November 29, 2010

The Big 30

The Big 30 is another puzzle sent to me by Puzzle Master to review. This puzzle was designed by Allan Stein and presented as Allan's exchange puzzle at IPP 30, hence the shape. Cute, eh? I had seen this puzzle during the exchange, but hadn't gotten a chance to try it, so I was interested to see how it was.

The goal is to remove the zero from the three. As you can see in the photo, the zero is just looped around the three, with the gold chain and ball keeping it from being removed.

After a few moments of playing with this one, I had a pretty good idea of what needed to be done. Of course, sometimes knowing what needs to be done is easy and actually doing it is tough! In this case however, I was able to figure it out pretty quickly. I think it took me less than a minute.

I was interested to see how difficult other non-puzzlers would find it, and was quite surprised to find that they actually had a good deal of difficulty with it. Watching folks try to solve this one was a bit like watching somebody try to push a "pull" door, it seemed so obvious to me, but clearly it was not. Most gave up before solving it after playing around with it for a 5-10 minutes. A particular part of the solution is a bit un-intuitive, so I think that is where folks were getting hung up. A good puzzle takes advantage of these mental blocks to stump you!

The folks at Puzzle Master rate this as a 6 out of 10 difficulty, and I am inclined to agree, though perhaps it should be a 7. I think it is about the same difficulty as the last puzzle I wrote about, Panic Attack, if not slightly harder. Still, my sample size is a bit small so who knows! I think it really depends how much experience you have with this type of puzzle.

Overall, a nice little puzzle that is well designed and crafted. It was a bit too easy for my taste, but I did enjoy showing it to other folks! Thanks again to the folks at Puzzle Master for sending it to me!


  1. Does yours have a chain like in the photo? My copy uses a cord instead which is extremely tight. The cord is actually under a little tension, making the puzzle quite difficult(?). I didn't like the puzzle because I was really struggling against the cord. Haven't reassembled it in fact.

  2. Hi George,

    Yes, mine looks just like the photo. Perhaps the tense cord was an issue with the exchange version, so they changed the design on the production version. I think the stlack in the chain makes it quite a bit easier.

  3. Agreed, the tension on the cord is a critical factor. They probably tightened the cord to make it harder but I think they got it too tight. The chain is probably a better way to go.


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