Extremely Puzzling - Goetz Schwandtner's Puzzles
On this page some extremely puzzling objects are displayed: My private puzzle collection consisting of a wide range of three-dimensional puzzles, from industrial produced Rubik's Cube like puzzles to my custom builds, from production range Pihilos wood puzzles to rare and special puzzles from various excellent craftsmen, and not to forget the Japanese Himitsu Bakos, including some equisite works of the Karakuri Creation Group. Please note that you won't find any jigsaw puzzles on these pages, may they be two or three dimensional.
- Added on 2018-10-15
Last weekend, the biggest European puzzler's meeting took place in Voorburg again, the Dutch Cube Day (DCD), and I attended to meet many puzzle friends from all over the world and also to add some puzzles to my collection. It was a great event, as every time! Right at the beginning, each participant received two presents from the organizers: Double Dutch as a welcome gift, and then a small version of the Utopian Cube, as a present to remember the late Markus Goetz. Alfons was there with a lot of beautiful wooden interlocking puzzles, some of them being: Greyhound, Long Skirt, Lolly Box (the original one, which I did not have in my collection so far), Four in a Box (a much more complicated variant of the same concept), the Moira's Cube (one of the cubes, this one being named after a cat), Madia, Missing Link, and a few of the Happiness Cube series which are older designs, but have been quite popular lately: Happiness Cube 169, Happiness Cube 95.2, and Happiness Cube 20.2 (which I have in a tiny 3D printed version, too!). Jack had some older designs newly made and looking beautiful: Sixticks (thanks for this one) and Crossing. That last one has been on my compendium web site for some time, but I never had one of these fascinating sliding piece puzzles. It is an n-ary sliding piece puzzle without a long control piece, which all earlier designs had, for example also the next one is also one: a vintage SpinOut mini in a version I have never seen before. Both puzzles are on the n-ary puzzle group now. This one and the vintage Gamma puzzle were offered from my late puzzle friend Laurie's collection. The next two puzzles are brand new designs, one of them taking part in the IPP38 Exchange: Gyrotwisty (do you remember the Gyro Twister toy, looking similar and promising to strengthen your wrists?) and the African Mask, which has two layers of sliding pieces, with the top layer being round, arc shaped pieces. The Curly Cube is a nice design which was around for some time and which I finally picked up, and it looks just beautiful and comes apart in an unexpected way. The Two Piece Cube is one of the rare puzzles by the German puzzle designer Carsten Elsäßer, which I had seen a couple of time and was now for offer — no need to think twice here! Maybe I will have to think more than twice when solving the puzzle, as I have already found some interesting first steps and interactions with outside and inside parts of the puzzles, but nowhere near a solution. The Turtle's Heart and the Kowloon Seal Luban Lock are some IPP Exchange puzzles from earlier years and this year.
- Added on 2018-10-01
Before picking up the puzzles for this update, I revisited two rotational interlocking puzzles again: The Shield and Square Target. A puzzle friend mentioned that his solution works differently than what I had described, and indeed for The Shield, I found a solution to get the first two pieces out without rotations, and then the other two pieces requiring some rotations. With rotational puzzles, it seems to become more difficult to find the "best" solution, as one cannot simply take the one from Burr-Tools or a similar program. The puzzles arriving today are also in the interlocking category and also not in the standard Burr-Tools category. One of them is an addition to n-ary puzzle group and compendium, and both of them are 3D printed versions of IPP Design Competition Entries (this year and in the past). The first one is a nice coordinate motion cube extending Ray Stanton's Slideways series: Slideways Cube (printed). Three identical pieces with some angled cuts make it ideal for 3D printing. The other one is the one with the many moves and has more 3D printed pieces, the Barcode Burr (printed). It moves nicely and after quickly finding the right triangles to push, the sequence starts flowing and soon afterwards the first piece is released. Disassembling the cube completely, unveils that each piece is created from three 3D printed pieces and some screws. Printing each piece in three parts seems to have several advantages: Much easier to print and less support structure (if any) required, and the long bars can be printed having a smooth surface. This technique makes the puzzle very nice to play with, and then the n-ary sequence can be found during playing, confirming what is summarized in the corresponding compendium entry. Two very nice and high quality 3D printed puzzles, and also quite inexpensive. So if you ever wanted to get (a version) of the Barcode Burr, now is the chance!
- Added on 2018-09-22
Today a surpise package arrived from one of the experts in 18 pieces burrs, from Yvon. It contained a very well crafted 18 pieces burr with an interesting color scheme, and it took me some time to identify which one it is. My conclusion (and I hope it is correct): Burrn. It was helpful that I was discussing this design with the designer Stephan earlier this year, so I had already seen an electronic version of the puzzle. This one has a moderate level for the first piece and opens up a new category in my
18 pieces burrs group. Having seen a picture of Yvon's collection of 18 pieces burrs (all built by himself), I must admit that his collection of 18 pieces burrs is far more impressive than mine. On that picture, they were covering the floor of a whole room! Now back to this puzzle: When discussing this earlier on, it seemed a nice and interesting design to me. The level 15 for the first piece is manageable, and then it gets more difficult. Having played with the puzzle to identify it, I have already seen some very interesting moves of groups of pieces, especially when removing the second and third piece of the puzzle. Some of Alfons' 18 pieces burrs I played with recently also had some unusual moves, but somehow the moves in this puzzle are different. Maybe the "handwriting" of the designers can be seen here? The Burrn may not have an overly creative name (and it should not mislead you to burning it!), but the moves are quite unusual for an 18 pieces burr, I like it a lot. Thank you very much, Yvon, for this nice surprise puzzle!
- Added on 2018-09-10
Today I could pick up a big and heavy package at the customs office. It was so heavy that the moment I went into the door, the officer asked me if I had brought a dolly with me to transport the package. It contained one big wooden 7.3kg puzzle, so I could also manage without a carrying device. The puzzle is the result of a Kickstarter campaign which I supported roughly 2 years ago and which was run over by so many backers that they had to close down the sign-up early. After a long time, it arrived today — like a surprise birthday package you did not expect. So what is this big puzzle? It is actually a puzzle book: Codex Silenda. While I have a shelf full of puzzle books, this is puzzle book is special one, because it has only 7 pages, and they are various kinds of puzzles. The first page is a sequential discovery puzzle with several steps, and you can only turn each page after unlocking it by solving its puzzle. So far, I am on page three of the story, and the story also seems to be related to the puzzles in the book and to provide some background. This is a massive puzzle and it will probably take some time until I have worked my way through all the 7 pages. At the moment, they are still working on fulfilling the Kickstarter campaign, but after that it seems to be planned to put the original 5 page version into mass production. More details and also pictures of the pages and puzzles can be found on the Codex Silenda web page.
- Added on 2018-09-09
This weekend, some of us puzzle collectors decided to go to the international lock collector's meeting held in Cologne, because we also collect and/or design trick locks. Beside some old puzzle friends (including two of the best trick lock designers), I met many friendly lock collectors there. This seems to be an overall term, as some of them only collect keys, and others collect huge safes, which are a bit like massively built trick boxes, among them some requiring many steps, tricks, and several keys to be opened. It sees that our little invasion was a benefit for both groups, as we puzzlers were able to see some fascinating lock craftsmanship from older time, and have interesting conversations about safe and lock topic, while the puzzlers brought some puzzles to the lock collectors, especially as additional entertainment during dinner. Meeting some puzzle friends / lock designers also meant that I could return with some more challenges for my collection. Having pre-arranged before, I was able to pick up the brand new Haleslock 5, which is quite unusual looking lock, based on an Italian product. So far I have found only some easy first steps, and something that may be part of a later trick, but I am nowhere near a solution yet. Shane also brought a pair of locks for me, which are some more pieces of IPP38 coming my way: a pair of IPP38 Exchange Locks. They look very similar, yet have subtle differences and were exchanged by different puzzlers: Silver Lock Exchange #1 and Goldilock. Those were the new trick locks, which I all will need to solve and I am looking forward to solving them! The others came from the Lock Exchange at the lock collector's meeting, and are also not regular locks and can easily be classed as trick locks: Braun's Patent-Sicherheitsschloss looks like a land mine, but this lock does not have rust or stain on it and is in excellent condition, keeping in mind that it was produced in the first of the 20th century (and never made it into large scale production, as far as I remember). The first trick is to find the key hole, and there is one obvious place where to look for it, and then to open the lock with the key, which has a shape I have never seen before. Only turning the key does not work, and that definitely makes it a trick lock! The Old German Tricklock (my guess, please let me know if you know more) looks like it is a bit older, and while there is a typical place where to look for the kay hole, it is not easy to actually find. Also this one does not open after inserting the key and turning it, and that might be a big surprise; another step is required. The last one could be from India, but actually I do not know and it looks quite old and a rusty. The key seems to be a new replacement key and I used its shape to name the lock as Lock with Hook-Key — not "HoKey" which is related to different excellent lock design from IPP38 I have solved with a big A-Ha!
