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 (standard) jigsaw puzzles on these pages, may they be two or three dimensional.

News/Updates:

Added on 2020-06-03
A nice sliding piece puzzle from Diniar, which is also an IPP Design Competition entry: Moon and Star. At first sight, only seven quadratic pieces in a tray, some of them with a second white layer on top, depicting a crescent moon and a star. At closer sight, there is much more to it and this seemingly trivial puzzle is much more interesting: While most of the moon shapes are cut so that their borders are aligned to the blue square pieces beneath, this is not the case for the top part, and that sticking out part soon starts interacting with the other white parts and starts blocking moves. Well, interacting with allmost all parts — as we all know the moon and stars are at very different distance from earth, so those won't block each other and just pass. The first challenge is to move the star two fields up, next to the moon, while maintaining the rest of the layout. Having done that, there are 4 more challenges, and it is a good idea to just continue solving those. First of all, because it is a nice puzzle and feels like you should continue, secondly because the goal position of each challenge is the same like the starting configuration of the next, so you can simply "run" through them without any additional setup moves. The puzzle is a lot of fun to play with and not too difficult, but requires some insight and strategy for the solution. It also comes in a nice tray that can be used as a lid, keeping everything secure when stowed away. A fun multiple challenge puzzle for an afternoon!
Added on 2020-05-30
Lego puzzle boxes are becoming ever more popular these days and there are several designers with Youtube channels showing their designs. These boxes have the big advantage that when you have the building instructions and piece list, you can get all the pieces yourself and build such a puzzlebox for yourself, and also modify it if you like. Of course, there are some rules: Disassembling the puzzle boxes by removing lego bricks (or other pieces stuck to the box) is not allowed, and some designers will allow you to remove exactly one piece as a tool. In my collection there are now two of these boxes: Mouse House is quite easy and has some discovery elements. Only 5 steps, but multiple tools are involved in the solution! When it opens, there is a prize inside, that can be heard rattling all the time, and the color reminds me of some cheese, fitting the name of the box! The The Yule Box has typical Christmas colours (hence the name of the box!) and requires 9 steps to find a crystal inside. The mechanism is taking up a lot of space, so there is not much room for the compartment and it is only a small crystal. Box boxes are fun to solve, and the Yule Box is a bit more difficult than the Mouse House.
Added on 2020-05-26
Diniar likes to create designs from various different classes of puzzles. Today a simple looking one, a symmetry puzzle: Symmetric Shape. There are some edges of the same length which immediately led to some assumptions, and this puzzle is playing with these assumptions. To avoid any spoilers, no further details are described here, just worth mentioning that it is a nice and not very difficult puzzle that plays with your expactations. After solving I put the pieces aside, and shortly after, I tried to reproduce the shape and failed. So this puzzle also has some replay value! A good puzzle to try even after a work day in the evening.
Added on 2020-05-25
The next one from Diniar is an Exchange puzzle from IPP35: H Slider. I picked this one next because it reminds me of the "My Tower of Hanoi", which was a fun puzzle. And indeed, there seem to be some similarities in how the solutions work, and the H Slider seems to be a bit easier to me. When solving the first challenge, I had some nice insights how a systematic solution can work, and could then extend this to solutions for the other challenges. The first challenge is to interchange the red and orange pieces. The other challenges have different starting configurations, and the goal configuration is always the same like the start of the first: red number sequence left, orange right. This is a great idea, as you don't have to remember any goal configurations, but just set up the new challenge and start playing until you reach the known configuration. I made my way through all provided challenges quickly, and then tried to solve some random ones, by shuffling them and then putting them into the frame in random order. It seems that unlike for the 15 puzzle, here all challenges can be solved. A fun puzzle, giving you some not too difficult entertainment for an afternoon, and indeed I did enjoy this one!
