September 23, 2014

2014 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 4)

This is a continuation in my series of posts about the puzzles in the 2014 Puzzle Design Competition . All photos are by Nick Baxter from the 2014 Design Competition website.

One Flower - Osanori Yamamoto

The goal is to assemble to two pieces inside the frame. This was the type of design I was comparing to Claws of the Devil earlier. It uses a number of rotational movements to create the needed space. I found it to be somewhat less challenging than his other designs, though still quite enjoyable. It was nice that there were only two pieces (other than the frame).


Ooban - Kohno Ichiro (Kichiro)

The goal is to place the three broken oval coins in the pipe with both lids on. The description mentions that it was inspired by Iwahiro's Mmmm, but I found it to be too similar: if you know the solution to one, the other is pretty clear. I thought that there might be something clever to do with the smaller bits of each coin, but they go in pretty easily once you have the rest done. The theme was nice though.

Paper Clip - Dmitry Pevnitskiy, Kirill Grebnev

This is a clever string desentanglement based on the shape of a paper clip. I'm used to having trouble with this type of puzzle, but I was able to figure this one out. It is easy to go around in circles, but once I started to play with some different movements it ended out working out. I often find that is the case with these puzzles rather than immediately seeing that a move will work.


Pent-cil Box - Jerry Loo

The goal is to pack the pieces in the box with the pencil. Unfortunately two pieces were jammed pretty badly in the box, so I wasn't able to try this one. Cute idea though!


Perplexing Pyramid - Simon Bexfield/David Singmaster

The goal is to make a regular tetrahedron from the two hinged pieces. This puzzle was one of the Top 10 Vote Getters.

It is an interesting application of the flexibility of certain 3D printed materials. The solution is pretty clever and challenging to find, it wasn't what I expected it to be.


Pillow Packing - Bram Cohen

The goal is to pack all six pieces in the box. I'm really not much of a fan of this type of box, it consists of two halves that separate into two three-sided C shapes. This makes it really hard to stack the pieces and try things out. A proper acrylic box with a lid may have worked better here. In any event, I couldn't figure it out either! This one is pretty challenging.


Pirate's Wallet Puzzlebox - Robert Yarger

The goal is to open the puzzle box, of course! This puzzle was one of the Top 10 Vote Getters.

I purchased this puzzle from Robert and really enjoyed it. It has a number of surprises along the way, and I liked the hinged straps and lock. Unfortunately, it is somewhat fragile and broke a few times during the competition. This is one I'll be keeping away from inexperienced puzzlers!


Power Tower - Goh Pit Khiam and Jack Krijnen

This is another n-ary puzzle, the goal is to remove all the pieces. The great thing about this one is that there aren't any extraneous control pieces or sliders. This gives it a nice simplicity that lets you understand the underlying pattern more easily.


RingInt - Yael Friedman

This is another take-apart puzzle ring, which I liked a bit better than 42 (though 42 looks really cool). It is much more ring-like, though it doesn't completely disassemble. The black strips run through 1/4 of the ring, and must be slid out in the right sequence. Yael even provided a convenient poker tool to help slide them out.


Rollin', Rollin' - Sam Cornwell

The goal is to move the block from one corner to the other. I liked how this puzzle restricted the movement physically rather than simply drawing arrows or something on the pieces to indicate the movement rule. Each of the rolly pieces could only move along one axis.

I found it pretty challenging to make enough room to get the block out of its corner, but once it was on its way it was fairly easy (since I could move a piece into its corner spot).


Safari Clues Cube - Steve Winter

This is an interlocking 4x4x4 cube, with pegs and grooves added to the pieces to further restrict movement. Since this is a very challenging puzzle to solve right off, it has been divided into a number of challenges of increasing difficulty, so you learn about how the pieces interact. The animal stickers on the side are how the challenges are presented (e.g. use the green and blue piece to make an ostrich and an aligator).

This ensures that you know the orientation of the pieces, but you need to figure out the sequence of assembly. I eventually got tired of the challenges and just skipped to the final challenge of assembling the full cube. It took me quite a while, maybe 45 minutes, to finally get it together. Pretty tricky!


Stay tuned for Part 5 tomorrow!

September 22, 2014

2014 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 3)

This is a continuation in my series of posts about the puzzles in the 2014 Puzzle Design Competition . All photos are by Nick Baxter from the 2014 Design Competition website.

Football Match - Diniar Namdarian

The goal is to move the football from the right goal to the left goal by sliding the pieces. The two white football player pieces have notches to receive the ball.

