Sunday, 6 December 2015

Smiley In A Bottle

The last few puzzle designs from Frederic Boucher were very nice packing puzzles, including the Marble Cake, Tool Box and his IPP35 Puzzle Design Competition entry, Artefacts all reviewed previously. 


But just recently, Frederic has expanded his portfolio to include an impossible object; although sometime earlier in 2003, he had a rather unusual dexterity puzzle called Manholes 55

The puzzle I received from Frederic is called "Smiley In A Bottle". This Impossible Bottle comes in a rather small package, the bottle appears to be an ordinary glass bottle about 13cm tall and about 5cm in diameter. At first glance, it looks like the typical Impossible Bottle puzzle with a rod inside and a bolt and nut running through it, and so it does. But Frederic has taken the design a few notches up. 


There are two challenges here:-

Challenge #1 - Remove the rod, bolt and nut and smiley from the bottle.
Challenge #2 - Using only the rod, bolt and nut (and no other external tools), place the smiley on the end of the bolt that protrudes from the bottom of the bottle.

The first challenge is quite manageable for most puzzlers, especially those who have played with similar bottles before. Back in 2012, I had solved Wil Strijbos' Coke Bottle #1, so I knew what I had to do and got everything out in about 5 minutes.

It was the second challenge that stumped me for a while. To solve this step, some "out of the bottle" thinking is required and you are only allowed to use what you have from the bottle. The rod, bolt and nut is definitely necessary but the trick is to figure out how to use them correctly. After a bit of analysis, I proceeded. A pair of steady hands would also help things along faster. Compared to challenge #1, here I took three times as long to complete and then finally the a-ha moment! Because of challenge #2, Smiley In A Bottle is not just a impossible bottle, but can be considered a "sequential discovery" puzzle as well.


The Smiley In A Bottle is, IMHO a brilliant first attempt by Frederic at an impossible object. Well constructed and executed with an easier (not easy) challenge, and a second which is novel and more than moderately difficult challenge. For impossible bottle fans, this is a must-have to collect.

The copy I have from Frederic is according to him, the easier version. He has also made several copies of a harder version; one with two bolts/nuts through the rod. They are available for sale at a very reasonable 1,200/1,500 Japanese Yen (approx. US$9.75/12.20) respectively. 

If you would like a copy of either puzzle, PM me via this blog's email and I will put you directly in touch with Frederic.

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