For the other new entries, we have to focus our attention on non-lock puzzles again. The first one may not be the best example: Dinilock No. 1 was published at IPP38, where the world's foremost and best known collector of Trick Locks from India chose it as his Exchange puzzle. This 3D printed lock does not only look like a lock, but it can also serve as a true padlock. As it has a reasonable difficulty and is fun to solve (as I can tell from my own experience), we were able to start the possible puzzle collecting career of some participants of the lock collector meeting with this nice puzzle. What is a bonus is that unlike most trick locks, this is an open puzzle allowing to see everything and solving by deduction rather than blind guessing. Currently, there is some available at Puzzle Paradise at a very good price, so it is easy to give it a go! The other puzzles were some brought by Wil to be dinner table entertainment and kept puzzlers and lock collectors busy for quite some time: The Coin Puzzles - Selected by Iwahiro is a variation on a classic scheme, transforming figures obeying certain rules. The puzzle is nicely implemented allowing it to be easily carried around in the pocket for the next occasion to try. While the first challenge seems easy at first, it is not, and the others are indeed challenges that can be solved, but require some thoughts and creativity. The Make a Square - Cover the Centre consists of a set of nice wooden pieces on a nice board, where you have to place them creating a full square, without a hole in the middle, At the beginning some pieces seem to provide hints as to where they may or may not be placed, pending the evaluation of these hints after I will have solved the puzzle. Thanks for the nice puzzles!
Both from a puzzle collecting perspective, and the event, with all the people involved, the experiment of joining a lock collector's meeting proved to be a great idea and it was a fun weekend and well organized! Cheers to the organizers!
- Added on 2018-09-03
Recently I spotted a picture of Allard Walker's IPP38 Exchange puzzle, and it was based on an old patent, rediscovered by Michel van Ipenburg and produced by Robrecht Louage. It is not the first one from this category, for example my own IPP34 Exchange puzzles was created in a similar way, and I knew that Michel would pick interesting designs, and if Allard had decided to make it his exchange puzzle, it was surely interesting. When I reached Allard to find out if he had some available, he quickly send one to me, and it arrived in a beautiful package, together with a gift Allard had been handing out at IPP38. The puzzle is B. Dorstrom Puzzle 2018 and looks unusual, interesting, and nicely manufactured from Trespa. The objective is to remove the ring that runs over the star shape diagonally, and does not look like it would come off at all. When I picked it up to give it a first try, I could do some expected rotational moves around the central axis, but then some shape shifting moves appeared that led to a first idea how this obviously impossible task of removing the ring may be accomplished. Having written that, I am currently nowhere near a soution at the moment and it will require some more observation, experimenting, and ThinkTM, which incidentially is one of the well known components of Allard's blog. Meanwhile, there is the other puzzle for some distraction: Find your P's, Q's ... and T's. The letters stand for three differeent geometrical groups of shapes (like "T" for "Triangle"), but the puzzle does not only come with three challenges, but a complete total of 14 challenges! All those need to be constructed only using the three triangles provided. So far, I have already found some of the easier ones, like right-angled triangle, a scalene triangle, a rectangle, some two parallelograms, a trapezium, and a convex quadriliteral. A very clever design considering how simple those pieces look like, and it is fun to seach for all those different shapes to construct. Maybe I should have started taking pictures, so that I can keep track about which ones I have already found and which ones to hunt for next. Two great puzzles, and fun to play with, thanks a lot, Allard! (Also for bringing a bit more of IPP38 to me!)
- Added on 2018-08-31
From Pelikanpuzzles, I received some of the latest rotational interlocking puzzles made beautifully in wood. They are all by the same designer, who is an expert in this genre. Trap-R2 Has an interesting look, with the round piece sandwitched in the box. Can you guess how many pieces there are? There are overall four pieces, two carefully hidden by the beautiful wood pattern. So far, I managed to pull out some of the pieces a bit and now have something that could be described as a wheel on a turning axle, interesting! The Shield I have solved already, and it consists of four identical pieces in a frame. How difficult could that be? Not too easy, but also not too difficult, as it seems. In my solution, the first two pieces come out utilising some rotations, while for the other two pieces only linear moves are required. After I had completely disassembled the puzzle, I misplaced some of the pieces and had to find out how they fit into the frame. At that point it turned out that the frame is surprisingly supportive for this task, and soon afterwards I had everything back in the starting configuration. The Square Target also has four pieces in a frame with an additional stand, but here only three pieces are identical, and the fourth one is slightly different. It is also this piece causing some confusing during the solution. After some moves I even had some trouble putting all the pieces back into the initial positions. My solution then used something that seems to be part of the design: Some nice rotations before the first two pieces come out, and the trick for the first piece is then repeated for the second one. After complete disassembly, you can see where those pieces have the possibility to leave the frame, and there are not many possibilities. Some nice puzzles from this category, and the designer has once again proven that he creates interesting designs.
- Added on 2018-08-29
Some years ago, Louis Coolen started some small 3D printed trick lock designs heavily exploiting the advantages of 3D printing and the material used, and created a series of excellent little trick locks. Having solved and enjoyed the locks from 2015, 2016, and 2017 in the past, I was waiting for the latest one, and here is the Trick Lock 2018. It has the same form factor and material like the previous ones, and this may very well be my favorite of the series. As it happened for the others as well, Louis has stored the key in or on the lock, and in this case it is securely fastened, and obviously one challenge will be to get that key out. The lock has a key hole and the key will fit in once you have extracted it. The solution has several stages (one is to get the key released) and a new and unusual mechanism. Even though the main body has been 3D printed in one piece, there are enough openings to get some look into the lock while solving, so it is not about blind guessing, but about making observations and a plan for attack. There was also room for some little additional features making the solution more challenging! Having solved the lock I am surprised about the complex solution built into this lock! At the moment, there are some for offer on Puzzle Paradise, and this may be a chance to get a great little trick lock.
- Added on 2018-08-27
Today a small package from Shanghai arrived, with a very high difficulty density of puzzles inside, four complex wire puzzles in a small box. The first one is another entry into the IPP38 Design Competition (and I can assure you, won't be the last!): Mobius Ring. The theme of this puzzle is the Möbius Strip, a strip being twisted and having only one surface. The frame's wire of this puzzle is only onle wire running around all edges of the frame and has been manufactured to have no gap or visible opening. My feeling is that this will not make the puzzle exactly easier, but luckily, Aaron has fitted this one with a quick reset mechanism. The next one does not have a quick release mechanism and is called: Double Scissors. It looks like this concept could be enhanced by adding more and more scissors to the end of the chain, making the puzzle more and more difficult — or not, I have to find out! The The Snail B and C has the easiest rating of the four. Instead of 10+ and 10 (of 1 to 10), it is only level 9, so I gave it a go. Never underestimate such puzzles! Instead of disentangling, I managed to get an additional knot into the puzzle, so my guess would be that I only have to reverse what I have done, twice! Not sure if that will work, as I have only a rough idea of some steps I have performed and will need to reconstruct the rest. The Chinese Lanterns II looks very interesting, when it comes to the challenge. Of course, some of the metal parts have to be removed from the rest, but when that would usually be the big handle, this is not the case here. This puzzle needs to be split into two parts roughly in the middle, and I am sure the handle will play an important part in the procedure.
- Added on 2018-08-22
Today a nice new addition to the twisty octahedra group page arrived: The Master Octahedron (MCTO) is a master version of the original Magic Octahedron, adding one more layer of pieces. One could assume, that this puzzle is therefore bigger than the original Magic Octahedron, but in fact it is about the same size, maybe a tiny bit smaller even. The quality is great and the pieces turn nicely, which I already used to make a stripe pattern (not in the picture!). A great little puzzle to add to my collection!
- Added on 2018-08-21
Some additional IPP related puzzles arrived today: From the UK, I received a package with a nice greeting on a tongue depressor in it. That could of course only mean one sender, and I was happy to see that beside the tongue depressor, there was also Steve's nicely built IPP38 Exchange puzzle inside: The HoKey CoKey Lock. It seems I missed Steve's and Derek's performance at the IPP Exchange for handing over his exchange puzzle, but you can google to see that's what it's all about (if you don't know Hokey Cokey). The lock comes with a nice bottle opener that acts both as a label with the details and as a key fob. Does not seem to be the easiest lock, and I have not made any progress, but already one observation which may be more important later on.
