Not Too Close!

The students numbered 1 to 8 should sit on the chairs so that no two consecutively numbered students sit next to each other either vertically, horizontally or diagonally.

Is it possible? If so, how many different solutions can you find?










You can earn a 'Transum Trophy' for completing this activity here.


Topics: Starter | Logic | Problem Solving | Puzzles

  • Stonelow Junior School, Y4H
  • Very hard and challenging
  • Mr Hall, Light Hall School, Solihull
  • Dear Transum,

    I love you website I use it every maths lesson I have with every year group! I don't know were I would turn to with out you!
  • Roni Morrison And Sammy Elder, Carnoustie High School
  • It was good because it used up half a maths lesson and we all worked as a team.
  • Margaret Maxim, 5I, BCPS
  • I found it impossible and so did the rest of my class!
  • Mrs Traynor, Cavendish Primary School
  • We are finding this very challenging but we enjoy the challenge!!! We have not found a solution yet!
  • Mrs Traynor, Cavendish Primary School
  • Craig Connell, Aged 9
    Has Done it!!! Brilliant, well done Craig!
  • The Best Class Ever (8cd/m2), King Alfred's College OXON
  • We found this starter a little challenging to start with but once we had realised that 1 and 8 were special numbers and that they had to go in the middle we found it easy !! :D.
  • Ahmar Khan, Ryburn Valley High School
  • D.M. took 3 minutes to complete. Placed 1 and 8 in centre at start since these seats have most adjacents but 1 and 8 have only 1 consecutive each in the set.
  • Miriam Age 7, London
  • I loved it and I did it but it was very challenging.
  • Joe R-B, 8g3
  • Got them all in 10 min there are 4 ways.
  • Daisy, Ole And Finley., Years 5 And 6, Beckley Primary School.
  • We really like this challenge.
    Our awnsers are:
    _2_ _2_ _7_ _7_
    685 586 314 413
    413 314 586 685
    _7_ _7_ _2_ _2_
    You need to have the numbers 2 and 7 in the highest and lowest seats, and 1 and 8 in the middle seats.
  • Fab Fives, Stamford Green Primary School
  • We loved this challenge. At the start only Jamie got it but soon after about a third of the class got a solution and then most of us got it after we knew 8 and 1 need to go in the middle. We worked out there are 8 solutions, we think!
  • Tia Bankes, West Kirby Grammar School
  • I found this a real brain teaser but still enjoyed the challenge.
  • Mrs Parsloe, Cadland Primary School
  • We found this very difficult and thought it was impossible but then we saw the clue about the 1 and 8 numbers and then it took us a few seconds to get it! Nicole (aged 10) was the first!
  • Mrs Grant, Long Row Primary School
  • Hi, My year 5/6 class found this a challenge. However two of my super children managed to find 2 different solutions in 15 minutes! We are very proud of them!!!
  • Mr Rowe, Cottingham High School
  • Kieran got this within about 2 minutes!
  • 6N, Charnwood Primary School
  • We did this really quickly and were waiting for the rest of our class to figure it out! Abigail and Tia. Is there a harder one?
  • Drumglass High School, Year 10
  • Completed in 40 seconds by Chelsea, Aaron, Molly and Jason. Class captain Josh lead the way!!
  • Herman Primary, Yr 5/6
  • We loved this challenge and managed to work out the solution in the end but we had to persevere for 45 minutes.
  • Daniel Soko, Bedwas High School.
  • Nice and straightforward.After the first minute, it may be an idea to give a quick and evasive clew(one that was suggested by Mr Bounds was to put numbers 1 and 8 in the middle, since they had the least links with others).
    A pat on the back for Kym Price in Year 10 who achived her first combination within 50 2econds.
  • Orangutan Class, Kent
  • We found this tricky and had to work together. We noticed a pattern with odds and evens and quickly solved it after that!
  • Mrs A Millar, St Wilfrids Primary Northwich
  • My class did one solution in 1 minute. We have only found two solutions so far.

How did you use this starter? Can you suggest how teachers could present or develop this resource? Do you have any comments? It is always useful to receive feedback and helps make this free resource even more useful for Maths teachers anywhere in the world.
Click here to enter your comments.

If you don't have the time to provide feedback we'd really appreciate it if you could give this page a score! We are constantly improving and adding to these starters so it would be really helpful to know which ones are most useful. Simply click on a button below:

Excellent, I would like to see more like this
Good, achieved the results I required
Didn't really capture the interest of the students
Not for me! I wouldn't use this type of activity.

This starter has scored a mean of 3.8 out of 5 based on 163 votes.

Previous Day | This starter is for 17 June | Next Day



This is one possible solution:

Not Too Close Solution

What is special about the students numbered 1 and 8? Could they sit on any other chairs?

Other similar activities:

Suggested Activity

Great Expectation

Great Expectation

An interactive online activity requiring logical thinking and a certain amount of luck. Numbers 1 to 6 are presented randomly and are to be used to produce two 2-digit numbers. Can you ensure that the first number is greater than the second?

Featured Activity



Arrange the numbers on the squares so that the totals along each line of three squares are equal. There are five levels of difficulty and the fifth level is very hard. Transum trophies are available.

Recommended Activity

Connect 4 Factors

Connect 4 Factors

A mathematical version of the popular Connect 4 game based on getting four numbers with a common factor in a line. Fun for one, two or a whole class of pupils.

Your access to the majority of the Transum resources continues to be free but you can help support the continued growth of the website by doing your Amazon shopping using the links on this page. Below is an Amazon search box and some items chosen and recommended by Transum Mathematics to get you started.


GCSE Revision and Practice

Whatever exam board you use for GCSE Mathematics, this book by David Rayner remains an all-round winner. With this latest edition presented in full colour and completely updated for the new GCSE(9-1) specifications, this uniquely effective text continues to increase your chance of obtaining a good grade.

This book is targeted at the Higher tier GCSE, and provides a wealth of practice with careful progression, alongside substantial revision support for the new-style grading and exam questions. With all the new topics included, and a dedicated section on using and applying mathematics, this unique resource can be used either as a course book over two or three years or as a revision text in the run-up to exams. more...

Online Maths Shop

Laptops In Lessons

Teacher, do your students have access to computers?
Do they have iPads or Laptops in Lessons?

Whether your students each have a TabletPC, a Surface or a Mac, this activity lends itself to eLearning (Engaged Learning).

Laptops In Lessons

Here a concise URL for a version of this page without the comments.

Here is the URL which will take them to the student version of this activity.

Student Activity

People Maths

This activity is great fun when done with real chairs, real students and real teamwork. Make eight numbered hats from strips of paper, arrange the chairs then sit back and enjoy listening to the discussion.

Not Too Close Hats

Other Maths activities that can be done for 'real' can be found on the People Maths page.

Student Activity

©1997-2020 WWW.TRANSUM.ORG