The Straight Forward from Mr Puzzle Australia was a participating entrant in the 2008 IPP Puzzle Design Competition. Designed by Brian Young, it is a maze type puzzle consisting of a rectangular block of wood with a centre trough or "dug-out" drain stretching from one end to the other, over which is covered by a sheet of perspex (acrylic). Although physically its simple and innocent looking enough, the way to solve this puzzle is anything but simple nor straight forward (no pun intended). The puzzle is made of Queensland Blackbean wood and part of Mr Puzzle's "craftsman range of superior wooden puzzles". Judging by the workmanship and finish of my piece, the Straight Forward is indeed a high quality item.
The puzzle itself measures about 6 3/4 inches long, 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. The aim of the puzzle is to move the ball bearing from the "Start" position at one end of the puzzle to the "Finish" position at the opposite end. Getting in the way of the ball bearing moving from end to end are three tiny metal (brass I think) pegs that slide in and out from holes on either side of the trough or drain. Depending on how you tilt the puzzle, at any one time at least one or two of the three pegs will slide out of their own holes and "block" the ball bearing in its path, hence making it seemingly impossible to move it to the "Finish" position as intended.
I spent several hours on this puzzle but could not get the ball bearing to reach its destination. I decided then to look at the solution, which really surprised me. I would say that the way to solve this puzzle is actually quite clever in a certain sense, in that the solution was really not what I had expected in a puzzle of this nature. But then again, its the unexpected twist I think, that makes a puzzle unique and interesting. The way this puzzle is solved reminds me of the often quoted saying; "sometimes the easiest way is the obvious way". But then again, the obvious way is not always as obvious as it seems. Although Mr Puzzle rates it as level 7 (out of 10) in difficulty, I would say the puzzle more likely deserves an 8.