August 18, 2011

2011 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 2)

This is part two in my series of posts reviewing the puzzles in the 2011 Puzzle Design Competition.

Daedalus by Gregory Benedetti

The goal of this puzzle is to take apart and re-assemble the cube. This process is made quite difficult by pins on the pieces that slide along corresponding grooves. That would be difficult enough, but there are also rotational moves! This is a very nicely crafted puzzle, I really liked the choice of wood used.

I found this one to be way too difficult, it was really hard to tell what was going on since I found the puzzle in a partially solved state. It was hard to tell what was supposed to go where, and it was even difficult to tell where the exit would be for the first piece! The solution diagram didn't have the locations of the pins, so that didn't even help. I think if I got this puzzle in the solved state and could gradually work on taking it apart, it may be doable, but given the time constraints I was quite overwhelmed by this one!

Diamond in the Frame by Kirill Grebnev, Alexei Kanel-Belov

This puzzle has two goals: to take six cubes with magnets and one cube without magnets to create a single, interlocking, symmetric figure and take 12 cubes with magnets and seven cubes without to create a single, interlocking, symmetric figure. Some of the cubes have magnets in the corners, which helps them attached to each other in various ways. Unfortunately, by the time I started playing with this one, some of the magnets had started to come loose, so I can't really evaluate this one.

Dino Cylinder Cube by Li Chung Ma

I'm no expert in twisty puzzles, but the description says that it is a Dino Cube that jumbles due to the cylinder shape. I didn't really spend any time playing with this one, so I'm not sure how difficult it is. It looks nice though!

Dog Head by Diniar Namdarian

This is a classic silhouette puzzle where the goal is to make a shepherd's dog head by combining the other five pictures. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to try this one, but I did like the fact that each of the panels is a different image.

Double Gear & Wheels by Namick Salakhov

The goal of this puzzle is to remove the gear that is trapped between the two wheels. There is an axle that runs through the two wheels, but it has a gap in the middle. However, the gap is only wide enough to run along a movable track that is on the gears. The gear also has features near the teeth that interact with the posts along the outside of the wheels.

I tried this one for a bit and found it quite difficult. It was hard to tell what was a legal move, since there is a lot going on. I found that I was able to tilt the gear up and down a bit, but it had a tendency to jam up. I think it is a good concept, but a bit complex for my taste. Perhaps if it was simplified a bit, it would have worked a bit better.

Equal7 by Vladimir Krasnoukhov

The goal of this puzzle is to arrange the dice so that on each face the number of dots is seven. There is one missing die from the 2x2x2 cube, so you can slide the others around with gravity. The top corner in the photo is permanently painted, so that gives you a starting point for solving the puzzle. It has some protrusions that are built into the puzzle so it stands on its corner as shown.

I worked on this one for a bit, but didn't have much luck with it. I have a fairly crummy memory, so have trouble remembering which faces are hidden when you can't see them. Perhaps I could have gotten the hang of it if I had tried for longer, but I didn't have a chance to return to this one.

Fan-2n by Dimitar Vakarelov

This is a series of disentanglement puzzles where the goal is to remove the string. Shown here are Fan-2, Fan-6, and Fan-4. The idea is that the solution you find in Fan-2 can be applied recursively to Fan-4 and Fan-6, but I had trouble even solving Fan-2! I'm no good at these disentanglement puzzles, I really need to work on them more!

Flemin' by Shiro Tajima

I actually solved this puzzle ago at Jeff Aurand's house, but I had absolutely no luck with this copy! I think it may have been stuck or something, since I didn't see anybody else open it. The instructions were a bit unclear, so maybe it is just really difficult, but I doubt that. Ah well! From what I remember, however, it is a very cool box!

Four to Square by Jacques Haubrich

This is a cute little 4-piece tray packing puzzle. It seems like it would be simple, but I had a heck of a time solving it! I worked on it for a good 20-30 minutes and didn't have any luck. The pieces are all oddly shaped, with corners missing and whatnot, which adds to the challenge. I liked the construction, it is made out of stainless steel so has a great weight and feel to it.

Granny's Tea Box - Granny's Hammer by Kelly Snache

I was quite interested to try this box out, since I already have one of Snache's other tea boxes (a different design). I love how he is re-using these old tea boxes, though of course since they weren't originally designed to be puzzles, the lid has a bit of play.

This one took me about 5-10 minutes to "solve", but I wasn't quite sure what I had done. Once I had it open, you can actually see the whole mechanism and disassemble it, which is pretty neat. However, I don't really like puzzles that have multiple hidden moves without any clues to help you out. It is just too easy to solve randomly, then you don't really have the satisfaction of having figured it out.

Grid Sticks Cube 8 by Sándor Bozóki

When I first saw this puzzle, I thought it was just a large matchstick cube, where it was supposed to be some sort of impossible object or something. I was wrong! It actually consists of 8 pieces that consist of a bunch of sticks that have been pinned together. Some of the sticks have their ends colored black. The puzzle is to re-assemble the cube such that the faces of the cube read BERLIN.

I was reluctant to take this one apart, but fortunately somebody else did the dirty work for me so I set myself to the task of putting it back together. Getting it back into a cube wasn't particularly challenging, it just took a bit of trial and error. Getting the faces to read BERLIN was a bit harder, and took me probably another 20-30 minutes. I did have a good time doing it though!

As I was putting it back on the stand, I wondered why the pins were arranged so randomly. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that they read IPP 31 from the top! Isn't that cool? It was hard to see, so I'll bet most folk missed out on that little tidbit.

Groove Cube by Eitan Cher

This was a really unusual variation on a 2x2x2 Rubik's cube: rather than try to have the each face be a solid color, you need to arrange the cube so it will fit into the grooved yellow box. Each face has a different series of bumps on it, so you need to figure out how to arrange the bumps and then solve the cube to get the bumps in the correct position.

I figured it would take a while to deduce what the correct bump arrangement must be, so I didn't end up solving this one. It is a clever idea though!

Horrible Hexagon by Ton Delsing

It may look like a simple 3x3 sliding puzzle, but, true to it's name, it is tough! You can only get to the middle square by coming from either the top or the bottom, and there is a piece inside that only allows you to exit the direction you entered. For example, if you slid up from the bottom into the middle, the only way to get back out is to slide back down to the bottom, the way up is blocked.

This makes what would be a fairly simple puzzle into one that is more challenging. It seems like it should be doable if you spend some time figuring out ways to permute the pieces, but I didn't have much luck in the time I spent on it. I think I tried it for a good 20-30 minutes but was only able to assemble a small portion of the image.

Well that's it for today! More to come in Part 3 tomorrow!


  1. good job, Brian! thanks a lot for the reviews

  2. Glad you're enjoying them, Giacomo!

  3. Você conhece uma variação do Diamond in the Frame by Kirill Grebnev, Alexei Kanel-Belov
    que utiliza elástico ao invés de imã?

  4. Eu acho que é só madeira, sem elástico ou ímã


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