August 17, 2017

2017 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 2)

Here's Part 2 of my write-up of the various puzzles in the design competition this year! (Photo credit to Nick Baxter)

Cubemaker - Volker Latussek

The goal is to make five dark cubes from the five blocks. Each block has two half dark cubes. So, for example, in the photo there are three completed dark cubes.

I came back to this one a few times and was pretty happy to actually figure it out! The piece in the middle of the photo is a bit problematic, since you quickly run out of pieces if you get too far away from it. This was Marti Reis's exchange this year.


CUBI 20 - Frederic Boucher


The goal is to put the five pieces in the box, but the pieces aren't standard: some are shifted by a half-cube. Also, the box has some cubes and half-cubes glued in place.

I think I would have liked to see this one in a bit larger size, it was a bit tricky poking pieces into the corners. I didn't end up spending enough time on this one to solve it.

I ended up looking at the solution to pack it up at the end of IPP and as you assemble it one of the pieces really likes to tilt over and get wedged in the wrong place. It took me some work to free it!


Diabolical 3 Cubed - Rod Bogart & Zach Bogart

There are a three goals to this one, the first of which is to place the tiles into the 3D tray so the 12 edges that meet show the 12 pentomino shapes.

I put in a pretty solid effort on this one, but couldn't quite solve it. The 3D tray and beveled cuts on the wooden pieces was nice, but it may be good to lower the outer rim on the tray to make it easier to pull out the pieces.

Down the Rabbit-Hole - Peter Wiltshire

This is Peter's box for the Jabberwockey chest. It fits the Alice theme nicely, and is very well crafted.

At the beginning, it seems like there's nothing you can do, but there's a nice moment when you figure it out, it has an unusual movement. After that, with a bit more work, I was able to get it open but didn't quite understand how!

It took a few more attempts to figure out what I did, and even then I'm not quite sure how it works. Typically I like it the other way around: you get some kind of feedback that lets you guess how it works, then you test your hypothesis and succeed.


The Egyptian Glove: Band - Jonathan Leaman

The goal is to cover the tetrahedron using the canvas band. I enjoy these 3D cover-up puzzles, they're usually pretty doable but have something interesting going on.

I tried wrapping the band in various efficient ways and eventually found a solution that seemed correct. Checking the solution, I found there was a more graceful way to arrive at the same position, but I probably wouldn't have though of it!


The Egyptian Glove: Triangles - Jonathan Leaman

Pretty much everything that I said about The Egyptian Glove: Band applies to this one as well, so I won't repeat it. Also a good puzzle!





Fang Duet - Hayassi (Noboru Hayashi)

Seems like a fairly standard nail puzzle, like you see all over the place, right? Nope! This one is quite challenging. It is surprising that there are still good nail puzzle designs that haven't been thought of!

I spent a lot of time on this one and didn't have any luck. It seemed as though I was making some progress, but then I ended up back where I started. In the last hour before we needed to pack up, I looked at the solution and was not surprised that I had trouble figuring it out! This could make a good Hanayama Cast Puzzle, I think!


Fang Quartet - Hayassi (Noboru Hayashi)

Not having solved the 2-piece version, I didn't think I had any chance at solving a 4-piece version. So not much I can say about this one, unfortunately!




Four Hands Puzzle - Ray Stanton & Pelikan

This is a 6-piece coordinate motion puzzle beautifully turned into a ball. As the name implies, you're potentially going to need some extra hands to get this thing back together.

I sort of enjoy these dexterity put-together challenges, and didn't find this one too bad compared to some admittedly crazy others in the same genre (e.g. Rosebud).


Free Me 5 - Joe Turner
(Jury Honorable Mention)

The goal is to take the coin out of the puzzle. Often these remove-the-coin puzzles can be annoying in one way or another with hidden mazes or a bunch of hidden locking pins sliding around, but this one was great!

It is a sequential discovery puzzle: you find tools along the way and need to figure out how to use them. There are a few good moments in there, overall quite enjoyable!


Free the Marble - Laurence Grenier
(Top  10 Vote Getter)

Another goal in the name of the puzzle: get the marble out. There are three rings linked together in a chain, but the marble in the middle prevents them from moving very freely.

I didn't have much luck with this one on my first attempt, but when I came back to it I was able to figure it out. Interestingly, once you get things freed up a bit, there is still some puzzling to do, it doesn't just pop out. A nice, elegant design!

Stay tuned for Part 3 (of 6!) tomorrow!

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