Even after a fairly late night puzzling, I couldn't help but wake up at 8:00 with more puzzles on the brain. Jeff had gone out and grabbed some fresh bagels, which were quite tasty! We sat around for a bit in his screened-in patio while munching on bagels.
After breakfast, Jeff gave us a tour of his shop, which had progressed nicely since I had seen it last year. You can see the pipes for his cyclonic dust collection system running along the ceiling. Pretty cool! Now if only he'd start making some puzzles!
It looks like four square sticks that have been glued together, one of which is made from a dark wood. It seems locked up pretty tight, but after a bit of investigation I was able to open it. It uses a fairly common principle in this type of puzzle, which is why it didn't take me that long. This may be a fun one to try out with non-puzzlers, but it may take them a while!
The first one I tried was called The Nagging Wife, and I think it took me about 10-15 minutes to figure out how to put it together. It takes a few moves to get it apart, so you have to work your way backwards to figure out how to assemble it in the right sequence of steps.
Puzzle Will Be Played website so others could check out his designs. It is a site with tons of different puzzle designs cataloged, so in combination with a set of LiveCubes a puzzler can be kept busy for quite a while!
Jeff set himself to the task of solving all of the cubes Ken brought, and ended up making it through almost all of them! It is quite impressive that they kept his attention, since Jeff admittedly doesn't usually care much for this type of puzzle. I think I solved about 5 of them, and I had a good time doing so. Each provided a different challenge, but most can be done in a reasonable amount of time because it isn't too hard to deduce what the correct assembly is. Actually assembling them is the tricky part!
At one point over the weekend, Jeff made a bunch of perfectly square sticks for Ken, so we can look forward to seeing even nicer versions of these designs soon!
MMMM by Iwahiro, which I liked a lot, so I was looking forward to trying this one out.
Unfortunately, the solution ended up being pretty much the same as MMMM, though the clear box gave a nice view of the assembled shape which looked pretty cool. Despite this, I didn't much care for the boxes since they disassembled into two C-shaped halves, each containing 3 sides, rather than the standard 5-sided box with a lid. This made it a bit of a dexterity challenge getting the assembled shape inside the box. (Update: George mentioned in the comments below that there are two additional challenges that I didn't notice, which may be more unique.)
Next, I made the mistake of picking up Magnet Mania exchanged by Christopher Morgan: this puzzle proceeded to vex me for the next hour! The goal is to assemble the nine spherical magnets into a 3x3 grid that was laser-cut into a piece of wood. There were little holes for the magnets, but they were just big enough to keep the magnets from rolling out of place. If another magnet got too close, they would snap together. There was a little tool with notches cut out of either end that ended up being pretty helpful too.
I tried again and again to get the magnets placed using various techniques, but each time they would snap together, driving me slightly closer to madness. I almost gave up a number of times, but Tanya and Tyler Somer (a friend and co-worker of Tanya's) egged me on and I knew I couldn't quit.
Rosewood Block Box by Kagen Schaefer! In case you're not familiar with Kagen, he makes some ridiculously cool, and very sought-after, puzzle boxes. Check out his website, but be careful not to drool on your keyboard.
Jeff was finally able to acquire this box from Kagen after a lengthy wait. It is a pretty neat idea: a combination of a sliding block puzzle and a secret box! You slide the rectangular pieces around trying to form the ebony pieces into circles. When this is done, the box will open!
I found this to be a bit more challenging than his Snake Box, which I tried at RPP last year, since there are more dead-ends. Still, it wasn't too tricky because the ebony pieces give you some direction. The original version of the box, Block Box, didn't have this feature. The original Block Box won both the Puzzler's Award and a First Prize award during the 2002 Puzzle Design Competition.
Even thought it was a bit tougher, I think I solved it in about 10-15 minutes. The pieces slid quite nicely, and I really liked the inclusion of some dead-ends to make it a bit trickier. You have to think ahead a little bit to figure out which way to go. One thing that seemed a bit off was the light-colored wood in the left hand side of the frame: some folks might like this unusual feature of the wood, but I would have preferred it to be more uniform. Still, a beautiful puzzle that I'm thrilled to have had the chance to try!
Well that's all for this post, but I'll pick back up with a few more interesting exchange puzzles tomorrow, and a very nice puzzle box that I managed to overlook on Friday.
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