Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Matchstick Puzzle

During our OcraFolk School, John Crowe, who, with his wife Joan, lives much of the year on Ocracoke, teased some of us with the following puzzle:

Lay out three rows of matchsticks, three in the top row, five in the middle row, and seven in the bottom row. Two players compete, taking turns. On each player's turn he or she may remove one or more of the matchsticks (including all of them) in any one row. The player who picks up the last matchstick is the loser.

I was showing this trick to Amy & David when Lachlan walked by. He immediately chastised us for "playing with matches," an activity he has been strongly warned against! We substituted toothpicks.

Anyway, if you want to try this trick with a friend, please keep in mind that the person who goes first can always win (if he or she knows how to play the game). OK, John, I'm ready to take you on (if you let me go first).

Click on the photo below to view pewter kitchen items in Village Craftsmen's online catalog.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article, with a number of photos, documenting the history of water cisterns on Ocracoke Island. Click on the following link to go directly there:


  1. OK I will play you one more game and let you go first. If you win I will credit you with achieving the almost impossible task of figuring out the "secret". If I win, you will be subjected to more sleepless nights. Are you sure you want to put it all on the line?


  2. It's all on the line, John. Just give me a call and let me know when.

  3. Anonymous3:10 PM

    Can I watch?

  4. Phillip - I don't know if you've seen it, but I think I saw your skiff. I remember seeing some pics you posted at the beginning of the summer.

  5. Anonymous1:41 AM

    that grandson of yours is smart. but remind him-- necessity is the mother of invention -- maybe the person that invented this game was a smoker with bad teeth

  6. Jodi, thanks for the heads up about my skiff. I just left a comment on Douglas Hoover's web site.