June 15, 2010

Twist the Night Away

Back when I was looking for interesting puzzles to build out of my LiveCubes, I stumbled across Twist the Night Away in this thread on the Puzzle World Forums. It is a 4x4x4 cube designed by Tom Jolly that requires 7 rotational moves to disassemble, which is quite remarkable.

Usually I'm not too keen on purchasing puzzles that I can build fairly easily with LiveCubes, but Eric Fuller was selling a wooden version for a very reasonable $40, so I decided to pick one up.

I loved Eric's description of this puzzle:
I was showing various puzzles to an IPP attendee when they skipped right over this one. I started to show it to them and they said "Everything interesting that can be done with 4x4 cubes has already been done". I laughed and showed them about half of the solution, at which time they cried "Stop - I'll take it!". This really is a fabulously interesting cube, and Tom really hit the ball out of the park with it. It's just a downright fun puzzle that still puts a smile on my face to solve.
Indeed, this really captures it perfectly: it is a remarkable design! In addition, Eric did an excellent job crafting it. The pieces fit together perfectly, and have a nice finish on them. It is made out of Carolina Mountain Ash and is 3 inches square. I really liked the way he constructed the pieces: it gives the puzzle a nice appearance on the outside when it is assembled.

Even though I had solved this one before with LiveCubes, it was a much better experience using actual wood since I didn't have to worry about the pieces coming apart. Not only is this a non-trivial puzzle to disassemble, I would say it is actually pretty tricky.

The first three pieces come out quite easily, but the remaining two pieces are trapped by a 4x4 'hoop' structure. Even knowing the solution, it still takes me a few minutes to remember how to do it. Also, check out Jonas's blog post on this one.

Putting it back together is even trickier. I brought it to a family event a few days ago and somebody was able to get it apart, but it took me about 15 minutes to get it back together again.

If you have a set of LiveCubes, head over to Puzzles Will Be Played to see what the pieces look like and give it a try. You won't be disappointed!

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for pointing this one out.
    And big thanks to Tom J. for inventing it.
    I build a Live Cube copy as suggested and had a fine time solving it.
    Its tricky without being impossible to do.
    I wish Eric had some more to sell.

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  2. Tom has kindly agreed to allow me sell this excellent puzzle in the microcubology shop on Shapeways. This means that anyone can now get a 3D printed copy made and delivered on demand.
    You can find it at http://www.shapeways.com/model/129844/twist_the_night_away.html
    I have chosen a slightly larger size (2.4 cm cube) which puts the cost at just over $30 but gives good strength and a nice feel in the hand.
    Best wishes
    Rich Gain

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  3. Awesome Rich! That's a very cool puzzle and I'm glad to see it available.

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  4. I'd love to go to the Puzzles Will Be Played, but the link is broken. Any where I could find what the pieces loook like and how to solve it?

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  5. Hi Grace, Here is the link: http://puzzlewillbeplayed.com/444/TwistTheNightAway/ . The site changed over to a new domain, so that's why the old link was broken. Good luck!

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