A second parcel brought some old and new puzzle designs from the US, all very nice and well made. After his successful "Free Me 5" showing up in the Design Competition last year, I have now received some older models and a newer model from the series. The Free Me 2 is the oldest one and there is a lot of sliding going on. Yet alone 5 different dovetail connections keep the various parts together, and you can slide some a bit, and also move the rod in the bottom block. After having briefly played with that one last year at DCD, I will now try to solve it and work out how to get the half dollar out. The Free Me 4 also has the characteristic dovetails, but looks a bit different than the others. While the others are flat, this has more like a box shape, but in the end also a half dollar coin is secured and has to be released. The latest one is Free Me 6, which I first spotted on the Design Competition Website. It is a tiny bit bigger than the Free Me 5, and some initial moves seem to work similar like in that model. Some others don't, however! There is a lot going on in those pocket puzzles, I can tell even without having solved them.
- Added on 2018-08-18
Another day, another package, another IPP Deisgn Competition entry. Today, Namick's third entry in the competition arrived, and it is from the same family of puzzles that we have been discussing for many months now: Entwined Loops Lattice. This one has a very interesting look, a bit like a heavily entangled forest or shrubbery, and beside the usual white colour, it has also nice yellow, silver, blue, and red elements. The blue one is the rope to come out and the red triangles denote the starting position. Having some experience with the other two puzzles and based on our long discussion, it was a nice and not too difficult exercise to solve this one. Like the Quadrupled Quadlooplet, this puzzle gives you some hints what you might want to do next, just that you have a clear view of the whole puzzle at any given time, because it is flat and not arranged in a circle. From the solution, those two puzzles are quite similar, and not all elements are actually used for the solution. This is maybe one first idea one has ot get to be successful solving. Despite the good view of everything, my solution did not go only the optimal way, but I managed to take some wrong turns and had to backtrack. With everything visible at one glance, it is quite easy determine what to do next and how the plan of attack looks like. A great puzzle, fun to play with, and a nice solving experience! The puzzle is of course on the n-ary puzzle group page, but if you like to know more details, please have a look into the compendium!
- Added on 2018-08-17
Today two packages arrived, one from Australia, the other from Russia. The first one contained the latest box created by Juno: Meanders Box. It is a puzzle demonstrating the possibilities offered by a CNC router, with a visible maze. The lid of the box has actually two mazes, one on each side, and this leads to four challenges in total. The box comes in the configuration with 348 moves, achieved by these mazes and steps at the sides of the sliders. There is another variant having only 172 moves, and following the goal to design a box with at least 100 moves, Juno created this version with 348 moves (and at least 260 moves in the other configurations). This increase in the number of moves was introduced by doubling the number of steps and halving their size on the four sliders on the side. While the 172 box was planned to be solved and the 348 move version only for people looking for a bigger challenge, my impression is that the box is still solvable by hand in a reasonable time. Having solved the initial challenge and the other one on the same side, I like how the pieces move and interact. It does not take as long as you would first expect, as a gentle push onto all four sliders allows them to move back into their initial position, with a nice rattling sound and over 20 moves in a second. Of course, not all the moves are running that quickly, and the maze on the other side seems to be shorter, but having more possibilities to get lost in the maze by taking a wrong turn. So far, it looks like the two sides behave quite different. A very nice box, with a great working mechanism, and very well crafted!
The other package contained some plastic puzzle. The first one I remember from IPP34: Six Cube. It looks like it is a six piece burr in bright plastic. So why did I put it into the Twisty Puzzles class? Well, it is actually a heavily truncated 3x3x3 design lacking all the corners and some parts of the edge piececs. A very clever idea! If you perform the standard checkerboard pattern, you will be disappointed, because the colour scheme does not lead to anything really new. However, if you take a look at some of the internal pieces visible through the gaps, you will notice some part of a checkerboard pattern after all. Truely a puzzle not behaving like a standard 3x3x3. With it came an old vintage puzzle, having an imprint stating that it was sold for 3 rubl some decades ago. It is a Pyraminx From Tula, a Pyraminx version I have never seen before. Thank you, Evgeniy/Grigorusha!
- Added on 2018-08-13
In the last few days, the big puzzle spectacle happened in the US: IPP38. While I was not there, I could play with some new IPP puzzles that could not make it onto my web site until IPP was over: Goodie was a nice little present from Stephan (thanks!), which looks like a cute packing puzzle. While it comes in a 4x6x6 pack in the packaging, the goal is to create the unique 5x5x5 pack as solution. Some pieces have additional cutouts limiting the ways how pieces can be packed, and I am not sure if that makes it easier or harder. Probably harder to solve. His second new puzzle was Stephan's entry into the Design Competition: Hydrant. This could be classed as a puzzle box, as you have to operate several mechanisms and locks to open the puzzle to find the fire hose. The puzzle is beautifully and very well made, and resembles one of the American Darling B-62-B fire hydrants found in the USA. Not only an eye catcher, but also an interesting puzzle, too. When you solve it, there is an additional surprise for you. This puzzle won a top 10 votes prize at IPP38. Also in the IPP38 DC were two of Namick's latest creations: Loopary Branch and Quadrupled Quadlooplet. Those are fascinating disentanglement puzzles and nicely demonstrate n-ary puzzle concepts. They look quite different, yet are related and have the same basic structure. When you have a solver for such puzzles, it is actually only a different parameter set. The Loopary Branch is good to learn the basic idea of such puzzles, and you can clearly see the whole puzzle during the solution, as it has a flat structure. The Quadrupled Quadlooplet has a structure that looks much more complicated, yet is a very regular structure at closer observation. When trying to solve this puzzle, it may seem complicated at first, but quickly one realizes that the puzzle design actually guides the solving process. Two excellent examples for
n-ary puzzle group and compendium!
With the Design Competition results announced, I can finally write something about those puzzles. During the competition, I had the possibility to play with 13 of the entries — can you spot them in the List of all puzzles? Aside from the ones I mentioned above, there are some prize winners I already had in my collection for some time:
Quartet Box was a top 10 votes prize and I was sure it would win something, as it is just a fascinating puzzle box. A very unusual mechanism, some sequential discovery elements that nicely interact with each other and which require multiple senses to solve, followed by a final step that was so well hidden that it eluded many puzzlers. The Cast Trinity won a 1st Prize and this is a puzzle I still need to solve, and it does not seem too easy. Just three pieces to take apart! Then there is the Casino puzzle. You may know my review from my entry below, or from the Pelikan Puzzles web shop, where it has sold out quickly. When we first discussed that puzzle and how well it would fit into the Design Competition, we did not imagine what happened yesterday: The puzzle won both the two big prizes of the Design Competition and therefore became "Puzzle of the Year", something that had last happened in 2008. A well deserved prize!
- Added on 2018-08-01
When visiting the web shop from Nowstore in Hong Kong, there is a good chance that you will see some of the latest Twisty Puzzle releases there. Today two of them arrived quickly. Both puzzles may be some of the latest releases worldwide, but are actually based on older designs. Container Puzzzle is the first mass produced version of this puzzle, and has a designer which is not often found among twisty puzzles: Jean-Claude Constantin. According to Tony Fisher, Jean-Claude sketched the design and then Tony built it as a hand made modification based on the common Skewb puzzle. Years ago, I saw it on Tony's web page, and now this mass produced version appeared, making the design widely available. The Barrel Redi Cube
clearly states its origin in the name, the Redi Cube by Oskar van Deventer. While the Redi Cube design had been around for years, it was only mass produced last year, and for me it triggered revisiting the solution of this family of puzzles. Beside the cylindric barrel shape, the transparent colours caught my eye when I first saw this barrel shaped one on a picture.
- Added on 2018-07-26
Today a parcel from Yavuz brought some beautiful and very unusual interlocking puzzles: Fenced Burr looks like six piece burr caught in a boxing ring. The two vertical pieces are mounted to the bottom plate and the metal rods of the fence lead to some nice interactions with the moving burr pieces. Of course, this unusual shape immediately caught my attention and it is definitely an eyecatcher — and a burr with a surprisingly high solution level. The other puzzle has some shiny brass rods and it is immediately clear where the name comes from: Abacus. When trying to solve, the first moves will also remind you of an abacus, moving the "beads" up and down. However, this is a burr puzzle, so most of these pieces won't move and you will also not get very far with these moves. Then comes the Aha! moment that offers a whole different set of moves, and I am not referring to rotations here. Because of the round brass rods, some pieces would like to rotate, but let's be assured that the solution is possible without rotations, even if there may be some rotational shortcuts at some points. When the solution sequence is finished, the three boards lying in the bottom of the Abacus will have come out and then it is another challenge to get them back in. Both puzzles benefit from the nice choices of materials and design details Yavuz has chosen.