Added on 2020-05-16
A new puzzle from Diniar: Whirling Wheelies. This is based on the classic 15 piece sliding puzzle, and adds another layer. On most of the white sliding pieces, there are some red disc pieces mounted so that they can rotate. They are discs with one, two, three segments cut out, and these segments allow interaction with neighboring pieces. The blue piece is a bit heigher than the white ones and interacts both with the white sliding blocks and the red discs, and the goal is to maneuver this blue piece to the corner marked with the same colour. As a pure sliding piece puzzle, this would be trivial, but the discs add another layer (sic!) of challenge to it, making it a fascinating new puzzle. Like for others of Diniars puzzles, the frame can be opened, and this is not only for a quick reset feature, but also for using some of the additional pieces that come with it (an additional solid white block, and several of each of the disc types). That way, some other challenges can be configured for playing, which is a really nice touch and gives you even more puzzling fun! 3D printed in high quality, this puzzle is nice to play with, and in particular I like those disc interactions while moving the white blocks. Those discs are not only able to rotate during some sliding moves, it also seems to be part of the solution!
Added on 2020-05-09
From Diniar, I received an expansion of his Sliding Tetris puzzle, the Sliding Tetris Hardcore Expansion — thank you! This adds 10 more pieces to the set to a total of now 25 pieces. Challenges with these pieces can be built into the box for now 125 challenges with up to 46 moves to get the ball out. To solve these challenges, the pieces need to be slid around, making way for the ball to move in this dynamic maze, and to reach the goal position which is the square opening big enough to allow the ball to leave the box. If you are more a friend of packing puzzles, then you may like the additional packing problems. close to 30 different target shapes are provided, most of them to be assembled outside of the box (because they are much bigger than the 3x3x3 box), and each of them coming with several sets of pieces to be selected for this. Overall, many packing problems to be solved, and some quick counting gives a number of around 235 challenges in total. It seems that this is an ideal puzzle for the current pandemic situation and isolation, just in case you want to spend your time solving many challenges of a puzzle, and they can of course be played from easy to challenging difficulty.
Added on 2020-05-07
From the latest Cubicdissection offering: a box with a funny name: Where's my Hammer. Maybe a hammer is not the best tool to open it, but I playing with it a bit, I have already found some other "tools" in the box — if they are tools, and I cannot tell yet. Tilting the box, it makes some interesting clicking noises, so something is going on inside. A beautifully crafted puzzle!
Added on 2020-05-05
After travelling quite some time from Florida to Germany, today a puzzle from a colleague and friend landed in my mailbox today: Swiss Cheese Puzzle. It is a tray packing puzzle where you have to arrange the four pieces of cheese in a way that also the mouse will fit into the square tray. Funny idea! Why would one pack a mouse and a cheese into a square box, but of course we all know how it works with mice and cheese! Only five pieces, and a mouse that will fit into the hole created by the half-holes in two adjacent pieces of cheese, should not be difficult? Well, when solving this puzzle, there is a nice Aha! moment that made me laugh out. I am not going to write any more, not to spoil the solution! A nice puzzle and very well made, I like it. Thank you!
Added on 2020-05-04
On Star Wars day a parcel with two boxes from Japan arrived, with two beautiful boxes with the theme "five": 5 times 5 times 5 is an extension of Iwahara's x-mas present and therefore in compendium and n-ary puzzle group. This time, the 6 panels move in one sequence, while in the previous one, the sequence was split into two groups of 3 panels. The Assymetric Cube -5- continues Kawashima's series of Bar cubes, and this box has some really nice Aha! moment.
Added on 2020-05-02
From my friend Diniar I received a package with some of his latest puzzles and also some older, yet still fascinating ones. While the current ones are created using some modern 3D printers, earlier models (like some of my IPP Exchange puzzles) were created using acrylic sheets and a laser cutter. Unlike my usual process of putting the puzzles all onto my web page here as soon as they arrive, I will put these puzzles up one by one, and after I had the chance to play with each of them a bit. The first one is maybe one of the oldest designs, from 1935, and a take on the classic 14-15 puzzle: Dustin. This puzzle has 7 peanut shaped pieces of two circles (AKA numbers) combined, and a single 15 circle piece. Unlike a regular sliding piece puzzle with pieces of length more than 1 and with a 1x1 gap, where most moves are blocked, this puzzle allows many moves by also rotating some pieces while sliding them. Pieces can slide around corner here and this changes their orientation between horizontally and vertically, and two such turns may even turn the numbers upside down for the piece. The goal is to find a sequence of sliding moves from the starting configuration shown to the usual one, running from 1 to 15 line by line. I have already tried it a couple of times and ways, and the fascinating thing is that for me always one piece ends up upside-down (i.e. two numbers swapped) at the end. Looking at some permutations/transpositions and their sign/parity it looks like this should indeed be a possible challenge for a regular 14-15 puzzle, but these peanut pieces add another layer of complexity. Hordern's book also lists this puzzle and says there are several different solution, but does not list a solution, so I should keep on trying!

