Thursday 20 August 2015

L-I-vator Cube

The L-I-vator Cube was Laszlo Molnar's entry for this year's IPP35 Puzzle Design Competition. How did I obtain my copy? Well in October last year, Laszlo (who's from Hungary) and living in the UK contacted me and asked if he could make a handful of my Crossroads puzzle for a fundraising project he was involved in. I didn't know Laszlo then, but found out he was an amateur woodwork hobbyist, and later on, that he also knew Laurie Brokenshire pretty well.

Over several emails, I took the opportunity to ask him if he was keen to make several copies of my own entry ("69" puzzle) for the Puzzle Design Competition and to my delight, he was happy to do so. To cut a long story short, while he was building my prototype and the final versions of my 69 puzzle, he also made a prototype of the L-I-vator cube and asked me to test it out to assess the design and level of difficulty. I said sure, why not, and on that note, a couple of weeks later, I received his first prototype of the L-I-vator, the one shown in photo here.

My copy of the L-I-vator Cube has a plywood box and the pieces are made of a combination of hardwoods including cherry, wenge and purpleheart. For a hobbyist woodworker, he has done a pretty decent job of building the puzzle. The pieces are all nicely cut and glued together and fit well into the box with just the right amount of tolerance.

The L-I-vator cube is an interlocking cum packing puzzle and the uniqueness and theme of Laszlo's design is that there are six dissimilar pieces, from the smallest which goes from two units to the highest, seven units (hence the name "L-I-vator"). Object is to unpack and re-pack all six pieces into box. It would have been pretty easy if it was just a simple box. But as you can see, there are two obstructions at opposite corners of the opening and these restrict the movements of the pieces which will require the solver to navigate through.

My puzzle was shipped in the solved state, so I was lucky! I was very careful to slowly unpack the pieces (at the same time trying to memorize the sequence) so that I won't have too much difficulty repacking later. The initial several moves are pretty obvious but it gets tricky as you move along. However, its not so difficult to the extent that you can't figure out how to extract the final pieces. Putting everything back in order is just the reverse process. If you do forget the moves, yes you may have a challenge there and you will need to build the pieces into a cube first outside the box and then slowly figure out how to load them back in; which is something required anyway if the puzzle happens to come un-assembled.

A really nice packing puzzle with some tricks thrown in. Provides a good challenge with moderate difficulty. How to get one? Well, Brian Menold will be offering the L-I-vator Cube in two versions on his site using different combination of woods. From what I understand, this will be sometime end August. This is a very neat 3D packing design and given Brian's superb craftsmanship, it is definitely worth purchasing a copy. 

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