- Added on 2018-07-25
In his latest update, Eric offered some really unusual interlocking / packing puzzles, and all of them are built in beautiful species of wood and at top notch craftmanship. The first one is the Combined Burr and clearly an interlocking puzzle. Not so clear are the mixed shapes of the pieces, which come in 3 different pairs. The first few moves to remove the first piece are easy enough and already show the strange piece shapes involved. The 18 moves to follow for the next piece are very high for a 6 piece burr. The others are some form of interlocking packing puzzles: Half Lid Box is by a designer who surprised us with some creative and unusual packing puzzles in the IPP Design Competition 2016, where he managed to win two prizes. The lid is only covering half of the 3x3 opening and is actually a slider not coming out of the box. The other pieces can come out, only that the remaining half opening seems to be too small for some of them, or maybe even most of them. The puzzle came assembled, and it seems to be a respectable challenge to unpack this packing puzzle in the first place! The Obstacle Box follows a similar scheme, only that there are three sliders inside, and each only covering a third of the 3x3 opening. The amazing thing is that one of them acts like a partial lid on the top layer, while the second one is turned by 90 degrees and acts as a middle separator, and then there is one separating the bottom layer from the rest, in the orientation of the top sliding plank again. This puzzle did only come partially assembled, so I am guessing it might not be as difficult as the other one. However, you still have to get the remaining pieces in and of course it looks like the pieces already inside the box have cunningly been placed in there in a configuration that leaves not enough room for the others. So the full challenge seems to be to remove all the pieces, find a suitable assembly, and put everything back into the box again.
Cubyful 2 came fully assembled, and upon first inspection I managed to get some of the small pieces out. There is one piece imprisioned in the box and not wanting to come out completely, so you will have to find your way around this piece for the rest of the solution. Sounds familiar? There is your common scheme of the packing puzzles in this update! The imprisioned guard piece in the Cubyful 2 puzzle has a nice interaction with the small blocks. The more you take out of them, the more that piece is able to move out and eventually move to other places — but not outside the box! When removing the first small pieces, gravity is your friend to get them out, but then they may come out in greater number than expected and for reassembly you have to determine their exact positions and sequence, and interaction with the guard piece. After seeing various interlocking cubic puzzles and packing puzzles by Lucie, these are her first box packing puzzles I have noticed, let's see what comes next!
- Added on 2018-07-21
The newly arrived Master FTO (Master Face Turning Octahedron) is a nice version of this puzzle made possible by the use of 3D printing. Evgeniy implemented a design by Timur creating a master version of the FTO with four layers in each direction instead of the three in the FTO. This is of course a nice addition to the twisty octahedra group page, which has grown much larger than I expected when I started this page. The Master FTO turns nicely considering how many pieces there are in this puzzle. I have been told that there is now a second, improved version, which is even better. So far, I have only tested simple patterns on this puzzle and it might help that I revisit the FTO before trying to solve this one. Some standard cube patterns look quite irregular on the MFTO at first sight, so it seems to be easy to scramble this puzzle. It is great that GRIGoRusha is offering these nice puzzles in his shop, which would otherwise be unavailable or only available as 3D printed parts that have to be dyed, assembled, stickered and broken in. I know this from early Shapeways puzzles, and this is one of the reasons I don't have many of them.
- Added on 2018-07-18
Today is one of those days! After waiting for several packages to arrive one after another for weeks now, three of them from three different countries and continents arrived at the same time. The first from Nowstore in Hong Kong brought some nice twisty puzzles. After successfully solving some of the previous releases of this designer and manufacturer recently, I thought a nice looking easy twisty puzzle was a good idea and I ordered the Chinese Coin Cube. This is a well made puzzle and the inside circles turn nicely, and indeed it is easy, so easy that I have solved it just some minutes ago. With it came a Fisher Skewb, which is basically a Skewb, but cut into a cube in a different way. I have seen many shape mods based on the Skewb mechanism over the years, and this one is also shape shifting. Last year, I met John at IPP and shortly before I had ordered his fist numbered Pyrigan puzzle, the model #808. Recently, he released the Pyrigan Puzzle Model #360 and it looked nice and beautiful. After my experiences with the previous model, I did not require a lot of thought to go for this one, as well. It is a beautiful and heavyweight puzzle and even without solving it, I can see the high attention to detail in this puzzle. Only a limited series of a 100 will be made, and at the moment there are still some available. That was the package from the USA, the next one came from Australia, and the first puzzle was some by-catch for my order. A Drive Down Lombard Street is a dexterity puzzle (and I am not good at that), but it intrigued me for some time, so I decided to finally order one while there were still some available. It is nicely made and having walked up Lombard Street myself in the past, I really like how this was implemented in this puzzle with nice details. And of course, this puzzle can be a bit mean at times, but that is the idea behind dexterity puzzles, isn't it? The main reason for my order were the next two. Puzzles looking like simple pairs wooden blocks bolted together with three or four massive brass bolts. The first one was a limited release of a puzzle I have already seen and played with a bit: Birthday Surprise! This one was originally named "Tweedledum and Tweedledee" to match the theme of the Jabberwocky project created in a joint effort by 15 well known puzzle designers, a puzzle chest with many puzzle boxes in it, all needing to be solved during the solution of the Jabberwocky chest. Brian Young's contribution to this project also went to the IPP37 design competition, where I had the chance to play with it and where it managed to win a prize being among the top 10 vote getters. The 3 Wise Bolts seems to be of a similar kind, but according to the description, it may only have 3 bolts, yet a higher difficulty level. I am curious to solve all those new puzzles and will see what surprises they will have to offer. A great day for me and my puzzle collections, and I got a birthday surprise, even though it is not my birthday!
- Added on 2018-07-06
I have known Jack Krijnen for years, in the beginning for high level 18 piece burrs, and for the number of moves in this category, he is the current world record holder, together with Alfons Eyckmans, see 18 pieces burrs group. In a joint research with Goh Pit Khiam, Jack then worked on designing n-ary puzzles, and quite successful, as you can see in n-ary puzzle group and compendium pages. Various different designs were discussed focusing on puzzles without a long synchronizer piece. At some point in the discussion, I mentioned puzzles with multiple discs like the Spin-Out or the Crazy Elephant Dance, and quickly after that Jack came back with a mechanism for n-ary discs without the need for a synchronizer piece. Some time later, Jack mentioned that he was working on something new: a puzzle box project, and of course I confirmed that this was interesting for me. To my surprise, Jack had not only designed a sequential discovery puzzle box, but also had implemented that n-ary wheel mechanism into it. Now I was really interested and was happy to play with a prototype Jack brought to last year's Dutch Cube Day. I only found the first step, but I stopped there as I did not want to spoil later solving attempts at home. Today this box has arrived and it looks beautiful and very well crafted, and even better than the prototype, as you can see in the picture of Jack-in-the-Box — the name hinting at some surprises? I already managed to repeat the first step and found several other interesting things, which I don't want to mention here, not to spoil anything for other puzzlers. A great box and a lot of fun waiting for me!
Update on 2018-07-08: Having now solved the box, I understand the various parts of the short description Jack added to the box: "It's sequential discovery, it's riddle solving, it's ternary, and in the end it is challenging." The challenge in the end is a real surprise and a real challenge, I must admit. If you ever get stuck on the box, reread this hint, it may help. Some parts of this puzzle are easier, some are more difficult, and alltogether it is a very good challenge to solve that may keep you busy for some time. Now seeing all the parts and pieces, I know where those rattling noises come from that sounded like maybe close to 20 pieces of the mechanism rattling in the box. That does not mean that this box has any loose tolerances. On the contrary, it has precise fit for all parts and I especially like the ternary part and how it works. Jack implemented a clever solution here to avoid blind guessing and allow you to appreciate the ternary disc mechanism. I can only repeat myself: A great box and a lot of fun for me!
- Added on 2018-07-03
Rececntly I read some articles about some interesting Hanayama Cast puzzle designs and so I decided that I should get some more of these inexpensive but high quality puzzles by well known designers. The German Knobelbox.com shop had them for sale and delivered them very quickly. Most of them are older designs, but there is also the latest design currently available among them, can you spot it? They are: Cast Chain, Cast Duet, Cast Enigma, Cast Equa, Cast Horse, Cast Radix, Cast Trinity, Cast Vortex, and Cast W-U. Having played with some disentanglement puzzles lately (more or less successful), I decided to have a look at some of those wooden disentanglement puzzles from Romania a puzzle friend mentioned (and ordered!) some time last year. To have a good overview of them, I decided to go for the whole set of those puzzles in a wooden frame. Now I have two aspects to solve: the disentanglement/entanglement puzzle aspect, and then the packging aspect trying to figure out how to store those massive puzzles. Here is a list with the whole lot: IQ Games Rope Puzzle Evolution 1, IQ Games Rope Puzzle Evolution 2, IQ Games Rope Puzzle Evolution 3, IQ Games Rope Puzzle Evolution 4, IQ Games Rope Puzzle Evolution 5, and IQ Games Rope Puzzle Evolution 6. Being a good customer I received an assembly cube as a present, and the following picture serves as a prove that I have indeed succeeded assembling the Cube 3D Knobelbox. A big package with a lot of interesting puzzles, indeed!
