I covered the 2011 Puzzle Design Competition award winners in my last post about the awards banquet (Part 1, Part 2), but there were plenty of other good puzzles! In the next few posts, I'll give you my brief reaction to each. All the photos are from the 2011 Puzzle Design Competition website.
The goal of this puzzle is to make a large triangle from the eight pieces. The pieces are based equilateral triangles that have been joined on different edges. Interestingly, each piece is sequentially larger than the last, starting at 1 unit and ending at 8 units for the largest piece.
It was crafted from wood and had a fairly plain finish, I think a nice tray and a better wood would have helped this one a bit from an aesthetic standpoint. As a puzzle, I found it fairly challenging, I spent about 5-10 minutes on it and didn't have any luck solving it. There are a 20 other shapes you can make, so this one has a good amount of replay value.
4 Piece Burr Cube by Osanori Yamamoto
I spent a good 20 minutes on this one, it is pretty challenging! It is easy to tell where the pieces should end up in the solved state, but getting them to this position is tricky. The pieces get in your way quite a bit, so it is hard to see how the assembly could be possible. With some tricky rotational moves however, it can be done. This was a good one!
7 Pieces, 4 Squares by Emrehan Halici
The goal of this puzzle is to assemble the pieces into a square. This can be done with either four, five, six, or seven pieces. I spent a little while working on this one and was able to figure out the four-piece solution without too much trouble, but didn't have any luck with the others during the time I spent. Definitely a good challenge.
16-Axis Knockout Sticks by John and Jane Kostick
This is an interesting geometric construction that uses magnets to hold the pieces together. There is a bronze star-shaped sculpture in the center, which is surrounded by a rhombic triacontahedron. This is then surrounded by a dodecahedral frame. The sticks are held together by precisely placed magnets, so it snaps together in a very satisfying way. The positioning of the magnets also gives you some guidance as to how to assemble it, which makes for a fairly straightforward puzzle. Still, it is a fun object to play around with and certainly displays nicely. Check out John and Jane's website for more photos of their beautiful creations. You can email them if you'd like to purchase one. Check out Allard's review of a similar puzzle he got here.
Abyss by Pantazis Houlis
Abyss is a 3D representation of a hypercube, and you can manipulate it by expanding and collapsing any of its edges. Through these manipulations, the goal is to switch the color of the center cube from Black to Yellow, or the other way around. As a puzzle, I didn't find it to be particularly challenging. However, it was fun to play around with for a bit!
Albis Box by Albert Gübeli
The goal of this puzzle is to put the five pieces into the box. It is a bit hard to tell from the angle of the photo, but the pieces on the left aren't cubes, they do have six sides but have been smushed into some other shape that I don't have a word for. I'm also not sure of the name for the shape of the box. In any event, it was a fun puzzle to play around with. With a little trial and error, I found it possible to figure out what order the pieces needed to go in, and it just took a bit of fiddling after that point to solve it. It felt fairly logical, which I liked and wasn't overly difficult. It probably took me around 5-10 minutes to solve this one.
I watched George Hart work on this one for a bit, and he managed to get the two smushed cubes stuck in there and was having a heck of a time getting them back out. He gave up after a bit, so I offered to help and managed to get them out pretty quickly. That's always fun!
Ampelmann by Roman Götter
You can't tell from the photo, or just by looking, but there is an oddly shaped border inside the traffic light that restricts how you can place the figures. I didn't much care for this aspect: for me it was just more annoying than fun to have to feel around and figure out what the border is like. Also, I wasn't sure which end was the top and which end was the bottom, and I'm not sure if they're interchangeable.
Berlin Wall by Thomas Atkinson and Kate Jones
I didn't check it, but I think the reason there are so many pieces is that it uses all the ways of joining 1 through 4 bricks either by gluing half faces or whole faces. I'm not sure though, so I could be wrong. In any event, I think it would have been better with fewer pieces.
Bishop Cubes by Forrest Bishop
video of somebody playing around with it to get a better idea for how it moves.
I tried scrambling it up and returning it to a cube shape, and spent a good 30 minutes working on it. Unfortunately I didn't have much luck! It gets pretty complicated figuring out what moves are possible, and using those moves to get anything productive done. I was able to get it closer to a cube, but not all the way back. On a second attempt, I scrambled it a bit less and had more luck getting it back. Definitely a fun little puzzle to play around with, I may purchase this one at some point. You can get it from the Bishop Cubes website for a pretty reasonable price of $30.
Cola Glass by Tom Lee
Coca Cola Can Glass. It must have been a challenge to drill the holes without breaking the glass! This was a really tricky disentanglement puzzle as well. I figured out the last few steps, but couldn't figure out how to get there from the beginning. I spent a good 20-30 minutes on this one and didn't have any luck. Eventually I peeked at the solution and after seeing it, I'm not surprised that I didn't figure it out. It was pretty involved, but I'm not very good at disentanglements with flexible components like this one. Overall a good puzzle!
Cube Art by Durandus Dijken
The goal of this puzzle is to get the same four colors showing on each side. I don't remember exactly, but I think there are around 8 pieces: one 2x2x2 cube, one 1x1x1 cube, three 1x2x2 blocks and three 1x1x2 blocks. Each of which has six colors distributed across six faces. It had a magnetic base and magnets inside the pieces to help with the stability of the puzzle as you assembled it, but it wasn't integral to the solution since the magnets moved around as-needed to hold the pieces in place. A clever idea!
I worked on this one for a bit and got fairly close to solving it, but couldn't quite get it. I think I probably only worked on it for about 10 minutes or so, so I think I could have gotten it if I had spent more time with it. Probably 30-60 minutes would have been sufficient, but too many other puzzles to try!
Cube&Cubes by Laurence Grenier
Cubes in Space by Hirokazu Iwasawa (Iwahiro)
anti-slide puzzle where the goal is to put the cubes inside the box in such a way so that when you close the box the cubes won't go rattling all over the place. This one is quite a bit trickier since the box is not square! It is possible to solve with 12 cubes or with 8.
I played around with this one for a bit, and felt like I had a pretty good idea of what to do, but I got frustrated that I couldn't hold the cubes in the positions where I wanted them and gave up for a bit. I chatted about this one with George Hart and he went to work on it. A few minutes later he stopped by and said he had solved it, and it was good! So I decided to take another stab at it.
With renewed vigor, I managed to get the pieces positioned the way I wanted: it was only then that I discovered a much easier way to do what I had been trying to do! Once you get the 12-piece solution, the 8-piece solution is pretty easy to figure out. Overall, a fun little puzzle!
That's it for today! More to come tomorrow so stay tuned!
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