August 26, 2012

2012 Puzzle Design Competition (Part 6)

This is the sixth 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.

Rat Box - Sam Cornwell

The goal of this puzzle is to disassemble the box and then reassemble it. When I first encountered it, it was already apart, so I tried putting it together. There are only four pieces, so it wasn't too much of a challenge, but it was pretty satisfying. Taking it apart is a pretty simple matter once you see how it goes together, so I'd think of this more as a put-together than a take-apart puzzle.

Rattle Twist Duo - Osanori Yamamoto

This burr consists of two pieces and a frame, you can choose either of the two frames (not both!) and the puzzle is somewhat different. It has the interesting property that the frame can rotate freely around the pieces on the interior, which makes it somewhat harder to figure out how to disassemble it.

However, I encountered it when it was disassembled, so I set myself to the task of putting it together. This wasn't too bad, since there aren't that many pieces and the possibilities are somewhat limited. However, it was good practice trying to visualize how it would come apart, in order to figure out how to put it together.

ReCube - Viktor Genel

This puzzle is a three-piece coordinate motion puzzle made from stainless steel infused with bronze (probably a 3D printing process. The fit was extremely snug, making it quite a challenge to take apart. Also, the pieces were very sharp, in order to better disguise the seams, so you had to be careful.

Getting it back together was also no easy task, there are six pointy bits that all need to be in just the right spot for it to slide together. A nice coordinate motion puzzle, but not for kids or hemopheliacs!

Six Cushion Shot - Wayne Daniel

This dissection of the cube is based on the virtual path of a particle bouncing around inside a cube. A neat concept, though I didn't find that it helped me much in figuring it out! There are 19 pieces, which seems like a lot, but once you start to see how things go together, the rest falls into place nicely.

Square Waltz - MINE (Mineyuki Uyematsu) with Kzy* (Kazuya Oiso)

This unusual puzzle consists of a glass surface that sits above a mirror, with pieces made of stained glass of two different colors, orange and white. The goal is to put the pieces on the glass, such that you see a white or orange square in the reflection below.

I spent a little while with this one, maybe 5-10 minutes, but didn't have much luck. It is pretty challenging with the number of possible combinations of white or orange surfaces to try. It would have been neat if the white or orange challenge was significantly easier, so you could have some sort of progression.
StarHex II - Jacob Lettie, Kate Jones, Elijah Allen

The goal of this tray packing puzzle is to assemble the 17 tiles such that the total length of common edges between tiles of the same color is minimized. What? Exactly! I think it means that you want to have tiles of the same color touching as little as possible. I wasn't a big fan of this one since the goal wasn't concrete, though I guess it gives you something to strive for. Usually with something like this, I'd be happy enough just being able to get the tiles to fit, much less worrying about which tiles are next to which!

Tango in Nut - Namick Salakhov

This is another unique puzzle: it consists of a nut that is split in half, and the two halves can slide relative to one another. There's a bolt inside the nut that is also cut and half and can slide. The goal is to get the bolt out. There's also a little tool provided to help you turn the bolt when it is hard to get a grip on it! A nice thought, but why not just put a handle on the bolt? It probably has something to do with the construction process, which seemed to be the same foam material as Fidgety Rabbits.

I tried this one a few times, and kept getting stuck at the same spot. It was a bit fiddly for my taste, needing to use the tool and such. Interesting concept, but just a bit hard to play with.

Target in a Cube - Bertrand Michaut

The goal of this puzzle is to take it apart and put it back together. I initially shunned it, since it looked so ridiculously difficult. Somebody had taken it apart, and it was just a mess of very large and very small pieces (some only a single cube). Eventually, I saw Ken Irvine manage to put it back together (he's quite good with this type of puzzle) and decided to take a crack at it myself the next time I discovered that it was disassembled.

Indeed, it was quite a beast to put back together. It was pretty easy to start figuring out where the big pieces went, and gradually work your way to the smaller pieces. However, I was unsure what to do with the two extra cubes and a single double-cube piece. It turns out that these pieces just slide around on the inside, getting in your way! This turns into the real clincher, because you need to have a very good mental picture of the passageways inside the puzzle (and how they move!) to close it up properly. I swear, I knew what was going on inside, but it seemed like the little blocks kept getting hung up on things. I put it together and took it apart a good 2-3 times, but still had trouble with the last few steps where the blocks need to be manipulated.

It is sort of funny that I ended up spending so much time on this one (probably a good two hours), I think the fact that it was such a daunting challenge sucked me in. Still, I didn't particularly care for it as a puzzle, it lacked a certain elegance, and the little bits rattling around on the inside were pretty maddening.

Trapentrix - Timur Evbatyrov

This twisty puzzle has a nice start pattern on each side. I didn't spend any time with this one, unfortunately! It looks like it wouldn't be too impossible, but I'm sure it would be quite a challenge!

Triangle-Square-Pentagon - Emrehan Halici

The goal of this puzzle is to make a triangle, a square, and a pentagon with three, four, and five pieces, respectively. It isn't too challenging, I think I was able to do all three in about 5 minutes, but it was enjoyable. I particularly liked how the two pairs of rectangular pieces fit together nicely, but that wonky W-shaped piece doesn't seem to belong. In the end, it ends up getting along with the others quite well!

Ok, that's all  for Part 6! Our final installment is coming up tomorrow! Phew!

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