Eight in a Boat – A Classic Problem

Problem Solving Activity – The Vikings were a sea-faring, warlike people. They would travel long distances in their boats to raid villages and cities. In the case of this puzzle, four Vikings are seasick at the front of the boat and need to swap with the four smelly Vikings at the back.


Problem Solving Activity

Eight in a Boat

Problem Solving Activity

Classic Problem Solving Activity


To practice the problem-solving skill of constant manipulation.

What you need:

4 counters of one color (I like to use chess pawns)
4 counters of a different color
1 game board
1 player


1. Place four counters of the same color on the shields of the sick (green-faced) Vikings.
2. Place the other four counters on the shields of the Vikings at the back of the boat.
3. Ensure there is an empty shield in the center of the boat.


1. Counters on the sick Vikings can only move right.
2. Counters on the other Vikings can only move left.

How to Move:

1. A counter can slide to an empty shield directly beside it.
2. Jump over ONE counter of the opposite color to the next empty shield.
– To swap all the front counters to the back of the boat and the counters at the back to the front.

Something to Aim For:

– It is said this puzzle can be solved in 24 moves. Is this true or false?