The "fifteen puzzle" or "slide puzzle" is a sort of Stock Puzzle
where one has to arrange a set of scrambled numbers so that they are all shown in ascending order. One spot is always open, allowing pieces to be moved around, but it is designed in such a way that no piece can ever be removed from the board. More sadistic versions will be bigger than fifteen squares; these larger versions are called "n
-puzzles", where n
is the number of scrambled numbers (always a square number minus one).
A more general version of the "sliding puzzle" will have the player try to put together an image in the same manner as above. The picture you're trying to reassemble is usually printed on the back of the box to minimize frustration.
The puzzle traces back at least to Noyes Palmer Chapman in 1874; later on, Sam Loyd claimed to have invented it.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The titular Lupin III is able to solve them easily, as part of his safecracking abilities.
- An n-square puzzle hides the Suminawa family safe in The Fuma Conspiracy. Lupin's remote control bug has to move cupboards around to the correct layout in order to see the safe.
- A 15-block puzzle (incorporated into the wall) is part of the security that Lupin must get past to retrieve one of the statues in Lupin III: The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure.
- The Dream Park novel The California Voodoo Game throws out one of these in a timed situation. The trick is that it's a word-version and there are two R's: "RATE, YOUR, MIND, PAL". Put them in the wrong place and the puzzle is uncrackable.
Live Action TV
- These are given out all the time in party favor bags and the like.
- Sam Loyd, who claimed (probably falsely) to have invented the puzzle in the 19th century, offered a $1,000 reward. The puzzle conserves parity and cannot be solved if the numbers 14 and 15 are swapped, which was the configuration he provided it in. Rumor has it that Loyd couldn't patent the puzzle because it was unsolvable, though "because he didn't invent it" is another plausible reason.
- Perplex City has a card based on Loyd's version of the puzzle.