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## Penny Puzzles (Chico Marx's Favorite Scam)

Published on Thursday, August 26, 2010 in , , , ,

Great minds think alike! I recently added a new section of Penny Puzzles to the Grey Matters Store. A little over 1 week later, Scam School covers the same puzzle!

Before I get to the Scam School episode itself, let's cover the basic challenge first.

Start by drawing a 5-pointed star, and then place a penny (or button, or other small object) on one of the points, and slide it along either connecting line to another point. That's not hard so far, right?

Next, put another penny on any empty star point, and slide it along a line to any other empty star point. The challenge is to place 4 pennies on the star in this manner.

Before you try it, it seems easy. Most people find that they can only get to 3 coins, and find the 4-coin solution unusually elusive.

Let's change the puzzle a bit, but keep the rules the same. Here's an online version that uses an 8-pointed star (Java required). The rules are the same, but you're trying to place 7 pennies this time. Try playing this version without using the hint button and/or the explanation link as long as you can.

Perhaps there's something tricky about those lines? Let's try a similat 9-dot challenge, but just with counting (Flash required), both clockwise and counter-clockwise. The object this time is to turn 8 dots white.

Isn't it maddening that such a seemingly simple task should prove so elusive? As a solo game, this can provide hours of puzzlement.

Leave it to none other than Chico Marx to turn this into a hustle with money. Thankfully, Scam School shows you not only how Chico Marx turned this into a bar scam, but also how to beat this maddening puzzle:

The method taught here is taught so well, it shouldn't take long to work how it applies to all the other versions, as well.

Obviously, if you're doing the Scam School version above, you should go last, as suggested. However, if you're just challenging a friend or two to solve the puzzle, you'll find that if you can demonstrate the solution without explaining the method behind it, your friends will still have trouble solving the puzzle!

Try these out for yourself, and let me know in the comments of anything interesting that happened when you played this yourself, or challenged your friends.