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 2019-06-14
Recently, two big puzzle auctions were held and my win from the first one arrived today. It is a beautiful, vintage wooden puzzle: Cage #1-216-14 Kodo, designed and built by D. Closterman in 2000, a designer I have never heard of before. The puzzle is beautifully made from wood and despite its age, all the pieces move smoothly and are neither too tight nor too loose. By classification, this is a serially interlocking puzzle, where 13 pieces are built into an 6x6x6 frame, and it takes 11 moves to get the first piece out. What is interesting is that during this sequence, each piece is moved only once and you can see how it unlocks the next piece (once you have determined that one), and each piece can be pushed from one of the six sides of the puzzle, no pulling required. After some moves, this big puzzle has a wild look with all kinds of pieces sticking out in the various directions. The name is taken from the inscription, and it seems to be a technical name hinting for one particular design in a whole series of designs, and the —14 may relate to the number of pieces. A beautiful and big puzzle, and maybe a bit of puzzle history, and definitely fun to play with.
- Added on 2019-06-13
Earlier this year, a puzzle was announced and sold which quickly sold out and was available nowhere for some time. Now it is back in stock, in this case from HK Nowstore: the Skewby Copter Plus. As the name suggests, this is a hybrid between a Skewb and a Curvy Copter Plus. This is quite fitting for my current twisty solving activities, because starting last year, I took a closer look at the Helicopter/Curvy Copter family and learned how to solve them. They are all fascinating puzzles, and not too hard until jumbling comes into play leading to some massive shape shifting, and (for the people interested in solving details) also kicking pieces out of their orbits and into different orbits (compared to the non-jumbling version/solve). Jumbling was first discovered in the Helicopter Cube, and with the Curvy Copter, one could see how the cuts moved from puzzle to puzzle, and some parts being unbandaged. The Curvy Copter is the easiest one, and there is also its little sibling, the Curvy Chop. Then the next iteration is the Curvy Copter III, which moves the cuts over the center, adding some additional center pieces and petals. Then there is another extension, in form of an unbandaging leading to the Curvy Copter Plus, having extra center pieces, and weird things can happen, which made this puzzle the hardest of them all to solve. Actually, I am not completely done with solving this one, and have not started with an hybrid reaching into a separate family: The Flower Copter, a hybrid between Curvy Copter and Dino Cube (like), which I have first seen at IPP37. Now the latest one, the Skewby Copter is another hybrid, reaching out into the Skewb family. Those have been the ones I recently had a look into — solving wise — and I have mastered the two Master Skewbs (sic!) and the Dino-F-Skewb. The Elite Skewb is the current project and nowhere near solved or even reduced to a Master Skweb. The interesting fact about the Master Skewbs is that one is a master version of the Skewb, the other one a master version of the Dino-F-Skewb, which can be experienced in the solving attempts for the two puzzles. But enough about these others, the new Skeby Copter seems to have a lot more pieces than all the others, but it is a very stable mechanism overall and fun to play with. I have also tried to reproduce one of those particular Curvy Copter Plus configurations the regular Curvy Copter cannot do, and this nearly ended in a big desaster. This is the part of the Curvy Copter Plus I still have difficulties with when solving. The Skewby Copter Plus is a great puzzle and I am happy I found it.
- Added on 2019-06-04
Today two recent orders arrived at the same time. While I still have not solved the previous one (the Hourglass), the latest Cast puzzle arrived: Cast UFO, which finally seems to be available in Europe (via Knobelbox in this case). Built in the usual very high quality, it seems quite obvious how to arrange the four pieces inside to slide the two outer pieces apart — just that it does not seem to be that easy after all! Looks like I should devote some time to catch up on solving some Cast puzzles. The other package was from Nowstore, with some of the latest twisties inside: The Rediminx should be a rather easy dodecahedron, which is a corner turning puzzle, and therefore a member of the Dino Cube/Redi Cube family, which contains many puzzles. The last one is bigger than I expexted it to be, but since when are Panda Bears small? Panda 2x2x2 Cube is a simple puzzle, and cute looking. In my collection, it is bigger than the ice bear and smaller than the Koala (technically not a bear), so the puzzles may be a bit off compared to the real scales and size ratios.
- Added on 2019-05-28
Today two of the latest and greatest puzzles by Eric Fuller arrived already: Both of them boxes of about the same size and both look beautifully and very well made. Topless Box was Eric's contribution to the famous Apothecary Chest and it is a re-release of this rare puzzle. It has two lids that are not too difficult to find and to open. However, that does not seem to provide any access to the interior. Having managed to solve the box, I can say that I like the solution and the box will also give you hints how to open it, on careful examination. It contains some magnets and some of this fascinating "magnetic wood". No blind guessing required, and a clever design! Where the name of Multiball comes from should be obvious from the picture. It looks like a securely locked block of wood, but has a little acrylic window to look into some part of the box, and that part contains 4 steel ball bearings. When playing with the box, some magic happens in plain sight, and reproducible. I am sure this will be part of the solution, but still needs to be investigated further. This one contains magnets as well, and also gravity pins and sliding panels. Even though I have seen all that in action already, I am still nowhere nearer to opening this box.
