Monday, 28 November 2016

Theta & Triple Tango

What does a puzzle blogger do when he hasn't had time (due to work and other commitments) to play with new puzzles to write about them? Well, easy...he blogs about his own designs that have been produced by well-known puzzle craftsmen...nothing to solve and fret over!

And here are two puzzles I am shamelessly featuring, which have been beautifully crafted by Eric Fuller. There is one more coming from Eric's stable (in the coming weeks I think) but I will let that one be released first before shamelessly blogging about it!

The first is my Theta (the exact name is 9 Theta) since it has 9 burr pieces plus a cage. Excellently constructed of Maple and Purpleheart, this one has a level solution requiring a total of 29 steps to completely disassemble. Great attention to detail here and yes, I still need Burr Tools to help me re-assemble after taking it apart. 

Currently all 48 limited edition copies are sold out. Personally for me it was a nice design exercise and really a "no big deal" kind of interlocking burr. My burr design capabilities are pretty limited and I was surprise Eric chose Theta to produce for his site. But the few comments I have received from purchasers of this puzzle has generally been good. 

My second design is a sliding block puzzle called Triple Tango. I was able to design Triple Tango thanks to Goh Pit Khiam who shared with me his sliding block design program which he authored a while back (a software that works similar to Burr Tools, where you can specify the shape and units of the pieces etc). 

There is also a freeware programme called the SBP Solver by Pierre-Francois Culand but this program is rather limited in that the shapes for the pieces can only be either squares or rectangles. But for anyone who has never designed a sliding block puzzle, the SBP Solver is good enough to get you going for a start.

To see the many incredible sliding block puzzle designs out there including those by Minoru Abe, Serhiy Grabarchuk, Ed Pegg, Nob Yoshigahara just to name a few, check out Nick Baxter's Sliding Block Puzzle Page.

Start Position
 The version made by Eric consists of 6 pieces and the goal is to exchange the light and dark blocks found at the top and bottom. Eric had even made an acrylic cover with the starting position of all the blocks etched onto the surface. The puzzle is made of maple, mahogany and walnut.
End Position
This puzzle can be configured for various levels of difficulty. 78 moves (5 pieces only, move a single 2x1 block from the bottom slot to the top slot). 104 moves (the version shown here) and 122 moves, by adding another 2x1 block to be surrounded by the 4 larger blocks. And why is it called Triple Tango? Because the centre pieces "dance" three times round the inside of the tray (clockwise and anti-clockwise) during play before both the dark and light coloured 2x1 blocks exchange positions. Triple Tango was also the inspiration for my Tango 72 IPP36 Exchange Puzzle in Japan this year.

Again this was a surprise for me as I didn't think Eric would produce a sliding block puzzle like that where the pieces are uncovered. Anyway 46 copies of the Triple Tango were made and they are all also sold out!

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