- Update on 2018-06-22
Some of the recent additions I have started solving, but not completed yet. For example, the Rotoprism 2 looks nearly like the original starting configuration, only that one of the triangular faces has a wrong orientation. I am not sure if it was a clever idea to scramble it, as the moves are heavily restricted by design (i.e. the mechanism). This puzzle turns really well and is fun to play with and I will not give up until it is solved again. In the Frame Me Up I have already discovered interesting move sequences, especially with the pieces having a frame loop attached. Far from being solved, but I knew it would take some time, and it is fun to play with. Following my recent activities, I have also solved one of the Chinese 99 Ring series: Double Image. After some initial confusion, this one seems to be much easier than the others I touched recently. Still being a challenge, this one clearly shows its heritage of a (binary) Chinese Rings chain, and the additional elements add some nice local effects. At first, the forward secondary rings, pointing into the "wrong" direction need some solution to be developed, but after that the rest starts going easily. The puzzle has definitely more moves than the classic binary version, but is still manageable and nice to play with. I have updated the entries in n-ary puzzle group and compendium accordingly, and the compendium entry contains some more details of the solution.
- Added on 2018-06-20
Stephan has been playing with the concept of self framing burrs in his designs before, and this one is the latest addition to that group: Frame Me Up. It is an 18 pieces burr and with its level 53, it managed to fill a gap in the 18 pieces burrs group. The beautifully and precisely crafted pieces are either standard burr sticks, or a burr stick and one loop of the frame attached. Even from the start on, some interesting moves are possible, by which some parts of the frame are pulled out a bit. Of course it will not be an easy puzzle at that level, and I noticed some other interesting aspect: When some of the pieces with frames are sticking out, it is a bit harder to reach some of the other pieces through the extended frame. A very interesting concept and a beautiful puzzle. Time to start solving 18 pieces burrs again!
- Update on 2018-06-16
Before playing with Mountain Trail II, I tried the previous one, Mountain Trail. They are both from the same designer and manufacturer and look similar, but to my surprise they behave quite different. For the Mountain Trail, there are some simple rules which together with an overall understanding of the puzzle allow to solve it nicely and it does not take very long after the solution sequence starts flowing a bit. The Mountain Trail II is a different story. Forget about those rules, as only the general idea remains the same! The secondary chains have now a completely different detail structure and are not just one ring longer than in the first one, but for solving you explicitly have to disobey the rules for the first one (see compendium entry of that one for reference). In the MT II, the secondary chains are truely parallel binary chains interacting with the primary chain in a way that makes the solution a lot longer. Also for this fascinating puzzle, the solution starts goiug easy after a while, and with the long solution there is in fact plenty of time for practising. At certain spots you have to be careful to decide for the right way to continue, and have to be sure not to miss those solution steps.
Please see the compendium entry for this puzzle shows more details about the solution and the puzzles' characteristics.
I have updated the entries in n-ary puzzle group and compendium accordingly.
- Added on 2018-06-15
A package from Russia arrived today, with some special puzzle in it: Rotoprism 2. The Rotoprism brought a friend, a vintage Minus Cube in original packing, and this one looks like one of the versions in the Twistypuzzles museum even! Thank you Evgeniy! I first played with the Rotoprism 2 at IPP32 in Washington DC a few years ago and beside its unusual shape, another aspect caught my attention. It was hard to scramble, or to perform long move sequences at all. Only later I found out that this is the intended way of working for this innocent looking puzzle. What you don't see is that it is deeper than origin cut and has a 3 layered shell mechanism, which cleverly enforces restriction to piece movements.
The Rotoprism is very well made and all moves work nicely, with the typical sound of 3D printed puzzles. A very good job, including the stickers, and the behaviour of blocking and unblocking moves is fascinating.
- Added on 2018-06-14
Today's delivery brought a vintage puzzle from the 18 pieces burrs group: the Eighteen Piece 6x6x6 Burr. It is indeed vintage: Not only does a marking say that it is from 2001, but the design also bears the typical aspects of an old one, designed before computer optimization of burrs started. It has multiple solutions with level 3 and above, and in fact the original assembly it came in has a level 4 solution. Twelve of the pieces are simple identical "cage" pieces in two colours, and the other six pieces are different, which is also a typical form for older 18 piece burrs, like the Grandfather of 6x6x6 (van der Poel Burr) or the Lovely Burr. While this puzzle looks like a typical 8x8x8 grid, it is actually a bit bigger. While analyzing I found out that in an 8x8x8 grid, it would be a level 1 puzzle. The pieces are actually a bit longer, leading to a 10x10x10 grid and a level of 3. It is a well made and not very difficult puzzle and a feasible challenge for both disassembly and reassembly, taking a complete total of 25 moves for disassembly.
- Added on 2018-06-12
My god, it's full of hearts! And that is a good thing for the third one of Juno's card suit boxes which arrived from Pluredro in Australia today: Heart Case. It is heart shaped from the outside and beautifully made, but there are more hearts to be found inside, including a small heart with the Juno logo on it. That one is part of the mechanism and plays an important role in this sequential discovery box. Recently, I received Juno's Quartet Box, which has a fascinating mechanism, with its four wooden gears on top, and also some interesting mechanism parts below the lid. I must admit that I needed a little hint for the very last step, as I missed out some obvious step there, but it is still an excellent box. That hint also made it quickly clear to me what the first step of the Heart Case might be, and it worked. Then, he did it a again! Movements started to appear in this box I have never seen before and just studying them distracted me from the solution for a while. Overall, it is an easier box (as the description says) and it did not take me long to open it. The unusual shape and mechanism make it a great box despite it lower difficulty level. The sequential discovery part with several tools is nicely implemented and I don't see any shortcut possibilities (aside from unruly strong force which you would never apply to a wooden puzzle, maybe). Those two recent boxes (Quartet Box and Heart Case) are a great continuation of the sequence of boxes created by Juno recently. Both seem to be available from their store at the moment, and I will keep my eyes open for more to come, may it be a (Framed) Burr like box, one like Ixia / Quartet boxs with gears, or the last one from the card suit series, the Spade Case (just a wild guess or extrapolation?).
- Added on 2018-06-11
Today some of the latest twisty puzzles arrived from Now Store in Hong Kong. Professor Skewb is the next greater one in the series of the Skewb and Master Skewb. 4-Leaf-Clover Plus is a hybrid of a 4 Leaf Clover cube and a 2x2x2. Both of the original puzzles are not too difficult, but this hybrid may be a completely different story. I just verified that shape shifting Clover moves in combination with 2x2x2 moves are possible, and this will not making things easier, I suspect. On the other hand, I am expecting the Professor Skewb to give me more headaches than the 4-Leaf-Clover Plus.
- Update on 2018-06-10
Today I quickly solved another fascinating one from Aaron's Chinese 99 Rings series: Disordered Chinese Rings. Like the name says, this one has some irregularities in the arrangement of rings and some rings skip over the next two connectors, one even over three connectors. This leads to some rings being stacked over the same connector, while coming from the next and one but next connector. During the solution, one has to be careful which of the rings actually need to follow the binary sequence, and which of those stacked rings will not be on the handle for most of the time. The most interesting point in the sequence of rings is the one where a ring skips over the next three connectors, while there is one on top only over the next connector, and above that one over two connectors. This creates a really disordered position in the sequence, which can also be spotted on the picture by the one ring that just won't like to fit into the rest of the chain, but potrudes a bit. This ring is the regular chinese rings member floating on top of the one skipping three connectors and is also the position most difficult in the whole solution. After realising how to deal with the anomalies, the solution is quite easy and it only took me minutes for the complete disassembly, and then only a few more for the reassembly. A nice puzzle trying to get you confused, but which can be mastered by some analysis. I have updated the entries in n-ary puzzle group and compendium accordingly.
- Added on 2018-06-06
After they have been travelling for quite a while and going through customs inspection, today I was able to pick up some of Eric Fuller's latest offerings, all beautiful and precisely made wooden puzzles. Most of them are from the interlocking kind and it takes some time to get them apart and more time to get them back together again, but there are also two complex packing puzzles. Bramble Box remdinds me of the Lolly Boxes by Alfons, but in this case the "lolly" pieces have two openings to choose when peeking out: top and bottom face. The Aquarius+ is an innocent looking puzzle, where you see two pieces in a frame, but there is a third, smaller piece packed into the puzzle that tends to dance around the puzzle while solving, directed by gravity and the other pieces. Stumbling Blocks is another great packing/sliding/interlocking puzzle by Pit Khiam. It comes disassembled and I do not expect it to be easy. Not sure if the little details (corners) will help me solving or limit my approaches. The X Cage has a fascinating look. A box wide open with an acrylic top and little pillars at the side. Packing all 5 pieces into that box will be the challenge and then it will quickly turn out which of the openings can be used to add pieces to the inside. One quickly realizes that there is only one useful opening on top, the spaces between the pillars on the sides are just not wide enough to be useful for inserting pieces there. The Coniburr is maybe the most unusual 8 piece burr I have seen for a long time. The first movements already show how unusual the moves are, despite their only linear nature. Some really interesting puzzles that will be fun to solve!
