August 23, 2012

2012 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 3)

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

COG-Cubed - Tom Longtin

I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this puzzle, it looks like a burr, but it has a pretty unusual construction. Rather than cutting the pieces out of solid wood, the faces were laser cut and then glued together, so the pieces are quite large and hollow. The goal is to take it apart and put it back together again.

I tried taking it apart and didn't have much difficulty, the chunky pieces fit very well and slid nicely, which I liked. I kept good track of where each piece came from, so it was pretty easy getting it back together as well. I'd imagine it would be a bit more of a challenge putting it together from scratch, but probably not too bad.

Constrained Cube - Tom van der Zanden

This is an interesting variation on the standard Rubik's Cube: rather than being able to rotate any face as far as you want, each face is restricted by a little cog. You can see the orange face can only turn 90 degrees clockwise in the photo.

Personally, I have a hard enough time with regular twisty puzzles, much less ones that won't let me make a move that I'd like to do! I tried to simply get one face complete and ended up getting pretty annoyed at the darn thing. I have a standard way of doing it, and it really makes you work around those limitations. I'd imagine it is a decent challenge to solve! Something to keep those twisty puzzlers busy for a little! The solution was pretty amusing/unhelpful: it basically said to solve it like a regular cube, but to come up with new move sequences to get around the limitations. Easier said than done!

Crazy Pentahedron - Bao Daqing

This nasty twisty puzzle has some unusual features in addition to its shape: on some faces the circular part rotates along with the face but on other faces it stays still! That seems like it would probably be pretty tough, though I didn't have time to try this one beyond just seeing how it worked.

Double Duals - Jane and John Kostick

This is the third design submitted by Jane and John Kostick, and has some pretty interesting qualities. Depending on how you assemble it, the dark pieces or the light pieces can be on the inside.

I assumed the light blocks went with the light sticks, but the magnets repelled, so I guess I was wrong! The shape that goes on the inside is pretty neat, it looks a bit like a jack, while the shape on the outside fills in the gaps nicely.

Double Symmetry - Tom Lee

The goal of this puzzle is to arrange the three pieces such that you simultaneously create two symmetric figures. One pieces is affixed to the base, so one fewer thing to worry about!

Unfortunately, I walked by this one when somebody had left it in the solved state, which pretty much spoiled it for me. I'm generally not a big fan of the 'make a symmetrical shape' group of puzzles. Personally, I like having a better idea of what I'm trying to accomplish!

Eyjafjallajökull-Puzzle - Vladimir Krasnoukhov

The goal of this puzzle is to make two different symmetrical shapes, which is somehow related to the name. I hadn't heard of Eyjafjallaj√∂kull, and it definitely helps if you look that up first. With that in mind, it wasn't too tough to create the symmetrical shapes, and it is pretty amusing to see the difference between the solutions.

Fidgety Rabbits - Namick Salakhov

The goal of this puzzle is to get all the rabbits (the little gear looking gizmos) moved to the other side of the contraption, such that the rod can be removed with the rabbits. It is basically another gray code puzzle like Chinese Rings or The Brain, but with a different physical mechanism.

I'm a sucker for gray code puzzles, so I enjoyed this one. Like Chinese Rings (and unlike The Brain) this one has a long dead end to trap the unwary, so watch out! It is constructed from PVC foamboard using some sort of 3D printing process, so it has this squishy feeling to it but is still quite sturdy.

Gear Pyraminx - Timur Evbatyrov

I had high hopes for this one, since the Gear Cube was pretty easy: maybe the Gear Pyraminx wouldn't be too bad! No such luck! I fiddled with this one a bit just trying to get the edge pieces to be flat, and didn't have a whole lot of luck. The mechanism felt a bit more mushy than the gear cube, such that I wasn't sure if the gears could skip, which made me a  bit nervous.

Genie in the Bottle - Erhan Cubukcuoglu

This innocuous looking puzzle is by fellow blogger Erhan. The goal is to free the bottle from the stand, and I thought it would just be a matter of getting the ten sliding blocks in the correct position. However, this one ends up being quite a bit more involved! I can't really get into the details, but this one definitely presents a good challenge, which was a nice surprise. Here's a link to Erhan's post about this puzzle.

Guile in the Box - Scott Elliott

This is another puzzle that captured my attention for a good amount of time: the goal is to get the four red pieces inside the box and close the lid. I fiddled with the pieces a bit and discovered something that I thought would be relevant, and spent quite a while going down that path before finding out it was fruitless. Indeed, the pieces do all fit in quite nicely, in a pretty surprisingly simple manner. A great little packing puzzle!

That's all for today! Stay tuned for Part 4 tomorrow!


  1. Namick Salakhov built Fidgety Rabbits using a Roland iModela iM-01, an amazingly tiny CNC milling machine. It accepts material an inch thick (at most) so his models were constructed from stacks of ~20mm thick 'slices' of 3D slabs.

    Very clever.

    I saw a lot of Namick because he attended the pre-IPP event in Bloomington and the post-IPP trip to New York. I think we were the only ones who attended all three segments, so we eventually learned to communicate even though I didn't speak Azerbaijani or Russian.

  2. Neat! I looked up a video on the iModela, and it looks pretty cool.


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