Author: Martin Gardner

Martin Gardner (1914 – 2010) was an American popular mathematics and popular science writer, with interests also encompassing scientific skepticism, micromagic, philosophy, religion, and literatureβ€”especially the writings of Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum, and G. K. Chesterton.

With 12 matches you can easily create a shape with area 9 and a shape with area 5, as shown on the picture below. Can you rearrange the 12 matchsticks, so that they encompass an area of 4?

Remark: You should have only one resulting shape and no matches should be unused.

First, create a Pythagorean triangle with sides 3, 4, 5, and area 6. Then simply flip its right angle inwards, so that the area decreases by 2.