# A cinematic masterpiece in matchsticks

Polanski's magnificent Chinatown (my all-time fourth favourite film) was produced among numerous other movies by Robert Evans, the second anniversary of whose death is today1.

What better excuse for a commemorative brainteaser in the form of a matchstick puzzle?

• Move four matches to turn CINEMATIC into CHINATOWN

1. For me (26/10/2021); it could be tomorrow depending on where in the world you are at the moment.

Note: The tag may be worth noting. Nevertheless, it is true that exactly four matches may be moved in the image to achieve the desired result. No knowledge of the movie is required to solve the puzzle.

• I have added the rebus tag as a hint for any puzzling over the correct method of solution...
– Anon
Oct 26 at 6:50

## 3 Answers

Building on the other answers (@Stiv and @Deusovi), as well as the 'rebus' hint:

I'm pretty confident that the intended solution is:

which gives two sections

CAI + RO on the exterior

and

a single match minus the letters "MAT" on the interior

which is

CAI + MATCH-MAT + RO = CAI + CH + RO

or

"CH" in CAIRO, or 'CH in a Town"

• Ah yeah, this has to be it :) +1
– Stiv
Oct 26 at 12:48
• Very nice! (as Borat would say) +1 This was indeed the intended solution
– Anon
Oct 26 at 12:53

This is almost certainly not the answer you're looking for, but I think the tactics you're looking for are similar:

If you remove the four brown matchsticks in the image below, and move them to the blue positions...

...it now spells CIχNCINATTI. This is the Greek chi, making the "ch" sound in "loch" -- there is an (admittedly tenuous) argument that it is "ch" in the same way that Σ is "s".

And the rest of the matchsticks now spell CINCINATTI, a city in Ohio. So if you buy the argument above, I have therefore made "CH IN A TOWN", as requested.

A less stretchy solution would likely involve

a different city - CHICAGO, ONTARIO, and CAIRO also seemed potentially feasible.

I found that CHICAGO was almost doable by turning the EM into a CH, but it's not clear how to make the G... and more importantly, it's also missing a C, so it would only be H IN A TOWN at best.

Given the weirdness of the shape of the A, the actual solutions will likely involve either:
(1) turning the A into an H or an N, or
(2) turning the N into an A.
It may also require the image to be turned upside-down or sideways, though that seems less likely to me: most of the letters are no longer letters from a different angle, so the moved matchsticks would have to touch nearly all of them.

• Nice! You are correct in one of your guessed cities (PNVEB). There is a more rebusy way (that I think is nicer, but I'll see what PSE thinks) of making this work
– Anon
Oct 26 at 8:15
• Your (PU VA N GBJA) mechanism is correct. A hint: the intended solution only works with matches. It would not work with, say, needles.
– Anon
Oct 26 at 8:17
• Yes, but it's spelt "Cincinnati". Oct 28 at 12:28
• @PrimeMover ...Of course it is. Just another reason this answer is wrong, I guess!
– Deusovi
Oct 28 at 17:13

Building off the rebus-y component of @Deusovi's answer, I think that by moving just 4 matchsticks it's possible to produce something that looks like this:

In other words, this spells CACHIRO, which if we consider the Egyptian capital Cairo to be 'a town' gives us 'CH' in 'CAIRO' - or 'CH' IN A TOWN, i.e. CHINATOWN, as requested.

But hang on, aren't there a lot fewer matches on the table now? Yes, indeed. Because...

We can strike some of the matches we move, and use them to burn some of the others to ash, thus removing them from consideration! The (badly-photoshopped) diagram below shows one way of performing this trick:

Black areas show matches that have been removed, grey areas show matches that have been burned to ash, and red lines show the final positions where moved (and potentially used) matches end up being placed.

• Haha this is a clever answer, but not the intended one! The fact that they are matches is important, but in a more rebusy sense. This is a clever lateral thinking answer though.
– Anon
Oct 26 at 11:51
• You can get PNPUVEB without destroying any matches, and only moving 4, per the question
– Anon
Oct 26 at 11:56
• @Anon Dang, I was feeling confident this was your intention! More thought required then...
– Stiv
Oct 26 at 12:27
• Sorry to disappoint! To be honest I didn't think of that loophole.
– Anon
Oct 26 at 12:56