The aliens are upset that several humans brushed off their last challenge so easily. They would like to rectify this with a visible demonstration that their grey matter is indeed superior. Help to thwart them by determining the next figure in the following sequence:

enter image description here

You might find that it is easier to determine the pattern than to find the missing figure.

It might not help much, but:

The sequence cannot be continued after the missing figure.

If you are battling to get started, here's an oblique hint:

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."
-- Michael Corleone, in the Godfather II

  • $\begingroup$ I thought that quote was originally from The art of war by Sun Tzu. Is "Godfather" another hint? Do we have an offer "We cannot refuse"? $\endgroup$
    – kanchirk
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 0:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ According to the interwebs, there is no published record of Sun Tzu having ever said this. One would think that he would also have questioned whether enemies are allowing you to keep them closer because they want to keep you closer. The fact that the quote is from the Godfather is not relevant, and there is neither an irrefusable offer nor a horse's head related to this problem. There is however a tenuous sense in which figures can be friends or enemies, that is all. $\endgroup$
    – Marconius
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 2:01

1 Answer 1


The next figure should be:

Next step


Each X square shifts once each step, following a zigzagged path from top left to bottom right (wrapping back up to the top left), as can be seen in this colourised image:
with colours

  • $\begingroup$ +1 That's really good. I came to exactly the same conclusion using a wildly different scheme (which I won't explain because I might be able to reuse those ideas somehow). My remark that the sequence cannot be continued is not necessarily applicable. $\endgroup$
    – Marconius
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 3:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.