Most Magical Square

In 2006, three pupils from a Dutch secondary school created the “most magical magic square in 5,000 years”, according to maths experts from Radboud University in Nijmegen, in the Netherlands.

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Jess Hoekstra and Willem Schilte, both 17, and Petra Alkema, 15, created the massive 12 x 12 magic square during a masterclass the previous year.

A magic square is a mathematical “trick” in which horizontal, vertical, diagonal and sometimes even circular rows of figures add up to the same number (sometimes called the “magic total”).

“These three are super brilliant – you don’t work this out by chance,” Radboud’s Arno van Essen was quoted as saying.

The square they created consists of 144 boxes (12 rows and 12 columns) containing the numbers 1 to 144 inclusive. The sum of each row and each column totals 870 (which is this square’s “magic total”), as do the diagonals as well as the parallel broken diagonals.

“We were just playing with the square by dividing it up into little ones – it was only later we realised all its magic elements,” said Jesse.

“This is the most magical magic square in 5,000 years,” said Van Essen.

Jesse and Willem submitted this magic squares project for their final school maths project. “Normally, you can score poor, average or good, but our teacher is going to try to get us a very good,” the boys said.

ANP reported that the new magic square will be known as the HSA square, after the trio’s initials.

The square will be shown on current affairs show Nova on Thursday night.

(This article is kindly reprinted courtesy of

This magic square is, in fact, very similar to one of the famous Benjamin Franklin Squares, although these pupils have managed to make the two corner diagonals sum to the magic total, which Franklin was unable to achieve.

An almost-identical square to the one shown above was created by Donald Morris in 2005, although there is no suggestion that these pupils did anything other than create theirs by themselves.

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