Math Puzzles of the Month Toothpick Puzzles

Geometry is at the core of these puzzles. We challenge you to rearrange these shapes.

Toothpick puzzles (more commonly called “matchstick puzzles”—but it’s safer to use toothpicks than matchsticks) are an old form of geometric puzzle. We’ll try a few of them in this puzzle and try some trickier ones in Toothpick Triangles.

Puzzle 1

Remove three toothpicks from the arrangement below to leave exactly three squares.

Puzzle 2

Remove six toothpicks from the arrangement below to leave two squares.

Puzzle 3

Remove eight toothpicks from the arrangement below to make two squares.

Puzzle 4

Remove six toothpicks from the arrangement below to leave three squares.

Background

Puzzles like these have been around for more than a hundred years. They help develop geometric visualization skills. If you enjoy puzzles like this, Google “matchstick puzzles” and you’ll find dozens more. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to make up your own puzzles.

After you’ve tried this for yourself, check our solution.