- Added on 2018-06-01
After the recent offer of the great Ixia Box, Juno has now created the Quartet Box. It also has some gear shaped pieces on top, but four, two more than the Ixia box, and first playing already showed that they sheem to work a bit differently from the Ixia box. At the moment, I am not sure if it is really a puzzle box or a creative and unique puzzle mechanism, I have already found some unexpected features. Maybe this will help some collectors who do not officially collect boxes. There seems to be a lot going on in this box, but I will have to solve it first, before I can tell more. It seems that Juno has again employed two tools he likes: his CNC machine and a lot of magnets. What is for sure now is that it is well made and looks beautiful and fascinating!
- Update on 2018-05-31
Today I quickly solved another fascinating one from Aaron's Chinese 99 Rings series: Second-order Chinese Rings. This one is a modification of the classic Chinese Rings with each ring going over the next two connectors instead of only the next one. A very interesting obserrvation is that the solution sequence is the same like for the Dispersed GC Lock, which has a completely different implementation. Quickly analyzing and trying this puzzle, I noticed this similarity in the solution sequences and then everything went on quickly. After initially writing about this puzzle, it occurred to me to pick up the next variant, too, the Third-order Chinese Rings. This puzzle was one of the rare cases where I exactly knew how to solve it before trying it for the first time, as it is a natural extension of the previous one, with each ring going over the next three connectors (instead of one or two). Disentanglement went smoothly and quickly, keeping track of which ring to free next and counting the prerequisite steps/rings to allow for each of the rings dropped from the handle bar. I have updated the entries in n-ary puzzle group and compendium accordingly.
- Update on 2018-05-30
After giving the rest of the Corn on the Cob puzzles a break, I solved another one of Aaron's Chinese 99 Rings puzzles: Reverse Chinese Rings. While this looks like a Chinese Rings with all the rings backwards, it has in fact an ordinary Chinese Rings puzzle as secondary chain. This will be mainly used for the solution and for each ring of the primary chain, the corresponding standard Chinese Rings chain in the bottom of the puzzle has to be solved, then the ring is dropped. When disassembling the puzzle, one should take care to remember how the ring from the primary chain comes off, as this may be the most difficult aspect of the puzzle. Without properly remembering this, re-assembly might be a lot more difficult. With this basically being a binary Chinese Rings with some extensions, I have classed it accordingly in n-ary puzzle group and compendium. Difficulty wise it has been labelled as Level 10+ like many of the other Chinese 99 Rings puzzles, but I personally would rate it easier than e.g. the Corn on the Cob series. One interesting aspect is also the look of this puzzle while solving. From the end of the handle, a really long chain of rings and connectors will hang down, getting longer as you progress. It is a fascinating puzzle, and while I have not seen this one, there are some others currently available at Puzzle Paradise and you may want to have a look.
- Added on 2018-05-16
Today another beautiful box made entirely from wood was ready for pickup at the customs office: Hexagram Puzzlebox. This one is one of the famous numbered Stickman boxes, and this one is numnber 33. It is a cute box, and very space efficient, a bonus for every puzzle collector! Maybe I can store it within the Pi Puzzle Box? Before storing, however, I will try to solve it. And knowing the designer, it will not be an easy task. I am sure I will have some A-Ha! moments during the solve, and I have already noticed some odd behaviour that hints it is indeed not a solid block of wood. Only minutes later — indeed the first "Eureka!" This is going to be fun!
- Added on 2018-05-13
Coming back from a short trip, a package was waiting for me, with a beautiful puzzle box in it: Pi Puzzle Box. This box was created by Jesse Born, who is getting more and more popular for his beautiful and creative puzzle boxes, including an IPP design competition. The box has beautiful Yosegi pattern on top, which must have been a lot of work to create, and the whole box is nicely crafted from various species of wood. The name relates to the mathematical constant π ("pi"), and while it seems related to the box, the similar sounding word "pie" looks well represented, too: The top has a round mechanism with pie slice shaped pieces. Those have to be manipulated to open this beautiful box, and it seems to be non-trivial. A fascinating box!
Update: Having now solved the box, I must say it is not only beautiful, but also has a clever mechanism inside, and I now know why the name is Pi Puzzle Box (and not Pie Puzzle Box). I won't tell more to avoid spoilers, just that it is a great puzzle box and very well crafted. The mechanism can be opened carefully and reveals that all parts of the box are made from wood. More pictures and information can also be found on Jesse's web page.
- Added on 2018-05-08
From a recent auction I received a puzzle from the 1990s: Dutch String Puzzle. It is an entanglement puzzle (or was it "disentanglement puzzle"?). Most of the time, when I play with this kind of puzzles, they end up more entangled than before, instead of being disentangled. This one does not seem to difficult — famous last words!
- Added on 2018-05-07
Today a package with some of the latest works by Brian Menold arrived, two nice designs by the French designer Greg Benedetti, whom I have met at several IPPs, including the one in Paris last year. He is well known for interlocking puzzles picking up classic themes, or bringing crazy rotational and coordinate motion moves into puzzles. The first one consists of four identical pieces in two different woods, and features a move qualifying both as rotational (i.e. non-linear) and coordinate motion-like move: Pif Paf With A Turn. The second one is a classic six piece board burr: S.O.B.B.#1. No fancy rotations here, but it may well be the first puzzle I have, which was made from three "hearts" of wood species: yellow heart, red heart, and purple heart. It looks beautiful, and completely different in artificial light with flash and sunlight, and the solution colour scheme is not what you might expect.
- Added on 2018-05-05
Today a book arrived from the US: Cube Index. This was a kickstarter project last year and is a big catalogue of many mechanical puzzles, focusing on twisty puzzles (hence the name). It has many pictures in it and beside some well known ones, I also found some puzzles I have not seen before. Will be interesting to look at all those over 6500 pictures! While the kickstarter project has ended, it seems that on their page you can still pre-order the book if you want one. With the book came a little surprise puzzle (OK, it was announced, but I forgot, so it was a surprise to me):
OoO RING is a 3 piece puzzle ring designed by Oskar. It is 3D printed in a nice and sturdy way, and must have been printed in the configuration that can be seen on the picture. There is a locking frame around it, and that does not have a visible gap, so it looks like everything was printed in this way. Of course, after removing that additional frame, the three pieces of the ring can be easily disentangled, and I have also managed to entangle it again.
- Added on 2018-04-29
Today I visited Wil for his Kings Day puzzle party, and met many puzzle friends there. A lot of conversation, puzzle solving, and also puzzle buying was going on there. Jaap presented my his latest G4G gift, where you have to combine 8 polyominos with 1 to 8 units into a square: 1 to 8 Squared. From the latest run of Karakuri offerings, I finally picked up one of Miyamoto's A Chance Meeting, nicely made and a very nice trick!
- Added on 2018-04-22
Yesterday I went to the German Cube Day to meet some puzzle friends, for some puzzle-related conversations, and of course to look for interesting puzzle additions.
The GCD 2018 Giveaway was the welcome present for each attendee and it shows a nice application for 3D printing. The goal is to assemble the pieces to a shape that looks like the letters G, C, and D from three different sides. There were some vintage puzzles for offer, which completed my collection of the "Electro" series. The first one is more obvious, how to operate, while the second one is a bit confusing to entangle and disentangle: Electro 2 and Electro 3. One of them is part of the n-ary puzzle group and compendium. I also got a Funny Puzzle (thank you!) — some dexterity involved, as well as phyiscs — and a vintage design from the Hoffmann book: The Barrel Puzzle. The Clover is one of those entanglement puzzles (or was it rather "disentanglement"? I mostly remember them tangling up into various difficult knots, instead of coming apart). It was created by a very creative designer in this area, and participated in IPP37 last year. Advanced Solution Ring 3 Chain* looks like a triple version of a classic Chinese disentanglement puzzle, where you have to remove 3 rings instead of just one. At this GCD, there were also some newly made cubic interlocking puzzles available. Both Rotpack 2 and Intertwingly come from designers known for interlocking puzzles with some twists, and both of them are actually in the TIC (Turning Interlocking Cube) category. They consist of 2 pieces each, but the rotations are complicated and make them very interesting. The Juha's Interlocking No.1 is also a TIC, and it also extends the series of puzzles I have from this designer, would not have expected that! The Maze is a clever design, which can be solved without rotations, but interesting moves. The next two are rare designs from Japan: PtZ and KOPA. I first tried the KOPA when Allard brought it to DCD last Autumn. The goal is described quite easy: Assemble all the parts into a closed box. Or the longer version: There is a box with one part of the cover attached already. Then there is the second half of the cover to be added, and then a drawer for the inside. When adding the second part of the cover to the box, one can close the box completely. This is not the solution, one needs to add the drawer inside. With this drawer, the challenge becomes much more difficult, and during DCD last year, I saw several people fail this challenge, and so far I have not solved it either. There was one puzzle friend at DCD last year who actually solved it, so I know it is possible. The last two are unusual small puzzle boxes added to the Philos production range: Greek Secret Box Good Luck end Japanese Secret Box Good Fortune
- Added on 2018-04-20
At the customs office I could today pick up one of the latest creations from the Karakuri group and it lead to some confusion amongst the officers. Is it a box, to put jewlery in? Is it a puzzle? Is it a toy? Luckily one of the officers knew me already and knew how to put a handmade wooden puzzle box into their classification system. The box is in fact related to some other interest of mine: buses. If you have seen my home page (German part only, sorry!), you may have seen that I built/modified some scale model buses in the past. So the name of the box is quite fitting: Bus stop. It is my first puzzle by Osamu Kasho, and I really like it! The mechanism is not too tricky, but also not too easy, but what made me smile is how it works. Imagine a bus arriving at a bus stop (first step!), but not quite arriving at the sign yet. Imagine all the passengers standing around blocking the way. What to do now? If you can figure out a solution to this problem, this might also solve this box. A great part of their "Travel" exhibition, and in the usual excellent quality, of course!
