Solution: Playing with Matches
Written by Josh Alman, Colin Lu, and Leon Zhou
This puzzle consists of a large number of matchstick puzzles, many of which have somewhat atypical solutions. Below, for each puzzle,
the moved matchsticks are highlighted in green, and their final positions are shown in red:
Some explanations for the more obscure solutions, going from top to bottom:
- 十 = 二十 - 十 is 10 = 20 - 10 in Chinese or Japanese.
- 1.5 + 2.333… = 3.8333…, which is equal to 23/6.
- SIXTY = 60
- 100 is a big square, as it is 10*10 (which is bigger than 001).
- 6E1 is scientific notation for 6 * 10^1 = 60.
- The two parenthesized multiplications are both matrix multiplication. 1*5 + 2*2 = 9, and 4*4 + (-1)*(-2) = 18, where the T in the exponent is actually a transpose operator.
- cos(0) = 1
- The Unicode code point for the capital letter J is U+4A.
Next, take all moved matchsticks and copy their original positions into the bottom empty grid, based on their positions within the
subgrids of the main puzzle. For example, the horizontal stick in “661 = 50” is placed along the third horizontal line from the top,
starting five columns over from the left. This gives the following:
This is a series of flag semaphore letters, which when translated spell out the answer, REVOLVER.
If you enjoyed this puzzle, you should take a look at Mathsticks, from the 2018 Caltech Puzzle Hunt, which was our inspiration for writing this puzzle!
While doing research for this puzzle, we discovered that there seemed to be a dearth of crazy instances of the genre online - most instances involve making some number of squares, or satisfying some basic arithmetic equation. While writing this puzzle, we tested each of the matchstick puzzles internally to determine whether the canonical solutions felt fair once solvers found them. As an additional fun fact, this puzzle involves the most image "layers" of any puzzle in the hunt, even surpassing Where Are They?