- Added on 2019-05-25
After the last update showed a new puzzle to the twisty octahedra group page, there is another addition to this group today already: Mini Octahedral Kilominx. This puzzle arrived from one of the specialists in custom octahedral twisty puzzles: Raphaël Mouflin. The puzzle is of great quality and fun to play with. While I am able to solve the standard Kilominx/Megaminx series, I am not sure how easy solving this one will be, because of the unusual piece geometry. When turning the pieces, it quickly becomes apparent why they have these strange shapes with the gaps in between, to allow movement without bandaging. An excellent addition to my Octahedra group!
- Added on 2019-05-14
Today a parcel from Russia again, but not with many thousands of moves in it, but with some nice twisties, both falling into categories I like. The first is from the cuboids category: Slim 1x7x7. This is a higher order floppy cube, but not much bigger than an originial Floppy Cube. It has a handy size and it is very nice to play with, even though it may not be suitable for speedcubing, but it will be too simple for speedcubers to solve anyway! The second one is from a group that has even its own page on my web site: twisty octahedra group page. It is the Jewel Octahedron and based on the Alexander's Star. It has a different colour scheme than the original puzzle, with each triangle having the same colour, not each pentagonal (here square) side. Actually this is how re-arranged my painted Alexander's Star, but that does not seem to be possible completely, so there are some mismatches in the colour scheme on the back side. Two nice and both pocket-sized twisties and fun to play with!
- Added on 2019-05-10
Today a small but thick envelope arrived, and it a cute little puzzle: Apolaki, the latest creation by Rex. It may be small enough to fit into an envelope, but actually it is the tallest of the series, taller than its 5 friends, a lot of space for additional mechanisms and traps. After carefully removing the wrapping, I noticed that I noticed nothing for any obvious first step, like a piece sliding out a bit, or dropping out after tilting, like it happened with some of the others. In fact, I found nothing helping me for my first step, just the coin rattling inside, wanting to come out, and some other pieces rattling which I could hear after holding the coin in place. Only after a while, I made a little discovery and I found a way to interact with some inside pieces without being able to touch or to even see them. Fascinating! That cannot be a coincidence and must surely be part of the mechanism to be solved. Like for the others, this puzzle has been made in very nice quality, is not expensive, and if I do the extrapolation of Rex' other puzzles right, it will be quite challenging. Unlike other puzzles with hidden mechanisms, this puzzle and the others in the series have a great advantage: After (!) solving them, you can unscrew the nuts and carefully disassemble the puzzles to find out how the mechanism works. This is an aspect I always look forward to, because I am always amazed about discovering all the mechanics going on inside the small puzzles. Right now, there are still a few for sale at Puzzleparadise, just in case you would like to try one of these, too. A great puzzle so far!
- Added on 2019-05-09
Last year, on Ishino's page, I saw a new n-ary design with a lot of moves: Sequence cube design, with a quarternary structure and a binary solution length function. Later, on my friend Kevin's PuzzleMad blog, I saw that a version of this cube had actually been build as a 3D printed puzzle, and soon after that I got in touch with the designer Aleksandr Leontev. He offered to build a cube for me, and some time later, today I received this amazing puzzle. The Sequence Cube is actually a variant called the "136 Minutes Cube", relating to an estimate for the time needed to solve the puzzle. Only the first piece can be removed, the others are built non-removable for additional stability of the puzzle, and the puzzle indeed works perfectly. I did run though the sequence and after I lost track several times — which is not good in a 8190 move sequence — I attached little stickers to the pieces and numbered them from 1 to 12. Then I started solving from the beginning and timed the solve. It ended after 97 minutes for me, so I had beaten the estimate. However, I had a lot of training with n-ary sequences, with some Barcode Burr variants only recent examples. It was a nice solve and it almost felt like some form of meditation, but after I finished, my fingers and hands did hurt a bit. The puzzle comes with an additional piece, that can be inserted as first piece in an alternate solution and it increases the overall number of moves — to a whopping 12282 moves to remove the first piece! A great puzzle and nice addition to my compendium and n-ary puzzle group. The puzzle has been realized as a 3D print, and the pins and connectors are solid metal pins, and the puzzle has a nice solid feel to it. Thank you, Aleksandr, for building this nice puzzle for me!
- Added on 2019-04-28
Today I went to the yearly puzzle party at a friend's house in the Netherlands (AKA "King's day Puzzle Party") and had a great time with puzzle friends and also solving some unknown puzzles. The puzzles I acquired there for my collection are all from the sliding pieces type: Q-Borg is a nice and interesting variant on a well-known concept. The sliding pieces in 4 colours can slide around the central axis in a rotational movement. Then two halves of the core are able to rotate by half a turn, and then there is a special move: The central core pieces can slide up or down by one unit, so that pieces from different layers can mix. The other two are classic and well made puzzles: Slide 11 Disk. Here you have to echange the yellow and green piece, and the only moves possible is rotating the circle of pieces, or pushing the slider that runs through the 4 and 9 pieces. The Triple Slide Egg is another one of them, and it is already scrambled, meanging that I will have to figure out how to solve it and then proceed with the solution. Looking at the green 3 piece shows something that surprised me a bit at first, and I was not sure whether the puzzle could be solved at all: The pieces can also be rotated upside-down!
