The Moscow Puzzles: 359 Mathematical Recreations

| March 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

When it comes to puzzle books (and puzzles in general) they either bore me to death or keep me hooked for a long time. And now that I mention it I don’t recall that many puzzle books that were actually really good. However, among the few gems, which kept me interested for quite some time, one book stands out as being fun and unique. It is a puzzle book called “The Moscow Puzzles: 359 Mathematical Recreations”.


AuthorBoris A. Kordemsky

Paperback: 320

Publisher: Dover Publications (April 10, 1992)

ISBN-10: 0486270785

ISBN-13: 978-0486270784

Difficulty level: medium

Reviews: customer reviews

Rating: ★★★★★ Ranking: 5,176 US Version UK Version

The author of the book, Boris Kordemsky, was a Russian mathematician an an educator, who authored more than 70 books and popular mathematics articles. “The Moscow Puzzles” is his most popular book in which you can clearly feel his expertise and a talent of coming up with unique puzzles.  Some other books of Kordemsky include “Mathematical Quick-Wits” and “Mathematical Charmers”.

So “The Moscow Puzzles” has a reputation of being one of the most popular puzzle books from Russia. And this is not surprising having in mind that the book has fun illustrations and a great range of unique problems of various difficulties. For me the two most important things in any kind of puzzle book are a good presentation of the problem and informative solutions. I am glad to say that the “Moscow Puzzles” has both of these things — the problems are nicely illustrated and sometimes include hints, whereas the solution are informative and easy to follow.

Another important thing, when it comes to puzzle books, is the range of problems — if there are too many similar problems, the reader won’t stay interested for too long. Fortunately, Kordemsky must have known this well, as most of the problems in the book seem unique. This might be the case because there is a wide range of problems including geometric puzzles, algebraic puzzles, word puzzles, logic puzzles and many more. Just to get an idea, let’s look at too different puzzles from the book.

A Crime Story

An elementary school teacher in New York State had her purse stolen. The thief had to be Lillian, Judy, David, Theo, or Margaret. When questioned, each child made three statements:

Lillian: (I) I didn’t take the purse. (2) I have never in my life stolen anything.(3) Theo did it. 

Judy: (4) I didn’t take the purse. (5) My daddy is rich enough, and I have a purse of my own. (6) Margaret knows who did it. 

David: (7) I didn’t take the purse. (8) I didn’t know Margaret before I enrolled in this school. (9) Theo did it.

Theo: (10) I am not guilty. (11) Margaret did it. (12) Lillian is lying when she says I stole the purse. 

Margaret: (13) I didn’t take the teacher’s purse. (14) Judy is guilty. (15) David can vouch for me because he knows me since I was born.

Later, each child admitted that two of his statements were true and one was false. Assuming this is true, who stole the purse?

Knight’s Move 

To solve this problem you need not be a chess player. You need only know the way a knight moves on the chessboard: two squares in one direction and one square at right angles to the first direction. The diagram shows 16 black pawns on a board.

The Moscow Puzzles


Overall, the book offers a great range of puzzles for both seasoned solvers and beginners. Thus I would recommend it for anyone looking for a little challenge and an exercise for the brain.



Tags: , ,

Category: Math Books

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *