Saturday, November 2, 2013

More Horse Camouflage

Horse puzzle and solution
In earlier posts, we've featured camouflaged horses, notably battlefield listening posts in the form of horse carcasses that were constructed of papier mâché. We've also talked about camouflage-related puzzles that appeared in the entertainment sections of Sunday newspapers before and during World War I.

Reproduced here is a puzzle that predates adoption of the word "camouflage" but is an undoubted example of that. It was devised by a turn-of-the-century puzzle master, chess player and recreational mathematician named Sam Loyd (1841-1911). A compendium of his puzzles titled Cyclopedia of Puzzles was published in book form by his son in 1914, and is available online. It includes his "Pony Puzzle" (p. 17) in which a white pony is hidden among the various parts of a "dark horse" (looks more like a donkey to me) silhouette. Here are Loyd's instructions—

Trace an exact copy of the figure, as shown, and cut out the six pieces very carefully, and then try to arrange them together so as to make the best possible figure of a horse. That is all there is to it, but the entire world laughed for a year over the many grotesque representations of a horse which can be made with those six pieces.

Loyd's solution is shown above. It's a horse of a different color of course. We are reminded of the venerable Chinese puzzle game, the tangram (below), in which seven shapes are rearranged, and which Sam Loyd also wrote about.

Three solutions to the Chinese tangram puzzle