Saturday, 29 March 2014

Hoffmann's Barrel & Ball Puzzle

Name
Hoffmann's Barrel & Ball Puzzle

Designer
Unknown. This puzzle appeared in a puzzle book published in 1893 entitled "Puzzles Old And New" by Professor Louis Hoffman.



Manufacturer
Grand Illusions, UK. Available for GBP35/- (approx. US$58) including 20% VAT. Buyers from outside the UK will pay 20% less for the puzzle. Excellent packing for shipment; the puzzle was bubble wrapped in its own box and this box was placed in a larger box filled with foam and externally wrapped with brown wrapping paper (like a wrapped present). One of the best packing I have come across from any online retailer.

Type & Classification
Take apart. 


Barrel & Ball Puzzle Solved!

Dimensions
3.7 cm  (Diameter) x 4.7 cm (Height). 

Materials & Construction
Anodised aluminium for both the barrel and rod and steel for the ball bearing. Excellent quality and very well constructed. Very tiny chip on both sides of the rod. Not sure how this happened. Tho' not that large, the barrel has very thick walls and this adds to the heft and bulletproof-ness of the puzzle. 

Overview
I discovered this puzzle from the occasional email newsletter that Grand Illusions sends to its customers.

The puzzle consists of only a barrel, a ball and a rod. Object is to remove the ball which is inside the barrel. Sounds simple? Except that the ball is actually larger than the opening of the barrel...now how did the ball get inside in the first place? Then there is the rod, which can be inserted into the barrel. 

Could The Barrel & Ball puzzle be the pre-cursor to the "sequential discovery" puzzles of today? Well, the rod is there, there is no need to "discover" it...but obviously the rod must be used for something!

I have learnt during my early puzzling days that no matter how tricky or difficult a puzzle may be, it cannot defy the laws of physics. If something is physically impossible...it usually is! That's why sometimes when I pass a puzzle to friends who come over my place, I get very amused when they try to shake, bang, twist a puzzle until they are red in the face, when its obvious what they are trying to do would simply not work.

I played with the puzzle and examined it for clues. Didn't take me long to figure out how to get the ball out, which was confirmed by the accompanying solution. 

Difficulty Level
Not difficult for experienced puzzlers, but the novice will struggle somewhat, just as a couple of my non-puzzling friends did. It is a tricky puzzle no less. Quite a clever trick too.

Summary
If you like metal puzzles like I do, this is a must buy. Very solid feel and with the blue and green anodising, displays nicely on your shelf

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