August 24, 2012

2012 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 4)

This is the fourth 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.

IPP32WDC - Ken Irvine

The goal of this puzzle is to pack all the pieces into the frame, and the neat thing is the pieces spell out IPP32WDC. This puzzle I found to be a bit too complicated for my taste, there were a lot of pieces, and the frame is also quite irregular. I worked on it briefly, but soon gave up. The solution interlocks nicely, with the final piece holding everything in place. A neat design, just not something that I'd like to solve.

I've had the pleasure of trying a number of Ken's new 4x4x4 interlocking cube designs, and have had a great time with those! Hopefully he'll submit one of those next year.

J Loops - Camille Xu

This rather involved looking disentanglement puzzle had me pretty stumped! I haven't done very many puzzles in this style, so I find them quite challenging. Disentanglement puzzles with a rope like this are frequently tricky, since you need to be careful not to tangle the rope while trying to disentangle it!

Just One More - Tom Lock

The goal of this puzzle is to assemble the pieces such that the little cube will also fit. It doesn't look like there will be room, but indeed there is! I didn't find it too tough to figure out how the cube could fit, but the hard part was actually getting all the polyominos to fit correctly! It is a bit easier because you have the single cube piece to play with, but still I found it to be pretty challenging.

Little Game Hunter - Robert Yarger

I have previously written about this puzzle box, since I purchased it last year. It is a cute puzzle, with the second move being a pretty good challenge to find. Once you get going, it isn't too bad, but keep good track of the pieces when things start to come apart!

In the competition room, I had a good time going over to put this one back together whenever a frustrated puzzler left it half-apart. At least I got plenty of practice! The sequence to put it back together is pretty tricky, even if you have the pieces in the correct place. You need to put things back in the right order too!

Little Window - Tom Jolly

The goal of this puzzle is to take it apart or put it together. Since it was together, I tried taking it apart. There were a few moves, and then a bit of a sneaky part. It could have taken a while, but the way I was solving it managed to bypass some of the sneakiness! A nice little puzzle that is very well crafted. I particularly liked the gradient of color on the Manzanita wood pieces.

Lock Device - Hiroshi Yamamoto

The goal of this puzzle is to place the five pieces on the table such that they are all interlocked (in two dimensions). In other words, you can push and pull on any of the pieces and none of them will move relative to the others.

This one was fairly difficult, since there are so many ways to arrange the five pieces, but gradually you start to figure out how they fit relative to one another. An interesting challenge!

Lucy - Kelly Snache

Since I am a fan of puzzle boxes, I was eager to give this one a try. Unfortunately, I had absolutely no luck with it! The lid on the top will rattle, and you can hear bits moving around on the inside, but I wasn't able to get it to open up. Eventually, I decided to look at the solution and even with the solution I couldn't get it open!

Fellow blogger, Neil Hutchison, set himself to the task of taking this one apart during one of the last nights at IPP, and eventually managed to solve it. The insides looked quite complicated, with bits shifting around and whatnot. I'm not a big fan of these puzzles with intricate hidden locks.

Match the Eight Cubes - Gregory Benedetti

The goal of this puzzle is to make eight cubes (hence the name!) All of the eight pieces are identical, with a black half and a blue half. They are made out of plastic, since some amount of flexing is necessary to complete the assembly, so wood wouldn't work very well.

It seemed pretty easy to start linking the pieces together in a way that formed a cube, and I started to figure out the different ways they could go together. I was getting close, but that last piece would need a whole lot more than a little flex to fit in, so I took a different approach. That ended up working, and resulted in an interesting little assembly.

The Matrix - Pantazis Houlis

The goal of this puzzle is to get the four colored marbles into the matching colored windows on the side of the puzzle. There are also four windows on the opposite side of the puzzle, and a set of tubes that connects the four on the front to the four in the back, but changes the ordering. You can rotate the top in order to change the set of tubes that is in play, there are two different sets, and each one can either be navigated forwards or backwards, permuting the set of balls. One thing you can't tell from the photo is the size of the puzzle: it is probably about a foot tall! Quite a unique looking puzzle.

It was a neat idea for a puzzle, but I found it quite annoying that you couldn't see which ball was in which tube, particularly since it is possible to accidentally get two balls in the same tube. To really solve this one properly, you'd be best off diagramming the different possible permutations on paper, which would allow you to work out the way to the correct solution. I didn't have the time to do that, unfortunately, but it probably would have been fun!

Mechanical Rings - Yuta Akira

This is a cute little two-piece take-apart puzzle inspired by Cast Coil. Despite only being two pieces, it is a good challenge getting them apart and putting them back together. I think it took me about 5-10 minutes, but it could definitely take longer if you're not accustomed to this type of puzzle. I'd say it would be a perfect one for Hanayama, but I'm afraid it is too similar to Cast Coil for them to produce it.

Well that's all for today! Hope you're enjoying it! Stay tuned for Part 5 tomorrow!


  1. Hi Brian, excellent and very useful descriptions as usual, especially for some people (including me) who did not have the enough time for all puzzles. :-)

    Just a note for the the Matrix puzzle: All four marbles are supposed to move simultaneously from one set of capsules to the next, to ensure that the permutation rule is followed. That way, no marbles will be trapped inside the pipes (and the reason the pipes were not transparent was to deter cheating - if they were transparent it would be just a matter of fiddling, not maths). Sadly, for some reason the actual instructions were placed in the... solution sheet at the back, so it was difficult for a new puzzler to figure out what was going on in this new puzzle.

    A little bit of thought can make everyone realise that its mechanism (based on permutations - the fundamental elements of group theory) can emulate *any* algebraic puzzle, e.g. 48 capsules & marbles, plus six sets of pipes can emulate a Rubik's Cube (I call that... "Rubik's Tube"!). More details for this puzzle may be found here:

  2. Glad you're enjoying it, Pantazis! Thanks for the info on Matrix, I figured that moving them all simultaneously was probably the way that was intended. Too bad the full instructions didn't make it to the front of the sheet, I hadn't looked at the back.


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