Sunday 19 January 2014

Galaxy Z

Galaxy Z

Osanori Yamamoto. For Osanori's other designs, click here.

Notice the wood detailing at the corners

Pelikan. Mr Puzzle of Australia and PuzzleMaster of Canada were retailing them but currently both are out of stock. Do check back with them if you are interested.

Type & Classification

Interlocking, sequential movement

9.0cm (Length) x 9.0cm (Width) and 5.2cm (Height).  

Materials & Construction
A combination of 4 solid hardwoods. The frame is Mahogany, the pieces are Wenge while the corner embellishments are Wenge, Paduak and Maple. Very well made and excellent finishing throughout. There is also another version Pelikan made which had a straight edged frame

The Galaxy Z is a 2012 design from Osanori. It consists of 4 congruent pieces that resides within a square frame. The object is to disassemble and repack the 4 pieces. 

When I first got the Galaxy Z, it was the straight edged version. After a couple of moves, I found myself stuck in the same position over and over. I also found that I could not move a particular piece fully as it kept getting jammed against one of the notches inside the frame. Initially I thought it was the humidity that had expanded the wood and caused the problem, so in went my puzzle into the camera dry box for a good 5 days. But the problem persisted. 

That same weekend, puzzle designer Goh Pit Khiam happened to be at my place. What better person than Goh to ask for help; award-winning designer of the Tenary Burr and a host of other well known puzzles. Goh on the spot generated a Burr Tools solution for me, with the starting point at where I was stuck. Despite following the solution, it didn't work because the piece in question couldn't move where it was supposed to, due to the jamming against a notch. 

I contacted Pelikan and showed them a photo of the stuck piece.They replied that it could have been a manufacturing error and duly sent me a replacement puzzle with my next order of puzzles.

This time round, things went smoothly (no pun intended). Within 20 minutes or so, I had my first piece out and the rest came out easily after that. Repacking the pieces was a different kettle of fish. Very difficult! 

As mentioned, the frame within contains a number of notches that protrude from all 4 sides. These mesh and interlock with the pieces. Tried as I did, I could only manage to get 3 but not the 4th piece into the frame most of the time. I was obviously not getting the orientation and sequence right. I referred to the supplied printed solution after squinting at the page (very small diagram steps) for a rather long time, finally managed to fit all 4 pieces back into the frame. 

Difficulty Level
Galaxy Z has a 19.2.3 unique solution; in other words it requires 19 moves to free the first piece, 2 for the next and so on. Reassembly is very much harder than taking it apart, because the latter you are just fiddling and trying different moves here and there, while the former requires you to fit the pieces which won't all go in unless they are in the correct order. 

But what I found was that because it contains only 4 pieces (and all 4 are identical), after a bit of continuous practice, I actually could memorise the key moves and solve the puzzle without the solution. It became relatively easier after that.

This one must really be a popular puzzle indeed given that both major online puzzle retailers are sold out. Aside from it being very challenging, the superb construction and detailing make this one a very beautiful puzzle to display. A must-have!

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love it - in fact it was in my top 10 puzzles of 2013. If anyone is thinking about it then they really should get it!