Problem: A Juvenile Puzzle

For years I have been perpetually consulted by my juvenile friends about this little puzzle. Most children seem to know it, and yet, curiously enough, they are invariably unacquainted with the answer. The question they always ask is, "Do, please, tell me whether it is really possible." I believe Houdin the conjurer used to be very fond of giving it to his childhood friends, but I cannot say whether he invented the little puzzle or not. No doubt a large number of my readers will be glad to have the mystery of the solution cleared up, so I make no apology for introducing this old "teaser."


The puzzle is to draw with three strokes of the pencil the diagram that the little girl is exhibiting in the illustration. Of course, you must not remove your pencil from the paper during a stroke or go over the same line a second time. You will find that you can get a good deal of the figure with one continuous stroke, but it will always appear as if four strokes are necessary.

Another form of the puzzle is to draw the diagram on a slate and then rub it out in three rubs.

Solutions: 1

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Project Gutenberg

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

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