August 18, 2017

2017 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 3)

Here's Part 3 of my write-up of the various puzzles in the design competition this year! (Photo credit to Nick Baxter)

Galette - Osanori Yamamoto
(Top 10 Vote Getter)

The goal is to get the five pieces into the box, using some combination of the hole on the side and the hole in the top.

I spent a decent amount of time on this one before getting it figured out. A bit challenging but doable with some thought!

Ze Genie Bottle - Stephen Chin

Of course, who else but Stephen could have made this? It has a tippy top that whistles on the top, and is nicely turned.

It combines a few mechanisms well, with a bit of a twist at the end! You're not done until it comes completely apart.

Hardcore - Laszlo Molnar

A fairly simple puzzle with some readily available components: Livecube blocks and a plastic ball like you'd get out one of those coin operated toy machines. The idea is to get the three pieces into the ball.

I spent a fair amount of time on this one, but didn't have much luck! I could get very, very close to getting it to shut, but deep down I knew that it wasn't correct! At the end of IPP I finally peeked at the solution, and it was what I had expected, I was just unable to make it happen!

Hazmat Cargo - Carl Hoff

This puzzle has an interesting goal: put the nine pieces onto the barge, so that no pieces touch (even by a corner). The production is top notch, with some very slick metal components combined with 3D printed parts.

I found it to be quite challenging, since you quickly run out of room leaving the required space between the pieces. I meant to come back to this one, but unfortunately didn't have time. I think this would be well-suited to a graduated puzzle design with multiple challenges, giving you a starting position with some pieces placed and you need to complete it.

Homage to Mr Rubik "Egg" -  Tibor Sipos & Imre Kokenyesi

A cubical Smart Egg (based on Andras Zagyvai's design), you put the brass rod into the cube then try to get it through the maze and out the other end. The tricky thing is that the maze can be manipulated by rotating the cube layers.

This is very nicely crafted and must have been quite a challenge to design and build. However, I feel like it could have benefited from a more snug fit, it was hard to hold all three layers in the position I wanted while examining things or moving the rod.

Identical Twins - Osanori Yamamoto
(Puzzlers Award)

The goal is to put the two identical pieces into the frame. It is nice that you only have to deal with two pieces, and they're fairly simple. There are not many options for correct assemblies, so that helps out as well. Overall, not too challenging but a fun little puzzle nonetheless!

In a Cage - Shiro Tajima
(Jury Honorable Mention)

This is an interesting puzzle box, where the box is stuck in a cage. You can slide the box around in the cage, but you can't directly manipulate the panels on the box, an interesting concept!

I enjoyed solving this one, though the fit on one panel was a bit tight and it seemed to bind up occasionally. Perhaps a slightly larger cage is required to let the box move more freely.

Kakoi - Shiro Tajima
(Jury Grand Prize)

Another great puzzle box by Tajima, this puzzle is inspired by the Japanese kanji letter "Kakoi". Four parts move quite readily at the beginning, but you'll have to think a bit to get it open. Overall, not too challenging but there's a beautiful moment when you discover a particular step!

Kissel - Vinco Obsivac

The goal of this one is to create an interlocking icosahedral shape with the four pieces. I spent a fair amount of time on this one but didn't have much luck! When you get it correct, the pieces click into place quite nicely (or so I hear!). I wish I could have spent a bit more time with this one, since it seemed doable.

Lacing Problem - Lucie Pauwels

The idea is to thread the shoelace through the MDF such that the color on the shoelace matches the color on the board. It starts out simply enough, but then you have some decisions to make! To add some complexity, the shoelace has some coloring that doesn't get used. Fortunately, the board coloring is rotationally symmetric, so you're a bit limited in terms of starting positions.

Still, I didn't have time to solve this one since it required a fair amount of trial and error. Furthermore, physically threading the shoelace took some time and it can take a while before you find yourself at a dead end. So I think you'd have to take a pretty systematic approach to solve this one!

One issue I had was sometimes it wasn't entirely clear whether the color was sufficiently on the correct side of the board (like a small amount of white was showing). So I wasn't entirely confident that a move was acceptable.


This puzzle has several goals, each using all the pieces: 1) Rotational symmetry 2) Mirror symmetry 3) Yellow and blue shapes are congruent (may be rotated or reflected) 4) Both the yellow and blue shapes are symmetric. Whew!

I wasn't sure whether or not the legos could be disassembled and reassembled, but I confirmed that they stay as-is. I solved the first challenge, but didn't have time to come back for the others. Sort of neat that it was made out of Legos, though it doesn't really take advantage of the fact that they are Legos.

Stay tuned for Part 4 (of 6!) tomorrow!

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