Mutilated chessboard problem

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2023-03-19 09:30:01

Suppose a standard 8×8 chessboard (or checkerboard) has two diagonally opposite corners removed, leaving 62 squares. Is it possible to place 31 dominoes of size 2×1 so as to cover all of these squares?

It is an impossible puzzle: there is no domino tiling meeting these conditions. One proof of its impossibility uses the fact that, with the corners removed, the chessboard has 32 squares of one color and 30 of the other, but each domino must cover equally many squares of each color. More generally, if any two squares are removed from the chessboard, the rest can be tiled by dominoes if and only if the removed squares are of different colors. This problem has been used as a test case for automated reasoning, creativity, and the philosophy of mathematics.

The mutilated chessboard problem is an instance of domino tiling of grids and polyominoes, also known as "dimer models", a general class of problems whose study in statistical mechanics dates to the work of Ralph H. Fowler and George Stanley Rushbrooke in 1937.[1] Domino tilings also have a long history of practical use in pavement design and the arrangement of tatami flooring.[2]