The Chessboard Puzzle - Foster thinking skills by focusing on problem solving in the classroom.
Mathematical Problem Solving
The Chessboard Problem - A Printable Puzzle





The Chessboard Problem


Using a chessboard and 8 pawns the teacher explains how the pawns must be placed on the board so that there is only one pawn occupying each vertical, horizontal and diagonal. ie there cannot be any other piece on the same line as another. Sounds easy, but it is a little harder than you think.

The teacher should also demonstrate the fundmentals of 'guess and check' ie put the pawns on the board and check to see if there are any clashes.


To add a little humour to the task and often demonstrate how ineffective whinging that 'I can't do it' and putting my head on the desk is as if I wait and stare at the pieces the solution does not come. Mind you, there are those special people who can just visualise the answer but I'm affraid I'm not one of those.


  • have the students design a creative version of the task that can be displayed on the wall with the solution stuck on so it doesn't fall off. In the past my students have made boards and glued coins to it, used stickers, lollies, cartoon characters, fridge magnets, etc. Encourage them to use their imaginations.
  • have the children download the puzzle below at home so they can have a colour version.
  • laminate the puzzle and have it as a learning centre activity

Downloadable Versions

The Chessboard Puzzle - Word Version

The Chessboard Puzzle - Acrobat Version

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