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Pips Puzzle

I ran across this Pips Puzzle in The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Puzzles by The Diagram Group. The goal is to arrange the ace to nine of hearts so that the pips in each row – horizontal, vertical and diagonal – add up to 15.

Pips Puzzle

This puzzle is really just a magic square, but I like that the puzzle is presented without that terminology since my students are master googlers.

pips puzzle

In fact, I’ve shared this exact puzzle before under the name Magic Square 15.

Pips Puzzle

You could definitely use cards from an actual deck of cards for this puzzle, but I just printed some playing card clipart on Astrobrights paper and laminated it to create the cards for students to use.


drawing of laminator machine with text "laminating recommendations"

A laminator is a MUST-HAVE for me as a math teacher! I spent my first six years as a teacher at a school with a broken laminator, so I had to find a way to laminate things myself.

I’ve had several laminators over the years. I currently use a Scotch laminator at home and a Swingline laminator at school.

I highly recommend splurging a bit on the actual laminator and buying the cheapest laminating pouches you can find!

I printed the puzzle board on 11 x 17 cardstock. I printed the playing cards on colored, letter-sized paper which I then laminated. If you don’t have the ability to print on this size of paper, I have also uploaded a letter-sized version.

Puzzle Solutions

I intentionally do not make answers to the printable math puzzles I share on my blog available online because I strive to provide learning experiences for my students that are non-google-able. I would like other teachers to be able to use these puzzles in their classrooms as well without the solutions being easily found on the Internet.

However, I do recognize that us teachers are busy people and sometimes need to quickly reference an answer key to see if a student has solved a puzzle correctly or to see if they have interpreted the instructions properly.

If you are a teacher who is using these puzzles in your classroom, please send me an email at with information about what you teach and where you teach. I will be happy to forward an answer key to you.