Wednesday 19 March 2014

Snakes In A Plane, Swiss Cube & Puzzle Jam

I acquired these three puzzles during last year's IPP33 Puzzle Party in Tokyo, Japan. The Puzzle Party typically takes place on the last day of the IPP and here is where puzzlers, collectors, retailers and craftsmen sell (or fob off) their collection (or unwanted puzzles) to the IPP attendees. Its like a flea market, but more up-scale and takes place in a hotel ball room.

Generally considered one of the key highlights of IPP, here is where one can possibly get some puzzle gems, be it brand new, pre-loved or rare hard to find ones, tho' the last are usually snapped up in  jiffy. A number of Exchange Puzzles (past, present and spare ones) are also usually available for sale and this is great for attendees who do not participate in the Exchange.

Snakes In A Plane
This one reminds me of a thriller action movie of similar name that appeared in cinemas a number of years back. Unlike the movie, no one dies from snakes here (not playing with this puzzle anyway). Snakes In A Plane was Bob Hearn's exchange puzzle during IPP28 in Prague in 2008. This acrylic and plastic puzzle was designed and made by Oskar van Deventer.

The object is to "twist" the "red" spiral snake out of the frame by removing the other snakes in its path. In reality its a twist (no pun intended) on the traditional sliding style block puzzle. Not too difficult and provides great fun. Very flat and portable too. At 10.2cm x 8.4cm, its easily pocket-able for a (plane) trip. I think here is a good example of employing a traditional idea to devise a unique looking and cool puzzle. Click here for a video showing the puzzle in action.

Swiss Cube
Designed by Jung von Kanel in 2005, this is an interlocking puzzle. But instead of the usual wood typically used, it is made entirely from acrylic/plexi-glass. Red and white combination with cross(s) to resemble the Swiss flag. Very well made and tho' acrylic, the puzzle feels very solid. Not large, measuring about 5cm cube. I can't remember who I bought this puzzle from but it was the only piece on the table.

The cube is hollow inside and the object is to remove and fit back the 3 white removable notched burrs (two horizontal and one vertical). There are both an easy and hard challenges designed for this puzzle.

A sequence for removal and reassembly has to be followed and you need to get the orientation of the cube correct to avoid confusion. I used  the etched wordings on the front of the cube for reference.

Not too difficult by any means, even for the hard challenge. With some manipulation of the pieces trial and error or otherwise, quite a manageable puzzle. 

Puzzle Jam
Designed and handmade by Yoshiaki Hirano, this puzzle (jam) jar is an "Impossible Object" and was Yoshiaki-san's Exchange Puzzle at IPP33. 

The jar contains two Hanayama Cast puzzles (Cast Spiral and Cast Loop) and a burgundy coloured origami rose. Its easy to remove the paper rose but it would take (a lot) of figuring out how to disassemble and remove both the Spiral and Loop, since it is impossible for them to pass through the mouth of the jar. I didn't attempt to solve this one; its difficult as it is already to solve the cast puzzles on their own outside of any jar!

The puzzle comes in a very cute hand decorated/written cardboard box with a caricature of Yoshiaki-san pasted on the front...yes, he actually does look a lot like his cartoon picture! 

Along with the Puzzle Jam, I also bought from Yoshiaki-san another impossible jar with a golf ball inside! To see some impossible objects made from Hanayama Cast puzzles, click here and scroll down.


  1. Regarding "Puzzle Jam", I was able to remove the Cast Loop without too much trouble. First you have to flip the state of the two Cast puzzles, then it is surprisingly easy to remove the Cast Loop. I tried Removing the Cast Spiral but did not succeed, this appears to me to be impossible!

  2. You mean the Cast Loop can be flipped to be on top of the Spiral? Hmm...will give it a try this evening