Problem: The Eight Queens

The queen is by far the strongest piece on the chessboard. If you place her on one of the four squares in the center of the board, she attacks no fewer than twenty-seven other squares; and if you try to hide her in a corner, she still attacks twenty-one squares. Eight queens may be placed on the board so that no queen attacks another, and it is an old puzzle (first proposed by Nauck in 1850, and it has quite a little literature of its own) to discover in just how many different ways this may be done. I show one way in the diagram, and there are in all twelve of these fundamentally different ways. These twelve produce ninety-two ways if we regard reversals and reflections as different. The diagram is in a way a symmetrical arrangement. If you turn the page upside down, it will reproduce itself exactly; but if you look at it with one of the other sides at the bottom, you get another way that is not identical. Then if you reflect these two ways in a mirror you get two more ways. Now, all the other eleven solutions are non-symmetrical, and therefore each of them may be presented in eight ways by these reversals and reflections. It will thus be seen why the twelve fundamentally different solutions produce only ninety-two arrangements, as I have said, and not ninety-six, as would happen if all twelve were non-symmetrical. It is well to have a clear understanding of the matter of reversals and reflections when dealing with puzzles on the chessboard.


Can the reader place the eight queens on the board so that no queen shall attack another and so that no three queens shall be in a straight line in any oblique direction? Another glance at the diagram will show that this arrangement will not answer the conditions, for in the two directions indicated by the dotted lines there are three queens in a straight line. There is only one of the twelve fundamental ways that will solve the puzzle. Can you find it?

Solutions: 1

Problems: 1 2

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Project Gutenberg

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

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