- Added on 2019-04-21
Yesterday I went to the German Cube Day (GCD) to meet some puzzle friends and also to collect some puzzles. I received some presents (thanks to Frank and Christoph!): Jump Choreography as a welcome gift, and Monster High Cube. I also found some brand new puzzles, some of which had played before at an IPP design competition, others completely new to me: Free the Marble, Japanese Lock Copper Front. Aside from that, I was catching up on some vintage puzzles from IPPs and others: To Open Space, Coral + Sweet, The Tangle of Amathus, Sunflower, Smart Alex. Diniar had two puzzles for me. The first one is a reproduction of a design that is over 120 years old: Combination Lock. The second one is brand new and has mulitple challenges that can be set: Maze Burr L. Not having played with it a lot yet, I can already say that it is a nice and interesting puzzle. You have to push the pink sticks to make way for the ball to move through the maze, and of course the pink sticks are interlocking! A great day and great puzzle haul!
- Added on 2019-04-17
From Nowstore a parcel arrived quickly with some of the latest twisties inside: Overlapping Cube is actually an older design and now mass produced. As can be ssen on the picture, it is a hybrid of a 4x4x4 and a 5x5x5 and I have already scrambled it to solve it later today. The BaiNiaoChaoFeng Cube (I copy&pasted the name from the web site to be sure I get it right) first looks like a new edge turner, but at a closer look it is basically a Fisher cube variant with a strange colour scheme. This colour scheme leads to some interesting effects. For example, it seems to be possible to swap one piece from the red layer with one from the yellow layer, something that would not be possible on a standard 3x3x3 Rubik's cube. This situation only involves moves keeping the blue layer intact, and then you can also scramble the whole puzzle by mixing all the layers.
- Added on 2019-04-04
In a recent auction event, I won the Swiss Cube #2 Hard. This one is of a similar make and by the same designer/manufacturer like the US cube, but much simpler. Three pieces looking like cross shaped columns are sitting in a cube to come out, and of course they are interlocked with each other. Like for the other cube, the cube itself does not come apart. I have seen many cheap wooden variants of this cube for offer on ebay, but this is the original, and it is nicely laser cut from acrylic sheets.
- Added on 2019-03-27
About half a year ago, the Grooved Board Burr #1 was released in which Juno took the standard 6 piece board burr (6BB) to a higher level (also literally!) by adding grooves and pins. The main tool used for this was a CNC router, and one could also see some of the grooves from the outside. Now the second one arrived beautifully created in wood again: Grooved 6 Board Burr #2. This time, the grooves are hidden in the starting configuration of the puzzle and the level is even higher. Even the first handful of moves contains some that you would not expect from a standard 6BB. Several moves later, it is obvious that this is no 6BB, as there are configurations of the puzzle that would be trivial on a standard 6BB with pieces falling off, but not in this case! Seems to be a worthy family member indeed, and a very interesting puzzle!
- Added on 2019-03-26
Years ago, Kagen Schaefer (now Sound) created the Maze Burr, which is a cube with 6 sides and 12 moveable boards on these sides, interacting via pins running in little mazes. Later Derek Bosch created a rhombic version, the Rhombic Maze Burr, which I was happy to pick up at a past IPP. Today the latest puzzle in this series arrived, Derek's Split Maze Burr, nicely crafted by Eric Fuller in beautiful woods and shiny acrylic. It is a cube again, but instead of having 12 panels atteched, there are now 24 panels in two layers, and two of each running on the same side next to each other. This puzzle comes with a solution requiring 31 moves to remove the key panel, and there are in total 50 challenges coming with the puzzle, with a variety of move counts, ranging up to 382. For this, the opened puzzle can be reconfigured with the help of the screws running in the mazes. The overall challenge is to solve a maze, and while you can see the little mazes on the panels, the real maze is actually much bigger and requires you to plan ahead around all sides of the puzzle. A beautiful and interesting puzzle, and quite challenging! Unfortunately, it has sold out within less than one hour, but maybe there will be a second edition, who knows?
- Added on 2019-03-15
Today a package arrived from Nowstore with some of the latest Twisty Puzzles: Fangshi Venom Cube is a hybrid puzzle, consisting of a 2x2x2 and turning edges. The edges are implemented in a wireframe way, so one can still see inside to solve the inside 2x2x2, and this also describes a solving strategy. A fun and not too difficult puzzle! The Elite Skewb is the next bigger Skewb after the Master Skewb, with two diagonal bands rotating in the middle between two opposite corners. The 4x4x4 Curvy Dino does not have anything to do with a 4x4x4, but it is more related to Dino, Redi, and in particular Mosaic Cube. Actually, it is like a Mosaic Cube with additional sets of center pieces, which are quite easy to solve. A nice little solving challenge which I have just finished.
- Added on 2019-03-04
Of the coordinate motion variants of the Barcode Burr, I have already solved 6 of the 10, with the most complicated remaining to be solved. As the contest has already been closed, it is only solving for fun, and these puzzles are great fun playing with. Today a brand new sequential discovery coin trap arrived: Walang Galang. This one is the latest creation available from Rex Rossano Perez and has the similar nice form factor of the other ones, only that it is thicker than all before, meaning: It has more layers and more mechanisms built in! I have just started playing, but have already found a strangely shaped key inside, and a key hole, which partially explains the shape of the key. No simple key hole, but to be used in different ways and interacting with other mechanisms. While the previous one had a difficult solution with many steps, this one seems to be of a similar kind. I like a lot what I have seen already, and I look forward to the things to come during the solution. A nice addition to a great series of pocket puzzles!
