I recently had the great pleasure of being one of the first to try out one of Ron Locke's new puzzle boxes: Blind Snooker. It is a puzzle box designed to look like a pool table, complete with pool stick, bridge, rack, and a silver ball. John Devost purchased it from Ron and let me give it a try. Thanks John!
The object of the puzzle is to drop the ball into one of the holes and navigate a hidden maze to unlock the drawer.
As you can see from the photos, it is a very nice looking puzzle and is quite well crafted. He did a great job with the inlaid spots along the rails, as well as the different pool accessories. The inlays on the legs were also a nice touch.
Unfor-tunately, when I received it, the envelope containing the instruc-tions was empty, so I just had to wing it. I played around with it for a while, listening carefully as I rolled the ball around the maze.
Eventually I heard a different noise and figured that I had gotten to the next step of the puzzle. I worked on it for a few more minutes before I eventually got it open! Hooray! Unfortunately, I realized that I wasn't entirely sure what I did, so I decided to try again in the hopes that a more logical solution would reveal itself.
Again, I was able to get it to open, but the method I was using was fairly random. After inspecting what I could see of the mechanism, I was surprised that it didn't appear to work like I would have expected it to work. I contacted Ron, and it turns out that indeed the solution I had discovered was not the correct one: however the correct solution didn't work for me!
The mechanism wasn't operating quite as was intended, but in my mind this was actually more fun: if it had been working properly, I think I would have gotten it open in about half the time, but finding another solution proved to be quite a bit more challenging. It would have been an entirely different matter if I couldn't have gotten it open at all, but fortunately there was a way to bypass the solution.
So I'm going to send this one back to Ron and he's going to swap it out for a different one before it makes its way to the next person in the puzzle library (Peter Wiltshire will be trying it next).
Despite the minor issue with the mech-anism, I still thought this was a neat little puzzle. The only downside in my mind was the whole blind maze aspect which can be quite frustrating since you can't see what is going on and it is a bit random. I didn't find the maze to be super-hard though, so this isn't a huge drawback.
I was also a bit disappointed that the pool accessories other than the ball weren't part of the solution, but they do look nice! Plus you can store them handily in the holders on the sides.
I thought that the mechanism itself is pretty cool, and I have an even better appreciation for it after talking to Ron.
Thanks again to John and congratulations to Ron on a clever and beautiful puzzle. You can check out Ron's work at his store Pahpoo's Puzzles on PuzzleParadise.ca. Blind Snooker isn't on sale there yet, but it probably will be in the near future, so keep an eye out!
I've been collecting mechanical puzzles since 2008. My favorite types of puzzles are puzzle boxes and disassembly puzzles, though I also enjoy interlocking solids, assembly puzzles, and pretty much everything else.
In the interests of full disclosure: I make a small percentage from purchases made through links in my blog to Amazon and Puzzle Master. I figure if I'm sending them traffic, I might as well get a piece of the pie.