# Matchstick Puzzle from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

Here's a puzzle from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure Part 6: Stone Ocean. Let me jojog your memory, it's from chapter 673. Any takers?

Edit: Since there was an official answer found, I have marked that one as correct. However, many of the answers posted below were valid and very creative! I especially enjoyed CobaltZorch, Peregrine Rook and humn's answers. Thanks everyone for your participation.

• Why is that patch of grass behind the lady talking? Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 11:21
• That's so sexually ambiguous... Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 12:40
• @humn I believe you, but do you have a source? I think the laws for restricting that kind of stuff in Japan is a bit less strict. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 21:30
• (Stated at first as unsupported fact:) The above comments make sense if the comic book in the panel was a hasty afterthought to pass censors. The alien's right hand must have originally been drawn to, um, hold the additional match.
– humn
Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 21:40
• Note that in this comic, the speech bubbles on the right are read first and the ones on the left are read last. Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 1:21

I found this image on a forum (bottom of which also viewable here):

It appears the official answer is

break the one match into two pieces and make a multiplication sign, nevermind the fact that it would not fit between the 1 and the 2 without moving the 1.

• I think the image suggests using a dot as a multiplication sign, although I don't understand why you couldn't just make it a decimal point instead... Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 11:55
• Marking this as correct because it's the official solution, although everyone's answers were all just as good and I read them all. Thanks everyone. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 15:09
• You could break it twice, creating two very short pieces that would fit.
– ASA
Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 20:19
• I think it is supposed to be a decimal point. Perhaps it was a localization error? Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 9:51

After reading the official answer someone else posted shows this isn't the intended solution, but it seems a pretty tidy solution to me.

Just place the match vertically below the 1.

I 2
I

Which reads as 12 = 1.

It's a tight squeeze, but

looks like 1/2, i.e., $1/2$.

I thought the answer might be to

Draw a horizontal on the leftmost character to make it a plus sign

But that feels kinda like cheating.

• That was my first thought, inspired by "no minuses". Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 15:18
• That's what I would say, since it makes it exactly 2
– Oak
Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 12:12

I would just

light my match and use it to burn up either the lone match or the set of three, thus leaving either a symbolic 1 or symbolic 2, which are both at most 2, without using a minus.

• Hey, no lateral-thinking! :P +1 Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 16:55

You could

put it diagonally to make a comma between the two digits, making "1,2". In some countries, the comma is used instead of a decimal point.

• Alternately, push it into the ground so that only the head is visible.
– Will
Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 2:54

Better answer by acushner, who cannot yet make a separate answer to a protected question.
(This is a placeholder until then. Save upvotes for acushner's post.)

Sure enough,   |2|   =   2   ≤   2 .

The “$\sf\tiny NO~MINUSES$” restriction sounds suspiciously like a clue or hint.

No minuses?   Would be no problem ...

... as long as pluses are allowed, for +2 ...

... except that this turned out to be a virtual duplicate of Max Li's (puzzle's poser's) answer ...

... other than they use the additional match to “draw”
(Clever—  almost anything is possible!)

Then again, don't actually need to add any matches because ...

... from Jo's perspective the matches already read “2!” ( =   2×1   =   2 )

But if a match just has to be added, it can be appended to get “2!!” ( =   (2!)!   =   (2)!   =   2 )

Added: “!!” in “2!!” could more cleanly be interpreted as double factorial, giving the same result.

• It looks more like she'd see N̅ to me.
– Will
Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 8:45
• I almost went with $\sf I \over \raise-3mu N$ but it would've failed for N=0
– humn
Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 8:46

Despite the official answer being posted above, I'd like to suggest a possibility that appealed to me.

Put a matchstick immediately to the right to make a Slashed zero "0"

• this same arrangement also makes it look the abs value of 2, which is 2 or less. Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 19:52
• Why not make that variation a separate answer, @acushner, it's excellent. (Argh, looks like the system might not let you add answers to protected questions yet. I'll add it to my answer with credit to you. Send me a comment when you can make at your own answer.)
– humn
Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 21:38

Place the matchstick in a upright position between 1 and 2 which will make it look like a decimal, and the number 1.2

• That was suggested over four hours ago. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 7:30
• Safe to upvote: this was suggested alright, but only in a comment rather than an answer
– humn
Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 18:50
• Did not go through the comments. Apologies for the added redundancy. Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 4:55
• This is my personal favorite solution, and all the better that you figured it out fresh! And this is not at all redundant because pertinent contents of comments belong in answers.
– humn
Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 21:15
• hey @humn ,thanks for the support. New around here and not aware of the norms. Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 6:50

I was going to offer this as a joke answer, but now that I see that Will's answer is considered to be the official solution, I believe that this is just as good:

$\color{black}{\text{Break the match}}$ $\text{into five pieces of approximately equal length,}$ $\text{and}$ $\text{then}$ $\text{carefully}$ $\text{put them down like this:}$ \begin{align}\huge{12}^{^{\Large{1/4}}}\end{align} $\text{i.e., }\Large{\sqrt[4]{12}}\text{,}$ $\color{black}{\text{which evaluates to 1.8612097}\dots}$

Or, as long as we're being light-hearted and thinking laterally,

$\color{black}{\text{Break the match}}$ $\text{into }\textbf{seven }\text{pieces of the appropriate lengths,}$ $\text{and}$ $\text{then}$ $\text{carefully}$ $\text{put them down like this:}$ \begin{align}\Huge{\sqrt[4]{12}}\end{align}

OK, I guess the new match would need to be about four times as long as a normal one for this to work.

• Regarding your "four times longer" note: fireplace matches are about four times longer, possibly a bit more. Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 13:46

The question is only about adding one stick. It makes no restriction on rearranging the others.

So, I would do this :

II $\geq$

• I believe that the prohibition against moving preset matches is implied in this sort of puzzle.  After all, if you could move the ones that are already placed, you could do things like I/III and $\square\,$I.  I don't understand your answer: how does II$\ge$ even evaluate to a value? Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 7:43
• @PeregrineRook $x \leq 2$ is the set of all elements that are two or less. Puzzles are all about thinking laterally and often out of the box includes making unsaid assumptions. The presence of additional innovative solutions is not ground to rejecting one. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 9:02
• You can create spoilers using >! . Make sure to have a space between the exclamation mark and your answer. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 9:02
• @user230452: No, that's an expression that is true if x is less than or equal to two and false otherwise. $\{x\in \mathbb{R} : x\leq 2\}$ is the set of all real numbers less than or equal to two.
– Deusovi
Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 15:33
• @Deusovi Yes, you are right. I didn't write it in that set notation form because I wanted the puzzle to be playful, not rigorous. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 15:48