I fiddled with this one for a little while and didn't have much luck with it. Peeking at the solution, it is a pretty long series of moves, but should be an enjoyable one if you like sliding block puzzles like this. The addition of the football theme was a nice touch on top of the usual move piece X to spot Y puzzle.


4 in 1 - Victor Lam and Kazakh Wong

The goal is to take four of the animal shapes and put them in the "mouth" shape. There are four identical dinosaurs and four identical butterflys, and any combination of four of these will work.

I was prepared to not have much luck with this one, due to the odd shapes and multiple challenges, but it ended up being pretty easy. In fact, I thought it was a little bit too easy, one solution wasn't different enough from the next. Still, it was neat that the puzzle worked with both types of pieces and any combination.


42 - Yael Friedman

The goal is to disassemble and re-assemble the ring, which has 42 pieces. That's a lot of pieces! On top of having a lot of pieces, it felt pretty fragile when the pieces were extracted. They bent all over the place, so perhaps a material like metal would be better (though at this size the pieces would probably bend).

I really liked the idea of a burr-ring though. It was pretty tricky even getting the first piece removed, and I didn't dare take out more than two more after that. It was kind of like a micro-Berrocal. Maybe a bracelet would be a better size?


Frustrating Mosaic - Anthony Steed

The goal is to assemble the dodecahedron without opening the box. I don't really want to give anything away about this one, but it actually ended up being more clever than I expected!


The Golden Ratio Box - Peter Wiltshire

The goal is to open the secret compartments of this box. It was also one of the Top Ten Vote Getters.

This box is beautifully crafted by Peter and has an fun and interesting solution. As with Don't Shout, the solution has a nice symmetry but I feel like multiple compartments ideally would have layered solutions of some sort (open one to open the next like Iwahara's Byway or different solutions like Iwahara's Confetto).


Grant's Tomb - Kim Klobucher

The goal of this box is to remove the sarcophagus from the glass enclosed tomb and then free Grant from the sarcophagus.

This additional step on top of opening the box was a fun addition. Kim likes to use gravity pins in his box mechanisms that I don't much care for, but otherwise a nice box!


Infinity - Kirill Grebnev

The goal is to remove the rope loop. This puzzle was one of the Top 10 Vote Getters.

As with his previous entries, it makes use of natural materials which gives it a nice look. Sometimes these can be pretty challenging, but I didn't have too much trouble with this one. It reminded me of a classic disentanglement, though the solution is a bit different.


Ladybird - Robrecht Louage

The goal is to free the coin. I was expecting it to be a "simple" double-maze similar to Medallion, but it had an interesting little twist to it which was unexpected. One minor flaw is that the metal pegs that navigate the maze scratched up the acrylic, but that could probably be prevented with shorter pegs or wood dowels.


Ms. Pack-Man - Chris Enright

The goal is to pack the pieces in the tray. This is a nice sequel Pack-man from IPP32. I didn't have much luck with that one, and I also didn't have any luck with this one in the limited time I had. Packing puzzles with irregular pieces can be quite tricky, but I'd liked to have spent more time on this one.


Naked Secret Box "BLUE" - Akio Yamamoto

This is a puzzle box made entirely out of laser cut acrylic that disassembles into its component pieces. Pretty neat! The beauty of the clear acrylic is that nothing is hidden (hence "naked"), so you can theoretically study it to figure out what to do. Still, it is not trivial, it is a bit tricky to figure out which pieces to move. There was another puzzle in the exchange Naked Secret Box "RED" that was completely different (but with the same construction) and I purchased both.


NumLock - Goh Pit Khiam

The goal is to remove all the pieces and re-assemble, but this is another variation on an n-ary puzzle (I think this one is trinary). The dark pieces in the middle operate similarly to the slider in other n-ary puzzles, but it is unusual to have no slider across all pieces.

I found it difficult to tell which of the dark pieces I was able to move at any time, and since there are six of them it took a bit of fiddling to get the pattern. I really liked how you could remove the magnetically attached faceplate to reset the puzzle, that also lets you peek at the mechanics so you don't just need to use trial and error to figure out which piece can move.


Stay tuned for Part 4 tomorrow!

September 18, 2014

2014 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 2)

This is a continuation in my series of posts about the puzzles in the 2014 Puzzle Design Competition. All photos are by Nick Baxter from the 2014 Design Competition website.

Coronation Cube - Richard Gain

The goal is to assemble the seven pieces into a 5x5x5 cube. I have enough trouble with 4x4x4, so I wasn't particularly optimistic about being able to solve this one in the limited time I had (particularly considering the number of possible placements for each piece).

I played with it for a short while, but ended up having to move on, so unfortunately I can't say much about it! I wish I could have spent more time with it.


Cross Links - Michail Toulouzas

The goal is to disassemble and reassemble the puzzle. It is very nicely crafted and looks like a really beautiful puzzle. Unfortunately, the wood unavoidably gets a bit dinged up during the solving process, which is a shame since it is so pretty.

If I remember correctly, taking it apart isn't much of a challenge, but getting it back together is where the puzzle lies. Still, not too challenging once you see what's going on. It wasn't super clear that you haven't assembled it correctly, a lot of people just stuck it back on the stand thinking it was done. The pieces should be seated snugly together when it is complete.


Cubic Dress - Yasuhiro Hashimoto

The goal is to completely cover the cube with fabric. The clip is handy to keep it from slipping off when you're done. It seems like fabric is becoming more popular in puzzles recently!

It seemed impossible at first, since there's not enough fabric to do it the more obvious way, but with a bit of fiddling I was able to figure it out by thinking about how much fabric I had and how to use it most efficiently.


Day and Night - Dimitar Vakarelov

The goal is to swap the positions of the black and white ring. It is hard to see in the picture, but there is a clear plastic sleeve in the middle. I liked that the sleeve was clear so you could see what was going on inside.

I don't consider myself very good at puzzles with flexible elements like this, but I ended up getting through this one without too much trouble. It didn't seem to get tangled much, which is always a good thing in a puzzle like this.


Diagonal Slit Folding Paper #1 - Tsugumitsu Noji

The goal is to separately make two images (IPP/34 and LON/DON) by folding the paper. This type of folding puzzle is often given as a gift in the bag of stuff you get at IPP or left on the table as entertainment, but not often seen in the design competition.

I didn't find it particularly challenging to solve, typically you can reason your way into which way the folds should go based on the image you're trying to get, but the slit in the middle made this one more tricky. One downside to this type of puzzle is that once somebody solves it, you can sort of follow the way the paper has already been folded.


Digi Fork-Lock - Namick Salakhov

The goal is to remove the slider and then return it to its original position.

There have been a lot of this style of puzzle recently, and I'm not sure what differentiates this one. Generally, I think it works best if only one set of pieces moves (the ones going through the n-ary sequence), or maybe that plus a slider. This has a set of switches as well to enable the mechanism, which just adds additional moves without gaining much.


Don't Shout Box - Phil Tomlinson

The goal is to open and close the box. I like the way the curved inlay looks, and it is nicely crafted by Phil. The solution isn't too tricky to find and it reveals two compartments. The solution has a nice symmetry, though perhaps adding additional steps to get to the second compartment would have been interesting.


Dubio 64A - Lucie Pauwels

This puzzle has two goals: assemble a 4x4x4 cube and assemble two cubes simultaneously.

This puzzle has a lot of pieces, so I didn't spend much time on either challenge. Taking a peek at the solution, the second challenge is clever, I wished I had attempted it. I'm not sure I would have figured it out.


Ei Ei Ei - Albert Gübeli

The goal is to assemble the four pieces on the
base into a rhombic dodecahedron such that the outside is all the same color.

Two of the pieces have rotating elements, and I found it fairly simple to determine the correct orientation and placement for the pieces. A simple puzzle that would be pretty accessible to a non-puzzler.


The Fairy's Door Puzzle Box - Michail Toulouzas

This is a puzzle box that won the Puzzler's Award (most votes by IPP attendees). It has some sequential discovery elements, which I always enjoy. I think it was received well because it draws you in quickly, the first few steps are pretty easy. The following steps are more complicated, but still pretty accessible to most puzzlers with a few nice surprises along the way.

On top of all of this, it is a really beautiful puzzle, and I liked the whimsical theme of a Fairy's Door. The only complaint I heard was that the door tends to slam shut on you, which maybe could be fixed by making the hinges a bit tighter. Awesome puzzle!


Five Worms - Frederic Boucher

The goal of this one is to assemble the five worms such that the felt layer glued to the worms fits within the area defined by the worms. I have difficulty with these dual-layer assembly puzzles, so I wasn't able to figure this one out in the time I had. I spent about 5-10 minutes on it without any luck.


Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow!

September 17, 2014

2014 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 1)

In this series of posts I will tell you about each puzzle in the competition and give you my brief reaction to each. Hope it gives you a bit of information about these puzzles if you weren't at IPP. All photos are by Nick Baxter from the 2014 Design Competition website.

