There’s a fairly simple puzzle, called The Eight Queens, that I’ve long favored as a project for first semester CS students. The problem is simple enough for a beginner to tackle, yet also interesting enough to be engaging. (And just tricky enough to be a nice beginner challenge.)
Due to a discussion on my other blog, I dug out an old Python implementation I had, and, after looking at it, I thought it might be worth writing a post about. If nothing else, as I said, the problem is interesting enough to be engaging.