- Added on 2019-03-01
A package full of puzzle pieces arrived today, but no complete puzzle. All the pieces arriving are in fact inserts for the Barcode Burr (printed), which had already been upgraded by the Barcode Burr Master Set Upgrade. Having solved all of those (at least as disassembly challenge), there is now some time for new challenges: Barcode Burr Master Sets Upgrades. This set consists of several sets that can be ordered on Pacificpuzzleworks' etsy page, and are the following 10 puzzles: CrossCode Burr #1 — #4 (white) and #5 (golden) are similar puzzles with variants, getting more and more difficult, and overall not too high level (3 for #1 — #4, with 18.104.22.168.5 for the #5), and involving coordinate many motion moves of many pieces. The GreenCode Burr series consists of four puzzles with coordinate motion moves, and level up to 9.9.4. The PurpleCode Burr may very well be the most difficult one, having coordinate motion and level 22.214.171.124.6. The puzzle pieces are well made and come with a lot of nice paperwork again, but no solutions! Instead, there is a challenge card included asking to participate in solving these puzzles and publishing the shortest solution.
While these are not n-ary puzzles as such, the compendium entry has been updated to note these extension sets. A lot of pieces and 10 puzzles to work through, meaning: Disassemble the existing one, disassemble the pieces, set up the pieces in the new configuration, then try to assemble the new puzzle. I am expecting hours of fun, and from the description cards Lee provided, there will be different aspects involved, including some dexterity. Remembering the fun I had with the original puzzle and the first master set, this will be a lot of fun and I am curious to see what will show up in this category in the future!
- Added on 2019-02-26
Today there was a big box waiting for me at the Customs Office, a box with a big box in it: The latest numbered Stickman Puzzlebox: Dwemer Construct Puzzlebox. It looks like a beautiful wooden box, with some strange mechanism sitting on top of it. It is like someone had decided that it was a better idea not to hide the locking mechanism, but make it visible to whoever would want to play with the box. Starting with that, there are some big wooden discs, and each of them carries additional elements, including some wooden gears. All these interact when moving some of the parts, and soon some more parts become visible. It does not only look like a complicated mechanism, indeed it seems to be complicated! And it is massive, leading to the next puzzle: where to put it on display after playing with it? Well, that puzzle can be psotponed, since there are more puzzles to be solved. First, one has to open the mechanism and open the box. Inside there are some parts that can be used for an alternate mechanism, and of course one will have to find out how they need to be arranged to create this mechanism — another puzzle! After that, the box will need to be locked with the alternate mechanism, which leads to another challenging puzzle. Only opening the box up again after that should be a bit easier, after building and locking the mechanism. Having only started playing with the box, it is hard to put down again. I have a slight idea what the goal of the first stage is to unlock the lid, but how to get there may be a completely different story! Beside from some brass screws, the whole mechanism seems to be made from wood, as usual for this puzzle designer, and which is always a fascinating aspect.
- Added on 2019-02-15
Today a parcel with the latest release of beautiful wooden puzzles from Pelikanpuzzles arrived, and at the moment they are all still available in their shop and you can get some nice new puzzles there. The first one is Angelus, a puzzle from the category of two pieces in a frame. This may be a smaller example in this category, yet the two pieces still perform a nice dance before coming out of their frame. The Math is an addition (sic!) to the Addition puzzle by the same designer and craftsman, introducing some more mathematical symbols. It has a nice solution and you have to maneuver all three pieces carefully to get the first one out. Aracna is a 12 piece burr at first sight, with an additional piece hidden inside, so I put it into the Burr Zoo group page, with my experiences of solving that puzzle described on that page. This is an easier one of this category, and therefore it may be a good start if you want to have a look into the Burr Zoo category and proceed with a puzzle that is not incredibly difficult to solve!
- Added on 2019-02-05
Today by coincidence two packages arrived at the same time. The first one contains some nice wooden puzzles built by Bernhard, and are some of the latest and greatest TIC puzzles (TIC=Turning Interlocking Cube). They are all designs by Andrew Crowell and have some rotations. The first one is GiganTIC, which was available in a different version from Brian Menold earlier, and on which I missed out. It has a high level of 10.10 and several rotations, and interesting moves. I have also found an alternate solution with only 7 moves for the first piece to separate, but that is probably due to the angled edges in this version. So this version has actually two different challenges! The PenTIC does not have that many moves, but one more rotation and some really interesting move sequences and moves. The PackTIC #2 came disassembled, and as an assembly challenge. I got it together after some time, and my solution has the same number of rotations and overall moves as advertised, so I am assuming I found the correct one. What puzzled me most is the last piece to come out/first piece to go back in, which is actually the most difficult one. For the assembly, you first have to solve the entanglement puzzle to get this (dark) piece into the frame, and then put in the other pieces with some more rotations and many more moves. Now I know why these TICs seem to be so famous at the moment, they are great puzzles and very interesting for 4x4x4 cubes.
The other package was a package from Knobelbox catching up on some older Hanayama puzzles, most of them just being two entangled pieces each, but that does not say anything about the difficulty rating: Cast S and S, Cast Hook, Cast Baroq, Cast Medal, and Cast H and H. The order also contained a trick lock: Push Trick Lock 5. This is a variation of a well known trick lock design.