- Added on 2018-04-13
Today a parcel with two beautiful puzzles from South Africa arrived from IntellectualCraft, with two interesting designs by Alfons: Enak and Pollux. They come in different woods and while the Enak is quite lightweight, the Pollux is a heavy puzzle, which may also be due to the high number of pieces. I already played with the Enak and the three burr sticks interact with the six plates in an interesting way. After a few moves, it is already possible to look into the puzzle, and then a few moves more, there are pieces sticking out in various directions. The Pollux does not give away that much for the moment, only a few moves seem possible at the beginning.
- Added on 2018-04-06
Recently, I was trying to solve the next one of the Corn on the Cob series: Corn on the Cob III. After a while I understood how it worked and now the puzzle seems really easy to me. There is a set of simple rules to follow, if you would like to solve it, and I have outlined those rules in the compendium entry. Whenever I screwed up the puzzle and brought it into a more entangled position than I wanted, I later found out that I had broken one of those rules. Of course, it was some work to find these rules first, and with 9 ring pairs there are many possibilities to perform the wrong moves leading directly to dead ends, some of them into detours that would land you in the initial position after a while. A nice and interesting puzzle, and fun to solve.
Today I also received some brand new puzzles from the Twisty Puzzle section: Chromium Cube and Chromium Cube Super Stickers. This is a new implementation based on a design idea that had been around for many years. I have seen a version based on pieces with magnets attached to a central ball core, but this seems to be the first implementation without such tricks and going to be mass produced. What is so special about this puzzle? The design is also known as the "24 cube", relating to the 24 triangular face pieces on the outside. It is a deep cut puzzle, and the only rotational axes go right through the center, with a cut also right through the center. So unlike the similar looking Dino Cube, the two triangles next to each edge are actually separate pieces. While the puzzle looks simple from the outside, the deep cuts require a complicated mechanism based on multiple stacked spherical shells inside. Of course, these shells may become misaligned and then rotations around the intended axes would no longer be possible. To keep the shells aligned, the designer has implemented gravity pins, and consequently this is a twisty puzzle where care has to be taken on the orientation of the puzzle before performing turns. Tilting the puzzle, those pins make rattling noises, which is a bit unusual and for other puzzles you would think that something must be broken loose inside. Alltogether, the puzzle has a high number of 360 pieces. With all this, the puzzle is of course not a speedcubing puzzle, but the ones I have turn nicely, had no lockups or popping pieces so far, like I heard from other puzzlers. Beside the regular version, I also ordered one with Super Stickers, and the regular version quickly showed me why: Just a few moves done, and the colour scheme is mirror imaged. The puzzle can be ordered from the designer's shop website and comes assembled and stickered at a very good price, which does not only include shipping, but also replacement sticker set, a bag with replacement gravity pins and with replacement springs, and a nicely made pouch for each puzzle. I am happy that I ordered this interesting puzzle, even after initially hearing about some problems others had.
- Added on 2018-03-28
Today I received a package from Pelikanpuzzles in Czech Republic, and it contained some very beautiful puzzles, very well crafted from nice woods. Keep an eye on their website, these puzzles (and more) are going to be available soon! The first one is Casino. Dr. Volker Latussek is known for elegant packing puzzles where you have to get (usually 6) identical pieces into a box (or remove them from a box), that just would not let you do it. When I got my hands on this latest great design, I could not resist and play the Casino. There are six discs reminding me of chips used in a casino, and the challenge is to pack them securely into the box provided. With the box having plenty of room to offer and a large slot opening on top, this should be an easy task, but trying this, I soon found out it was not that easy after all. All the dimensions of the puzzle parts are carefully chosen to prevent you from just inserting the discs into the box. Now thinking and systematic analysis was required! This eventually lead to an Eureka! moment, which put a big smile on my face. Using a clever move, all those discs will start fitting into the box, and no blind guessing or trying is required, nor any dexterity. A great puzzle, highly recommended!
The next two puzzles are some puzzles I have already played with: Mini Lock and Spiral Lock. Both were available at a puzzle meeting last year as 3D printed prototypes and Christoph was looking for feedback and unintended rotational shortcuts. I did not find shortcuts, and liked both puzzles. The Mini Lock is a nice and easy puzzle with a good level for only three pieces in a frame, while the Spiral Lock is more challenging. In my soluition the shackle comes out as first piece — like it should be for a padlock! Those pieces have an interesting move sequences dancing around a central void. Both puzzles are beautiful in the woods chosen by the guys from Pelikanpuzzles, and the Mini Lock is really cute, a perfect match for the name.
The other two are by a well known designer for complicated interlocking puzzles with rotations Osanori Yamamoto: Neo Saturn and Aqua Toto. After solving Lucida recently, and taking a lot of time for that, I am not expecting those two to be easy. The Neo Saturn puzzle has a nice layout with the red dot embedded in the top, and it has some interesting moves right from the beginning. Trying a few moves, I was close to removing the first piece, but my plan was a few milimeters off and did not work. The Aqua Toto reminds me of the Top puzzle by the same designer released recently (still resisting to be solved!) at first sight. However, here the rings have extra cubies attached to make them interlock and restrict the movements, and after a few moves I found out that the two boards don't even have openings big enough to release the two inner pieces. Expecting some interesing rotations!
- Added on 2018-03-23
Today three of the latest twisty puzzles arrived from Nowstore, from three different manufacturers: Laurustinus Puzzle is a puzzle that goes into the easier category of Dino Cube like puzzles. It is basically a hollow sphere, and turns nicely, with the pieces clicking in place. The Geary Cube does not have any visible gears (aside from those depicted on the stickers), but gears in the inside make it a fascinating variation of the classic 3x3x3 concept. Probably most 3x3x3 solving algorithms will fail miserably on this one. The Grilles II is also based on a 3x3x3, but then has also other cuts allowing moves known from the Redi Cube, Mosaic Cube, and Bubbloids. It is a nice combination of face turning and corner turning mechanisms.
- Added on 2018-03-19
Just a few days after ordering the fascinating Ixia Box, Pluredro had a new interesting offer on ebay. I managed to win a (second grade) pre-production T-Slot Burr and it is a really interesting puzzle. It has seven pieces, which are a central core and six plates running in rails around the core. Those plates interact via pins and grooves in the sliding blocks, and to make things easier, there is an identical set of grooves visible on the outside. At level 18, it is not too difficult to remove the first piece, but a nice move sequence. To me, it feels more like one of those Karakuri boxes, the Mechanical Cubi in particular, than a burr. Seems Juno has been very busy trying designs with his CNC router recently, and this one is a great idea for using that machine. The groove pattern on the otside gives the puzzle an interesting, technical look.
- Added on 2018-03-16
Today a recent auction win arrived from The Netherlands: 2PBB Two Pieces Boxed Burr is a boxed burr with maybe the minimal number of pieces — assuming the box has no special features and the level should be greater than 1, that is. With it came a heavy Tricklock No. 665, with two pairs of keys. It is not difficult, but unlike any design I have seen before.
