November 13, 2010

Six Piece Cross and Icosahedron

I recently borrowed a number 2010 Puzzle Exchange puzzles from George Bell, one of was Six Piece Cross by Vaclav Obsivac (a.k.a. Vinco). It was presented by Patrick Major in the puzzle exchange at IPP 30. I don't see it on Vinco's website, but you can purchase it at Puzzle Master if you are interested.

Vinco makes some interesting puzzles, many of which operate on similar principals but have different appearances. This one has a similar operation to his Flattrick puzzle, though the appearance and mechanism are quite different.

There are six pieces, like the one shown here, that all slide together at the same time (coordinate motion) to create the shape shown above. It seems fairly straightforward, but in practice it is pretty challenging to get the pieces lined up just right to slide together.

I had done a similar puzzle before, so it only took a minute or so for me to solve, but it is definitely not easy. My girlfriend tried it out for a few minutes, and it drove her fairly batty: frequently you get very close to finishing, but the whole thing falls apart in your hands.

As with all of Vinco's work, the craftsmanship is nice with perfect fit. It has a natural finish, and is constructed out of walnut and plum, though Vinco frequently uses different woods for the same puzzle.

Overall, a solid puzzle that I enjoyed. I think the one downside to this one (and this type of puzzle in general) is that the solution is a bit fiddly. It does take a fair amount of dexterity to solve it, but it is quite satisfying when the last piece pops into place and the whole thing slides together.

Another Vinco puzzle that George loaned me is called Icosahedron. This was actually Vinco's own exchange present for IPP 30.

It is a bit hard to see in the picture due to the wood grain, but it is an icosahedron as you would expect from the name. This particular one is made out of a nice dark wood, though there were other versions available.

Since he has been doing a lot of coordinate motion puzzles recently, I expected this to be a coordinate motion puzzle as well. I had fiddled with it a bit at IPP, but didn't have any luck, so I was glad that I had the opportunity to try it again.

After a minute or two of fiddling, I was able to get it to come apart. It actually consists of four pieces, though there is no coordinate motion. I don't think most will find it particularly challenging. My girlfriend was able to get it apart in a few minutes, though she had trouble getting it back together. Getting it back together is tricky, because things need to be lined up in a way you may not expect.

As a puzzle, this one didn't interest me as much. However, the craftsmanship is superb: the pieces fit together just right. This puzzle is quite a bit smaller than the previous one. It is a bit more than an inch tall, I think. It has a smoother finish, which may be a property of the wood used. Overall, a nice little puzzle.

Thanks to George Bell for loaning me these puzzles!


  1. Hi Brian! I think that Vinco icosahedron is not ash because I have two copies of this puzzle but only one box. I think I have the ash one here.

  2. Hah, thanks George! I had just looked on the bottom of the box and assumed it was correct. I need to get better at identifying woods!


  4. Hah, I thought that YouTube link was spam, but it is actually a cool kinetic sculpture. Check it out!


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