Can You Remove 5 Sticks to Get 2 Squares?–Not Everyone Can Do It In 10 Seconds, Can You?

June 3, 2019 Updated: June 3, 2019

Before the advent of smartphones and videogames, way back in the day, kids would play simple puzzles using matchsticks. As old school as it may be, these tricky brainteasers hold their appeal—even on social media, ironically. The reason? Because everyone loves a challenge.

The solution is right in front of you; all you have to do is use your noggin and point it out. It sounds so simple that it’s practically irresistible, but it’s usually harder than it looks! Which is why when you’re the only one of your friends who gets it, it’s so satisfying!

So, try this matchstick puzzle on for size.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Golden House Studio


Here are 14 matchsticks arranged into several squares grouped together. We’re going to ask you to remove a number of matchsticks so that a certain number of squares remain.

Using the arrangement of matchsticks below, try to solve the following 6 problems:

1) Remove 3 sticks so that 3 squares remain.

2) Remove 5 sticks so that 2 squares remain

3) Remove 3 sticks so that 5 squares remain

Take a few seconds to work out the above puzzle—grab a piece of paper and a pen if you want to. And once you think you have all three solutions, scroll down below to check the answers. And if you find any additional solutions besides these, be sure to snap a picture and share them in the comments.

One thing you can always count on when it comes to brainteasers like these is that they always like to throw in something that you don’t expect, and force you to think outside the box—almost literally in this case! With that said, we’ve thrown in an easy one to get you started and picked two more that are slightly more challenging.

Solution 1:

Remove 3 sticks so that 3 squares remain.

Simple right? Three separate and completely distinct squares, all the same size. Now here are the two remaining solutions.

Solution 2:

Remove 5 sticks so that 2 squares remain

Slightly more challenging, as there are now 2 different-sized squares, which use some of the same matchsticks as sides, “bending the rules” of your brain ever so slightly. Now, the final solution.

Solution 3:

Remove 3 sticks so that 5 squares remain

Again, there are 2 different-sized squares, 4 smaller ones and 1 bigger one; the only difference is that the big square is entirely made up of matchsticks from the other squares, “hiding” it in a sense, and further bending the way you think.

If you got all three answers, it means you were able to traverse these mental maneuvers. The sense of reward you get makes it all worth it, right? Are you ready for another one?

Well, try this one on for size then:

How Many Squares Can You Find in This Pattern?–Not Everyone Can Find Them All, Can You?

Here is a geometric problem that not everyone is able to resolve successfully. So, just imagine the bragging rights you’ll gain by becoming one of the few! You’ll be able to share the puzzle with all your friends and come out looking pretty smart if they can’t get it while you can.

I’ll be honest with you: my first answer missed the mark when I tried this one! You might hit the bull’s eye, though, so let’s see how you do.


The puzzle consists of several straight arrows (of equal length) arranged in square shapes. There’s more than one square—smaller ones inside larger ones. That’s about all we’ll tell you, though. It’s up to you to count all the squares that are in this arrangement of arrows. They have to be square, mind you; rectangles don’t count.

How many squares can you find?

Look carefully. If you need a hint, check down below. Or, if you’re absolutely sure you’ve found them all (or if you’re helplessly stumped), then scroll down to the bottom to check the answer.

Need a Hint?

Probably most of us will have counted the big square perimeter. But it starts to get trickier when picking out all the smaller squares within the larger ones. There are the 4 quadrants, of course, and the 9 little (eighth-sized) squares, which are easy enough to spot. That totals 14 so far. But are there any more squares that could be hidden in between these ones?

Well, did you catch the quadrant-sized square in the very center? If you did, good for you! So did I! That’s 15 squares, and that is as far as I got. It may look like it’s all of them … but it isn’t!

Need another Hint?

Think three quarters. Think odd-sized.

Find it yet?

The answer is 16!

If you found them all, well done! You are a true marksman!

Photo Credit: Illustration – The Epoch Times