than the bishop: for wherever you place the former, it will always attack fourteen other squares; whereas the latter will attack seven, nine, eleven, or thirteen squares, according to the position of the diagonal on which it is placed. And it is well here to state that when we speak of "diagonals" in connection with the chessboard, we do not limit ourselves to the two long diagonals from corner to corner, but include all the shorter lines that are parallel to these. To prevent misunderstanding on future occasions, it will be well for the reader to note carefully this fact.



Now, how many bishops are necessary in order that every square shall be either occupied or attacked, and every bishop guarded by another bishop? And how may they be placed?



The greatest number of bishops that can be placed at the same time on the chessboard, without any bishop attacking another, is fourteen. I show, in diagram, the simplest way of doing this. In fact, on a square chequered board of any number of squares the greatest number of bishops that can be placed without attack is always two less than twice the number of squares on the side. It is an interesting puzzle to discover in just how many different ways the fourteen bishops may be so placed without mutual attack. I shall give an exceedingly simple rule for determining the number of ways for a square chequered board of any number of squares.



The queen is by far the strongest piece on the chessboard. If you place her on one of the four squares in the centre of the board, she attacks no fewer than twenty-seven other squares; and if you try to hide her in a corner, she still attacks twenty-one squares. Eight queens may be placed on the board so that no queen attacks another, and it is an old puzzle (first proposed by Nauck in 1850, and it has quite a little literature of its own) to discover in just how many different ways this may be done. I show one way in the diagram, and there are in all twelve of these fundamentally different ways. These twelve produce ninety-two ways if we regard reversals and reflections as different. The diagram is in a way a symmetrical arrangement. If you turn the page upside down, it will reproduce itself exactly; but if you look at it with one of the other sides at the bottom, you get another way that is not identical. Then if you reflect these two ways in a mirror you get two more ways. Now, all the other eleven solutions are non-symmetrical, and therefore each of them may be presented in eight ways by these reversals and reflections. It will thus be seen why the twelve fundamentally different solutions produce only ninety-two arrangements, as I have said, and not ninety-six, as would happen if all twelve were non-symmetrical. It is well to have a clear understanding on the matter of reversals and reflections when dealing with puzzles on the chessboard.

Can the reader place the eight queens on the board so that no queen shall attack another and so that no three queens shall be in a straight line in any oblique direction? Another glance at the diagram will show that this arrangement will not answer the conditions, for in the two directions indicated by the dotted lines there are three queens in a straight line. There is only one of the twelve fundamental ways that will solve the puzzle. Can you find it?



The puzzle in this case is to place eight stars in the diagram so that no star shall be in line with another star horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. One star is already placed, and that must not be moved, so there are only seven for the reader now to place. But you must not place a star on any one of the shaded squares. There is only one way of solving this little puzzle.



The art of producing pictures or designs by means of joining together pieces of hard substances, either naturally or artificially coloured, is of very great antiquity. It was certainly known in the time of the Pharaohs, and we find a reference in the Book of Esther to "a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black marble." Some of this ancient work that has come down to us, especially some of the Roman mosaics, would seem to show clearly, even where design is not at first evident, that much thought was bestowed upon apparently disorderly arrangements. Where, for example, the work has been produced with a very limited number of colours, there are evidences of great ingenuity in preventing the same tints coming in close proximity. Lady readers who are familiar with the construction of patchwork quilts will know how desirable it is sometimes, when they are limited in the choice of material, to prevent pieces of the same stuff coming too near together. Now, this puzzle will apply equally to patchwork quilts or tesselated pavements.

It will be seen from the diagram how a square piece of flooring may be paved with sixty-two square tiles of the eight colours violet, red, yellow, green, orange, purple, white, and blue (indicated by the initial letters), so that no tile is in line with a similarly coloured tile, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Sixty-four such tiles could not possibly be placed under these conditions, but the two shaded squares happen to be occupied by iron ventilators.

The puzzle is this. These two ventilators have to be removed to the positions indicated by the darkly bordered tiles, and two tiles placed in those bottom corner squares. Can you readjust the thirty-two tiles so that no two of the same colour shall still be in line?



If the reader will examine the above diagram, he will see that I have so placed eight V's, eight E's, eight I's, and eight L's in the diagram that no letter is in line with a similar one horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Thus, no V is in line with another V, no E with another E, and so on. There are a great many different ways of arranging the letters under this condition. The puzzle is to find an arrangement that produces the greatest possible number of four-letter words, reading upwards and downwards, backwards and forwards, or diagonally. All repetitions count as different words, and the five variations that may be used are: VEIL, VILE, LEVI, LIVE, and EVIL.

This will be made perfectly clear when I say that the above arrangement scores eight, because the top and bottom row both give VEIL; the second and seventh columns both give VEIL; and the two diagonals, starting from the L in the 5th row and E in the 8th row, both give LIVE and EVIL. There are therefore eight different readings of the words in all.

