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This puzzle, also known as the 'Seven-Counters Game', was described in detail in 1908 by William F. White in his book 'A Scrap-Book of Elementary Mathematics' (Notes, Recreations, Essays). He writes:
"Required to place seven counters on seven of the eight spots in conformity to the following rule: To place a counter, one must set out from a spot that is unoccupied and move along a straight line to the spot where the counter is to be placed.
The writer remembers seeing this as a child when the game was probably new. The solution is so easy that it offered no difficulty then. A puzzle whose solution is seen by almost any one in a minute or two is hardly worth a name, and one wonders to see it in Lucas's Recreations mathematiques and dignified by the title 'The American Game of Seven and Eight.' Lucas explains that the game, invented by Knowlton, of Buffalo, N. Y., was published, in 1883, by an American journal offering at first a prize to the person who should send, within a fixed time, the solution expressed in the fewest words."