A Nice Function Puzzle

A nice little function/word puzzle here. Had me infuriated for some time.

You can find a list of all 110 words that were submitted on Twitter, along with their A and B values at M Shah’s blog, here (you need to scroll down to Activity #3). Be careful of spoilers though, because the solution is given just after the list of words.

Exit Strategy – A puzzle game

They say no one ever escaped from the New Reykjavik Penitentiary, probably because no one ever did, but as one of NeRP’s newest inmates, you’re hoping you’ll be an exception to the rule…

This puzzle game looks like a text adventure, but is actually something rather different. Make sure to set your frustration threshold to high before you give it a go.

At the end, you will get a score out of 1000. Obviously, nothing short of full full marks constitutes a victory.


This puzzle does not require any mathematical knowledge at all, though you will need Python 3, along with a couple of basic packages (numpy and random).

If you are new to Python, I recommend installing the Anaconda distribution (https://www.anaconda.com/download/), then you can open and run the file in Spyder.

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How to fill Philbert – MINI-PUZZLE

Here’s a bonus puzzle inspired by a recent Christmas purchase.

I bought this jolly fellow in Covent Garden:

We named him Philbert, for some reason.

As you can see, Philbert has two cubes in his stomach (dice, basically), each of which has a digit on each face. By rearranging the dice, you can count the days until Christmas.

Puzzle 1 (EASY)

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More Christmas Maths!

OK, so I’ve come out of my long period of digital aestivation and returned to my blog and to various social media platforms.

Rather excitingly, a new version of Hannah and my Christmas maths book is out today! There’s a new chapter about cake, so that’s nice.

There’s also a US version this year, in which we spell things differently and provide extra info on bizarre British festive traditions (though how they get through the day without detonating a small explosive in a cardboard tube and fighting over a pack of mini-screwdrivers, I have no idea).

The UK Edition on Amazon.co.uk

The US Edition on Amazon.com

Here are the two new covers, side by side:

UK Version

US Version


New Year Puzzles

Happy New Year!


So, the Elfnigma (PuzzleSolution) that was set as Day 9 of the Mathematical Advent Calendar suggests some further chess board related puzzles featuring other varieties of faerie folk. Obviously, the elves of the puzzle were based on queens from a chessboard, but while queens can take any piece in the same row, column or diagonal, elves could only see tiles in these directions that were either adjacent (diagonally, horizontally or vertically) or of the same colour.

The question asked was (essentially) how many elves could be placed on a chess board, such that none could see any other (just as the Eight Queens Problem asks how eight queens can be placed on a chess board such that none threatens any other). This leads naturally to other questions involving magical creatures that are based on other chess pieces. Continue reading