August 21, 2013

2013 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 2)

This is the second part in my series of posts about the 2013 Puzzle Design Competition. All photos are by Nick Baxter from the 2013 Design Competition website.

Capsule Construction - Bill Cutler

The goal is to disassemble and re-assemble the 12 pieces. It is a board-burr, with each piece flat. (I don't know how Bill resisted calling this Cutler's Capsule Construction.)

I was able to get this one apart pretty easily, but had a hell of a time getting it back together! The first six pieces form a sort of cubic cage, and the others slide in from each of the 6 sides. It is a bit tricky getting the cage together, but the real challenge for me was to get the final pieces in. Usually I don't like this type of puzzle, but I got sucked into figuring it out since I felt bad leaving it apart and ended up enjoying it!

Clair de Lune - Yasuhiro Hashimoto

The goal is to remove and replace the moon from the cage. The moon has a slit in it, which is large enough for the dowel on each of the two cage pieces.

Not super-challenging, but fun to figure out the logical series of moves. There are two ways to start, and one will lead to a dead end!

Convergent Evolution: D'Artagnan - Bram Cohen and Wei-Hwa Huang

The goal is to use all four pieces to make two identical shapes. This is essentially a 3D version of Think Fun's Top This. In Wei-Hwa's exchange, he presented this puzzle with a larger set of pieces, such that any group of four could make two identical shapes.

Of course, there is only one distinct way of pairing these four pieces so the challenge is figuring out how to assemble them. Pretty challenging since there are a number of different ways you can orient two shapes relative to one another, but eventually I figured it out. Neat puzzle, but I think the exchange version would be even better!

Cuboctahelix - Bram Cohen and Jason Smith

The goal is to assemble the eight triangular pyramids and six square pyramids into the shape of a cuboctahedron. I had no idea what a cuboctahedron was, but fortunately one was shown in the picture and it is pretty much the only way you could put these pieces together. The challenge is that each of the triangular pyramids has three curved spikes sticking out of it, which need to fit into the square pyramids' corresponding holes. These are at different positions and pointing in different directions, so the location of each pieces matters, as does the order of assembly.

This had the hallmarks of a puzzle I would probably have to give up on, a lot of pieces and a number of permutations to try, but I ended up figuring this one out! The pieces slide together in a nice satisfying way, which may be what kept me engaged. Also, I didn't have to try a ton of different assemblies before figuring it out. Neat puzzle!

Dancing Shoes - Goh Pit Khiam

The goal of this puzzle is to pack the five pieces into the tray. It is very nicely constructed, though I think the tray should be a bit shorter to prevent you from being able to wiggle pieces into position the  wrong way.

It won the Puzzler's Award (selected by IPP attendees), and for good reason! It has a neat solution that isn't super-hard to discover, most people will figure this one out in 5-10 minutes, I would imagine.

Dispersed GC Lock - Namick Salakhov

The goal is to move all of the switches to the down position so the slider can be removed. This is another binary puzzle (like Binary Bud), but the mechanism worked quite a bit better!

The mechanism was based around a spring-loaded key that you needed to depress in order to move a piece. This worked fairly well, but required some hand strength to hold in position while the move was made. Not bad and a unique mechanism, but I think I prefer some of the other binary puzzles out there.

Drop Slider Designer - Lucie Pauwels

This puzzle had two goals: slide the pieces around so all the balls drop in the hole, then figure out how to get the balls to come out the small hole in the side. It came with a number of challenge cards that specified different piece configurations to start,sorted by difficulty.

The sliding puzzle part was pretty trivial for the first 20 or so balls (on the challenge I tried), but the last few were a real pain! A good variation on your standard sliding block puzzle, but I think some of the trivial balls could be removed to reduce the repetitiveness. The puzzle at the end to remove the balls was actually pretty tricky!

Eight Wrestlers - Yoshiyuki Kotani

The goal is to arrange the eight wrestlers such that each notch is matched with another notch. It is nicely cut out of neon pink lucite that seemed to glow on its own.

This was a puzzle I found myself going back to a few times: I quickly saw the trick, but wasn't able to quite get it to work. Pretty tricky but fun to play with!

Elevator Puzzle - Sam Cornwell

The goal is to remove the square panel out of the tube. It has one pin on each of its four sides, which connect to mazes on each of the four inner sides of the tube. Because of the way the pins are arranged, the elevator can flip upside down on either axis if positioned properly.

I didn't like this one as much as Books/TV, since the hole felt a bit narrow to manipulate the puzzle and see what was going on. I didn't end up spending much time on this one.

Elle - Frederic Boucher

This is a classic interlocking puzzle: disassemble and reassemble. It consists of two sets of three identical pieces, which is nice.

There were a few interesting moves in there, but not too difficult to disassemble: reassembly is the real challenge if you don't know how it came apart!

Ok, that's all for today! Tomorrow, Part 3!


  1. It's interesting to regard Namick Salakhov's "Dispersed GC Lock" as an extension of "Spinout". But where Spinout had 2 choices at any time (a forward move or backward move), Dispersed GC Lock offered 3 choices, one of which would lead to a dead-end. Hence there are more opportunities to make a mistake, and a greater difficulty re-establishing the correct sequence after making a mistake and backtracking to the last "good" decision point. (A piece got locked in an illegal position on the wrong side of the key, rendering the puzzle inoperable until it was repaired.)

    Sadly, the "Elevator Puzzle" rapidly accumulated a lot of vicious-looking scratches and gouges. Either the metal pins were too sharp or the composite wood was too delicate. But it was a satisfying puzzle, exactly the right degree of challenge for a competition.

  2. Yes, it is a bit different from Spinout. I think it is most similar to Hexadecimal Puzzle in a particular configuration (0011, I think).

    Agreed on Elevator Puzzle, rounded plastic pins may have been a better choice to reduce the gouging.

  3. Hi Brian, thank you for your review of my Drop Slider puzzle, one small correction: the challenges were numbered from 1 (easy) to 36 (difficult).

  4. Thanks Lucie! I corrected that bit.

  5. I came across the Trapezoid Symmetry Puzzle of Yasuhiro Hashimoto 2013. I cannot read Japanese but one word
    'Pazuhiro' has to be translated to 'Puzzle' .On my instruction
    sheet of the TSP it was mentioned that 2 pieces could form
    3 symm shapes. This must be 4 ! I am Willem van der Poel . Pleaste transmit this to Yasuhiro Hashimoto. Kind regards.


Please don't post spoilers! Thanks for commenting!

Related Posts with Thumbnails