All-Edges Coverage - Iwahiro (Hirokazu Iwasawa)

The goal is to cover both sides of all six holes in the hexagon with the band of fabric.

This is a simple puzzle that uses a similar principle to some of Iwahiro's other designs, but the hexagonal shape makes it a but more challenging. It took me a little while to solve, but mainly because the band felt a bit tight and I didn't want to force it. Maybe I didn't have it lined up just right though.


Animal Cube - Evgeniy Grigoriev

This is a clever take on a restricted-movement twisty puzzle. The idea is that a face with a goat can't be rotated past a face with a cabbage, and a face with a wolf can't be rotated past a face with a goat. This would be annoying if you needed to check and enforce the rules yourself, but the design of the innards makes it physically impossible to make an illegal move.

I played with this for a bit and found it to be quite challenging. Even getting a single face was tricky for me, but I'm not a twisty specialist. Neat mechanical design, and I liked the added theme.


Art Nouveau - William Waite

The goal is to pack all six pieces into the tray. At first glance it might look like the geometry is somewhat random, but the floral designs hide a familiar geometry. I found it pretty challenging to find the correct arrangement of the pieces, since this geometry, while familiar, is a bit tricky to work with.


BQTTLE - Sándor Bozóki

The goal is to remove the chain from the ring and re-attach it, while keeping the lid on the bottle.

It seems impossible, but with a bit of fiddling I could see how the knot could be undone. Tying the knot in the first place is quite a bit more challenging, I think! Someone else had double-tied the knot, so I was able to undo one of the loops, but didn't undo it completely. I liked this one as a dexterity puzzle, since at first it looks like an impossible object, but in fact it is quite possible (though difficult!)


Caramel Box - Yasuhiro Hashimoto and MINE

The goal is to pack each set of three pieces into the box (two challenges). This was one of the Top Ten Vote Getters.

I really liked this puzzle: it was pretty accessible (not super-hard), but was challenging enough to be enjoyable. Figuring out how to put the three pieces together isn't very hard (which is good), but getting them into the box takes a bit of logical thinking. I also really liked the metal box and woods used. Great puzzle! Wished I had gotten a copy of this since it would be a good one for the coffee table, but they sold out on the Puzzle Party day.


Cassette - JinHoo Ahn

The goal is to disassemble and re-assemble the four pieces. It is very nicely made out of metal, I think this is a strong candidate for the Hanayama Cast Puzzle series. This puzzle won a jury honorable mention.

I spent a good 15-20 minutes on this one before I had to move on, and wasn't able to figure it out. I did get a few interesting things happening, but couldn't quite get it apart. Hopefully if Hanayama picks it up, I'll have a chance to work on it more in the future!


Cast U&U - Kyoo Wong

The goal is to disassemble and re-assemble the two pieces. Impressively, this puzzle seems to be made out of simple u-bolts and nuts, which may have contributed to the jury's awarding it a Grand Prize.

In addition to a clever construction, the solution is said to be quite clever as well. Unfortunately, I didn't spend enough with this one either to solve it, since it is in the Cast Puzzle series, I anticipate getting a copy shortly, so I decided to spend my time on other puzzles I wouldn't see again. Looking forward to finishing it!


Claws of Satan - MINE (Mineyuki Uyematsu)

The goal is to take the three pieces out of the triangular frame, flip the frame, and reassemble. This puzzle won a jury honorable mention.

This one was a triangular-grid version of similar rectilinear, rotational, take-apart puzzles we've seen in past years (like recent submissions by Osanori Yamamoto). I fiddled around with it for a bit before figuring out which piece was likely to come out first, then I was able to work my way towards that goal. Despite the name, it isn't too pointy to be nice to manipulate.


Complementary  P-arity - Namick Salakhov

The goal is to disassemble and re-assemble the puzzle. I was quite interested in giving this one a try, since I like n-ary puzzles (which I assumed this would be). The idea is quite interesting, I think it consists of a binary and a trinary puzzle that need to be solved simultaneously.

Unfortunately, the construction left a bit to be desired: it was very pointy which made it hard to move the pieces, and it was difficult to tell what was supposed to move in the first place (which isn't really the intended challenge). Perhaps it would work better in wood!


Conjuring Conundrum - Louis Coolen and Allard Walker

The goal is to open the briefcase and then assemble the pieces found inside to form a magic-themed image. This puzzle was one of the Top 10 Vote Getters.

