These are derived from matchstick puzzles popular from the time when candles and gas lighting meant that almost everyone carried a small box of matches with them. As a pastime, many would know of examples of these lateral thinking puzzles.
We can supply pre-made kits of matchstick puzzles with full instructions and safe sticks - they make an ideal activity for a club! Contact us for more details of prices and ordering details.
If you want to give these puzzles to children to try, please avoid using live matches. Toothpicks are much safer!
Solutions are given to each puzzle but remember - you will get much more from solving the puzzle yourself rather than from just being told the solution, and they do all have a solution.
The puzzles are not all solved in the same way, they require a bit of lateral thinking and in fact are a good way of exercising different parts of your brain and different thinking styles.
Why not give them a go!
We are currently developing a updated version of this puzzle page allowing you to add your own matchstick puzzles. Please try it here and let us know what you think by posting comments in the forums.
Turning the Donkey
Thanks to Caleb M. Rosenberg for this puzzle which he learned from a waiter named Bomin for the Philippines. Move 1 matchstick to turn the donkey. Solution here.
2 squares to 3
Move 4 matches to make 3 squares - puzzle solution (puzzle supplied by Mike Daigneault, solution supplied by us, alternate solution supplied by David Tiffany)
10 to 2 squares
Move 3 matches to make 2 squares - puzzle solution (puzzle supplied by Tabitha King)
15 to 10
From this arrangement of 15 matches, remove 6 to leave 10 - puzzle solution (puzzle supplied by Bill Cramp)
Turn the fish around by moving only 3 matches, no overlapping.- puzzle solution
Then try and turn the fish by moving only 2 matches, no overlapping - puzzle solution
Remove a square (twice)
Move 2 matches to new positions to get only 4 squares, no overlapping or loose ends.- puzzle solution
Move 3 matches to new positions to get only 4 squares, no overlapping or loose ends.- puzzle solution
16 squares to none
Remove 9 matches so that no square (of any size) remains - puzzle solution
3 squares to 5
Move 6 matches so that 5 squares are formed - puzzle solution
Make 3 squares
Move 3 matches to get 3 perfect squares - puzzle solution
Divide by 2
Use the four matches to divide the large square into 2 parts of the same shape. Use the matches without breaking or overlapping them - puzzle solution
3 Triangles to 4
Move 3 matches to make 4 equilateral triangles, no overlapping - puzzle solution
4 Squares to Many
Take this arrangement and with the following moves:-
Move 2 matches to make 7 squares - puzzle solution
Remove 2 matches and leave 2 squares - puzzle solution
Move 3 matches and leave 3 squares - puzzle solution
Remove 3 matches and move 2 to form 3 squares - puzzle solution
Move 4 matches and form 3 squares - puzzle solution
Remove 1 match and move 4 to make 11 squares - puzzle solution
3 to 6
Make these 3 matches into 6, no breaking into pieces - puzzle solution
A wheel to Triangles
Move 4 matches to form 3 equilateral triangles - puzzle solution
5 add 6 makes 9
Add 5 matches to these 6 matches and make 9 - puzzle solution
Ice in the Glass
(Easy) Move 3 matchsticks and reform the glass in the same shape so the ice is outside it - puzzle solution
(Harder) Move 2 matchsticks and reform the glass in the same shape so the ice is outside it - puzzle solution
7 to nothing
From these 7 matches, take 1 away and move 2 to leave nothing - puzzle solution
Move one match to make a square - puzzle solution
Use 6 matches to make 4 equilateral triangles (no broken matches) - puzzle solution
Move 1 match to make 4 triangles - puzzle solution
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