Puzzles for the mathematician
October 24, 2020 9:10 AM   Subscribe

My husband loves these types of puzzles. He is a mathematician and solves even the toughest ones pretty easily. Looking for suggestions on tough puzzle or logic toys/games that will challenge him.
posted by mrfuga0 to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
i'm a huge logic puzzle nerd and here's what i've enjoyed recently:
posted by pmdboi at 9:58 AM on October 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

I own a number of the blacksmith puzzles from https://www.tavernpuzzle.com/

Very well made, can be very tricky to solve, good to show off with (esp the Old Shackles) and they look great hanging up.

Very highly recommended.
posted by I shot a fox in Skyrim and it made me sad at 11:12 AM on October 24, 2020

If he doesn't already, he might enjoy 538's weekly Riddler column.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:17 AM on October 24, 2020

I'm a fan of disentanglement puzzles, and in terms of quality I concur with the recommendations of both Tucker-Jones's tavern puzzles and Hanayama's metal puzzles above. In terms of difficulty, I consider Hanayama's Enigma puzzle to be the most difficult one in my collection.

If he's interested in just pen-and-paper (and possibly computer assistance) math puzzles, I'm a fan of IBM's Ponder This. Similarly, though Using Your Head Is Permitted ceased publishing new puzzles after October 2017, there's a hefty archive to work through.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:29 AM on October 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is a different sort of nerdery, but my dad is into writing programs to find all solutions to puzzles. I remember this started with six foam cube puzzles from a toy store and finding all the unique cubes the combined set could make. He later got a kind of giant Soma cube set and worked on various cube sizes with those pieces.

He also did a lot of unit origami (fold a bunch of the same piece to assemble into geometric shapes) for a while, which might scratch the same tactile itch as the puzzles. Sorry no links because on mobile, if any of this sounds good I can look up books / sets for you.
posted by momus_window at 12:01 PM on October 24, 2020

We have a few of these cheap versions of Hidden Mazes which are pretty challenging!
posted by euphoria066 at 12:34 PM on October 24, 2020

If he's into the non-physical sorts of puzzles: Matt Parker's Maths Puzzles | Think Maths. Might be too easy, sorta depends on whether it's something you've studied or not. But like points and leaderboard for quick/cool answers.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:27 PM on October 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Puzzle boxes (which you can Google) are a thing of the "okay, smartypants, see if you can take THIS apart" type. They may be on the expensive side, though.

I know you are thinking of physical puzzles, but if regular math puzzles are of any interest, Michael Penn solves math problems on YouTube. Many of the problems are from Math Olympiads and other competitions so are more puzzle like than just another theorem.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:33 AM on October 25, 2020

Knot puzzles are also something to search for. For instance, here.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:43 AM on October 25, 2020

Agree on the tavern puzzles—we have a few of them and they're great fun to work through.
If he also likes non-physical math puzzles, I've recently gotten hooked on nonograms (aka "Japanese crosswords," although there are no words!)). The black and white ones are trickier (and, to me, more satisfying) than the color ones. It's all done with logic. Here's a small but challenging one to start him off to see if he likes it: https://www.nonograms.org/nonograms/i/35887
posted by wisekaren at 10:38 AM on October 25, 2020

Twisty puzzles are waaaaay beyond Rubik’s cubes. If you happen to be able to use a 3-d printer it can turn into almost a model building hobby, but solving the more complex twisty puzzles turns into algorithm application and it’s apparently super engrossing, according to my twisty puzzle obsessed brother.
posted by Mizu at 1:14 AM on October 26, 2020

I love puzzles too!

Twisty puzzles are fun, and you can find lots of variants for purchase here (China) and here (US).

For pencil puzzles (think Sudoku or Kakuro), the youtube channel Cracking the Cryptic posts two puzzles a day along with a delightful walkthrough of the solve. More of these high-quality, handcrafted puzzles can be found at GM Puzzles and Logic Masters Germany.
posted by soonertbone at 6:07 PM on October 27, 2020

Friend of mine makes customized wooden puzzles which include trickery, fake sides, open pockets, etc to throw off even the most experienced puzzler. You can tailor them to your husbands interests as well. http://www.newpuzzles.com/
posted by bizwool at 8:20 PM on October 27, 2020

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