June 15, 2010

Twist the Night Away

Back when I was looking for interesting puzzles to build out of my LiveCubes, I stumbled across Twist the Night Away in this thread on the Puzzle World Forums. It is a 4x4x4 cube designed by Tom Jolly that requires 7 rotational moves to disassemble, which is quite remarkable.

Usually I'm not too keen on purchasing puzzles that I can build fairly easily with LiveCubes, but Eric Fuller was selling a wooden version for a very reasonable $40, so I decided to pick one up.

I loved Eric's description of this puzzle:
I was showing various puzzles to an IPP attendee when they skipped right over this one. I started to show it to them and they said "Everything interesting that can be done with 4x4 cubes has already been done". I laughed and showed them about half of the solution, at which time they cried "Stop - I'll take it!". This really is a fabulously interesting cube, and Tom really hit the ball out of the park with it. It's just a downright fun puzzle that still puts a smile on my face to solve.
Indeed, this really captures it perfectly: it is a remarkable design! In addition, Eric did an excellent job crafting it. The pieces fit together perfectly, and have a nice finish on them. It is made out of Carolina Mountain Ash and is 3 inches square. I really liked the way he constructed the pieces: it gives the puzzle a nice appearance on the outside when it is assembled.

Even though I had solved this one before with LiveCubes, it was a much better experience using actual wood since I didn't have to worry about the pieces coming apart. Not only is this a non-trivial puzzle to disassemble, I would say it is actually pretty tricky.

The first three pieces come out quite easily, but the remaining two pieces are trapped by a 4x4 'hoop' structure. Even knowing the solution, it still takes me a few minutes to remember how to do it. Also, check out Jonas's blog post on this one.

Putting it back together is even trickier. I brought it to a family event a few days ago and somebody was able to get it apart, but it took me about 15 minutes to get it back together again.

If you have a set of LiveCubes, head over to Puzzles Will Be Played to see what the pieces look like and give it a try. You won't be disappointed!


  1. Thanks for pointing this one out.
    And big thanks to Tom J. for inventing it.
    I build a Live Cube copy as suggested and had a fine time solving it.
    Its tricky without being impossible to do.
    I wish Eric had some more to sell.

  2. Tom has kindly agreed to allow me sell this excellent puzzle in the microcubology shop on Shapeways. This means that anyone can now get a 3D printed copy made and delivered on demand.
    You can find it at http://www.shapeways.com/model/129844/twist_the_night_away.html
    I have chosen a slightly larger size (2.4 cm cube) which puts the cost at just over $30 but gives good strength and a nice feel in the hand.
    Best wishes
    Rich Gain

  3. Awesome Rich! That's a very cool puzzle and I'm glad to see it available.

  4. I'd love to go to the Puzzles Will Be Played, but the link is broken. Any where I could find what the pieces loook like and how to solve it?

  5. Hi Grace, Here is the link: http://puzzlewillbeplayed.com/444/TwistTheNightAway/ . The site changed over to a new domain, so that's why the old link was broken. Good luck!


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