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Below is an expression that has a value of 0.

How can you move only three matchsticks for the resulting value to be 49?

enter image description here

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Moving the left, middle and right matchstick you can make $49$...

enter image description here

... as XLIX is $49$ in Roman numerals!

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How about LI - I - I, moving only two matchsticks?

enter image description here

LI - I - I is $51 - 1 - 1$ which is $49$ in roman numerals.

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  • $\begingroup$ If you would like I could add an image? $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Aug 20 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ You may. Thank you. $\endgroup$ – Mark Tilford Aug 20 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ Added, no problem! :) Very clever answer to find it in just two matches $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Aug 20 at 18:54
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My solution is rather strightforward:

49

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  • $\begingroup$ Simple but effective! $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Aug 21 at 15:27
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Firstly orient your perspective by rotating the image a quarter turn clockwise (or equivalently, your vision a quarter turn anti-clockwise). Stand one of the lower four matches up to the right of the top 3 matches such that it represents a "0" shape, as viewed head-on. The move two of the lower three matches into a "- 1" configuration. Your movements should yield "50 - 1" which is indeed 49. The remaining match below the expression is just for emphasis or whatever. enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ It's a bit of a stretch to use the top of a matchstick as a zero, but good lateral thinking anyway. Gave you a +1 $\endgroup$ – Glen O Aug 21 at 4:32
  • $\begingroup$ How is the left bit supposed to be 50? $\endgroup$ – Harfatum Aug 23 at 5:51
  • $\begingroup$ The first 3 matches are a "5" and the next matchstick head represents a "0" $\endgroup$ – Dapianoman Aug 23 at 7:29
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It's definitely not the intended solution, but you could move it like this...

ASCII!
Simply put, this is using the fact that H in ASCII has the hex value of 48. Therefore, H+1 would be 49 in hex. Note that the faded matchstick is "moved" off the field entirely.

Note that other such solutions can be achieved - for example, "1" has the ASCII value of 49 (in decimal), and therefore simply tilting the middle matchstick so it becomes 1/1/1/1 makes it equal to 1, which is 49 in ASCII.

Another approach bends the rules a bit, but it's fun...

enter image description here
This is 7^2 = 49 in roman numerals. Here, I've broken one of the matchsticks while moving it. Like I said, it's bending the rules (and a matchstick)...

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    $\begingroup$ Glen you definitely "Bended" the rules (see what i did there?) $\endgroup$ – Dcybroz Aug 21 at 5:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Dcybroz - hate to "break" it to you, but I already made that joke in the answer itself. :P $\endgroup$ – Glen O Aug 21 at 5:32
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    $\begingroup$ oh "snap!" i saw that. (: $\endgroup$ – Dcybroz Aug 21 at 7:43
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- Each vertical matchstick equals -24.5
- Each tilted matchstick is a multiplication
- Each horizontal matchstick is a subtraction

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resolves to :

-24.5 × -24.5 - -24.5 × -24.5 = 0

Moving 2 matchsticks like so :

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resolves to :

-24.5 - -24.5 - -24.5 - -24.5 = 49

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Had to disappear a matchstick to make it work, but... (dodgy times symbol too) image

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the fancy-clean edit :) $\endgroup$ – Guy S Sep 5 at 9:55

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