August 22, 2012

2012 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 2)

This is the second part of my series of posts about the puzzles in the 2012 Puzzle Design Competition that did not win an award. All of the photos are by Nick Baxter from the 2012 Puzzle Design Competition website.

Bottle & Glass - Victor Lam & Kazakh Wong

The goal of this puzzle is to separate the bottle and the glass. It is a rather tricky disentanglement puzzle, but unfortunately I didn't actually get a chance to solve it! When I sat down, I noticed that it wasn't quite in the starting position, so I set myself to the task of putting it back at the start.

This proved extremely challenging, even when I looked at the instructions (mainly because the instruction photos weren't great). Despite the fact that I didn't actually try it from the start, taking it apart didn't seem like it would be super-challenging, though definitely not easy either.

Bubbloid122 - Carl N. Hoff

This unusual looking twisty puzzle features eight corners that can be turned, each at two different depths. This makes for quite an unusual pattern, since it is like spheres have sliced the rectangular cuboid from each of the corners.

I fiddled with this one for a bit, but didn't have much luck. Not much of a surprise, since I'm not ace with twisty puzzles! Still, it turned quite nicely and I could see how it could be enjoyable to solve, if you like twisty puzzles.

BurrBlock - Jerry McFarland

This is quite a daunting looking burr that utilizes an interesting "lockpick" mechanic that is featured in some of Jerry's other work. If you haven't tried a puzzle with that feature before, you might spend quite a while trying to get the first key piece to move!

I played with this one for quite a while and managed to get the four key pieces removed. At this point, you can start to disassemble the frame, but it quickly gets very complicated. It was about 1:00 AM at that point, so I decided I should probably start putting it back together before I get in over my head! If you kept careful track of where the pieces came from, you could probably put it back together, but it would be pretty nerve wracking! A nicely designed burr, but not for the faint of heart!

Butterfly & Flowers - Shusong Lin

This little puzzle box was one that I was pretty interested in trying. It seemed like it might have a fun solution, and indeed it did! It isn't particularly challenging, but it is cute.

It seems like a puzzle that could easily be mass-produced by Bits and Pieces, due to the simplicity of its construction. Seems like a perfect puzzle box for the mass market.

The "By George" Burr - George Syriaque

This burr might look daunting, but it actually wasn't too bad due to the coloring. It is pretty easy to take apart, so the better challenge is to try putting it together. It is a Level serially interlocking burr, meaning that it requires 2 moves to remove the first piece, 4 moves to remove the second piece, and so forth.

I think it took me about 20-30 minutes to get it together. That last piece is always the toughest! Since it is serially interlocking, you need to figure out the order the pieces need to be added in. That's kind of fun, since you can use logic to figure it out. It is also quite nicely crafted!

Caged Polycubes - John Rausch

The goal of this puzzle is to assemble seven of the pieces inside the frame, and there are two options for the set of seven pieces. There is also a square base you can use to test out your assemblies before you worry about trying to get them in the frame!

I didn't spend much time with this one, it looked quite difficult due to the number of pieces so I didn't get much beyond trying to make an assembly in the base.

Catch 22 - Kim Klobucher

I typically really enjoy Kim Kloboucher's puzzle boxes, so I was looking forward to trying this one! However, I didn't much care for the way this one worked. It has a somewhat finicky locking system that is added to his usual sliding-move mechanic, which I didn't think added much to the puzzle other than to make it slightly more annoying. I wish he had submitted The Void, which I had enjoyed quite a bit more!

Chamfered Cube - Jane and John Kostick

This is another one of three puzzles submitted by Jane and John Kostick. I liked the shape of this one, it had a nice symmetry and looks quite solid. I found it a bit easier to assemble than the others, but it is still a good challenge! As with their other submissions, this one consists of a bunch of pieces with magnets in them. The angles of the pieces and the positioning of the magnets guides you toward the final assembly.

The neat thing about this one is that the shape that you make, a chamfered cube, also sits in the center of the arrangement of pieces. Pretty cool!

Chaplin - Kohfuh Satoh

The goal of this puzzle is to make the shape of a bowler hat. I didn't find it to be particularly challenging, I think it took me around a minute. Still, a cute design that kids or less experienced puzzlers may enjoy fiddling with.

Clustered Anew - Scott Peterson

Unfortunately I'm not particularly familiar with Stewart Coffin's Cluster Buster, but I believe this is a variation on that design. It is expertly crafted by Scott Peterson, with perfect fit and crisp edges.

Getting it apart wasn't too tough, and getting it back together was only slightly more difficult. It comes apart in two halves, each of which requires coordinate motion to assemble.

Well, that's probably enough for now! Stay tuned for Part 3!


  1. Hi Brian,

    nice posts! :)

    ... so somebody besides me did open the Burrblock in the Design Competition, glad to read this. Whenever I was looking at it, it sat there in the starting position.

    But even at 1am you should have tried some more moves, after removing the key pieces it's where it starts to get interesting. :)


  2. Thanks Goetz! Glad you are enjoying them! I took about 10 pieces out after the key pieces, you're right that the moves are pretty interesting! That would be a neat design for GarE Maxton to do in metal.


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