- Added on 2019-01-18
Today the latest puzzle from Australia arrived, and it is the second puzzle box in shape of a crocodile I have: Chubby Crocodile. It is a nice looking and very well made wooden crocodile and has even room for a belly containing a treat. The objective of this puzzle could therefore be described to open the box, or to find the treat included, and to make things better it also contains some sequential discovery elements. When you first touch the crocodile, it may be that it starts moving some of its legs, like it was trying to attack (or run away?), which is a nice surprise. This is of course one of the key elements, and overall the puzzle is fun to play with and not too complicated to solve. Definitely a great addition to the recent line of boxes Juno has been creating, and at the moment, there are even some left for sale on their Pluredro web site!
- Added on 2019-01-08
The first puzzle delivery for this year came from my puzzle friend Diniar, with nice golden puzzles. They are not actually made from gold, but 3D printed, but with a nice golden look, and as usual they look better in reality than on the pictures I have taken. The theme for the first two is: puzzle box with sliding piece puzzles to be solved to open the box. The Crucibox has some two-layered pieces and then a whole lot of one layered square pieces. The first surprise you may see is that there is no visible hole to perform the first move, and this is not the only trick in this design. The shape of the cross piece is another, and then the box is also reconfigurable and comes with 30 challenges! The Treebox looks a bit like a Japanese puzzle box, due to the nicely printed tree on top of the sliding pieces. Those pieces actually have three different colors of material, demonstrating advances in 3D printing. You may wonder where the hole is to perform the first move of this sliding piece puzzle, and this is the first trick to be found. The second observation is made after moving some pieces around and seeing how the mechanism to open the box might work. This leads to another challenge to be solved before the box can be opened. The last one is a maze puzzle, with two circular mazes to be entangled into one cross-like structure: Mazy. The picture shows the puzzle already assembled, and during the assembly process it becomes obvious that this is a visible maze, where you can plan ahead instead of performing blind guesses. The pieces nicely interact with each other in a nice and new way, and especially with the golden color, I can imagine this to be produced in a cast metal version, maybe this is a good candidate for a future Hanayama Cast puzzle? All three puzzles are fun to play with (thank you, Diniar!) and at the moment there is actually one such design for offer on Puzzle Paradise.
- Update on 2019-01-07
Names of the Karakuri x-mas presents added.
- Added on 2018-12-28
Yesterday there was a small private puzzle meeting at a friend's place and I even got two puzzles there. First, I acquired the Printable Interlocking Puzzle 4, which is strange to see in wood, as the name tells that the pieces of this one can be 3D printed without the need for a support structure. Dirk presented me his IPP38 Exchange puzzle, the TRIROD, nicely implemented and close to the original prototype. This one had been designed by late Markus Goetz many years ago and much later in the early 2000s, the prototype with the hand written instructions made an appearance at IPPs, and the basic principle later showed up in other designs by other designers. This route finding puzzle is a nice one to remember a great puzzle designer and puzzle friend.
Today, the Karakuri Christmas presents showed up at the local customs office for import. As usual, I don't know the names for most of them, to be added later on. The first one is Silent Cat and a nice little cat figurine in the typical style for this designer. Not too difficult, but some funny steps. The X-mas present 1 is a drawer, like last year, but this time it does not open immediately, as the last one did (with the secret still hidden). The next one is X-mas present 2 and has some trees on it. These trees were used by the designer in several puzzles in the past, and they always gave a very specific hint for the solution. Based on this, I have a vague idea, what may happen here, too! The X-mas present 3 looks like a caged 6 piece burr, but it is actually a box, and behaves like one. I have only found some steps so far, but they are typically for the designer, and I am looking forward to finding many more steps before the box opens!
- Added on 2018-12-27
Yesterday I had a Christmas visit by some good friends, and one of them also brought a puzzle as a present: Stadtpuzzle Muenster-Rathaus. He had been in the German city Münster and there this puzzle was offered showing the architectural features of the city hall (hence the German name of the puzzle). It has only around 40 pieces, but all of them having the same colour and only different shapes (many of them!), it is not a very easy puzzle. One fascinating aspect is that the picture on the manufacturer's web site is different from the actual frame shape, so I will be completely on my own when solving it. Luckily, the wood grain helps a bit, and I already managed to match the first few pieces. Thanks for the nice challenge!
- Added on 2018-12-20
Only a week after their release, some of the latest puzzles from Eric Fuller arrived, and this time, the usual extra high precision was not only visible on the puzzles, but Eric also included a card stating this, and some instructions on the puzzles. Instructions how to store and keep them, not how to solve them! The first one has an unusual look and is a three piece burr, as the name suggests: Just 3. The other two come from a designer with a name well known from the IPP Design Competitions over the last years: Hajime Katsumoto. The Burr with Rings looks like a caged six piece burr, but is actually similar to Stephan Baumegger's "Frame Me Up" burr, where six of the 18 pieces have a ring attached. Here, all pieces have a ring each, and the wood is really beautiful (maybe not on my picture)! The last one is another variant of Soma in Case, and there are several other puzzles where you have to pack the Soma pieces into a cage, and I also have one of them. However, this adds a special element: The box has a lid to be closed and that lid has an extra cubie attached, on the inside! We have seen the success of the great 5L Box in this year's IPP Design Competition, and this Soma based puzzle employs this element, too. Something tells me this will be a real challenge for the holiday season.
