Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Odd One Out

I first saw Tim Alkema's Odd One Out puzzle on his 14 June Facebook post. Tim had made a copy of it from left over wood and the puzzle was meant for his young son to play with. It really caught my attention for two reasons; firstly, it was rectangular (non-cuboid) and secondly, it had a level 8.9.1 solution, really suitable for me (I can't go beyond anything higher than level 11). 

After a couple of exchanges of Facebook messages, Tim sent me his burr tools file and I took a look. It had a very interesting structure with an extra internal "hidden" piece, but it had two solutions. After another round of message exchanges, Tim managed to tweak his design to have only one solution at level 9.9.2, the final version you see here. I would classify the Odd One Out as a interlocking cum packing puzzle.

Almost immediately thereafter, as the puzzle community would expect, Theo Geerinck and Yvon Pelletier both made for themselves copies of Odd One Out. Eric Fuller caught on to their FB posts and declared it was on the cards for his next update. Well, I didn't have to wait because I met Eric at IPP35 during the Puzzle Party over the weekend and he had some copies of Odd One Out for sale. Lucky me, to get one before it even comes out on his site.

The copy I have is made of Birdseye Maple (with its very nice pattern) and Paduak for the box and Walnut and Maple for the pieces. Like all of Eric's creations, the construction fit and finish is excellent and it comes with its own cloth drawstring pouch. The puzzle is about 7.5cm x 4cm x 4cm, not large by any means but given it has only three moving pieces, its a reasonably good size and comfortable to handle.

Although I had seen Tim's burr tools file about two months earlier, believe me when I say I have completely forgotten what I saw! With three burr style pieces needing to get out of the box in only one direction through a single opening, it didn't take me too long to figure out the steps and unpack the box. Inside the box there are a couple of fixed obstructing blocks which interact with the pieces restricting their movement. But putting it back was far trickier; in my haste to get the pieces out, I did not study how the pieces were coming out more carefully. I wasted quite a bit of time trying various moves before getting them right and finally got the whole lot back into the box. 

At level 9, it is not too difficult but certainly very tricky. it is quite easily re-solvable, but only after you have understood what needs to be done. This is especially so with the extra piece inside which you don't see until the two main pieces start to protrude from the box during the solve. It is this piece that would trip you up when you are trying to disassemble or put things back later.

A really nice, fun and might I add, a cute box puzzle with a neat design. With just three pieces, it doesn't intimidate too much and great for those (non-burrists like myself) who want to play with an interlocking puzzle but don't want the traditional style burr.

The Odd One Out will be available from Eric during his next update which I imagine will likely be in a couple of months time. Definitely a puzzle worth getting!


  1. Can't wait to get a copy of this one - I love these relatively simple caged burrs, not too difficult but not obvious, and beautifully made. Did you get to try the "think outside the box" from his last offering? Took me forever to get it apart!

    1. My sentiments exactly Steven...I can't handle the high level burrs which for me end up more as display conversational pieces rather than puzzles to be played with. I have not tried his Think Outside The it available? I am not aware.