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Circus Seven / Drive Ya Nuts / Spot Colour Puzzle / Thinkominos

Circus Seven Spot Colour Puzzle Thinkominos

Drive Ya Nuts is a puzzle consisting of seven large hexagonal nuts, each of which has its six edges marked by the numbers 1 to 6 in some order. The aim is to put them in a hexagonal arrangement (one in the centre, the other six touching each side) so that every pair of touching sides have matching numbers. It was manufactured in plastic by Milton Bradley around 1987.

Drive Ya Nuts piece 1 Drive Ya Nuts piece 2 Drive Ya Nuts piece 3 Drive Ya Nuts piece 4 Drive Ya Nuts piece 5 Drive Ya Nuts piece 6 Drive Ya Nuts piece 7

The numbers in clockwise order on each nut are 123456, 143652, 146235, 162453, 164253, 165324, and 165432.

Circus Seven ('The Mind Exerciser') is a different version of exactly the same puzzle. It has seven hexagonal pieces, shaped a bit like circus tents, which have coloured stickers on the sides. Each piece has six colours, and there is a perfect correspondence with the numbers of the Drive Ya Nuts puzzle. The numbers 1 to 6 correspond to the colours red, green, blue, yellow, white, and orange respectively. It was manufactured by the Masudaya Corporation of Japan.

Circus Seven piece 1, rwobgy Circus Seven piece 2, rboygw Circus Seven piece 3, rbywog Circus Seven piece 4, rywbgo Circus Seven piece 5, rybwgo Circus Seven piece 6, rygowb Circus Seven piece 7, rygbow

Circus Puzzler is one of many colour variations of the Circus Seven puzzle. It looks like the same puzzle except that the colours are arranged differently, and it has no markings on the plastic box. There are three pairs of identical pieces. Note also that all the pieces have white opposite yellow, green opposite blue, and red opposite orange.

Circus Puzzler piece 1, rygowb Circus Puzzler piece 2, rygowb Circus Puzzler piece 3, rybowg Circus Puzzler piece 4, rybowg Circus Puzzler piece 5, rwgoyb Circus Puzzler piece 6, rwgoyb Circus Puzzler piece 7, rwboyg

Below I list several other colour variations. Whereas the Circus Seven puzzle has a leaflet that explains the puzzle in remarkably well-written English, the Circus Puzzler's leaflet is badly written. I reproduce it verbatim below.


Test your intellingence.
Can you make all the contacted edges of chesses for the same colour shortly?


(1) Take out seven chesses and separate them to match on the edges of chesses with six different colours as red, white, orange, blue, green and yellow.

(2) Pick any one of them and put it on the center. The other six chesses will be arranged as shown in Figure (A) below.

(3) If you can make all the contacted edges for the same colour as shown in figure (B) below, then you will find the correct solution.

Figure A, hexagonal arrangement Figure B, matching colours

Indicates the contacted portions of the 12 edges.

There are several other colour variations of this puzzle, sometimes also sold under the same names or as Color Matcher. It is not clear how many variations there are, but here I list the ones I have seen pictures of. These variations are all different, even if the colours are swapped.

Variation A:
Piece A1, rgwbyo Piece A2, rgybow Piece A3, rogbwy Piece A4, rogbyw Piece A5, rwgbyo Piece A6, rwobgy Piece A7, rygwob
Note that all but one of the pieces have red opposite blue.

Variation B:
Piece B1, rbgywo Piece B2, rbyogw Piece B3, robwyg Piece B4, rowgby Piece B5, rwgbyo Piece B6, ryowbg Piece B7, ryowbg
Note that the last two pieces are identical.

Variation C:
Piece C1, rbwgoy Piece C2, rbwyog Piece C3, rgbwoy Piece C4, rogybw Piece C5, rogywb Piece C6, roybgw Piece C7, rwyogb

Variation D:
Piece D1, rbowgy Piece D2, rbwygo Piece D3, rowbgy Piece D4, rowgyb Piece D5, rwgoyb Piece D6, ryobgw Piece D7, ryowgb

Variation E:
Piece E1, rgywob Piece E2, rwbyog Piece E3, rwgyob Piece E4, rwyobg Piece E5, rybowg Piece E6, rygbow Piece E7, rywbog
This version is smaller, about 2/3 the size of the standard versions.

Variation F:
Piece F1, kbwrgy Piece F2, kbyrwg Piece F3, kgbyrw Piece F4, krwbyg Piece F5, kwgybr Piece F6, kygrwb Piece F7, kywbgr
This version is made of wood, and is called the Spot Colour Puzzle.

If your browser supports JavaScript, then you can play some of these Circus Puzzle variations by clicking the link below. You can even change the colour scheme to match any other colour variation you might have, and then let the computer find all the solutions.

JavaScript Circus Puzzle

Thinkominos is another matching puzzle with hexagonal pieces, made by Pressman in 1984. This time there are six pieces, also with six colours each. The aim is to create a triangle.

Thinkomino pieces

The number of positions:

There are 7 pieces with 6 orientations. This gives 7!·67 ways. The puzzle as a whole has six orientations that are considered identical, so there really only 7!·66=235,146,240 ways of putting the pieces back into its box. As is so often the case with puzzles like this, that number is not really representative of its difficulty. The orientations are all forced because each newly placed piece has to match at least one other, so there are certainly no more than 7!=5040 positions to check when solving it. In fact most of these positions fail to match its colours well before you place the seventh piece, the actual number is far less.
The Circus Puzzler has three pairs of identical pieces which can be swapped without changing the position, so that version has no more than 7!/23=630 positions.
Thinkominos similarly has 6!·65/3 = 1,866,240 ways of packing the pieces onto the box, but realistically has no more than 6!=720 positions to check.


I have not found any pattern in the numbers on Drive Ya Nuts or the colours of the Circus Seven, so it seems that the only way to find the unique solution is to try all possibilities.

Drive Ya Nuts solution Circus Seven solution

The Circus Puzzler has three pairs of identical pieces. It stands to reason that the piece that occurs only once has to be in the centre, and that each pair goes on opposite sides of the centre piece. This leaves only very few possibilities, and the two solutions shown below are then very quickly found. These are the only solutions.

Circus Puzzler solution 1 Circus Puzzler solution 2

All the listed colour variations have unique solutions.

Variation A:
Circus Variation A solution
Variation B:
Circus Variation B solution
Variation C:
Circus Variation C solution
Variation D:
Circus Variation D solution
Variation E:
Circus Variation E solution
Variation F:
Spot Colour Puzzle solution

The Thinkominos puzzle has two solutions. There does not seem to be a pattern so the only way to solve it is to just try all combinations.

Thinkominos solution 1 Thinkominos solution 1