February 20, 2012

2012 New York Puzzle Party (Part 5)

Continuing where we left off in Part 4, I was hanging out at Brett's house after the New York Puzzle Party, working on some puzzles with Brett, Nick, Rob, and Rick.

One puzzle that had me vexed for a bit was this Painted Lady Tavern Puzzle by Tucker-Jones House. I fiddled with it for a bit and ended up with a jammed up mess, but when I untangled the mess the ring came off! That's can be quite a bad thing with this type of puzzle, since it is often hard to figure out how to get it back on!

After a while of trying, I didn't have any luck and asked somebody to look at the instructions and put it back, so I could try removing it again. Nick was kind enough to oblige, though even with the instructions it was a bit of a challenge getting things properly positioned.

On my second attempt, I got the hang of it and was able to take it off and put it back on again without too much trouble. I think my issue on the first attempt was that the series of links connecting the antenna to the wings was a bit twisted around, reducing the amount of freedom you have in manipulating the thing. Rob managed to untwist it while we had the ring off, so after that it was a bit easier. A fun puzzle, but watch out for getting that bit twisted up!

Next I tried a few puzzles designed by Marcel Gillen and produced by Bits and Pieces. These are All Hail the Queen and All Hail the King, part of his chess piece series that also includes a Rook, Knight, Bishop, and Pawn.

I had actually purchased the Queen at NYPP, but the King was a copy that Brett had on hand. I was glad to have the opportunity to try them both, so I can compare them here. I tried the Queen first, and it took me about 5-10 minutes. There are a few things you'll find to do right at the start, but none of them lead to the puzzle opening. With a bit more fiddling, I had it apart. It is a nice mechanism, with just enough clues to lead to you the solution.

The King was surprisingly similar, which is a bit unfortunate. Since I had just tried the Queen, I was trying similar things and it ended up working out. If I had only tried the King, I think it would have taken me a similar amount of time as the Queen. Normally, I would say it wasn't worth owning both since the mechanisms are similar, but I would find it hard to resist owning the whole set if I could manage it!

While I was grabbing All Hail The King from Brett's puzzle shelves, I spotted another puzzle by Marcel Gillen called Fire Plug (a.k.a. Fire Hydrant and Play With Fire). I played around with this one for a good 10 minutes or so before I started to figure out how the mechanism worked. It turns out that it is pretty similar to another popular puzzle (I won't mention which, since that'd make it too easy).

Gradually coming to this realization was quite a bit of fun. Once I'd figured out how it worked, I had it apart a few moments later. Very clever, particularly considering that it came quite a bit earlier than the popular puzzle which it is similar to.

It seemed like there would be chance of getting this one stuck if you didn't assemble it correctly, but I didn't want to test this. It is possible that there is a feature built-in that prevents it from happening, but I couldn't tell just by looking at it. Check out Jerry's review here.

Next, Brett brought out this nice-looking puzzle by Eric Fuller designed by Tom Jolly called Packulier (photo by Eric). The idea is to assemble the four pieces inside the box,  which has a few protrusions to make it tricky. I think I had seen this one before but hadn't tried it, since it looked too tricky. However, this time I was feeling more adventurous and decided to give it a try.

As it turns out, with a little bit of experimentation, I was able to figure out what the placement of the pieces must be. After that was done, it was "just" a matter of figuring out how to get them into the box! The whole process took me a good 20-30 minutes, but was a fun and logical process. I really liked this one because there weren't tons of different permutations to test out. A nice design and very well made!

Peeking through some of Brett's puzzle drawers for a puzzle I wanted to try, I spotted this interesting-looking sequential movement puzzle called Brain-Chek. It is sort of like a lights-out puzzle, where the goal is to get the whole grid white or red. There is a shuttle that is inserted in the lower right hand corner and slides along the grooves between the squares. As the shuttle passes a square, it toggles from white to red or visa-versa. This is the Easy mode!

In the Normal mode, rather than toggling the colors, the arrows rotate 120 degrees in one direction (depending which direction you pass them on). The goal is to scramble it up and return them to normal. In the hard mode, both the rotation and color toggling are in effect! Check out a video of it in action here.

The really cool thing about this puzzle is that it is all mechanical: the shuttle (which is different for each of the three levels), has little bits that interact with the squares causing the various movements, sort of like a mechanical calculator. Very cool! I'd definitely snap this one up if I ever had the chance, since I love mechanical stuff like this.

Well at this point we were all pretty exhausted after a long day at the New York Puzzle Party followed by a bunch of puzzling. I think it was around 1:00 AM, perhaps a bit later, so we gradually headed off to bed. Fortunately, there would be more puzzling on Sunday! Coming up in Part 6!


  1. The last puzzle is some kind of Brain-chek puzzle. They have a website here:
    but I don't know if they actually make them any more.

  2. Thanks Brett! I've updated the post with the name. It looks like they just have two types now, and both are back-ordered.

  3. Hi Brian

    I often visit your blog.

    Very nice site, the variety of puzzles amazes me again and again.


  4. Thanks Gisela! Glad you're enjoying it!


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