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## Mel Stover

Published on Thursday, June 20, 2013 in , , , , , ,

Canadian Mel Stover (1912-1999) was a well-respected magician and puzzle creator whose works all seemed to have both impish and amazing qualities.

His works have been ignored far too long on the pages of Grey Matters, and I'm going to correct that today.

To give you an fun first impression of his work, read Bob Friedhoffer's remembrance of Mel Stover (PDF version). The described puzzle itself is simple enough, but when you're first confronted with it, it seems quite challenging.

Even if you're not familiar with the man himself, you've probably run across his puzzles. Puzzles.com features some of his better known puzzles, and many instantly recognize either the vanishing pencils or the matchstick giraffe right away.

As a matter of fact, Mel Stover developed numerous vanishing puzzles similar to the pencil one above. On this page, the pencils, the beer glasses, and the vanishing leprechaun were all his creations. Watch the vanishing leprechaun in the video below:

My favorite Mel Stover creation has to be what he dubbed the Beadless Abacus. As you can see below, it's an array of hexagonal cells, each containing a simple arithmetic problem. If you were challenged to sum up the answers to, say, any 3 cells in a straight line, could you do it? How about summing a line of 4 cells, or better yet, summing an array of 7 cells (1 in the center, and the 6 cells surrounding it)? Read the article below, and see if you can figure out an easy way to do these.

If you want to verify your answer, or even if you're just stumped, the answers can be found here. The feat above is an excerpt from Games Magazine's The Giant Book of Games, which is available at amazon.com, if you'd like a physical copy.

I hope you've enjoyed this look at some of Mel Stover's creations, and perhaps even found a new favorite magic trick or puzzle to share with others.