This was Allard's exchange puzzle last year, and he was kind enough to give me a copy (thanks Allard!). I had a great time trying to figure out how to open it, it is an awesome mechanism by Louis. The assembly bit at the end by Allard is pretty tricky as well! They used a combination of 3D-printed and pre-manufactured materials, which seems like an excellent use of 3D printing. Great puzzle!


Copy Device - Hiroshi Yamamoto

Arrange the three pieces in the tray so that it makes two identical green areas. This puzzle won an jury honorable mention.

I'm not particularly good at this type of puzzle, so unfortunately I didn't have time to solve it. Seems like a cute design with only three pieces though.


Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!

August 25, 2013

2013 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 6)

This is the final part in my series of posts about the 2013 Puzzle Design Competition. All photos are by Nick Baxter from the 2013 Design Competition website.

T4-II (Tea For Two) - MINE (Mineyuki Uyematsu)

The goal is to put the four pieces into the box. The four pieces are identical, and the box is restricted by holes in the plexiglass.

This is a really cute puzzle, not super difficult but it does have a nice "Ah ha!" moment when you figure out what needs to be done. It was another one of my favorites this year! I was glad to see MINE had some available for sale during the puzzle party. He also has a T4-III, which I also purchased (it is also good!). They will probably be available on MINE's website soon, though it is in Japanese.

TetraCubed - Robert Reid, George Miller, Stan Isaacs

The goal is to fit all eight pieces in the box so that the cubes don't touch, while making a solid figure from the dark pieces. I think this was an exchange puzzle last year.

I found the geometry to be quite confusing, those dark pieces are quite oddly shaped! However, it is a clever dissection. I'm not a big fan of the type of plastic box used, which comes apart in two u-shaped halves. It takes a fair bit of dexterity to hold things in place while you put it all together.

Tetrakis - Yavuz Demirhan

The goal is to assemble the four identical pieces into the cubic frame.

When I found this one, it was already assembled, so I tried taking it apart. It wasn't particularly difficult, requiring about 6 moves to remove the first piece. Putting it together without knowing the solution would be a bit more challenging, which is probably why it was presented as an assembly puzzle!

Tetromino Tablet 18 - MINE (Mineyuki Uyematsu)

The goal is to put the five pieces into the frame. I fiddled with this one for a bit and didn't much care for the mechanic of trying to rotate the pieces around by putting my fingers through the holes, it was a bit cumbersome.

Perhaps there is a clever solution like T4-II, but I couldn't find it! I wish I could have spent a bit more time with this one.

Triangle - Volker Latussek

There are four goals: 1) Make one square using all pieces 2) Make two squares using all pieces 3) Make as many different-sized squares as possible. 4) Make as many different-sized triangles as possible. Triangle is designed by Volker Latussek, designer of Way.

I attempted the first goal for a little while, and didn't end up having much luck. There are a lot of pieces, which makes for a lot of different permutations to deal with. Definitely a good challenge and nicely made, but I didn't have time to complete it.

Tri-Symmetrics - Vladimir Krasnoukhov and Irina Novichkova

In the given position, this object has 120° rotational symmetry. The goal is to make a new, more symmetrical object with 120° rotational, 180° rotational, mirror, and central/point symmetries.

When I got to this one, it was actually in its solved state, which kind of ruins it. Still, I think the "more symmetrical" solution is actually easier to find than the "given position" in the picture! I tried to form the shape in the picture, and it still took me a minute or two even looking at the picture.

Washington Monument - Brian Young


The goal is to open and unlock the puzzle then close and re-lock it. It is possible to open without locking the locking pins in the open position, which means you haven't found the intended solution.

This was Brian Young's exchange puzzle last year, and I purchased it. I didn't find the intended solution when I first opened it, but once I could see inside I was able to figure it out. I would have preferred if you needed to figure it out before it opened at all, but still it has a pretty clever mechanism. It is available for sale on Brian's site here.

ZooLogical Garden #2 - MINE (Mineyuki Uyematsu)


There are two goals: 1) Put four white pieces into the tray and 2) Put any three white pieces and the red piece into the tray.

I didn't actually spend very long on this puzzle, so I can't say much about it. I wasn't able to solve it in the time that I had, but the rotating blue piece seems like an interesting touch!


And that's it! Phew, I hope you enjoyed reading that, since it is a bit of a bear to write! My apologies to any of the designers who may feel like I didn't give their work enough time or consideration, there were a lot of puzzles to go through and only limited time. It was a lot of fun getting to try so many new and fun designs! Next year, I hope the room can stay open past midnight so I can get a few extra hours in!
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