- Added on 2018-03-13
After solving the nice box from Australia a few days ago, today a package with new and very nice wooden puzzles arrived from Cubicdissection, with designs from various designers: Burr of Nine Boxes has an unusual shape and the solution seems to be equally unusual. Prison Burr may look like another boxed 6 piece burr, but the bottom of the box is closed and you have to operate the pieces from five sides only. The 4L is a packing puzzle and therefore does not belong to my favourite category, but it looks very interesting with those assymmetric L pieces. The Overlap has 5 pieces and two are looking out from each of the ends of the box, and the pieces seem to be interlinked in an intersting way. To make things more challenging, there is a small fifth piece inside, and it can be moved. The Chinese Knot is Christoph's latest design and a six piece burr with a plate fixed to one end of each piece. It looks beautiful and the level makes it fun to play with. The Sextboard looks like the six pieces could only move up and out, but they interact a lot and lead to a high level for such a puzzle.
- Added on 2018-03-07
It is time to add a puzzlebox to my collection — after yesterday's update. Today from Australia a brand new and beautiful puzzle box arrived: Ixia Box. The name comes from the two three-coloured ixia flower shapes on top of the box, and they are not only decoration, but also have some interesting movement at the beginning. Playing with the box, I have already found some red herrings and some Aha! moments — and a fascinating mechanism. Seems those flower shapes are not a nice interpretation of a blossom, but also serve some other purpose, and soon after that discovery it becomes obvious how those pieces might fit together, truely a sequential discovery puzzle (box). People with thin and nimble fingers may be able to persuade some of the elements to perform a shortcut, but that would only spoil the fun of handling this mechanism, and believe me, you will like it once you managed to assemble and operate it. To avoid blind guessing, the designer Juno has also included some windows in the box, so you can see what you are doing. Being a puzzle box, of course this only refers to parts of the solution, so there is still some imagination required about what might be going on inside. Update: Meanwhile I have opened the box completely and found a note revealing a surprise. This is a great box with some clever ideas and mechanisms. The best part is that it can be solved without blind guessing, and no need for hitting or banging. There are several components reused during the solution, which is why I would more class it a "sequential discovery puzzle", however it is still a box, and I really like it (despite the shortcut).
- Added on 2018-03-06
Today some of the latest Karakuri boxes arrived. The first one is Kickake and while it was available last year already (and sold out in the first run), the designer is the latest member of the Karakuri Creation Group. It looks unusual and it also opens unusually. During the solve, there are some colour changes in the puzzle, which is a nice effect. The box also managed to surprise me a bit before I finally managed to open it. The colour changing theme has become the main theme of the next box: Color-colo. It is themed to be a 4x4x4 Rubik's cube and you have to rearrange the colours so that each side is one solid colour. It is a nice mechanism, but no twisty puzzle. One very interesting fact about the puzzle is that at the beginning each hole is filled with a colour and at the end, too. Now how can those colours be manipulated to open the box? The New Secret Box IV is the fourth in the series, and it breaks the sequence of 6, 12, and 18 moves of the first three. This one has 32 moves and is actually a Cubie in disguise. A nice new addition to n-ary puzzle group and compendium.
- Added on 2018-02-28
Today some of the latest puzzles built by Brian Menold from Wood Wonders arrived, in beautiful woods, as usual. The first one also contains some acrylic windows and two steel balls, and those two steel balls are actually the only pieces to come out, hence the name: Box with Two Balls. With the two balls starting near the bottom of the box, there are many moves of all pieces required to get the two steel balls out. Through the side windows, the pieces can be seen and the solution can be planned and executed, but many steps will require gravity to manipulate the pieces behind the windows. The steel balls are nicely heavy and are fun to move around. End of last year, I met Chris and he had some prototypes around for testing, which I liked, but this wooden/acrylic/steel version handles much better than the others I tried before. The Kamelle Box is based on the idea of the Caramel Box puzzle, and while the name sounds similar to that other puzzle, it will only be understood in some parts of Germany. The box has two openings, one at the top, and then one at the bottom between two acrylic plates. Comes unassembled and is not an easy puzzle, but a nice one. The Havannas 1 is one basic design by Alfons which later lead to other puzzles, like the Big Havanna's I have. The wood of the box is really unusual and beautiful, with some beige colour with pinkish and light green grain parts. The Cross in Cross is built from two beautiful and unusual woods, and has some interesting interaction between the outer frame pieces and the three central burr sticks during the solution sequence.
- Added on 2018-02-24
Bernhard offered a new interesting puzzle from Lucie Pauwels and with it some more nice puzzles. Tumbler is a TIC (Turning Interlocking Cube) and beside a lot of rotations separating the last two pieces, there are some interesting moves before. The Tube Cube consists of only three pieces with interlock in an interesting sequence. The Rota Cube is the new puzzle from Lucie which is a TIC with some additional features. The main frame consists of two spiral pieces that have to be rotated with a sequence of several rotations to come apart, there are some half notches, so that it is only a 4x4x4 cube from the outside view.
- Added on 2018-02-07
Bautifully built by Maurice Vigouroux, the Love Cube is a new variation on an older puzzle and it is a cubic version of the Love's Dozen six piece burr. Both have six pieces and level 12, and follow the same solution sequence. The original six piece burr pieces can easily be seen in this design, as they are made from Difou wood, embedded into extensions made from Utile. Stephane Chomine created this design based on an earlier one by Jean Carle: Love's Dozen as a Cube. That one has one piece more, adding up to 7 pieces. This piece is a filler piece coming out first in one move and then the sequence is nearly identical to the one of the new cube, just that an extra move is required at the end. There are some more copies of the nice Love Cube currently available on Puzzle Paradise.
- Added on 2018-01-27
Has been some time since the last update, and then today 3 packages arrived during the day.
The first one are some brand new puzzles from Aaron Wang, from his chinese 99-ring series. They will go to n-ary puzzle group and compendium after I have solved them and confirmed their properties. I am still trying to solve some of the previous ones, so it may take some time. They all look nicely complex and very well made. The Mountain Trail II is the second with that name, and a variation on of my favourites in the series. There was a series of 3 I have not completely solved yet, and which are getting more complicated as numbers in the names rise. The next three continue this series: Corn on the Cob IV, Corn on the Cob V, and Corn on the Cob VI. In the Double Image, every second of the rings in the chain has two rings attached below, going forwards and backwards to adjacent connectors. For the next four, the idea is immediate from the name: Reverse Chinese Rings has everything reversed, which reminds me of the Astry puzzle by the same desigber. In Second-order Chinese Rings, every ring goes over two connectors instead just the neighbor, and in Third-order Chinese Rings over three neighbors. The Disordered Chinese Rings are a combination of these two in a regular pattern, and looks a bit chaotic at first. The Boxing Glove is obviously not from this series, but has the sturdy look and feel of the Tavern Puzzles. A beauty and definitely not easy!
The second package is from a recent auction win ("win" as in are "you are allowed/obliged to buy the items", not getting them for free):
Patchwork Box and Pink Ivory Ring are two beautiful interlocking puzzles in exotic woods by a renowed craftsman and two well known designers. The Flange 99A is a nice little puzzle in a 3D cross shape and non-trivial to assemble. The third package was a win at another auction and is a classic by a well known puzzle designer Sonneveld 9 Piece Board Burr who does not like to give his designs names, and so it has a more technical designation. A beautiful piece coming with its own stand for display.
- Added on 2018-01-06
Today a puzzle friend was visiting me and brought a nice present for my interlocking category: Rail Box #1. It is a nice little puzzle and fun to solve. Thank you!
- Added on 2018-01-05
Today a second package from Hong Kong with some of the latest twisties: Multi-Cube. This design started its life as "Multi-Skewb" which refers to the primary mechanism visible from the outside, that of a Holey (Master) Skewb. The inside seems to be a Compy Cube, which is a tip turning cube related to the Dino/Rainbow Cubes. This puzzle is actually two in one. The TriCube looks like three intersecting cubes, and with each move, pieces from two of the three cubes will be moved (initially, until they are scrambled and each such cube contains more than one colour of pieces. There are also other colour variants available, another three coloured one and then one with six different colours, where each cube consists of two colours.
- Added on 2018-01-03
The first puzzle package to arrive was from Hong Kong, containing some of the latest twisty puzzles:
Crazy Comet Is a rhombic dodecahedron with strange moves, some of them shapechanging. The 2x2x2 Transform pyraminx BaMianTi is based on a 2x2x2 and has small circles in the corners. It is the lastest addition to the group of twisty octahedra. The Seven Star UFO is a collection of 7 little 2x2x2 balls, and an additional rotational axis to mix these seven puzzles by rotating the UFO halves. The Infinity Cube is a folding cube making different shapes.
- Update on 2018-01-01
The first update of this year is around some puzzle solving. During the holidays, was working on the puzzle solving backlock a bit, and today I have solved the "Casino 2" and have put my solution review on the Burr Zoo group page. A nice burr puzzle of medium difficulty. Happy new year to all readers following this web site!
- Other/Older updates:
- Can be found on the update history page
Hints: If you need solution hints to any puzzle in my gallery, feel free to e-mail me. My e-mail address can be found on my homepage.