Saturday 30 July 2011

Livewire puzzles part 5

Continuing my trek through the entire series of puzzles from Livewire. The remaining level 8 puzzle mostly involve string and seeing that these confuse and frighten me, I decided to next attempt the only one with all wire parts! This is the Mousetrap - a cute puzzle in the shape of a cat with the aim being to remove the folding tail hanging from the bottom. The Livewire site states:
"Solving Mousetrap over and over again remains fun and challenging."

I did struggle for a short while to disentangle this one. It is fairly straight-forward to move the tail off the body of the cat and onto the head portion, the difficulty comes when working out how to extract the tail from the body. Reversing the process is also particularly difficult because the challenging part is not the exit point, it is halfway through puzzle when you are not really trying to memorise it. The statement about it remaining challenging to repeat over and over again is true. I have done it many times now and always struggle to work out the exact position for the extraction. Another excellent puzzle in the line up.

OK I couldn't avoid them any longer! The next few level 8 (medium!!! difficulty) puzzles are string puzzles which I have been dreading! The Aftermath puzzle is next, chosen because it is pretty large and symmetrical and hopefully this would make the solution easier and not as fiddly as others. It bears a resemblance to several other puzzles by other manufacturers but Livewire claim that this is as far as it goes - the solutions are very different. So last thing at night (I know yet again I show that I am not very bright!!) I start this one. I work through all the obvious solution ideas and get absolutely nowhere! But at least being pretty large it is quite easy to untangle! Just before bed I have a bright idea (there is a reason for the size of the small rings on the cord) and bang(!), I find a whole new configuration. I think that I am on the right track but again am unable either to solve it completely or now even back-track to the beginning - Aaaargh!!!

Of course, this leads to rather a restless night's sleep! The following morning I still can't remember what I did to get to that position! It took me another hour to find the solution - it is actually pretty simple to do but not at all obvious from looking at the puzzle. This one really tested me, I hesitate to give this to friends because I am aways scared they will hand me back a complete knot but I think the construction of this one is simple enough to lend out without fear.

The Heartbreaker is the last one of the intermediate group (still level 8 on the packet) and it looks pretty complex! Despite the fearsome complexity of the construction there are only a few possible movements that make any sense. Plenty of moves are possible but it is quite clear early on that they will only make a large tangle - the short length of the cord also very much limits the mess you can make. After a couple of false starts I solved this in about 15-20 minutes. I think this will be a good string puzzle to give to friends (especially less experienced puzzlers) because it will challenge them but they will not be able to get themselves (and me!) into too huge a knot! I have given this one to a friend and left him with it for a couple of hours - despite being quite good at this sort of puzzle now, he singularly failed! This made me feel much better! I am sure he would have solved it eventually.

Skip a Beat
This next puzzle is also a level 8 on their scale but is the first one to appear in the difficult section of the site. The description on the site states:
"the solver is presented with a limited number of options. This should make the puzzle easier to solve, however, most people will find the opposite to be true"

So, it turns out that I had been fooled into a false sense of security!! The aim is to remove the ring-ended cord from the heart shape. It doesn't look too bad because it is so symmetrical. It took me nearly 2 hours in total to solve this one. Initially you try the usual looping tricks but they end in a knot or, more frequently, it just ends up mysteriously back at the starting position. After this you try some more complex loops using as much rope to hang yourself as possible.

There does appear to be 2 exits on each side but no way to use them because each end of the cord is locked - if there was only one locked end the solution would be trivial. Once this problem is investigated further then a number of possibilities present themselves and the cord is off first one then the other side. Reassmebly is not too hard - but care must be taken with the direction of the loops - the first time I ended up with it looped through in opposite directions on each side and had to back-track. This is the first to really challenge me and worth buying for its' deceptive simplicity and unusual solution.

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