Monday, 28 March 2016

Pyramida

Name
Pyramida



Designer
Frederic Boucher

Manufacturer & Availability
Produced by Frederic in 2012. May still be available in limited quantities. For anyone interested please PM me.


Type & Classification
Dexterity


You rarely find this sort of detailed instructions with a puzzle

Dimensions
8.5cm x 8.5cm x 2.7cm

Materials & Construction
Aluminium, glass, cherry wood, steel. Very well crafted and put together and Frederic has chosen glass instead of acrylic for the cover, which adds a touch of class to the puzzle.

Overview

It would be an understatement to say that Frederic Boucher is a versatile designer. While there are designers who focus and are good at one category of puzzles, burrs for example, Frederic has designed puzzles in several categories including burrs, packing, impossible objects and dexterity puzzles. 



This is my second dexterity puzzle from Frederic after his Manholes 55 the latter which was his IPP33 Puzzle Design Competition Entry.

The Pyramida has one simple task; Arrange the 10 marbles (4 green and 6 red) inside the box to form pyramids of different colour configurations. The puzzle comes with a total of 36 challenges. For 12 of the 36 challenges, 2 reds and a green are swapped with 2 yellows and a blue that comes extra with the puzzle. You will need to unscrew the glass cover to do this, but fear not; Frederic also supplies a screw driver and extra screws and printed instructions (although' in Japanese) for the task. What great attention to details!

Difficulty

While some of the 36 challenges look easier than the others, even the easier looking ones are not. It may look simple to swirl the marbles around inside the box to try to achieve the desired colour pyramid but believe me, it is anything but that. The marbles don't behave like you want them to. I only succeeded in getting a couple of the challenges right. The marbles are much more difficult to stay atop one another thank you think. A gentle touch is definitely an advantage for play here.

I can only imagine the ones involving the yellow and blue marbles are even more difficult given there are now 4 different colours inside the box.


Challenge #33 which I managed to solve
Summary

For anyone who enjoys dexterity puzzles, this one is a must-have. Not just a single challenge as in most of the dexterity puzzles out, but 36. And all in one very attractive and superb quality package. 



Monday, 21 March 2016

Binary Key II

Name
Binary Key II




Designer
Goh Pit Khiam

Manufacturer & Availability
Produced by Eric Fuller of www.cubicdissection.com. Limited edition 40 copies made and sold for US$46 in 2003. Currently unavailable.


Type & Classification
Take-apart; sequential movement

Dimensions
15.5cm x 7.5cm x 1.8cm

Materials & Construction
Stainless steel, nylon and acrylic. Laser cut acrylic built to very high tolerances. Excellent quality.

Overview

This is my second Key puzzle from Goh, the first was the Tern Key reviewed over 3 years ago in this blog.

Goh's Binary Key II is a re-design of his original "Key Puzzle" (which was also Bill Cutler's IPP24 Exchange Puzzle).

The Binary Key II comes under the group of gray-code or N-ary puzzles as they are called. The well known Chinese Ring puzzles are a good example of this type of puzzle. For a comprehensive explanation of n-ary puzzles, click on Dr Goetz Schwandtner's webpage here.

The object as you can probably tell from the photo is to remove the horizontal rectangular "key" that sticks out a bit on both ends from the "lock" by moving the 10 pieces resting inside the tray. 5 of the pieces move up and down and the other 5 left and right within their confined spaces. Movement is facilitated by the use of short steel pins pressed into the pieces.



While at first it may look like you are moving pieces randomly to try to move the key piece out. However, the fact that there is a "binary sequence" in place means that the movement of the pieces have to be made through a repeated pattern; back and forth, left and right until none of the pieces is restricting the key.

Initially it was a bit of trial and error as I was coming to grips with figuring out the puzzle. But I was slowly able to discern the repetitive moves and discover the sequence. Even then, it took me a good 40 minutes to solve from start to finish.

Difficulty

It is a bit much more than moderately difficult although not frustrating. Early on in play, you are likely to encounter problems eg; one last piece that holds the key back to a complete solve, hence requiring a restart again.

Although the moves are repeated, it takes a hefty 85 moves to free the key, so its definitely no walk in the park. Once solved, returning the puzzle to its original state is slightly easier and more manageable.


Monday, 14 March 2016

Ali's Bolt & Nut Puzzle

Name
Bolt & Nut Puzzle




Designer
Ali Morris

Manufacturer & Availability
Produced by Ali Morris. May or may not be available. PM me if you are interested and I will connect you with him.


