September 16, 2009

My Puzzle Nemisis and a Puzzle Cornucopia

Before heading up to my parents' house for Christmas, I decided to drop by Eureka one more time to pick up another puzzle to keep me busy over the break. I was fortunate enough to stop by when David Leschinsky, the owner of Eureka was around. I talked to him a bit about some of the Hanayama puzzles I had tried, and he pointed out a few of his favorites: Cast Chain and Cast Enigma. I already had Chain and had read about how baffling Enigma was, so I decided to steer away from that for now.

He looked around a bit and suggested The Yak Puzzle by Dick Hess. He said it was quite difficult, but I decided to give it a try anyways. It is a nice looking puzzle made by PuzzleMaster, though I'm not exactly sure why it looks like a Yak, I do believe that it does.

Well, I have spent hours upon hours with this damn thing, and it still remains unsolved to this day. I am not particularly good at disentanglement puzzles. I only have a few of them, which might be some excuse for why I had such difficulty. That said, it is quite a challenging puzzle! I hope to solve it one day: when I do you will hear my victory cry!

I spent Christmas with my family up in Beverly, MA. Thanks to a few strategically placed hints, I acquired a set of LiveCube blocks for Christmas, which was quite a treat. LiveCube really is the gift that keeps on giving, because you can build an almost infinite number of puzzles from them. The set came with some paper instructions on building a number of simple 3x3x3 assembly puzzles up through more complex pagoda shaped puzzles.

Next, I tried creating a few of the designs on Lee Krasnow's Precision Puzzlemaking Primer on instructables.com. I particularly enjoyed Knobbly Burr, which must be assembled in two halves that slide together (like the puzzles I made out of popsicle sticks!) Oskar's Cubes took me forever to build, but was surprisingly easy. I think it took me longer to build it than solve it. It was still an interesting design, though.

After exhausting those puzzles, I went on to build a number of the burrs described on Robert Stegmann's amazing site. I built and solved The Diabolical Structure, The Chinese Cross, The Six-Way Set, The Yamato Block, and The Piston Burr. The Piston Burr by Peter Marineau is amazing, I love the way the pieces move on it though it is quite tricky to solve. The image on the left is of a walnut version made by Jerry McFarland posted on Bill Cutler's site.

I then moved on to Ishino's awesome site: Puzzle will be played. Finding this site was like being a kid in a candy store, I could hardly decide what I wanted to try next. The one downside of LiveCube blocks is that they tend to come apart at inopportune times, so it is important to avoid designs that are too fragile.

I definitely think that anybody who has an interest in interlocking or assembly puzzles would enjoy owning a set of LiveCube blocks. I would suggest picking up at least 200, probably more, since it is nice not to have to cannibalize something you're still interested in working on to start a different puzzle. The colors seem fairly superfluous, though they are handy for certain types of puzzles where matching the pattern is important or makes the puzzle easier.

In tomorrow's post I head down to Rhode Island and come back with a few new Hanayamas. Stay tuned!

2 comments:

  1. Great blog! I wish I had that much to write about puzzles. -Jeff (magicpuzzles.org)

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  2. Thanks Jeff! Your blog inspired me! I like hearing what other puzzlers think about puzzles. I just got Matchbox and Snap Latch Box based on your comments about them on your blog. Both great puzzles!

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