August 31, 2017


Kenal is a puzzle designed by Alfons Eyckmans and Ken Johnson, hence the name. Peter actually had pointed it out to me at IPP, where a copy was for sale, but I ended up not purchasing it.
John Rausch generously brought a number of puzzles to RPP to give as door prizes, and Alken was one of them! He put each attendee's name in a hat, and we selected puzzles in the orders our names were drawn. This was the puzzle I wanted to pick, so I was happy that it was still available when my name came up! Thanks John!

Kenal is a puzzle box with a (mostly) trinary movement. This roughly means that each piece needs to move three steps before the next piece can be moved. So with each additional piece, the move count grows exponentially. This is quite similar in a way to Aquarius Drawer, which I wrote about yesterday.

There are two possible configurations for this puzzle, depending on how you insert the lid (the other pieces aren't removable). In one configuration, there are 135 moves, in the other there are 321. They also have another variation on this puzzle called Alken, which has 75 and 261 moves, respectively. I'm not entirely sure which is Kenal and which is Alken, so please correct me if I'm wrong!

It does break from a pure trinary pattern in a few spots, such as the beginning, but I enjoyed the way it worked. Particularly, the ending of the 135 move solution is pretty sneaky and took some thought to find. I was having some trouble with it but Ken Irvine managed to figure it out. I had the right idea, but wasn't quite able to make it happen.

One of the panels has a tendency to catch on the inner edge of the frame, so you need to lift it a little bit to get the move to happen. This can be a bit confusing if you're not entirely sure what is supposed to move at a given point. Other than that, it is quite nicely built, with a satisfying clunk after each move. Thanks again to John for bringing some puzzles to give away!

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