- Added on 2018-12-10
Today a small delivery containing two cute little sequential discovery puzzles, both with the objective to free the coin (Some more coins from the Philippines!): Rizal was the first one, that started the series and maybe a smaller one in the series. Several steps are required to get the coin out and it seems I still need to work on the solution for the first steps. The Kusing 25 is possibly the largest one, and definitely the newest one in the series available so far. Looks like there is a lot more going on, and I have already found a piece that wants to come out and there seem to be some other parts of the puzzle where it fits in nicely. Not yet solved, but very interesting! These puzzles are fun and high quality puzzles for a small price tag and form factor, and they are a recommendation, all four of the series.
- Added on 2018-12-05
Today a package arrived with puzzles following two themes: They are all nicely crafted from beautiful woods by Pelikanpuzzles, and they are all about some interlocking pieces dancing in a frame. Addition has six plus signs, one on each side, and after the pieces dance through the frame for a while, one of them comes out — with the others in their original positions! Tom Pouce looks like a block strapped by two wooden rings, but actually there are two central pieces, leading to a total of four. The first piece to come out has interesting moves, some of them not easy to find, but the second pieces seems to be stuck in the puzzle forever, until one finds a clever move sequence to get it out. The next two puzzles are by the same designer and follow some of his recent schemes: Triad has some letter shaped pieces, in this case three letters L are visible in the assembled state. Like for the other puzzles, the pieces perform some strange dance before the first one is finally removed. Even though it sometimes looks like a rotational move may be possible there does not seem to be any intended or unintended rotation. The final puzzle of this package, Wing Hangar, has the lowest number of pieces: Two identical pieces and a cage. I wrote "and" because the puzzle came in disassembled state and for the picture I had to find a solution to assemble it. Even at the level of 20 moves it has, it is still possible to assemble the puzzle from scratch without help. Luckily the stick pieces are identical and both the pieces and the frame are symmetrical, limiting the number of possible assemblies.
- Added on 2018-11-28
At the customs office I picked up another new six piece burr coming from Australia, or at least so it seems. The puzzle definitely looks like the standard six piece burr, and like a bigger of them. After disassembling it, there are indeed six pieces. However, there are different aspects that are more interesting: Some people might call it a puzzle box (with just a little cavity inside), but for me the sequential discovery aspect is the strongest for the Sequential Discovery Burred Box, so I am putting it into that category, and this may also help some of the non-box-puzzle collectors out there (correct, Kevin?). The sequential discovery solution of this puzzle box (sic!) is not very difficult, but extremely well designed and makes good use of the overall six parts of the puzzle. In fact, several of the sequential discovery steps will require that you combine two of the tools to perform the step. Whithout saying too much about the solution, there is also a nice sequence of steps where you use one of the tools to extract an other tool and then combine both in one of the next steps to progress. Another fascinating property of the solution is that there is a point where several steps can be carried out, both using the tools, but only one order or performing these steps will lead to success. What may be the best distinction to a puzzle box is the visibility of clues and mechanism parts that enable you to solve the puzzle without any blind guessing at all. A very clever design and unfortunately, it seems that it has sold out already.
- Added on 2018-11-24
The Hanayama Cast Puzzle series, now coming in the "Huzzle" brand offers great designs in a nice and sturdy metal implementation at a very good price. The latest of the series is not yet available in Europe, but fortunately, it can be ordered in some other parts of the world already: the Cast Hourglass. The designer is well known for some other Cast puzzles and also IPP Design Competition entries in the past. From the picture, it should be obvious where the name comes from, and like several other puzzles from the series, it consists of four metal pieces which need to be disentangled and re-entrangled afterwards. The difficulty rating is at the top of Hanayama's scale with six stars and from what I have heard from others, this rating seems to be justified.
- Added on 2018-11-16
Like yesterday a parcel with something special arrived. This time, it was not an exquisite beautiful small puzzle box, but a big set to construct many fascinating puzzles: The Barcode Burr Master Set Upgrade. This one extends the recently arrived Barcode Burr with an additional cubic burr with a different set of (blue) inserts already mounted, so that the result is a binary coordinate motion version of the puzzle. I have already solved this one, and it is a very interesting combination of concepts: a binary sequence and coordinate motion. In some way it reminded me of the Confetto Box 2 by Hiroshi Iwahara, but then the sequence is quite different. After understanding the sequence for removing the first piece, finding which piece would come out second and after which sequence was an additional challenge. For the third piece, the sequence was now obvious and to my surprise, the last three pieces came apart like in the original binary Barcode Burr. The other inserts offer various other assemblies of higher level, some of them following a ternary or quaternary sequence, others having more irregular sequences. To avoid spoling the puzzle set for others, I will not explain more about the set, but more details about the contents (and an additional picture) can be found in the compendium entry. This also includes a good amount of high quality paperwork, a great set, and a very good deal for the price! A great addition to compendium and n-ary puzzle group (do you notice something unusual there?), and it will take some time until I will have built all the configurations and solved them.
- Added on 2018-11-15
From Jesse Born I received a parcel with a small puzzle box in it, just slightly bigger than a typical smart phone: Saifu Puzzlebox. This is a beautiful and well crafted box and comes in different materials to choose from. When ordering this box, one could choose between different woods for the various pieces of the box, and between Yosegi and brass for the sliders, and if I understood correctly, all of the boxwes have been different so far. The sliders are the first interesting thing to note: They seem to be locked into their respective grooves without having any visible link to the mechanism below. However, they behave like they are in fact interacting with this mechanism, and each of them seems to be behaving a bit differently. I wonder how this all relates to the solution and I am eager to find that out.
