November 20, 2009

Visit to Brett's House (Part 4)

Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

I'm going to lead off today's post with one of my favorite puzzles that I saw on this trip: Chopstick Box (a.k.a. Stickman #13) by Robert Yarger. I was really thrilled when Brett brought this out because I had never seen any of Yarger's incredible work in person.

Brett had the purpleheart and leapordwood version, which I thought looked amazing. The craftsmanship on this box is superb with no visible seams on the sliders. Even when I knew which piece moved, it was hard to detect any type of seam, incredible!

I solved this one fairly quickly, but what is amazing about this puzzle is the mechanism. Since the solution is fairly simple I'm going to describe the mechanism in some detail here. I won't give the solution precisely, but it might spoil it a bit for you if you try it in the future. Highlight the text below to continue reading, otherwise just be content to know that it is very cool:

There are two chopsticks contained in the box and a small hole on one end. You can see the first chopstick, but it won't budge when you shake the box. When you find the first move, the first chopstick pops out magnetically, which is quite amusing. I did this move a few times just for the fun of it. The second chopstick is magnetically attached to the other side of the box. When you locate the second move (which is a bit of a challenge due to the great craftsmanship), it jumps across the box to the other magnet with a 'click.' This magnetic transfer is very neat.

Overall, an awesome puzzle and it sold for only $125 when originally released! Man, I wish I was collecting puzzles back then. Approximately twenty-four copies of this box were produced.

I was also very excited to finally get to see a box by Kim Klobucher of Kcube Designs. His boxes are very unique looking with interesting woods and metal inlays, as you can see from the photo. Check his website for more pictures, mine is a bit blurry.

As far as I know, all of his boxes use a similar mechanism that relies on pins and grooves. Kim makes boxes with hundreds of moves, but I think the version that Brett had was about twenty or so. Personally, I think that's probably plenty. While I've never tried a box with hundreds of moves, I would imagine that it gets somewhat tedious and repetitive after a point, but I'll reserve judgment until I give it one a try.

I worked on this one for five or ten minutes and found the first few moves, but then I got stuck. I wish I could have spent a bit longer with this one, because I would imagine that it is doable within a reasonable amount of time. However, there were about 10 Karakuri boxes waiting for me, so I decided to move on. I definitely would like to purchase one of Kim's boxes in the future though.

The next puzzle I decided to try was Karakuri Cube Box #2, since I had #1, #3, and #4 (blog entry) and was curious about how #2 compared. If you're not familiar with this series, all of the boxes look the same, but with different colored woods. It is very cool to see how many different mechanisms they can pack into boxes that look the same.

I really ended up liking #2, though it only took me a few minutes to solve it, the mechanism was nice. I liked how it is sequential unlike the other boxes in the series, where the moves do not need to be performed in a specific order. This makes it a bit more challenging to find the first move, which I liked. I think this also makes it one of the harder puzzles in the series.

Of course, coming from the Karakuri Creation Group, the craftsmanship is superb. The fit was perfect, not too tight and not too loose. Overall, a solid buy for the price.

Rob suggested that I try Brett's copy of Confetto Box by Hiroshi Iwahara next, since he thought that I would enjoy it. This box won an honorable mention in the 2009 International Puzzle Party Design Competition

It is a fairly simple looking box, but the wood has a beautiful depth to it. I liked the way that the corners came together into a sort of spiral as well. Since all the sides look identical, it was quite easy to get confused and turned around.

Here is Iwahara's description:
There are two compartments inside. The two lids are opposite each other. As you slide the four plates, the two lids can open. The first plate is quite easy to open, but you'll have to think about the second one!
I started playing around with it; the movement was nice and smooth. After playing around with it for a little while, I discovered a very unique movement that I thought might be the key to finding one of the compartments. Eventually I was able to release one of the lids to reveal a compartment with a moon symbol. I'm not sure if this is the 'hard' one, but I think that it might be because the moves required were fairly unusual.

Unfortunately, when I tried to put the box back together to find the other compartment, I couldn't get it to close up completely. I find a puzzle that won't return to its starting state to be much harder to put down than a puzzle I can't solve to begin with, so I worked on this for the better part of a half hour, probably, with no luck. I felt quite bad since I hate leaving a puzzle like this, but Brett was very nice about it. Sorry, Brett!

Despite this difficulty, this was another one of my favorite boxes during this visit. I liked the fact that there were two compartments, and enjoyed the tricky move to reach one of them. It is a very nice box!

To be continued tomorrow!

Update: Check out Part 5!


  1. Brian:
    Very clever to hide some of your blog so as not to reveal details someone might not want to see. Makes a puzzle on your puzzle blog! Quite creative! Have you thought of a guest book for your site?

  2. I enjoy reading your post. I think it is a good idea to post hidden details on non commercial puzzles. I am very eager to know interesting details about puzzles that I have virtualy no chance to ever get my hand on because they are so rare.


  3. Brian,
    I couldn't resist highlighting the hidden area -- clever idea!

  4. Thanks folks! Glad that you enjoyed the post. I don't like to post anything that could spoil a puzzle for somebody, but I think this was just enough to give you an appreciation for it without spoiling it in the event that you come across one.


Please don't post spoilers! Thanks for commenting!

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