How to Connect Nine Dots With Four Lines

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A common problem used to test your skills in thinking outside the box, the so-called Nine Dots puzzle asks its problem-solver to connect nine dots in a square using only four straight lines. In addition, you also cannot move the pencil off of the paper once you have drawn the first line; you complete the task in one take.

  • Write small numbers beside each of the nine dots to help you draw out the solution. Starting with the top left dot and moving across the rows, start with 1, 2 and 3. The second row will be 4, 5 and 6, and the final row is 7, 8 and 9.

  • Place the pencil about one extra space's distance diagonally down from dot 9. Your first line must connect dots 9, 5 and 1, but the solution requires starting outside the box.

  • Draw the second line from dot 1 across dots 2 and 3, continuing past the last dot until the line is even from where your first line started. The line should be long enough so your pencil is diagonal with dot 6.

  • Draw the third line down across dot 6 and dot 8, stopping when the pencil is aligned with the first column above.

  • Draw the fourth line up, crossing dots 7, 4 and 1. All nine dots have been connected, and you've drawn an arrow slightly larger than the box of dots itself.

Tips & Warnings

  • This exercise is used to think outside the box since the solution literally demands it; some will try to draw lines within the confines of the "box" the dots form, but the solutions require poking outside.
  • This is not the only solution available; try starting with a different dot and seeing where the lines can take you.
  • Each solution, of course, can be mirrored and still result in the same success thanks to the box's symmetry.
  • Remember the purpose of this exercise is to think outside the box, so use all four lines; just making an S or a Z with three lines across each row doesn't take much effort to figure out.

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