Update: Solved! It was a nice and interesting solving experience and a trick seems to be required for the solution.

Added on 2020-04-24
Last weekend and this weekend, there would have been two nice puzzle meetings, which are not possible at the moment for obvious reasons. Instead of visiting them and buying puzzles there, I have now puzzles coming to me instead: From Pelikanpuzzles some of the latest puzzle gems that will soon be available from them (some of them already available!): Euklid For Kids is a nice packing puzzle of three blocks and a box with a restricted opening, and one idea behind the design was that I should take more than 15 minutes to solve this one. I received a prototype from Dr. Volker Latussek to try, and recently I picked it up and solved it within 15 minutes. BUT before that, for a long time I was not able to solve it and was quite confused what should be wrong with the puzzle (or me?) and I was convinced that these pieces would not fit into the box. I even took some measurements to confirm. Good that I proved myself wrong recently, and this production run version is of course much more beautiful with those nice colourful woods! From the last run of puzzles, I ordered a Pincers, which is not shown in the solved configuration here. Everything needs to be inside the box, nothing sticking out. A similar scheme is the base of the following 3 by Osanori Yamamoto, where all pieces need to be inside their boxes, and also cover the holes completely, showing a cube shape inside: Pumpkin 1, Triple 3, and Triangle Cube 3. The last one has some nice contrasting woods and is a new design from Belgium, from Lucie Powels: Rota #. I am curious to see if this name has anything to do with the solution. Of couse the # part refers to the target figure to build. Skipping the Cube Day, I also took a look for some new Constantin boxes, and at the Knobelbox web shop I found them and received them in their usual very fast way: Flohcircus probably has most parts of the solution going on on the lid, but the bottom has also an interesting feature and you can see from the picture that it just wont stand upright. I must admit that I mainly bought the Piano Box for the looks and topic, but then it also turns out to have a nice solution, and I won't mention more here to avoid any spoilers. When I first saw the Polaris Cube, I was wondering what kind of puzzle this is. Turns out it may be a "evil" relative of the Skewb, a Skewb that does not want to perform Skweb moves in the cubic configuration and with some extra edge triangles. Actually, there is a Skewb with extra edge triangles I have been playing with a lot, the Twins Cube, but they work a bit differently than on this one here. Time for some famous last words, like this one being easy to solve?
Added on 2020-04-04
From Sweden a small but heavy envelope arrived, containing one of the latest trick locks, just released last week: Her Key to the Treasure. The story is related to the Titan's Treasure Puzzle Lock by the same designer, and the presentation is great: It comes with a nice 3D printed stand to be assembled and to show the picture of Titan's wife, searching for the key in her "purse". The purse is a little Abloy lock with an unusual key, and of course the lock has been modified, so it will not open with the key only. I have already found some steps and a tool, but I guess that there will be more steps to be found until the key to the treasure is to be found. A great lock puzzle, and I am looking forward to solve it!
Added on 2020-03-25
Today a parcel with some nice new puzzles arrived from Puzzle Corner: After Puzzle Box 05 and 06, now the missing Puzzle-Box 04 in this series was available, and it comes with two wooden keys on a rope. Of course, one main question is whether these keys are part of the solution. Having solved the box already, I will not disclose the answer to this question, just mention that this box has a surprising new mechanism and is fun to solve. The second puzzle for today is one of Keith Winegar's sequential discovery puzzles with jigsaw puzzle piece shapes: Paper Clip. Not overly diffiult, but a nice puzzle to solve. The third one is roughly based on the Astrolabacus puzzle: Bananacus. Playing with some 3D printed prototypes at DCD, now I can play with a production version of this sliding ball puzzle.
