(related to Problem: The Thirty-six Letter Blocks)

I pointed out that it was impossible to get all the letters into the box under the conditions, but the puzzle was to place as many as possible.

This requires a little judgment and careful investigation, or we are liable to jump to the hasty conclusion that the proper way to solve the puzzle must be first to place all six of one letter, then all six of another letter, and so on. As there is only one scheme (with its reversals) for placing six similar letters so that no two shall be in a line in any direction, the reader will find that after he has placed four different kinds of letters, six times each, every place is occupied except those twelve that form the two long diagonals. He is, therefore, unable to place more than two each of his last two letters, and there are eight blanks left. I give such an arrangement in Diagram $1.$


The secret, however, consists in not trying thus to place all six of each letter. It will be found that if we content ourselves with placing only five of each letter, this number (thirty in all) may be got into the box, and there will be only six blanks. But the correct solution is to place six of each of two letters and five of each of the remaining four. An examination of Diagram $2$ will show that there are six each of $C$ and $D,$ and five each of $A, B, E,$ and $F.$ There are, therefore, only four blanks left, and no letter is in line with a similar letter in any direction.

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Project Gutenberg

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

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