It’s the Friday Puzzle!


An old classic this week.  Three triangles have been made of out three matches apiece…

Can you move just three matches and create exactly five triangles?

As ever, please do NOT post your solutions, but feel free to say if you think you have solved it and how long it took.  Answer on Monday.  Have a good weekend.  i shall spend most if it sleeping trying to get back into UK time!

166 comments on “It’s the Friday Puzzle!

  1. Levi in NY says:

    Solved it in about 10 seconds.

  2. Malinari says:

    Yep job done, though I’m unable to tell you how long it took, as there was was rift in the space time continuum that was playing havoc with my watch while I was busy moving matchsticks around………

  3. Timdifano says:

    Done in a few seconds, but it was a test of memory.

  4. Kris says:

    Took about 18 seconds. I like these kinds of puzzles, but it’d be nice if some of them were harder.

  5. Tony says:

    ’bout 10 seconds.

    You definitely get better at these matchstick ones with practice…

  6. Scott says:

    Solved it in about 7 seconds

  7. boernie says:

    solved in a few seconds

  8. Rob says:

    Couple of seconds. I know I’m not getting smarter so the puzzles must be getting easier. 🙂

  9. Dan says:

    about 30 seconds. although 20 of which were playing around with Win7’s MS Paint which I haven’t used before, trying to figure out how to make the selection transparent so I could test my solution properly.

  10. Wayne says:

    Yep, done almost instantanteously. Not sure if I’ve seen this exact puzzle before, but all these matchstick ones seem to use the same old tricks.

  11. AR says:

    Misread the puzzle and thought I was supposed to move only two matches; that took forever. As soon as I realized I was allowed to move three matches, i got it instantly. But then I’d probably processed the problem quite a bit.

  12. Costas says:

    Got it , in a few minutes.
    Well I think so …:)

  13. Rob says:

    My daughter (11) just woke up and solved in five seconds

    • Joao Pedro Afonso says:

      shame on you, had to rely on your daughter… 🙂
      (Just kidding… I saw your earlier entry)

  14. Ania says:

    Microseconds – immediately obvious if you got the triangle puzzle posted a few weeks ago!

  15. Cosmin Romania says:

    That was an easy one.

  16. John says:

    About 10 seconds!

  17. Martin Watts says:

    Very quick, probably because I have some brain training software on my phone including a matchstick exercise.

  18. Nick Sharratt says:

    I have A solution after about a minute, but it doesn’t feel like the answer that is probably expected.

  19. Gav says:

    Done before I finished reading the question fully

  20. KW says:

    Easy-peasy – for once 🙂

  21. Rod says:

    Ah, an easy one. About 10 seconds.

  22. Very quick answer this morning but I grew up reading about such puzzles

  23. Ultra says:

    Easy! Few seconds.

  24. cimddwc says:

    Seconds. Certainly faster than it would take to actually move real matches lying there…

  25. divinaschuitje says:

    too easy

  26. kbueltemann says:

    yeah, too easy. Seconds.

  27. Citizen Pete says:

    Nope. Can’t. I just used two matches.

  28. Navneeth says:

    Less than a second after I saw “five triangles”?

  29. monxas says:

    please go for harder puzzles….

  30. Finnur says:

    About 10 seconds.

  31. Bletherskite says:

    Got it in a couple of minutes. Was thinking too hard about it at first but then I let my brain drift out of focus (kind of like with your eyes looking at a magic eye picture) and then got it quickly.

  32. L'enfant Terrible says:

    Yep! *smug smile* :-B

  33. Samu says:

    Seconds. This one was way too easy.

  34. Neil2Russell says:

    Three solutions so far. Need to get a life.

  35. Rich says:

    About a minute. That’s good for me. I usually need to go away and come back with a fresh eye.

  36. Jack says:

    Got this one in about 1min. Quite pleased with myself 😉

  37. Miche says:

    Straight away. Might have seen it before.

  38. Mal says:

    got it quite quickly, but didn’t realise!

  39. Beppe says:

    More or less 20 seconds. Nice one 🙂

  40. Wow one I can finally do!

  41. Dumb Moron says:

    Duh, solved in 0.003s. Duh. I’m great. Duh.

  42. very easy indeed. solved in a couple of seconds.

  43. roga says:

    easy spacial reasoning…~10 seconds

  44. icepick says:

    Yes. Yes I can. 5 seconds.

  45. Siiw says:

    Saw this one immediately, and i guess that says something about what i spent many late nights on in front of the screen in my youth.

  46. B.Wick says:

    Think I’ve done it. Have to wait till Monday to see if I’m right.

