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Matchstick Math

The Puzzler


RAY: Here's the answer moving a match stick, one match stick. And that is, you take the match stick from the equal sign.

TOM: Yeah, yeah.

RAY: And you bring it over to where the minus sign is and you make one equal to three, now minus two.

TOM: Sure, that's good.

RAY: OK? Or, you move no sticks and you walk around to the other side of the table. You walk around 180 degrees --

TOM: Right.

RAY: -- and look at it from the other side of the table --

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: -- assuming you had them set up on a table. And you can look at it from the other side --

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: -- in which case you need to move nothing.

TOM: Well then, that's the right answer.

RAY: And it says two equals three minus one.

TOM: Well, the answer is what's the least number of --

RAY: Match stick movements.

TOM: Isn't zero leaster than one?

RAY: Yeah.

TOM: There aren't two answers. There's one answer.

RAY: OK.

TOM: The answer is zero.

RAY: In which case I already used it.

TOM: I know you did.

RAY: But it was a long time ago and everyone forgets. Anyway, do we have a legitimate winner?

TOM: Yes, we do. The winner is Richard King from Sunnyvale, California.

[ Car Talk Puzzler ]

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