Added on 2020-03-19
Today two beautiful wooden puzzles arrived: The first one containing a level 16 burr from a new craftsman: Premiere — the name tells it, it is Terry's first build, but then it is a bit misleading because he has been designing puzzles before, which were built by others. Now Terry has started building his own puzzles, and I was lucky to win a draw to buy one of these puzzles (like in the famous Japanese puzzlebox lottery, where winning costs you a lot of money and gives you nice puzzle boxes in return!). This first build is a beautiful one with great craftsmanship. A six piece burr in a strangely shaped frame, looks like this will be fun to solve, and at that level, it should be doable.
The second one arrived in the afternoon, and for that one, I had the chance to play with one before at DCD, and immediately knew I wanted to have one: Phoenix Family. This is a burr set for experts, or should I say "extreme puzzlers"? Unlike other burr sets to build 6 piece burrs, this is one for building many of the highest level standard 18 pieces burr currently in existence, and it contains the world record holder Supernova, and some other named ones like Burrly Sane for Extreme Puzzlers, Tiros. Jack has beautifully crafted this set and a nice storage/presentation box, which also contains overview cards for six named burrs and six unnamed burrs, all of these of level 134 and above. Again, the name of this puzzle is a bit misleading, as the original Phoenix burr is not included, but a note telling how this puzzle started it all. The lid of the box contains a beautiful phoenix inlay, so there is a phoenix involved indeed! Of course, only the selection of pieces is listed on the cards, and not the long solution sequences. For me, building these burrs from this information only and without help would prove an impossible task, but using Burr-Tools for the assembly and then trying to disassemble them is difficult enough. Just yesterday, I revisited the BSfEP and even those 152 moves to remove the first piece of this known puzzle are a good challenge and offer some training for what is to come with this set. Jack has built this beautiful set in a nice size, and it is only roughly double the size of the Premiere (and that includes the box), so this is also a very space efficient way to play with high level 18 pieces burrs. This will take me busy for quite some time, I am sure about that! This burr set has 45 pieces, not only 18, but certainly deserves a space (if not several of them) in the 18 pieces burrs group.
Added on 2020-03-18
Diniar sent me his latest invention, the Blindbox. This box completely made from 3D printed parts, in two nice contrasting colours, and features one dark frame, one central box with a lid (the actual box to be opened!), four lower maze sliders, and five upper maze sliders. Three of the upper maze sliders come mounted to the slider holders, while the four lower ones embrace the central box and interact with the upper maze sliders, a bit in a way like in the award winning Mazeburr-L. There are two extra upper sliders, and then also some extra challenges that can be configured. Goal is to run through the maze and extract everything from the frame, while the upper sliders interact with the lower sliders, and the lower sliders are restricted in their movement by the central box. A fascinating concept! The box arrives in a challenge with 25 moves for solving this one, and this is also also the maximal number of moves in the challenge set, difficult challenge to be solved first! Only after that, the box can be opened and reconfigured with a different challenge. Aside from the restrictions imposed by the central box moving together with the lower sliders, another aspect makes this puzzle challenging: Part of the maze is hidden inside the frame, hence the name of the box. A nice puzzle box, if you ask me, and very well designed!
Added on 2020-03-14
After the puzzle with many moves (including resetting the puzzle yesterday), today a puzzle of about the same size arrived and with around 14989 moves less, but each move / step being much more complicated by its own. It is a heavy puzzle and has a great, solid appearance: Popplock T12. The latest one of the Popplock series is a bit smaller than the legendary T11, and again with a key (this time one solid piece), but no visible keyhole. I am looking forward to solve this one, and I will take my time to enjoy the solving experience, and I guess it will take some time and headscratching anyway!
