Your challenge is to arrange matchsticks to make a pattern. Matchsticks are all the same length and cannot be broken.

These are geometric arrangements:

  1. Make 4 triangles using 6 sticks.
  2. Make 3 X's using 3 sticks.
  3. Make 14 squares using 8 sticks.

These are arrangements derived from symbols implied in the question:

  1. Make a pound using 4 sticks.
  2. Make a knife using 3 sticks.
  3. Make a dessert using 3 sticks.
  4. Most of air is 3 sticks.
  5. Stop with 2; continue with 3.
  6. 2 sticks is big; flipped, is small.

Hint for number 5:

Can you think of a symbol whose name is a synonym for knife?

  • $\begingroup$ Yes, will clarify in the question. $\endgroup$
    – AMACB
    Mar 26, 2016 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ Additional part to the question: "Turn eleven sticks into nine" $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2016 at 2:34

1 Answer 1



Arrange them in a tetrahedron. Each face is a triangle.


Arrange them in three dimensions so that all three are perpendicular and touch at the middle. Each pair makes an X.


Make a square with four matchsticks. Divide it into thirds horizontally and vertically, producing a 3x3 grid of squares: 9 small squares, 4 medium squares, and 1 large square.


Make a # (pound) sign.


Make a † (dagger) sign. (Idea from @dan04.)


Make π (pi/pie).


Make a letter N. Most of air is nitrogen gas.


A pause button (two lines) and a play button (a triangle).


> (greater than) and < (less than).

  • $\begingroup$ Wow that was fast. Were my questions to easy? $\endgroup$
    – AMACB
    Mar 26, 2016 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ @AMACB I've seen 1 and 6 before. For 2, there are only three pairs of matchsticks, so they all have to make X's. With so many squares in 3, some of them have to be smaller than one matchstick-length. After that realization, the answer is easy. The answers for 4 and 7 are pretty direct from the clue. And for 8 and 9, there aren't a lot of ways to arrange two sticks. I still don't get 5 though. $\endgroup$
    – f''
    Mar 26, 2016 at 1:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Answer 2 can be done in 2D $\endgroup$
    – Dleep
    Mar 26, 2016 at 3:41
  • $\begingroup$ It took me some time to understand what you meant with $3$. I think it could use some extra explanation. Besides that, great answer. $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2016 at 4:55
  • $\begingroup$ I think that #5 could be a rot13(qnttre), but that would only take two sticks. $\endgroup$
    – dan04
    Mar 26, 2016 at 5:09

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