- Added on 2018-11-11
Today I went to a regional puzzle gathering to meet some good puzzle friends and to play with some new (or even newer) puzzles. Of course, there were also some puzzles for my collection. The main theme of today's update is IPP puzzles, and there are some puzzles with the same name like some I already have, but in fact different puzzles. The first handful of puzzles are actually some designs which showed up in the IPP38 Design Competition. From Dr. Volker Latussek, I received a Cubemaker, the 2018 version with four angled pieces. Last year, I had already played with a 3D printed prototype and found some solutions for the different challenges. This wooden version features some of the harder challenges, and the goal is to build a stable figure out of the four pieces, in which eight of the darker piece parts meet to form four dark cubes. There seems to be one more straightforward solution, and a creative one, and I am looking forward to finding both of them. The next one has a spectacular name: Rollercoaster. Only three pieces to be packed into the box completely, easy? It is not allowed to put your fingers inside the box, and maybe that is for a good reason, as I have been told that some of the moves required actually resemble rollercoaster like movements. The transparent box helps you to see what is going on inside and also to quickly detect when something is going wrong and there may be a rollercoaster accident in the box. The next is one of those simple puzzles where you only have to pack 5 L shaped pieces into a box and close the lid, hence the name 5L Box. As you can see from the picture, there is one of the pieces outside the box, and after inserting it into the available space in the box, I could not close the lid for some reason. On a second glance, I noticed why this was the case and now I am beginning to understand why the puzzle won a first prize in the competition. The Pack 012 is another one of those easy "just pack three pieces into that box" puzzles. The opening seems to be wider than just for one of the cubies, but I have the bad feeling it may still be way too small for a straightforward approach. The name of the designer and the prize in the competition make me reconsider and may not be an easy puzzle after all! From the name, the next one is a recycling puzzle that can be created from some leftover square sticks, yet not enough to form a complete cube. Hence the name: Leftovers. This was no spontaneous build, as this was also an entry into the competition at IPP38, and after playing with it a bit, I am slightly worried that I might have put it into the wrong category. The next few puzzles are for catching up on past IPP Exchange puzzles: The
Tangled Dovetail is definitely in the Disentanglement Puzzles category (like the one before?), or isn't it? Trying to solve it, it looks like there might be a tiny little bit more to it than just disentangling the usual knot and then sliding the dovetail halves apart. The MIKSLOK is one of the rare trick locks in the Exchange (until very recently, that is!). I haven't seen one for a while, and upon first inspection it seems to be a regular lock that has been doctored with, as some people would say. Of course it does not open by simply inserting the key and turning it. The next one is a key by name, the Hysteresis Key. I already have the simpler production range version, but this seems to be a lot more interesting. Some longer dead ends to run into than in the other version. This puzzle also has a maze with more dimensions than at first look. You can move the key in one dimension, but it is actually a 2D maze. Very recently, I have received another puzzle with such a dimension jump: A box with two sliders, yet a 3D maze. Can you spot which it was, and guess how the third dimension was implemented? Big Wheel is another such case of a seemingly 1D maze which is more complicated at a second glance. The wheel will rotate forwards and backwards until it hits some obstructions, and then there is also another kind of wheel movement required to progress in the 2D maze. For solving this, you may need to remember that sometimes not only dentists should examine the teeth!
And now for something completely different: Non-IPP puzzles. The GELO 1234 is one of those numbered designs, and with just three pieces in a frame it is not overly difficult, but reassembly from scratch may be a bit more challenging. The
Printable Interlocking Puzzle 4 made out of wood is a curiosity, as Richard has specifically designed it to be easily printable on a standard 3D printer without the need of support structures. Still it is a nice puzzle in wood and has some nice move sequences. Why, why, why, oh why does the next puzzle have the name "YyYy", you might ask? Having a look at the pieces, this will become clear, as they are clearly Y shaped. It is the second puzzle of this designer in this update, and one may have expected more like just level 13.3 with linear moves, like some fancy rotations. Starting to play with it, this puzzle will demonstrate some nice and usual move sequences, and level 13.3 for such simple pieces is actually quite high. The last puzzle is from a designer I have not heard of before, but searching for his name, I came accross an ACM paper about "Recursive Interlocking Puzzles" which I had read some years ago. The puzzle is a cube related to this article: Singapore 5x5x5. Not one of those fancy animal shapes, yet an interesting demonstration of the concept.
- Added on 2018-11-06
Today I received the first coins from the Philippines I have. They are embedded into some nice small puzzles made from laser cut acrylic sheets held together by some screws, which both have an excellent size for storage in the display cases or even the pocket when bringing them somewhere. The first one is the Aguinaldo, which is a hidden maze puzzle, with a maze to be solved before the coin can be released. However, Rex has added a nice additional trick to it, in shape of an additional piece that takes part in the solution at some point in time. The Barasoain is a sequentially discovery puzzle, where you have to find and unlock some tool to progress in the solution. When that tool is found, it is quite obvious where it may help (It looks like a key!), but that is not all you need for solving the puzzle. There is an additional trick before the coin is released. An interesting observation is that the key actually solves as one of the locks in the beginning, a clever idea! Two nicely designed and nicely made puzzles, which are fun to solve and not too difficult. They are not the first ones to be released in this series, so let's see what Rex comes up with next. It is great to see such interesting mechanisms packed into this cute form factor!
