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The Frogs And Tumblers


"What do you think of these?"

The Professor brought from his capacious pockets a number of frogs, snails, lizards, and other creatures of Japanese manufacture—very grotesque in form and brilliant in colour. While we were looking at them he asked the waiter to place sixty-four tumblers on the club table. When these had been brought and arranged in the form of a square, as shown in the illustration, he placed eight of the little green frogs on the glasses as shown.

"Now," he said, "you see these tumblers form eight horizontal and eight vertical lines, and if you look at them diagonally (both ways) there are twenty-six other lines. If you run your eye along all these forty-two lines, you will find no two frogs are anywhere in a line.

"The puzzle is this. Three of the frogs are supposed to jump from their present position to three vacant glasses, so that in their new relative positions still no two frogs shall be in a line. What are the jumps made?"

"I suppose——" began Hawkhurst.

"I know what you are going to ask," anticipated the Professor. "No; the frogs do not exchange positions, but each of the three jumps to a glass that was not previously occupied."

"But surely there must be scores of solutions?" I said.

"I shall be very glad if you can find them," replied the Professor with a dry smile. "I only know of one—or rather two, counting a reversal, which occurs in consequence of the position being symmetrical."


It is perfectly true, as the Professor said, that there is only one solution (not counting a reversal) to this puzzle. The frogs that jump are George in the third horizontal row; Chang, the artful-looking batrachian at the end of the fourth row; and Wilhelmina, the fair creature in the seventh row. George jumps downwards to the second tumbler in the seventh row; Chang, who can only leap short distances in consequence of chronic rheumatism, removes somewhat unwillingly to the glass just above him—the eighth in the third row; while Wilhelmina, with all the sprightliness of her youth and sex, performs the very creditable saltatory feat of leaping to the fourth tumbler in the fourth row. In their new positions, as shown in the accompanying diagram, it will be found that of the eight frogs no two are in line vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.

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