In The Corn (S595)
From the book
"Mathematical Puzzles of Sam Loyd"
Edited by Martin Gardner
From: Dover Publications in 1959
Show the farmer and
his wife how to catch the
In watching the gambols
of playful dogs, kittens, and
other domestic animals
we are often impressed by the
way they seem to
enter into the spirit of the fun and
enjoy the fine points
of play, just as human beings do.
But for a rollicking
exhibition of mischief, or
as the farmer calls it, I have
never seen anything
equal to the sport produced by two
refusing to be driven or coaxed from
a garden. They
neither fly nor run, but just dodge
about, keeping close
to their pursuers but always just
out of reach.
In fact, when the would-be captors retreat,
the chickens become
pursuers and follow close upon their
heels, uttering sounds
of defiance and contempt.
On a New Jersey farm,
where some city folks were wont to
became an everyday sport, and
there were two pet
chickens which could always be found
in the garden ready
to challenge any to catch them. It
reminded one of a
game of tag, and suggested a curious
puzzle which I am
satisfied will worry some of our experts.
The object is to
prove in just how many moves the farmer
and his wife can
catch the two chickens.
The field is divided
into sixty-four square patches, marked
off by the corn hills.
Let us suppose that they are
playing a game, moving
between the corn rows from one
square to another,
directly up and down or right and left.
Play turn about.
First let the man and woman each move
one square, then
let each of the chickens make a move. The
play continues by
turns until you find out in how many
moves it is possible
to drive the chickens into a position
that both of them
are cornered and captured. A capture
occurs when the farmer
or his wife can pounce on a square
occupied by a chicken.
The game can be played
on any checkerboard by using two
checkers of one color
to represent the farmer and his wife,
and two checkers
of another color to represent the hen and