  47. Joao Pedro Afonso says:

    Now, moving until 6 matches, how to get exactly 7 equal some-area triangles and no any other planar figure like lozenge et cetera. Should be easy too…

  48. Stephen Long says:

    I solved it correctly, then dismissed my answer as incorrect. Then wondered about it for a few more minutes before finally realising I was right the first time.

  49. Gdude says:

    Easy, it took me less than a minute.

  50. Nathan says:

    About 10 seconds… would have been five, but the first approach didn’t work.

  51. John says:

    It took me three days and fourteen phone calls.

  52. Sidebernie says:

    Seen it before– two seconds.

  53. Sidebernie says:

    …and there’s the second, more complicated solution. Another minute.

  54. Alison says:

    Seconds for the obvious solution, about a minute for a second solution as I was sure there must be more than one way!

  55. endofatheism says:



  56. Jams says:

    Well, I solved it in about 6 seconds, but then I spent the next minute trying to convince myself that there was no more complicated way of doing it. =P

  57. Dan says:

    2 seconds or so…
    This was an easy one 😦

  58. Gus Snarp says:

    Wow, I’m usually so bad at this kind of puzzle. Is it practice or was that easy? About 2 seconds.

  59. phylliskirigin says:

    Hmmmm. About 2 minutes. I got 5 triangles moving two matchsticks, then 6 triangles using 3 matchsticks.

  60. safc4ever says:

    Is 35-40 years BEFORE posting the puzzle a record time? (as it is a negative time) That’s when I learned this – from my Granny!

  61. Darg says:

    Couple of seconds. Surprisingly easy, but still entertaining.

  62. Classics says:

    Easy but interesting. Solved in about 10 sec. 😛

  63. ivan says:

    Restricting myself to equilateral triangles, I’ve found a whole class of solutions that has so many variations, and some of which only need 2 matches to move, that it is becoming difficult deciding what is an essentially different solution. So far I’ve written down about 9, and can’t be bothered searching for more minor variations. I have several more solutions with at least 5 triangles, with up to 8 triangles.

  64. Lita Jente says:

    2 solutions within 10 sec.
    But what’s the catch?

  65. bigjohn756 says:

    It took me over an hour. First, I had to go to the store because I was out of matches. Second….oh, never mind, I’m not supposed to tell how I did it anyway.

  66. Mark from Poland says:

    seconds, too easy.

  67. Pranav Gupta says:

    Took me 1 second but it was nice to play

  68. slightly skeptical says:

    Few seconds, easy but a good one.

  69. soulprana says:

    Oldie but a good one! It took me about 30 seconds.

  70. Nate Smith says:

    Something less than 10 seconds. Thanks though. It was a momentary burst of fun.

  71. It took me about 10 seconds. It seems it took many people a short amout of time. It gets me wondering what the catch is…

  72. Doug says:

    i found out how to work from your laptop at home or anywhere! i was getting scammed like a mutha f-errrr and this Dude name Gospel Jackson helped me out . if you don’t want to spend lot’s of money and get lot’s of money just sitting home in you sleep wear then go here

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  73. Jumile says:

    I got it. Took about 10 seconds.

  74. Chad says:

    Whats a triangle? This is hard….

  75. kernelofakernel says:

    1 minute!

  76. Tesh says:

    Woah that was sooo easy!

  77. NIEER says:

    The real question is, HOW MANY solutions can you come up with for this problem? Tweet your creative solution using and include #wiseman so we can find it.

  78. adiblogger says:

    great puzzle!
    it just took me about 1,5hrs and than it was done ;o)

    I do have a puzzle for you2. let me know if you want to hear it. it took me some months to get an answer finally…


  79. Anonymous says:

    about 10 seconds

  80. JOSGAR says:

    Same as “Levi in NY”

  81. monxas says:

    please go for harder puzzles.

  82. jc says:

    lol i feel dumb, i dont get it =[

  83. jc says:

    NVM, i get it lol that was pretty easy,
    i didnt really pay attention to the question.

  84. doug says:

    Solved it pretty much as soon as I finished reading it.

  85. Winnu Ayi says:

    more than a few seconds…

    i knew this puzzle like this before. why i need so much time. 😀

  86. deezahoney says:

    It took me about 10 seconds 🙂 I like your Friday puzzles!

  87. Flavio says:

    Less than 10 seconds, very easy.

  88. lilabyrd says:

    After extensive counseling and deprogramming {as I was taught to never play with matches}…. about 30 sec….. :}

  89. Rex says:

    Got it in a few seconds, it’s quite similar to the other triangle puzzles he posted before.

  90. Anonymous says:

    it took me about 3 seconds.

