September 17, 2014

2014 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 1)

In this series of posts I will tell you about each puzzle in the competition and give you my brief reaction to each. Hope it gives you a bit of information about these puzzles if you weren't at IPP. All photos are by Nick Baxter from the 2014 Design Competition website.

All-Edges Coverage - Iwahiro (Hirokazu Iwasawa)

The goal is to cover both sides of all six holes in the hexagon with the band of fabric.

This is a simple puzzle that uses a similar principle to some of Iwahiro's other designs, but the hexagonal shape makes it a but more challenging. It took me a little while to solve, but mainly because the band felt a bit tight and I didn't want to force it. Maybe I didn't have it lined up just right though.

Animal Cube - Evgeniy Grigoriev

This is a clever take on a restricted-movement twisty puzzle. The idea is that a face with a goat can't be rotated past a face with a cabbage, and a face with a wolf can't be rotated past a face with a goat. This would be annoying if you needed to check and enforce the rules yourself, but the design of the innards makes it physically impossible to make an illegal move.

I played with this for a bit and found it to be quite challenging. Even getting a single face was tricky for me, but I'm not a twisty specialist. Neat mechanical design, and I liked the added theme.

Art Nouveau - William Waite

The goal is to pack all six pieces into the tray. At first glance it might look like the geometry is somewhat random, but the floral designs hide a familiar geometry. I found it pretty challenging to find the correct arrangement of the pieces, since this geometry, while familiar, is a bit tricky to work with.

BQTTLE - Sándor Bozóki

The goal is to remove the chain from the ring and re-attach it, while keeping the lid on the bottle.

It seems impossible, but with a bit of fiddling I could see how the knot could be undone. Tying the knot in the first place is quite a bit more challenging, I think! Someone else had double-tied the knot, so I was able to undo one of the loops, but didn't undo it completely. I liked this one as a dexterity puzzle, since at first it looks like an impossible object, but in fact it is quite possible (though difficult!)

Caramel Box - Yasuhiro Hashimoto and MINE

The goal is to pack each set of three pieces into the box (two challenges). This was one of the Top Ten Vote Getters.

I really liked this puzzle: it was pretty accessible (not super-hard), but was challenging enough to be enjoyable. Figuring out how to put the three pieces together isn't very hard (which is good), but getting them into the box takes a bit of logical thinking. I also really liked the metal box and woods used. Great puzzle! Wished I had gotten a copy of this since it would be a good one for the coffee table, but they sold out on the Puzzle Party day.

Cassette - JinHoo Ahn

The goal is to disassemble and re-assemble the four pieces. It is very nicely made out of metal, I think this is a strong candidate for the Hanayama Cast Puzzle series. This puzzle won a jury honorable mention.

I spent a good 15-20 minutes on this one before I had to move on, and wasn't able to figure it out. I did get a few interesting things happening, but couldn't quite get it apart. Hopefully if Hanayama picks it up, I'll have a chance to work on it more in the future!

Cast U&U - Kyoo Wong

The goal is to disassemble and re-assemble the two pieces. Impressively, this puzzle seems to be made out of simple u-bolts and nuts, which may have contributed to the jury's awarding it a Grand Prize.

In addition to a clever construction, the solution is said to be quite clever as well. Unfortunately, I didn't spend enough with this one either to solve it, since it is in the Cast Puzzle series, I anticipate getting a copy shortly, so I decided to spend my time on other puzzles I wouldn't see again. Looking forward to finishing it!

Claws of Satan - MINE (Mineyuki Uyematsu)

The goal is to take the three pieces out of the triangular frame, flip the frame, and reassemble. This puzzle won a jury honorable mention.

This one was a triangular-grid version of similar rectilinear, rotational, take-apart puzzles we've seen in past years (like recent submissions by Osanori Yamamoto). I fiddled around with it for a bit before figuring out which piece was likely to come out first, then I was able to work my way towards that goal. Despite the name, it isn't too pointy to be nice to manipulate.

Complementary  P-arity - Namick Salakhov

The goal is to disassemble and re-assemble the puzzle. I was quite interested in giving this one a try, since I like n-ary puzzles (which I assumed this would be). The idea is quite interesting, I think it consists of a binary and a trinary puzzle that need to be solved simultaneously.

Unfortunately, the construction left a bit to be desired: it was very pointy which made it hard to move the pieces, and it was difficult to tell what was supposed to move in the first place (which isn't really the intended challenge). Perhaps it would work better in wood!

Conjuring Conundrum - Louis Coolen and Allard Walker

The goal is to open the briefcase and then assemble the pieces found inside to form a magic-themed image. This puzzle was one of the Top 10 Vote Getters.

This was Allard's exchange puzzle last year, and he was kind enough to give me a copy (thanks Allard!). I had a great time trying to figure out how to open it, it is an awesome mechanism by Louis. The assembly bit at the end by Allard is pretty tricky as well! They used a combination of 3D-printed and pre-manufactured materials, which seems like an excellent use of 3D printing. Great puzzle!

Copy Device - Hiroshi Yamamoto

Arrange the three pieces in the tray so that it makes two identical green areas. This puzzle won an jury honorable mention.

I'm not particularly good at this type of puzzle, so unfortunately I didn't have time to solve it. Seems like a cute design with only three pieces though.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!


  1. I felt guilty that I couldn't devote enough time to more than 10 to 15 puzzles. There's just not enough time to examine them all. So I thank you for your analysis.

  2. Glad you're enjoying it, Tom! I wish we had more time, it sounds like we'll have an extra day next year so maybe that will be better!


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