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Advent puzzles I

Behind the second door of the advent calendar, there is a puzzle


This post was part of the Chalkdust 2016 Advent Calendar.

Welcome to the second day of the 2016 Chalkdust Advent Calendar. Today, we have a lovely Christmas-themed puzzle for you to enjoy. Like so many good puzzles, this one is inspired by a puzzle that I found in a Martin Gardner book.


It’s the start of Advent, so you decide to decorate your flat with some homemade decorations. You have a large number of red and blue baubles that you bought in last year’s January sales.

You like equilateral triangles, so you decide to stick ten baubles together into a large equilateral as shown below.
You are not, however, happy with this arrangement of colours as you hate smaller equilateral triangles, and three of the red baubles lie on the vertices of an equilateral triangle (as shown below).
bauble-puzzle-triIs it possible to arrange ten baubles into a triangle so that no three baubles of the same colour form the vertices of an equilateral triangle?

I’ll be back later in Advent with the answer to this puzzle and more puzzles…

Matthew Scroggs is a PhD student at UCL working on finite and boundary element methods. His website,, is full of maths and now features a video of him completing a level of Pac-Man optimally.
Twitter  @mscroggs    Website    + More articles by Matthew

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