Sunday 28 August 2011

Pagoda No 3

I acquired this wooden puzzle from PuzzleParadise a while back. The No3 is made by the Matthew Dawson/Makishi duo and limited to 40 units. Mine happens to be No 16 of the lot. The No 3 is made of a combination of walnut, oak and maple to give the puzzle a nice contrast of colour finishes. The puzzle measures about 5 1/8in x 3in x 3in. Construction and quality is first rate and photos posted on the net really do not do justice to the puzzle when you see and hold the actual piece in your hands.

The puzzle consist of a rectangular box with a door and knob in front (actually a drawer), and sitting on top of the box are 4 horizontal square wooden pieces stacked together to form the sloping "roof" of the pagoda. 3 out of the 4 pieces are movable and can be rotated in either direction. The topmost piece can also be pulled upwards or pushed downwards, apart from rotating in either direction.

The object of the puzzle as you would have guessed is to open the door (ie pull out the drawer from the puzzle).  In order to do this, one must turn the two lower pieces of the "roof" while pulling, pushing and twisting the topmost piece. The mechanism which keeps the drawer locked in place actually consist of an internal cylindrical maze. You need to pull, push and/or twist the top piece, while manipulating the lower two pieces by rotating them in order to work through the maze to release the drawer.

I spent a good half a day trying to get the drawer out of the puzzle but was not successful. At the time of this writing, I still have not solved this puzzle. I looked at the solution that came with the puzzle but this was of little help to me.  I resorted to emailing Matthew Dawson who was kind enough to furnish me a hand-drawn sketch of maze and how it should be traversed. Despite Matthew's kind assistance , nonetheless, I continue to remain at the stage with the top piece half sticking out. Clearly I am not doing things right and remain trapped somewhere inside the maze. Most puzzlers it seems can open the Pagoda quite easily and only find difficulty when closing...for me, well...sigh sigh! While the puzzle feels very solidly constructed, I really do hope I have not forced anything in the course of my twisting and turning to damage some internal part, like I nearly did with my Blind Labyrint 1C!. The last thing I want to do is to send it back to Matthew Dawson for repair.

This for me is a very difficult puzzle (or maybe I am just lousy at mazes; oh no!!...I have not even started on my Revomaze Blue yet!). Be that as it may, the design of the Pagoda is definitely far more unique and interesting than traditional puzzle boxes and given its limited run, makes a wonderful collector's item. It also looks great as a display piece on the desk.

For now, rather than continue to feel frustrated and get no where, I will put No3 away and play with my other puzzles. I will definitely come back to it another day. There are several other reviews of the No3 and the Pagoda series, so you may like to check out the following blogs; Kevin's Puzzle Blog, Oli's Mechanical Puzzle Blog, Brian's Damn Puzzle Blog and Neil's Puzzle Blog.


  1. Keep at it Jerry. Opening it is not hugely difficult and Matt's diagram will help. First you need to work out what he is referring to in the drawing and then decide where abouts you are in the maze.

    You will not have broken it unless you have seriously forced something during your travels. You would know about it. Put it down, have a rest and try again later. It worked for me with closing the maze - I couldn't do it so left it for quite a long time and asked for a picture from Matt. I actually solved it before I got the picture!


  2. Kevin, thanks. Yes I will do that...will put it aside for a while and come back to it again.

  3. And??
    Did you close it yet? Just got one from Ebay and found it rather easy to open. Also closing not too hard, as while I was opening it found several closing positions. Somehow there is a maze which brings the tube almost entirely down.

    Really like this puzzle!!

    Best regards,

  4. Nope, still not yet. Have not touched it in a while!