This difficult word puzzle is given as an example of the use of chessboard analysis in solving such things. Only a person who is familiar with the "Eight Queens" problem could hope to solve it.



One of the oldest card puzzles is by Claude Caspar Bachet de Méziriac, first published, I believe, in the 1624 edition of his work. Rearrange the sixteen court cards (including the aces) in a square so that in no row of four cards, horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, shall be found two cards of the same suit or the same value. This in itself is easy enough, but a point of the puzzle is to find in how many different ways this may be done. The eminent French mathematician A. Labosne, in his modern edition of Bachet, gives the answer incorrectly. And yet the puzzle is really quite easy. Any arrangement produces seven more by turning the square round and reflecting it in a mirror. These are counted as different by Bachet.

Note "row of four cards," so that the only diagonals we have here to consider are the two long ones.



The illustration represents a box containing thirty-six letter-blocks. The puzzle is to rearrange these blocks so that no A shall be in a line vertically, horizontally, or diagonally with another A, no B with another B, no C with another C, and so on. You will find it impossible to get all the letters into the box under these conditions, but the point is to place as many as possible. Of course no letters other than those shown may be used.



The puzzle is to rearrange the fifty-one pieces on the chessboard so that no queen shall attack another queen, no rook attack another rook, no bishop attack another bishop, and no knight attack another knight. No notice is to be taken of the intervention of pieces of another type from that under consideration—that is, two queens will be considered to attack one another although there may be, say, a rook, a bishop, and a knight between them. And so with the rooks and bishops. It is not difficult to dispose of each type of piece separately; the difficulty comes in when you have to find room for all the arrangements on the board simultaneously.



The diagram represents twenty-five coloured counters, Red, Blue, Yellow, Orange, and Green (indicated by their initials), and there are five of each colour, numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. The problem is so to place them in a square that neither colour nor number shall be found repeated in any one of the five rows, five columns, and two diagonals. Can you so rearrange them?



The Insurance Act is a most prolific source of entertaining puzzles, particularly entertaining if you happen to be among the exempt. One's initiation into the gentle art of stamp-licking suggests the following little poser: If you have a card divided into sixteen spaces (4 × 4), and are provided with plenty of stamps of the values 1d., 2d., 3d., 4d., and 5d., what is the greatest value that you can stick on the card if the Chancellor of the Exchequer forbids you to place any stamp in a straight line (that is, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) with another stamp of similar value? Of course, only one stamp can be affixed in a space. The reader will probably find, when he sees the solution, that, like the stamps themselves, he is licked He will most likely be twopence short of the maximum. A friend asked the Post Office how it was to be done; but they sent him to the Customs and Excise officer, who sent him to the Insurance Commissioners, who sent him to an approved society, who profanely sent him—but no matter.



Can you rearrange the above forty-nine counters in a square so that no letter, and also no number, shall be in line with a similar one, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally? Here I, of course, mean in the lines parallel with the diagonals, in the chessboard sense.



A farmer had three sheep and an arrangement of sixteen pens, divided off by hurdles in the manner indicated in the illustration. In how many different ways could he place those sheep, each in a separate pen, so that every pen should be either occupied or in line (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) with at least one sheep? I have given one arrangement that fulfils the conditions. How many others can you find? Mere reversals and reflections must not be counted as different. The reader may regard the sheep as queens. The problem is then to place the three queens so that every square shall be either occupied or attacked by at least one queen—in the maximum number of different ways.



In 1863, C.F. de Jaenisch first discussed the "Five Queens Puzzle"—to place five queens on the chessboard so that every square shall be attacked or occupied—which was propounded by his friend, a "Mr. de R." Jaenisch showed that if no queen may attack another there are ninety-one different ways of placing the five queens, reversals and reflections not counting as different. If the queens may attack one another, I have recorded hundreds of ways, but it is not practicable to enumerate them exactly.

The illustration is supposed to represent an arrangement of sixty-four kennels. It will be seen that five kennels each contain a dog, and on further examination it will be seen that every one of the sixty-four kennels is in a straight line with at least one dog—either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Take any kennel you like, and you will find that you can draw a straight line to a dog in one or other of the three ways mentioned. The puzzle is to replace the five dogs and discover in just how many different ways they may be placed in five kennels in a straight row, so that every kennel shall always be in line with at least one dog. Reversals and reflections are here counted as different.



When Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, found himself confronted with great difficulties in the siege of Byzantium, he set his men to undermine the walls. His desires, however, miscarried, for no sooner had the operations been begun than a crescent moon suddenly appeared in the heavens and discovered his plans to his adversaries. The Byzantines were naturally elated, and in order to show their gratitude they erected a statue to Diana, and the crescent became thenceforward a symbol of the state. In the temple that contained the statue was a square pavement composed of sixty-four large and costly tiles. These were all plain, with the exception of five, which bore the symbol of the crescent. These five were for occult reasons so placed that every tile should be watched over by (that is, in a straight line, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally with) at least one of the crescents. The arrangement adopted by the Byzantine architect was as follows:—

Now, to cover up one of these five crescents was a capital offence, the death being something very painful and lingering. But on a certain occasion of festivity it was necessary to lay down on this pavement a square carpet of the largest dimensions possible, and I have shown in the illustration by dark shading the largest dimensions that would be available.

