August 23, 2013

2013 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 4)

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

King's Court - Tim Snyder

This is a rolling block puzzle, the goal is to move the 2x2x2 cube to the opposite end of the board by rolling the pieces.

I didn't like the way the pieces and board were designed, since it seemed to encourage illegal moves. For example, if you roll the 2x2x1 piece in picture away from the camera to the open spot, it wants to fall over and keep the base where it is. In actuality, the valid move is for the 2x2x1 to completely occupy the empty space. I think non beveled blocks and a groove between squares (rather than a fence) might have worked better, but then the pieces wouldn't stay in place as nicely. I didn't spend long on it due to the issues I mentioned, but it seemed quite challenging.

Ladder of Brahma - Tom Lee and Kong Tang

The goal is to swap the red and the green pieces, the cones can nest and start over the red piece. This seemed like a minor variation on Tower of Hanoi, but with nesting pieces rather than different sized disks and two goal pieces to move rather than moving the whole stack. I didn't think these changes added much to the puzzle, however.

Manholes 55 - Frederic Boucher

There are three goals: 1) Hide each ball underneath the coin (manhole) of the same color, 2) Place each ball on top of the coin (manhole) of the same color, and 3) Without spinning the puzzle, move the balls to the green areas on each side of the street.

The first goal was pretty easy, the second was a bit tougher, and the third was quite challenging. I was unable to get the last one, it requires quite a bit of dexterity and also requires a particular technique.

Matatom - Christian Blanvillain

Assemble the 12 pieces into a cube such that each face of the cube is a single color.

I found the geometry of this one to be a bit baffling was unable to make a cube, even ignoring the colors. When I looked at the solution, it is actually fairly logical, I just didn't see it!

MazeRoll - Splinter Spierenburgh

The goal is to navigate the ball from one end of the maze to the other. I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, since the maze on the cylinder looked pretty trivial. In fact, it is!

However, the tricky part comes when each part of the cylinder is restricted in terms of how far it can move relative to its neighbors. This makes it so that you have to backtrack at a few points. Pretty enjoyable and not super-difficult.

Monge's L-cubes - Peter Gal

This is a graduated difficulty puzzle with multiple challenges: each challenge card shows a top view and a front view of the goal, and you need to figure out how to create a 3D shape that fits this criteria. A neat idea! All of the pieces are L-shaped with different combinations of light and dark cubes.

I solved the first few challenges and enjoyed them. It was a good challenge, so I'm sure the harder ones are quite difficult!

N-one 2 - Osanori Yamamoto

The goal is to assemble the two pieces in the frame. It is very nicely crafted!

I thought this one was going to take me a while, but I didn't end up taking too long on it. maybe I got lucky! As you can probably guess, there are a number of rotational moves required.

Oct-Tetraxis Assemblies - John and Jane Kostick

This is two puzzles in one: surround the cuboctahedron with 12 sticks (somewhat easier) and then surround the same block with the remaining 24 sticks.

Jane and John live quite close by, so I actually had a chance to try this one before IPP! I found the easier puzzle to be still fairly challenging, and it definitely helped to do the two puzzles in that order. This puzzle has a smooshed geometry that I hadn't seen in Jane's work before, which was interesting. It's always fun playing around with these types of puzzles!

Phantom Fish - Leslie Le

The goal is to put the 14 circular segments into the track without overlapping.

I worked on this one for a little bit and kept ending up with not enough room! There were a lot of pieces and a lot of different options for those pieces, so I decided to give up.

A Plugged Well - Brian Young

The goal is to find the barrel of oil. It was Matt Dawson's exchange puzzle at IPP32 in Washington, made by Brian Young.

I purchased a copy of this one at IPP32 and enjoyed solving it. It is a sequential discovery puzzle, so you will find some tools along the path to the solution that you need to use to continue. I love that type of puzzle! Definitely worth checking out, it is a good challenge. There are still some available on Brian's website here.

That's all for today! Tomorrow, Part 5!


  1. Hi Brian, thanks for reviewing all the entries! I too had some trouble with my puzzle, King's Court. I think you're right about cutting a groove and not beveling the pieces. Unfortunately by the time I got the puzzle all built and discovered the problem, I didn't have any time left to try and fix it. I performed most of my testing with an Android version I programmed.

  2. Ah, interesting! Glad you're enjoying the reviews!

  3. i have another maze puzzle and i love it, it´s name is bertikal


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