  91. fluffy says:

    For some reason I thought we were only supposed to move 2. Weird.

    Moving 3 matches it’s easy to make 9 triangles, and easy to make 5, and then from a slight modification to the latter it’s possible to get it with 2 as well (but then there is a leftover match just lying around). Heh.

  92. JMB says:

    Got it in 1-2 minutes. Followed a couple of bad tracks before I got the right idea.

  93. Sue says:

    Dead easy this week, took a few seconds.

  94. Jane says:

    I found two solutions.

  95. deepfield says:


  96. Matthew says:

    ten seconds or less

  97. Duxall Inarow says:

    I showed this puzzle to my 4th grader just last week! These kinds of puzzles are fun for kids, and I’d love to see more like this—makes me look so cool in my kids’ eyes.

  98. Blaine says:

    3 seonds 😛 1 second per match move in my brain

  99. ballookey says:

    AW CRAP. I was mentally puzzling this out for hours, and then I re-read it and saw I could move three toothpicks—I thought it was only two.

    After re-reading, I immediately got a solution.

  100. Joao says:

    I don’t get this and I’m not liking that i can’t seem to get this.

  101. Dr. Green says:

    Old classic one. One sec to remember, 2 sec to check the solution.

  102. Marijke says:

    kinda easy this one but I do love problems like this

  103. c00 says:

    This is below you Richard 😛
    Took me about 1 and a half second.

  104. Steve says:

    Got it! Didn’t know when I first read the problem but the answer just occured to me out of the blue last night.

  105. Berber Anna says:

    Solved it in a few seconds, by thinking of my favorite video game 😛

  106. Robert says:

    It took me less than 5 seconds and only 1 attempt!

  107. DeepField says:

    It’s so easy I tried to elaborate a little more: I can get six equilateral triangles. If you do not restrict yourself to equilaterals, then I got seven.

  108. Georgie says:

    solved it in about 10 seconds

  109. Anders says:

    Man, I hate the snap preview! Anybody else? Wiseman, could you consider removing it? Other than that, I like your blog.

  110. Wai says:

    3 seconds.

  111. liv says:

    Yup – just a few seconds, but i think i recall doing the same test in primary school. . . . .

  112. Comedy Mike says:

    do you post answers for the simple minded?

  113. Ingrid says:

    I could see the solution as soon as I read the directions… I love it when that happens!

  114. binny says:

    solved in about 5 sec

  115. Mel says:

    I solved this one in less than 10 seconds. Does it count if I’ve seen it before (albeit not any time recently)? I couldn’t figure it out the first time I saw it, but I was a little kid back then. 🙂

  116. Rose says:

    Wow! I so over thought that. I figured it out in like 20 seconds but i didn’t realize it. 😉

  117. […] Matchstick Puzzle Posted in Uncategorized by mrmealor on January 19, 2010 Classic problem found on Richard Weisman’s blog. […]

  118. Anonymous says:

    couple seconds.

  119. Jules says:

    I like your idea! Puzzle was easy, but I’d seen it sometime in my past.

  120. Coklo says:

    Solved in 18secondes to be exact….

    Check out this BRainMaster for ur ears !!



  121. under 10 seconds! 😀

  122. Bubba says:

    Been working on it a couple days, almost got it.

  123. Petrus Paryono says:

    solved …. about 15 seconds.

    Best wishes from Indonesia.

  124. Mark Lattimore says:

    5 seconds…if I’m right.

  125. Wino says:

    10 secs for me 😀

  126. caztocah says:

    Yeah, I solved this in a few seconds….

  127. veveairin says:

    wew,so simple… 8 sec..

  128. nirmal says:

    It was fetched from memory in about 4 seconds

  129. PPiyush says:

    Solved it in 20 seconds

  130. David says:

    If I’d say so in real life, I’d say 30 seconds. But, since this is the internet, I would call it 3.

  131. SrikanthSR says:

    Got it in couple of seconds… maybe because I vaguely remember this from somewhere…

  132. done, 5 seconds. 🙂 quite liked this one though. reminded me of those nostalgoc days 😀

  133. Neil says:

    Worked it out in 10-20 seconds

  134. komincents says:

    Never saw this one b4…took maybe 15 seconds. I like. Thnx

  135. komincents says:

    BTW Jane is correct…there are actually 2 equally correct answers 🙂

  136. Farghana says:

    way tooooo easy!!! 🙂

  137. Anonymous says:

    ,hgl,k fgothklb fgoiptio6i

  138. rajat says:

    2 minutes. as always.

  139. What’s the answer….I’m still trying to figure it out!!!

  140. Sareesh says:

    Took me a minute.

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