February 25, 2012

2012 New York Puzzle Party (Part 6)

On Sunday morning, I woke up a bit later since we didn't have anywhere to rush off to. After a quick bite of breakfast, we got right back to puzzling!

First I tried out this IPP exchange puzzle by Gary Foshee named Excalibur. It is made out of metal, and has the unique appearance of sword stuck in a stone. I fiddled with this one for a while, the sword spins around quite freely, but not much else!

After a good 10-15 minutes of making little progress, something changed a bit and I tried to figure out what had happened. With a bit more experimentation and fiddling, I had the sword removed! Does that mean I'm the one true king?

Up next, Brett brought out this interesting Bits & Pieces puzzle designed by Oskar van Deventer (as you could probably guess). The idea is to navigate the blue gear off to the right. However, it is trickier than it appears since you need to get the correct tooth to land in the last hole, since it is specially shaped. Certain holes are round which (if the gear is in the correct position) allow the gear to rotate 180 degrees. Through a sequence of these moves, you can eventually get it in the proper position.

I could have sat and thought about the solution for a while, but it was a lot more fun just to blunder in the direction of the solution. After a good 15-20 minutes of fiddling, I removed the gear, but putting it back on ended up taking me just as long! It turns out that only one gear tooth will fit in the starting hole as well, so that is also quite a challenge. I fiddled with it so long that my fingers were tinted blue from the anodizing wearing off! Definitely a cool puzzle, and very 'Oskar'!

The next puzzle I tried was another recommendation by Brett, called Bill Darrah's Tri-Plane. It was designed by (you guessed it) Bill Darrah, and exchanged by Joe Becker at IPP 19. At first, it looked like a fairly standard 4x4x4 cube, though quite nicely crafted out of a number of different woods. However, the cool thing about this 4x4x4 cube is that it starts to come apart in any of the 6 possible directions, but only one of them ends up being correct!

I've never seen this many dead-ends at the start of an interlocking 4x4x4 cube before, so that was pretty novel. As it turns out, however, this didn't make it particularly difficult to take apart: I think I had it apart in a minute or two, but it was still fun to play around with.

The sun was shining on Sunday, so Rob brought out this interesting object he brought: it is a mirror that creates a pattern when you use it to reflect sunlight on a blank surface. This particular mirror was given at a past IPP and shows the image of the classic IPP burr. Pretty neat!

What's even more amazing is that this technology dates back to the Han Dynasty in China (206 BC through 24 AD). It is called a Chinese Magic Mirror; check out the link for more info on Wikipedia.

Ken Irvine came by to puzzle with us, and brought along with him a number of 4x4x4 cube puzzle that he designed. I must have worked through about 6 or 8 of them, and they're all quite clever in their own way, each with an interesting movement of some sort! Hopefully he'll be submitting his designs to Ishino's site or better yet putting them on Shapeways so more people can enjoy them!

He also brought this little packing puzzle called 9T that he designed and made for his father's ninetieth birthday (if I remember correctly), so the goal is to pack the nine T's in the box. The unique feature is that there are a few blocks glued in the box to make things trickier and there is a T glued on each side of the lid. They are in different positions, so there are two possible solutions depending which side of the lid you use. Neat idea!

As it was getting a bit later in the afternoon and I wanted to be driving while it was still daylight, I decided to head out. A big thanks to Brett for letting me stay at his place and all the tasty food and puzzling puzzles! I'm already looking forward to doing it again next year! I'll close with this photo of Ken behind a heap of puzzles on Brett's dining room table:


  1. Thanks for this detailed puzzle party posts. This is very nice for the people far from puzzle community like me.
    Erhan Cubukcuoglu

  2. Here are some coin puzzles



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