The puzzle is to show how the architect, if he had foreseen this question of the carpet, might have so arranged his five crescent tiles in accordance with the required conditions, and yet have allowed for the largest possible square carpet to be laid down without any one of the five crescent tiles being covered, or any portion of them.



It will be seen that every square of the board is either occupied or attacked. The puzzle is to substitute a bishop for the rook on the same square, and then place the four queens on other squares so that every square shall again be either occupied or attacked.



In the above illustration we have five Planets and eighty-one Fixed Stars, five of the latter being hidden by the Planets. It will be found that every Star, with the exception of the ten that have a black spot in their centres, is in a straight line, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, with at least one of the Planets. The puzzle is so to rearrange the Planets that all the Stars shall be in line with one or more of them.

In rearranging the Planets, each of the five may be moved once in a straight line, in either of the three directions mentioned. They will, of course, obscure five other Stars in place of those at present covered.



Here is a five-queen puzzle that I gave in a fanciful dress in 1897. As the queens were there represented as hats on sixty-four pegs, I will keep to the title, "The Hat-Peg Puzzle." It will be seen that every square is occupied or attacked. The puzzle is to remove one queen

to a different square so that still every square is occupied or attacked, then move a second queen under a similar condition, then a third queen, and finally a fourth queen. After the fourth move every square must be attacked or occupied, but no queen must then attack another. Of course, the moves need not be "queen moves;" you can move a queen to any part of the board.



This puzzle is based on one by Captain Turton. Remove three of the queens to other squares so that there shall be eleven squares on the board that are not attacked. The removal of the three queens need not be by "queen moves." You may take them up and place them anywhere. There is only one solution.



Place two pawns in the middle of the chessboard, one at Q 4 and the other at K 5. Now, place the remaining fourteen pawns (sixteen in all) so that no three shall be in a straight line in any possible direction.

Note that I purposely do not say queens, because by the words "any possible direction" I go beyond attacks on diagonals. The pawns must be regarded as mere points in space—at the centres of the squares. See dotted lines in the case of No. 300, "The Eight Queens."



My friend Captain Potham Hall, the renowned hunter of big game, says there is nothing more exhilarating than a brush with a herd—a pack—a team—a flock—a swarm (it has taken me a full quarter of an hour to recall the right word, but I have it at last)—a pride of lions. Why a number of lions are called a "pride," a number of whales a "school," and a number of foxes a "skulk" are mysteries of philology into which I will not enter.

Well, the captain says that if a spirited lion crosses your path in the desert it becomes lively, for the lion has generally been looking for the man just as much as the man has sought the king of the forest. And yet when they meet they always quarrel and fight it out. A little contemplation of this unfortunate and long-standing feud between two estimable families has led me to figure out a few calculations as to the probability of the man and the lion crossing one another's path in the jungle. In all these cases one has to start on certain more or less arbitrary assumptions. That is why in the above illustration I have thought it necessary to represent the paths in the desert with such rigid regularity. Though the captain assures me that the tracks of the lions usually run much in this way, I have doubts.

The puzzle is simply to find out in how many different ways the man and the lion may be placed on two different spots that are not on the same path. By "paths" it must be understood that I only refer to the ruled lines. Thus, with the exception of the four corner spots, each combatant is always on two paths and no more. It will be seen that there is a lot of scope for evading one another in the desert, which is just what one has always understood.



The knight is the irresponsible low comedian of the chessboard. "He is a very uncertain, sneaking, and demoralizing rascal," says an American writer. "He can only move two squares, but makes up in the quality of his locomotion for its quantity, for he can spring one square sideways and one forward simultaneously, like a cat; can stand on one leg in the middle of the board and jump to any one of eight squares he chooses; can get on one side of a fence and blackguard three or four men on the other; has an objectionable way of inserting himself in safe places where he can scare the king and compel him to move, and then gobble a queen. For pure cussedness the knight has no equal, and when you chase him out of one hole he skips into another." Attempts have been made over and over again to obtain a short, simple, and exact definition of the move of the knight—without success. It really consists in moving one square like a rook, and then another square like a bishop—the two operations being done in one leap, so that it does not matter whether the first square passed over is occupied by another piece or not. It is, in fact, the only leaping move in chess. But difficult as it is to define, a child can learn it by inspection in a few minutes.

I have shown in the diagram how twelve knights (the fewest possible that will perform the feat) may be placed on the chessboard so that every square is either occupied or attacked by a knight. Examine every square in turn, and you will find that this is so. Now, the puzzle in this case is to discover what is the smallest possible number of knights that is required in order that every square shall be either occupied or attacked, and every knight protected by another knight. And how would you arrange them? It will be found that of the twelve shown in the diagram only four are thus protected by being a knight's move from another knight.


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