Thursday, 15 December 2011

Tangram Teaser

With the Olympic games coming to London next year, giving our 2012 calendar a sporting theme was a natural choice. As the Games make the journey from Beijing to London, we thought we’d be clever and link them (and our calendar) to another game that travelled the same journey, albeit hundreds of years ago.

The tangram originated in ancient China before reaching America and England through trade in the early 1800s. To play a Tangram, you simply arrange the seven pieces – five triangles of varying sizes, a square and a rhomboid – without overlap, to exactly reproduce the given image. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Believe us, it isn’t. We needed a number of attempts to produce recognisable Olympic sports. If you don't receive your calendar or know someone who would like one, let us know as we always have a few spare.

Continuing the theme, our Christmas card also features a tangram in the shape of a tree, which thankfully, was much easier to create. We'd love you to punch out the pieces and create your own symbols/icons and send the pictures to We'll send a real tangram puzzle to the best ones.

We've also created a little screensaver just for christmas and inspired by the 12 tangram illustrations we've used on our calendar, you can download it (for Mac or PC) here.

Finally, an odd, and intriguing aspect of the tangram is the phenomenon of paradoxes. A tangram paradox exists where two puzzle configurations are almost the same, yet a part in one magically ‘disappears’ in the other version. One of the most famous examples is the Dudeney paradox featuring two monks, where on one version the figure is a complete person and on the second version, the figure appears to lose its foot. Have a look at this head-scratcher here and see if you can solve it.

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