Created: 2014-05-18 19:47
Updated: 2018-03-30 22:06
License: other

Fifteen Puzzle / Sliding Tiles Puzzle Sliding Tiles Puzzle


Sliding Tiles Puzzles / 15 Puzzles are popular mechanical puzzles consisting of a set of tiles to be arranged in certain target constellations. One of the board positions on the most common rectangular board is empty so that adjacent tiles can slide into the empty position. Thus that the empty position will be at the origin of the sliding tile after the move. Historically the most popular size for the puzzle is 4 times 4 positions. But there are other sizes available, too. Each tile has a property like a number written on it. Some puzzles prefer parts of a photograph or drawing on it so that one single position exists showing the whole image correctly as a target position after shuffling the puzzle. This implementation prefers numbers on the tiles in the popular 4 times 4 shape. Numbers are more flexible to arrange them in different logical orders so that multiple challenges could be played with the same Sliding Tiles Puzzle. Attractive complex and harder Sliding Tiles challenges include forming a Magic Square of numbers with the number tiles or placing the tiles in a constellation where numbers indicate a possible Chess Knight's Move to follow while each Sliding Tile Puzzle position is used in the formed path. The application includes a row of challenges accessible from the application menu.

History and Background

The 15 tiles version of the Sliding Tiles Puzzle is often credited to Noyes Palmer Chapman and Sam Loyd.

It is reported that Noyes Palmer Chapman, a postmaster in Canastota, New York, USA, might have created the puzzle approximately in 1874 originally. Noyes Chapman's puzzle actually consists of 16 tiles and the task must have been to build row sums and column sums with tiles labeled from #1 to #16 being equal 34. Which makes up a magic square as described even hundreds of years ago, e.g in Albrecht Dürer's Melencolia § I, dated 1514. Thus the exact mathematical description with objective to build such magic squares is definitively older. That is basically why you might find descriptions mentioning Noyes Chapman's version being a precursor puzzle for the Sliding Tiles Puzzle only. According to Wikipedia Noyes Chapman claimed intellectual property but patent request got rejected since a similar patent has already been granted.

Anyway Sam Loyd, a puzzle author and mathematician, is sometimes credited to be the creator, too. For sure he played a major role in making the puzzle famous in 19th century. Sam Loyd came up with an unsolvable variant with just two neighbouring tiles exchanged. This is referred to be the 14 and 15 tiles exchanged version of the puzzle (14-15 Puzzle).

The Name of the Game

A patent nowadays shall protect a specific technical solution. The rules itself cannot be covered by such a patent in modern law. The rules text might only be covered by copyrights regulating the authorship of the exact rules text. Such that possibly the only type of infringement could be in misusing any registered trademark. Which is unlikely for any traditional name of the puzzle.

Typical names depending on language and region are

  • Fifteen Puzzle, Sliding Puzzle, Sliding Tiles Puzzle (us, uk, en),
  • Schiebepuzzle (de),
  • Jeu de Taquin (fr),
  • Juego del quince (es, mind the card game Escoba that may be called Juego del quince, too),
  • Gioco del quindici (it),
  • Patnáctka (cz),
  • 15-spillet (dk),
  • Schuifpuzzel (nl),
  • Femtonpussel (sv)

Contributors / Authors

Oliver Merkel, myself in front of an Austrian Sliding Tiles Puzzle, Ötztal, Tyrol
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This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Oliver Merkel, myself in front of an Austrian Sliding Tiles Puzzle, Creative Commons License, This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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