Withdrawal Symptoms

Question:  How would we feel if we no longer belonged to Neighbourly?


Withdrawal Symptoms (Apologies to the Beatles)

Neighbourly, I’m double the man I used to be
There’s Neighbourly hanging over me.
Oh, I do grieve for Neighbourly

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Farewell Robyn (Neighbourly, Titirangi)


Robyn has been sacked as a Titirangi Lead and is no longer on Neighbourly ūüė¶

Robyn, it is sad to see you go. We will miss you. Or rather almost all of us will.

Your departure from Neighbourly saddens most of us.


Update: Robyn is a member again but is not a Lead … more info


Robyn, You have made a massive contribution to Neighbourly. No air quotes needed here.

You have spent your time helping to grow Neighbourly in Titirangi and Nearby Neighbourhoods in West Auckland.

You became a member of Neighbourly close to when Neighbourly began.

I believe you were the first or second Lead, and an inaugural member.

You have personally invited over 300 people to Neighbourly, at least 315 from memory.

You gave your valuable time to help members, like the one who had her fridge repaired but the repairman didn’t solve the problem … more info.

As a lawyer your time is particularly valuable.


I hope after all your time and effort, you do not grieve for Neighbourly.

You may like to read this poem that I posted in the Leads Forum a couple of years ago when I was a Lead myself.


Neighbourly members, feel free to leave a comment for Robyn if you wish.

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My Competitions (Index)

This page lists my current competitions and also what type of¬†puzzles each competition¬†mainly focuses on. No¬†competitions are “dumbed down” as someone has claimed. They are simply of different types. Enjoy ūüôā


#1. Arithmetical

#2. Logical

#3. Lateral thinking (thinking outside the square)

#4. Lateral thinking

#5. Magic squares

#6. Counters and coins

#7. Feedback on my blog

#8. Sudoku

Here are the rules again:


  1. Email your answers one at a time (anytime after the questions have a link above) to me using my Contact page.
  2. You must start with question 1 and answer each question in order. i.e. 1,2,3,4,5,6.
  3. You cannot try the next question until Alan confirms you have got your current question right (starting with question 1).
  4. You must include the question with your answer (copy and paste the question).
  5. Alan’s answers are final (unless you can prove him wrong).
  6. There is not a prize (only bragging rights and maybe a certificate). Daud and Fiona have generously provided a picture of a chocolate fish with a bite out of the end if you would like one :).
  7. No cheating from the Internet (except for competition #8).
  8. Don’t post any answers here or anywhere else.

Enjoy ūüôā


Competition #8: Sudoku (Internet searches)

Today’s competition is all about searching the Internet. You do not need to know how to solve Sudoku for this competition.

Sudoku uses a 9×9 grid with 81 cells. Starting with a grid with some cells already filled in with numbers, you have to complete the grid according to the rules using only the numbers 1 to 9. All Sudoku puzzles must have a unique solution.

The numbers initially filled in are called givens.  If there are originally 25 numbers, say, filled in before you start, you have 25 givens (numbers that you have already been given).

Many Sudoku puzzles have been found (i.e. uniquely solvable) that have 17 givens. No one knew if there was any Sudoku the existed with 16 givens. Computer searches were undertaken to find out if any Sudoku had 16 givens.

No Sudoku have been found with only 16 givens. A “proof” that none exist¬†has been¬†published.

Use the Internet to answer the questions below according to the rest of my rules.


Q1. Approximately how many Sudoku have been found with 17 givens?

Q2. Find a more precise number of known Sudoku with 17 givens. You may have to look for a list of Sudoku with 17 givens.

Q3. Find a “Sudoku” with 16 givens that has only two solutions.

Q4. Who published the proof (give authors’ names)¬†that there are no Sudoku with 16 givens? What date was this article published?

Q5. Many computer programs exist to solve a Sudoku. Find the code for a computer “program” (procedure)¬†that is about five lines long or less. How long is the shortest known program?

Q6. If you have a Sudoku with 17 givens, how can you find out if a Sudoku exists with 16 givens within it? i.e. A Sudoku with 16 givens that has the 17th number (given) in its solution (same cell).

Good luck ūüôā

Competition #7

Q1. Who can find the best picture for the top of my blog?

Note: Pictures must be at least 2500 wide by 413 pixels wide.

I prefer something related to Titirangi or Auckland or puzzles or even Neighbourly but will consider anything you like.


Q2. Consider the presentation and functionality of my blog.

i.e. How it looks and how it works.

What do you like?

What do you not like?

What can be improved?

Note: You are not looking at the words. Pretend the words are in a foreign language that you cannot understand. Not hard for some of my puzzles, maybe?

Please be constructive.

No Drama Zone


Competition #6: Moving counters

Please read the rules in Competition #1 or in the New Competition  (#2) before you answer the questions below.

Q1. In the board below place two coins (or counters) on the black circles and two different coins of counters on the white squares.

The object is to change around the coins on the black and white circles by moving to any point of the star. You may keep moving any counter any distance (along the lines) in one turn until you are blocked by a coin.

Question: What is the minimum number of moves to solve this?



Q2. In the board below place four coins or counters of one colour (say black!) on the black circles and 4 different ones (say white) on the big white circles. The central square is empty. Alternatively heads and tails will do if using coins.

The object is to get the coins/counters to change places.

The counters only go in the obvious direction of travel.

A move consists of moving one step forward to an empty square or jumping over one opposite “coloured” counter to an empty square. You do not have to use alternate colours on you moves. i.e. you can use the same colour more than once in consecutive moves.

Solve the puzzle. How may moves?



Q3. Think about the solution to this puzzle before you try it!

I have two coins (heads facing up) touching each other vertically.

I roll the top coin half-way around the bottom (fixed) coin (i.e. until it is now at the bottom). Will the “head” now be facing up or down?



Q4. Arrange eight queens on a chess board so that no queen can attack any other queen.

Try to find two solutions that are not rotations or reflections.


Q5. Take six coins and arrange them in a triangle. Your goal is to rearrange the coins into a hexagon in four moves. Each move consists of sliding a single coin to a new location. The new location must be touching at least two other coins at each step.


Competition #5: Magic Squares

In Competition #1 the last question has a magic square.

Please read the rules in Competition #1 or in the New Competition  (#2) before you answer the questions below.

Q1. Below is a 3 x 3 magic square. Please put the numbers 1, 2, …, 9 (once only)¬†in the cells below so that each row, column, and diagonal¬†adds up to the same number. See the clue below if you need to!



Q2. What must each row, column, and diagonal add up to in a 4 x 4 magic square?
Read the answer below for the 3 x 3 magic square.


Q3. The solution to a 4 x 4 magic square similar to the one in Competition #1 was known at least as early as 16th century. Find an artwork that contains this magic square.

Please make sure you try the last question in Competition #1  before you answer Q3.


Read a clue to solving the 3 x 3 magic square below (scroll down):


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