- Added on 2018-10-29
Today's package brought two nicely made wooden puzzles from Australia, and one being the completion of the trump card series puzzle boxes: Spade Case. This box looks like the Club Case, but the mechanism works quite differently and in a new way, in fact: I have never seen this kind of trick. I would be giving to much away of the solution by mentioning details, but it is notable that this mechanism has more dimensions (in a mathematical sense) than you would expect, and at some point in the middle of the solution, you can actually see more of the mechanism. If you have not yet formed any theory how to solve the puzzle, that is the right moment during solving. This one may be the most box-like of the case series, having the biggest storage compartment of all four. The Grooved 6 Board Burr #1 looks like a nicely made 6 Board Burr, but it additionally features some bamboo dovels and some grooves, increasing the level to a very high 22. Playing with it a bit, I immediately noticed that this grooved version behaves quite differently from the standard version, featuring configurations in which a piece would simply drop off in the corresponding standard 6BB. Not in this grooved design, of course! Clearly, this has been the result of Juno playing with the router again, and I am curious to see which other creative puzzle ideas will come out of this in the future!
- Added on 2018-10-24
Yesterday I went to the biggest board and card game fair in Essen, and as usual I visited some puzzle friends to look for new puzzles. At the Constantin booth, there were some brand new vesions of known n-ary puzzels: Voidlock Metal is a heavy and nicely made full metal version of the voidlock, and Steuerrad-Kiste* (Steering wheel box) uses the puzzle as a lid. You have to solve the puzzle on the lid (or at least most of it) and then you can unlock the lid, which uses a simple, but clever mechanism. Two nice additions for compendium and n-ary puzzle group! The Two Side Sliding Lock* is a sliding piece puzzle in the shape of a lock, which uses pieces that can move in one way only. Some only horizontally, others only vertically, guided by grooves in the front and back side of the puzzle. A confusing and unique puzzle idea! There were also two items offered which were designed by Katsumoto, who is well known since IPP36: Spiral Square is a puzzle consisting of 4 identical parts to be taken apart (without opening the screws, of course!) and putting it back together, which proves to be the greater challenge. The Framed Jigsaw has a name and look that would immediately disqualify it from being shown on this site (please look at the introduction above!), but this one is not a true jigsaw puzzle, more like a combination of complicated packing, interlocking, and sliding piece puzzle. There is only a small opening in the top in the middle, where everything has to enter the puzzle, and obviously the task is to put all the pieces into the frame. Looking at the piece left over and the space remaining in the frame, the question immediately pops up, how this could be done, as the piece does not even fit into this gap. Well, some clever re-arranging of the pieces already inside might help. Rombol is also on my usual list for the fair in Essen, and they had some nice puzzles to offer. Kardan is a serially interlocking puzzle. The next two are designs by Dr. Volker Latussek, who appeared successfully in recent IPP Design Competitions (for example with the overwhelming success of his Casino puzzle this year, and the Marble's Cage a bit earlier): Six-T-Puzzle and SOMA Pack have the goal to pack everything into the box. Six T pieces (not 60), five of which are already inside, and then the whole Soma cube piece set for the other puzzle. Of course this is not achieved by simply creating a packing outside the box and then putting it in one by one, but the small openings will require a bit more to solve. The last visit was to Hendrik's Puzzle Shop, who is a good contact for the latest Cast puzzles and exotic twisty puzzles. He had the Cast Arrows for offer and then a variety of other nice puzzles. Molecube mini is actually shown in the solved state and is a cute mini version. The next three are serially interlocking with the same piece layout and solution, however the different puzzle shapes and symmetries make them vary in difficulty: Small interlocking cube*, Small rounded interlocking cube*, and Small interlocking barrel*. From the same unknown manufacturer was the Time Machine Variant*, and then there were small and tiny variants of the known Magic puzzle: Mini Magic Heart* and Micro Magic Skeleton*, which reminds me a bit of the Lucasarts Adventure "Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge" with the groups of bones. The last one is actually a 1x2x3 and simple twisty puzzle, but also some decoration for the x-mas season to come: Zcube Christmas Tree
While creating this update, one of the latest works from the Karakuri creation group arrived: Visible 5-Ary Drawer (Quinary). As one may guess from the title, this is clearly part of compendium and n-ary puzzle group and fun to solve, with a smooth mechanism. Unlike many other Karakuri boxes, the n-ary mechanism of this box is in plain sight beneath an acrylic cover, allowing to follow what happens easily. This is actually the 200th entry in the compendium, and there are even more puzzles in it if you count all the variants!
- Added on 2018-10-24
When you are busy, time is flying by, and so I did not yet expect the arrival of some of the latest works by Eric Fuller ordered last week. They are beautifully made as usual, and unusual in their designs: Okto Cube by Yavuz is a six piece board burr in a cube, easy enough. However, the cube is assembled from eight identical pieces (hence the name) and comes apart. A clever idea! When solving the puzzle and moving the boards around, after several moves, two of the cubies will drop off the puzzle, so you have to be careful when solving, or you are in for a surprise! The Pin Block Case first showed up at IPP37 and quickly afterwards it was available in the signature series, and now re-released in the artisan series. Four identical pieces with a pin and groove each, to be packed in a box through its opening, how hard can that be? Not very hard, but a clever design by Hajime Katsumoto, an expert and IPP prize winner for his packing puzzles, and fun to solve! While packing into the box, the pieces interlock in a nice way, which is why I put it into the interlocking category.
- 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!
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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.