Match Moves

Everyone enjoys a brainteaser, especially in the right setting. Try this when you’ve got a minute or two, especially when sitting at a boardroom table, or anywhere with a solid flat work surface.

Guide lines
Ready, Steady, Go!

Put eleven matches down on the surface, parallel to each other, about one centimetre apart from one another.


You up for a challenge, or you afraid you’ve met your match?

Point to a match for emphasis.

Lend me your ears

You should have their attention. The more people watching the better.


Okay, can you move five of these matches to make nine?

Sit back as they try to figure it out. They may look confused.

Let them play around with the matches if needs be, until they give up.

Seal the Deal and Reveal

If they’ve moved the matches, line them up again as before. Then casually move five matches to literally spell out the word, ‘nine’.


Move five matches… to make nine. Voila.

Put the matches back in the box and give it a shake.


Always think outside the box… of matches.

Some extra lines you can try

  • Take something literal and make it a bit more lateral.
  • This answer always lights my fire.
  • When I ask Germans if they know how to do it, they always say, “nein!”
Alternative ending

Hand them your matches.


I’m handing the fire over to you, take it and spread the word…

Anticipated responses and retorts

Did you figure this one out when you first saw it?

I cannot lie. Not me.

What else can you do with matches?

I will show you the Square Dare next.

Do you ever light one up while showing this?

Don’t smoke! Smoking is the leading cause of statistics.
Good follow ups
When & where
When to use it
  • When you want people to think outside of the box.
  • When in a social setting and you just want to get a vibe going.
  • When people need some creative inspiration.
Where to use it
  • office canteen
  • leadership forums
  • mentoring
  • customer visits
  • socializing at a bar
Getting ready
Items required
  • 11 matches
  • a flat surface
  • Take 11 matches and put them on a table.
Training required
  • As long as you know the spelling for "NINE" you are good to go.
Watch out (potential unexpected effects)
  • Don't make any fires.

type type

Do It Yourself (DIY)

material material

wood (matches)

size size

box of matches – small

durability durability

don’t light up the matches or you will be needing more

source source

the ether

time to impact time to impact

pretty much there and then

size of audience size of audience

this works well with any size group

possible health risk possible health risk

you could wet your bed

reusable how many times you can use it

once per person or group

training needed training needed


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