Problem: Farmer Lawrence's Cornfields

One of the most beautiful districts within easy distance of London for a summer ramble is that part of Buckinghamshire known as the Valley of the Chess—at least, it was a few years ago, before it was discovered by the speculative builder. At the beginning of the present century there lived, not far from Latimers, a worthy but eccentric farmer named Lawrence. One of his queer notions was that every person who lived near the banks of the river Chess ought to be in some way acquainted with the noble game of the same name, and in order to impress this fact on his men and his neighbors he adopted at times strange terminology. For example, when one of his ewes presented him with a lamb, he would say that it had "queened a pawn"; when he put up a new barn against the highway, he called it "castling on the king's side"; and when he sent a man with a gun to keep his neighbour's birds off his fields, he spoke of it as "attacking his opponent's rooks." Everybody in the neighborhood used to be amused at Farmer Lawrence's little jokes, and one boy (the wag of the village) who got his ears pulled by the old gentleman for stealing his "chestnuts" went so far as to call him "a silly old chess-protector!"


One year he had a large square field divided into forty-nine square plots, as shown in the illustration. The white squares were sown with wheat and the black squares with barley. When the harvest time came round he gave orders that his men were first to cut the corn in the patch marked $1,$ and that each successive cutting should be exactly a knight's move from the last one, the thirteenth cutting being in the patch marked $13,$ the twenty-fifth in the patch marked $25,$ the thirty-seventh in the one marked $37,$ and the last, or forty-ninth cutting, in the patch marked $49.$ This was too much for poor Hodge, and each day Farmer Lawrence had to go down to the field and show which piece had to be operated upon. But the problem will perhaps present no difficulty to my readers.

Solutions: 1

Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!



Project Gutenberg

  1. Dudeney, H. E.: "Amusements in Mathematics", The Authors' Club, 1917

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this edition or online at If you are not located in the United States, you'll have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook.