Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Brass Treasure Chest

The Brass Treasure Chest is a cute little puzzle which I obtained from PuzzleMaster of Canada. Designed by Rocky Chiaro and made entirely of brass, the chest measures 5.4cm long, 2.6cm wide and 3.3cm tall. It is a little box which sits on four short legs and has a diagonal criss-cross pattern on the top of the 6mm lid. While the fit and finish is not perfect, the overall quality and construction of my copy is generally good (and taking into account the puzzle aspect) I would consider it value for money. Despite its smallish size, the chest feels heavy and solid in the hand.

The swirly mark on the front side of the chest  bears Rocky Chiaro's signature
The object of the puzzle is to open the Treasure Chest (ie the lid). Upon unwrapping the chest, I can hear within the chest "parts" that appear to be loose and moving about inside. I cannot be sure if they are ball bearings or not but definitely there appears to be at least two moving pieces. Initially I tried the few ways that I am aware of to try to open the chest, such as those employed in the Aluminium Dovetail, Moscow, Cast News and Fire Plug puzzles, all reviewed earlier in this blog.

Those who have solved any of these puzzles would know what I am talking about. I banged, tapped, spun and turned the puzzle in all manner of directions but to no avail. At one point I did manage to swing the lid open several millimetres in either direction but it remained firmly "locked" in place and would not budge beyond that.

Something interesting awaits those who succeed in opening the Treasure Chest

I puzzled over the chest for several days and just as I was about to give up on what I was doing, suddenly the lid swung open to reveal a empty cavity. While I did have an "A-ha" moment, this was temporary because when I looked at how the lid was locked in place, I knew I had got it opened purely by chance. I didn't really know what I had done correctly up to this point. Closing the lid was even much harder, the lid simply refused to close. Somewhere deep inside the chest and hidden from view, Rocky had designed a mechanism which requires one to solve the puzzle through a pre-determined sequence of steps with dexterity, very similar to the Centrale and Remove The Yoke puzzles.

This is very difficult as one cannot see whatever is going on with the mechanism inside the chest. This was confirmed when I downloaded the solution from PuzzleMaster. I counted a sequence of 10 steps to open the lid and 8 steps to close it....something which would have been impossible for me to carry out without the solution. PuzzleMaster rates the Treasure Chest 10/10 on the scale of difficulty. I fully agree. If the scale was 15, I would say the puzzle is around 13/15.

Once you have seen the solution and memorised the steps, repeated solving becomes very easy. If you like a real challenge that you cannot see, well here's the puzzle for you! The chest is also very sturdy and strong and there is enough space inside to put something small, like a 1-carat diamond ring. Well, if you have nothing to place inside, the chest performs quite well as a shiny paperweight.

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