Thursday 25 August 2016


POPP was Frans de Vreugd's IPP36 exchange puzzle and was designed by Christoph Lohe from Germany. This is my second puzzle from Lohe, the first being the beautifully crafted Closed Box

Nope, this puzzle has nothing to do with puzzle lock designer extraordinaire Rainer Popp, even though the burr pieces are "locked" inside the cage. It so happens that the external surfaces of the pieces form the shapes P.O.P.P along the outsides of the cage. But here's what Christoph had to say:-

"I always wanted to design an interlocking puzzle for beginners, with a minimum number of pieces. My choice was a 4x4x5 frame with only two sticks inside. With 15 moves to release the first stick, it is not a trivial puzzle but still managable for people who are not experienced in Burr puzzles. With a little bit of imagination, the puzzle reads "POPP" around the circumference, so I devoted it to Rainer Popp, the brilliant designer of outstanding metallic trick locks"

Pelikan Puzzles produced the exchange copies (made of bubinga and maple) and the quality of construction, fit and finish is excellent with all the pieces cut sharp and glued perfectly. The pieces fit snugly and slide smoothly, though I had it placed in my dry box for a day or two to "loosen" the puzzle a tad further to cope with Singapore's 80-90% humidity conditions.

This is an interlocking puzzle with a cage and two burr style pieces, the latter which are rather irregularly shaped (not your traditional looking ones). And designing just two burr sticks, Christoph was able to get it to a level 15 (meaning it takes 15 moves for one of the pieces to be come out of the cage), quite an achievement I would imagine. Dimensions wise its not large measuring about 6cm x 4.8cm x 4.8cm; quite petite, but comfortable enough for average size hands and fingers.

Although I am lousy with interlocking puzzles such as these, even relatively low level ones, I was able to take it apart without any help, surprising myself!  Perhaps it was because there were only two moving pieces which didn't confuse so much, but still it wasn't a walk in the park and I encountered some dead ends. After some pushing and pulling, I was able to pull one of the pieces out. 

Even though it has only 15 moves, it still takes a good memory to remember the reverse sequence to fit the two pieces back into their cage. Unfortunately I am terribly forgetful and got stuck several times while attempting to assemble the puzzle. So it was Burr Tools to the rescue; but I only relied on it for the first two moves, thereafter I figured out the next thirteen myself and pushed and pulled the pieces back into their respective positions within the cage.

A very nice little well-made puzzle that would appeal to interlocking and burr enthusiasts (or folks that like to collect high quality wooden puzzles) or both. I think Frans may have some more copies left available for sale. Pelikan is retailing it on their site for 29 Euros and for those living in the US or Canada, Puzzlemaster will also be making it available very soon.

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