Added on 2020-03-12
The parcel the post man brought today caused a lot of work: Aleksandr did it again and after the Black Bow-Tie, he created another cylindrical puzzle based on an existing n-ary puzzle and taking the number of moves to a crazy yet playable level. After the slightly more than 13000 for the former, this one is only one move short of 15000: Vertical. As you can see from the pictures in the compendium entry, I took the challenge to run through the whole sequence to disassemble it. From the beginning on, the pieces move nice and easily, which allows for quite a pace when solving the puzzle. The sequence is systematic and when putting the puzzle down for a break (which you will need!), it is quite easy to determine which should be the next move. Of course, there is still enough opportunity to be confused and run into the wrong direction for some moves, but in the end, this is a puzzle, and it should have some challenge to be solved! A great puzzle, high quality in 3D print, and I enjoyed running through the sequence, and also like the colour scheme. More info can be found in compendium and n-ary puzzle group. Now it is time to re-assemble, but I think I will save this experience for another day, as 14999 moves (and some more) ought to be enough for one day!
Added on 2020-03-07
The first March update is no new puzzle, but about solving one. Another interesting excursion took me to the Burr Zoo group page, trying to find some spiders hidden in a block of wood.
Added on 2020-02-29
An update on February 29th is something special. This date only occurs every 4 years, and then there has to be something to be added to this gallery on this date. Seems I had a Feb 29 update before, in 2012, but that was the correction of a name, so today the first puzzle update with new puzzles on leap day. The puzzles added today travelled half around the world and are from the inventor of the framed 6 board burr (with two groups of 3 pieces). This time, we have three puzzles with two pairs of pieces each: Pinned Framed Burr S, Pinned Framed Burr M, and Pinned Framed Burr L. The pieces were made a bit more complex than one would expect from the outside, with the help of Juno's CNC Router. Each of the pieces has one or two pins and a maze, and puts these puzzles somewhere onto the border between maze and burr puzzles. Craftsmanship and movement is excellent and the pieces move easily. At the high number of moves for the first piece, a lot of chance to get lost inside these mazes quickly! There are some instructions coming with the puzzle, but they will not help you when lost in the maze, but seem to be aimed at the consumption and entertainment of the customs office, describing in detail what to do with the puzzles. The only downside is that these puzzles have sold out already, but that does not affect my playing with it, does it?
Added on 2020-02-14
From the US another puzzle arrived which is not available in the European market yet: True Challenge. Under a different name, this one won a Jury Honorable Mention award at IPP38 and is a puzzle with a new concept. On one hand, a twisty puzzle, where colored segments in two rings can be rotated around the equator of the puzzle and a half turn of the whole puzzle along an orthogonal plane is possible. The objective is to solve these colored segments, but in a way that all the magnets of adjacent segments attract each other, like shown in the picture. Three magnets are embedded into each segment and they produce some nice clicking sounds when turning the segments pushes them outwards and inwards again. A clever design idea!
Added on 2020-02-13
After finding a star in the Mindanao last week, it is now time for the first snow (star crystals) this winter. Not outside, of course, it is too warm here, but imported from Plaza Japan: Cast Snow. This is the latest of the famous Hanayama Cast series, and this time it is an easier one than the ones before, and a beautiful one! While this has just been released to the market in Japan, it will take a few more months for the regular world wide release. Solving the puzzle is a fun experience and consistent with the 2 star difficulty rating. While not being too difficult, don't expect the puzzle to be trivial, there are still some twists in the solution (literally) to be found!
Added on 2020-02-05
The latest of the fascinating pocket sized puzzles from the Philippines arrived today: Mindanao. It has a black and dark brown colour scheme, and it is slightly bigger than the others, but still pocket size. This one came without the usual sticky tape securing pieces from falling out, so I am guessing there are no such pieces that will come out easily or by accident. Not a lot can be seen from the outside, just a hexagonal white window, and a strange hole on the back side. However, tilting the puzzle is something that may lead to the first insight, and in my case it did. Soon afterwards it turned into a sequential discovery puzzle, and I can only guess how this mechanism is implemented. It has mulitple steps, and several interacting elements. Without completing I returned the puzzle to its original state for later examination, and to see if I can understand what may be going on inside, but then I was surprised to see that the strange hole on the back has changed its appearance. Seems I did not return the puzzle to its original state after all. From what I have seen and found so far, it is a great puzzle with some nice new ideas, some Aha! moments, and I am curious to see what else I will find. Not too quick, to enjoy the solving process a bit longer! Of course the screws and nuts are off-limits for solving the puzzle, but knowing the others that should be self-explanatory. A fascinating addition to the series, and I am curious to see what I will find in this puzzle and how the series will continue!
