Sunday, 30 October 2011

Tricky Dick

I am not a fan of entanglement puzzles but this rather interesting (and inexpensive) one with a strange name caught my eye when I was at the Yallingup Maze in Western Australia. The Tricky Dick was designed by Rick Eason and presented at the 19th IPP in London in 1999. The copy which I bought was made by Mr Puzzle Australia.

The puzzle consists of three wooden pieces (looks like stained radiata wood), namely an octagonal block attached by a rope to a long cylindrical rod. The rope which runs through the centre of the rod is sealed into the rod. A circular disk is attached to the end of the rope. Overall the construction and quality is good. A brass ring encircles the rope and the object of the puzzle is to remove this ring.

This is my first entanglement puzzle and my attempts to remove the ring initially ended with the brass ring and the wooden pieces all tangled up in a twisted mess. I suppose there is a reason why these puzzles are called entanglement puzzles. Now I had two objectives...one, to disentangle the knotted mess and two, to solve the puzzle by removing the ring.
After over an hour or so, I finally managed to untangle the puzzle back to its original unsolved state. This actually gave me the "A-ha" feeling and I was pleased with myself for achieving the disentanglement. However, I didn't want to put myself through another hour of frustration, so I decided to check out the solution that accompanied the puzzle. I found the solution not exactly easy to follow but it was better than none. This is a tough puzzle. I would never have been able to solve the puzzle without the solution. Following each step to the tee, eventually I got the brass ring out!

The Tricky Dick is rated at a difficulty level of 8 out of 10, so I am not surprise that I didn't even come close to solving it. Honestly, even with the solution which shows the sequential steps, I still cannot quite comprehend and figure out how the brass ring is removed from the rope-wood ensemble, given that it looks really physically impossible to do so. Anyway, for entanglement puzzle enthusiasts, here is one challenging puzzle to consider.

Rick Eason has a website which features two variations of the puzzle and hints to solving. Tharn Jaggar's puzzle blog also has nice photos of the step by step solution.

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