August 24, 2013

2013 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 5)

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

Qin Nez Borz - Stephen Chin

This is the only impossible object in the competition: the goal is to figure out how it could have been constructed. There are apparently a number of wooden balls nested inside one another, made of different woods!

There's a hole on the opposite side, and if you press the piece of wood on that side you'll hear laughter and the inside of the ball will light up! You could probably guess this one was Stephen Chin, he likes his electronics!

Rain Drop - Kelly Snache

The goal is to remove the glass tube to release the one dollar bill. I was surprised this was a Kelly Snache design, since he usually focuses on boxes!

I worked on it for a bit and made some progress, but didn't end up being able to figure this one out. When I looked at the solution, it did make sense but it would have taken me a while to get there. One issue with this puzzle is the glass: it broke once during the competition which is kind of dangerous. Plastic may have been a safer choice, but then you'd have to deal with it scratching.

Rattle Twist 4 - Osanori Yamamoto

The goal is to disassemble and re-assemble the two pieces in the frame. This puzzle is a bit trickier than Osanori's other entry, since the pieces are more complex.

When I encountered this one, it was disassembled so I tried putting it back together. I spent a little while on it and didn't have any luck, definitely a good challenge. Later on, I also encountered it while it was together, and it was also tricky to get it apart! There is a lot of movement, but it wasn't obvious to me how to proceed.

Ze RD: Evil Twins - Stuart Gee & Stephen Chin

The goal is to disassemble and reassemble the three nested geometric puzzles. Three puzzles in one!

The outer shell and middle shell opened like I expected (a move Stephen loves), but the innermost puzzle has an interesting 3-piece coordinate motion. Quite clever!

Rhombic Maze Burr - Derek Bosch

The goal is to remove the "exit plate", the only plate that has a maze path that leads to its edge. In this picture, it is the plate on the top.

I knew this puzzle was in the works, so I was quite excited to give it a try! I am a big fan of Kagen Schaefer's Maze Burr (which won Puzzle of the Year in 2006), so this looked like it would be interesting. It has twice as many sides, which makes for even more potential configurations of the maze panels.

The initial configuration started out pretty linearly, with each move logically following after the next, but midway through things got a bit more complex. Good fun! I'm hoping to get a copy if Derek starts selling it at some point.

Ring and Cherries on a Stick - Dimitar Vakarelov

The goal is to remove the ring, but the cherries get in the way! It is a fairly simple looking disentanglement puzzle that actually is quite challenging.

When I ran across this one, it was a bit of a tangled mess, so I set myself to cleaning it up. After a little while, I had it back to the starting position but didn't have any idea how to actually solve it! I fiddled with it for a bit, but eventually gave up.

Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other - Junichi Yananose

The goal is to disassemble and re-assemble the puzzle. You can't tell from the picture, but this burr is massive, probably about 10 inches high. It looks like a standard 6-piece burr, but there are actually 12 pieces.

I worked on this one a few different times, and kept getting stuck after a few moves, there is a lot of movement which makes it difficult to tell how to proceed. Also, some of the moves require a group of pieces to move together, further adding to the difficulty. Tricky puzzle and very impressive at this size!

Slide Twist Twist Slide - Tony Fisher

 The goal is to assemble the pieces into a 3x4x4 block. The catch? Each of the pieces has a 2x2x2 Rubik's Cube at its center, so you can reconfigure each of the pieces. You need to get them each in the correct configuration, then assemble them.

It is innovative, which is probably what the judges saw in giving it an honorable mention, but I think it is too difficult for my taste. I think even if the correct initial configuration of the pieces was given, it would be a challenge to assemble them.

Snake Case - Hiroaki Hamanaka

The goal is to arrange things so the snake can hide completely in the case. Obviously, the sock is too short! Simple puzzles that look impossible are sometimes the most fun, which is why I really liked this one.

There was a key detail that I noticed which led me to the solution, it is pretty clever! One of my favorites in the competition this year.

Symmetrick - Vesa Timonen

The goal is to assemble the two pieces flat on the table to make a symmetric shape. It seems simple with only two pieces, but it is not easy! There are no tricks to it, no negative space or any of that, but the solution is quite elusive.

I actually got a copy of this at IPP32 and had a heck of a time figuring it out, it's another one of those puzzles that takes advantage of the way you tend to solve these things. Eventually, I just tried an exhaustive approach, since there's only so many ways it can go together! A very clever puzzle, nice and compact, and definitely worth getting a copy. Another great design by Vesa!

Well that's all for today! Tomorrow, the final part of this 6-part series.


  1. Hello. my name is Jose. the puzzle of the rings and cherry is good, for me is not very difficult. My email address

  2. The impossible object.. balls inside balls is mind blowing.. I am astounded that creating something like this is even possible.


  3. Indeed, it is pretty clever! Interesting to think about how it could have been made.


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