Type & Classification
Bolt & Nut. 

For other bolt and nut puzzles (from other designers and producers) reviewed previously in this blog. Please click here, here and here.

Dimensions
At 10cm long, its a huge and heavy bolt!

Materials & Construction
Steel. Looks like any ordinary bolt with a nut. Modified into a bolt puzzle and workmanship is very good.



Overview
As far as I know, this is Ali's first bolt puzzle design that he has produced for sale commercially. And a really nice one too!

I have played with a number of bolt puzzles in the past and for most of these, the solution involves most of the time finding a way to unlock the nut (usually held in place by a retaining pin of some sort) and screwing the latter out. 

Ali's bolt puzzle is rather different from the majority in that while the goal is still to unscrew the nut from the bolt, the solution is very unique and the first time I have come across such a dissimilar and unusual solving method. Kudos to Ali for thinking up something different from the rest.

This is one of those puzzles that I can't say more here without letting out spoilers, so my only advice for those interested is to go purchase one from Ali, and I am assuming he still has some left for sale or will be making more. For the craftsmanship and work put into it and from a puzzling aspect, its well worth the money!

Difficulty Level
Not difficult once you discover what needs to be done and how the puzzle works. But rather tricky tho'. Certainly the solution was not at all what I thought it would be or expected and the puzzle stumped me for a while.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

When Is A Burr Not A Burr?

Name
Pinwheel Burr. 



Designer
Oskar van Deventer

Manufacturer & Availability
Produced by Dave Rossetti (mentored by Tom Lensch). This was Dave's IPP35 Exchange Puzzle in Ottawa, Canada last August. 


Type & Classification
Interlocking solid; 3D Packing; Put-Together

Dimensions
9cm x 7.7cm x 7.7cm

Materials & Construction
Made of four different exotic woods; Bocote, African Mahogany, Spalted Tamarid and Ebony and plywood for the base, the construction fit and finish is very good. All the pieces fit nicely.




Overview
The Pinwheel Burr looks like a burr, is as difficult (if not more so) than a typical mid-level burr but yet isn't really a burr as such. I would consider it more a 3D packing puzzle since the goal is to fit the eight pieces around a cube and the whole lot onto a base. Not only that, but also to form the "pinwheel" with the same wood type for each of six facings.

Each of the eight pieces comprise three blocks each measuring 1 x 2 x 2 glued together to form different shapes and in different combination of woods. Initially it doesn't look that difficult as you take out the pieces from the base. 

However, the whole ensemble and the orientation of the pieces relative to each other is very confusing to put back once the pieces are fully scrambled (just look at the photo above). Also trying to tell the different woods apart was also quite a challenge for me. To match back the same wood type to form the pinwheel for each side is really no joke. I got nowhere with this one and had to resort to the solution, which thankfully came with the puzzle. 

Difficulty Level
Very difficult and it even took me a while to understand and figure out the solution diagrams too before I managed to get the whole lot back correctly together. Hardcore packing puzzle enthusiasts would enjoy this one!


Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Twelve Bow Ties

Name
Twelve Bow Ties



Designer
Wayne Daniel

Manufacturer & Availability
Produced by Wayne Daniel


Type & Classification
Interlocking Solid

Dimensions
5cm x 5cm x 5cm

Materials & Construction
All wood and what appears to be cherry and walnut, the latter for the bow ties. Very well made with fine attention to detail and cutting, for such a small puzzle. Everything slides smoothly as intended.



Overview
Twelve Bow Ties was Marti Reils' IPP34 Exchange Puzzle in London. This puzzle takes the shape of a polyhedron with 12 faces and is known as a dodecahedron. Each face is itself a pentagon. 

The object of the puzzle is to take it apart and put it back together. The puzzle comprises of 8 pieces (with 2 sets of 4 congruent pieces each). Each of the pieces has grooves, notches and "bow tie" protrusions and the pieces slide and interlock against each other in the most amazing way. At first glance, you may even mistake it for an impossible object but not really, as the puzzle can be taken apart from different angles and directions depending on on which face of the puzzle you start from. 

Difficulty Level
Given the way its been cut, can be a bit tricky to put back together, if you totally scramble the pieces. The puzzle first splits into half and then into quarters and so on, so its best to try to remember which pair of pieces go together. 



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