Added on 2020-02-01
No new puzzle today, but an extension of the Burr Zoo group page, about an excursion to solve a whale related puzzle.
Added on 2020-01-21
When looking at the IPP38 Nob Yoshigahara Design Competition, one entry was puzzling me. A shiny metal puzzle, looking very well engineered and a bit in the style of Wil's usual big boxes. However, knowing Wil, I was not aware that he had released a new design without telling anybody, and the inscription "J. Keegan" hinted that there must be a new designer in the puzzle scene. When it had become available and after hearing some positive feedback, I went to join the waiting list, and today a big shipping box arrived, and in it a nice wooden box, containing the: Jewel Thief. The puzzle comes with an instruction card made out of anodized metal and some additional extras, including a stand for the Lego Jewel Thief, to display her once she has been freed from her prison. The puzzle itself is also solid and massive, and seems to be as well made as the images would suggest. I am curious to give it a go, and it will be interesting, because it also includes some form of riddle solving. Seems like an escape room aspect. Probably this will take some time to solve, so let's put it to the backlog list — but more to the top of the list of puzzles to be solved, so the Jewel Thief is freed soon.
Added on 2020-01-18
In recent years, Volker Latussek became famous for his packing puzzle designs, and also published some puzzles where one had to match highlighted sections of wooden blocks while packing. In today's update, there is a Design Competition Entry having some similar constraints, to arrange pieces while matching parts of them: Mesh. Here, the matching parts are press studs and their sockets, and the goal is to arrange the puzzle into a 4x4 grid and closing all the 16 studs — not like shown in the picture, can you find the mismatches? After some initial trying of 15 minutes, I have made some interesting observations already, but without solving the puzzle. That will take a bit longer, I guess, and involve more analysis. A nicely made puzzle and fun to play with.
Added on 2020-01-09
On the way home, I could today pick up Juno's latest sequential discovery puzzle box, sent from the Pluredro shop directly to me: Ring Case. It is a cute beauty and the size is very friendly for collectors as well. The description on the web shop said that this may be something to befriend partners suffering from your puzzle collection activities, but after solving part of it, I strongly advise against using this box to propose. That may end up in a desaster! Removing the lid involves some nice sequential discovery steps, but then .... The ring inside looks expensive, even though it has no opal in it, but that is not the problem here. Like some other ring bearing boxes, there is a different challenge. Well, you get the idea! From comments I read from other puzzlers, I am not the only one looking to solve this challenge. This box is very well crafted and at the moment there still seem to be some available in the shop.
Added on 2020-01-07
First parcel of the year came from Hong Kong, directly from Meffert's, with a new golden puzzle: Golden Dodecahedron. This one is based on the Skewb mechanism, like the Golden Cube by Tony. While the overall structure and shape make look like a Skewb mod with triangles and squares, it is still a confusing puzzle. There is a nice click mechanism, but when the pieces click into place, that does not mean that the puzzle is in a solved state, or even close. Actually for one of the rotating axes, clicking into place means that the puzzle is definitely not solved. A consequence of this is also that you have to be very careful when picking up the solved puzzle — grabbing the wrong layers and the puzzle will rotate easily and escape your grip. What I like best about this puzzle is the nice solid feel, and the looks: There are cuts that look like you could turn the puzzle, just to notice that these cuts slightly change direction from piece to piece and will not allow any turn in this configuration at all.

Just noticing that the names of the Karakuri x-mas presents have been published, these have now been added to this site and one of them also went into compendium and n-ary puzzle group.

Other/Older updates:
Can be found on the update history page

Hints:

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.