Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Chain Gang

Chain Gang
The Chain Gang puzzle is a puzzle made by/for Puzzle Master. It is another of their disentanglement puzzles and also on the tougher side being rated as 9 out of 10 (Gruelling) in difficulty.

It is shipped in a plastic clamshell pack with the simple instructions - to remove the brass oval from the interlocked wires and loops. The puzzle is 12.6x8.8x4cm in size and is surprisingly weighty. It is very well made and my only criticism is that the 2 brass rings don't seem to be as well finished as the silver ones. No solution is provided with it but if you need one (and you might well need it) it can be downloaded from here.

This is a really tough puzzle - if it was a string puzzle then it might have reached a 10 in difficulty! Gabriel has reviewed it here and he failed to solve it! The internationally famous puzzle-solving machine, Brian Pletcher reviewed it on his blog and really struggled. If he had trouble then I am seriously afraid! In the comments at the end of his post the almost equally famous George Bell stated that he had owned the Hess original for some time and not succeeded and in a comment on Gabriel's review said that it has been 2 years! All I can say is "Gggggulp!"

This puzzle was originally designed by Dick Hess (his puzzle was called "Outrageous Rings") and was altered for Puzzle Master by Allan Stein (a co-owner of Puzzle Master). Marcus Götz created a string version named Double Edged Thought which was part of his IPP29 exchange Six Serpentile Strings.

I initially was flushed with success from all my Livewire puzzle achievements and so picked this one up quite quickly in my Puzzle Master batch. It looks as if there are two fairly obvious possibilities for the exit point and I set about trying to establish what was going to be required to get the ring to one of them. There are a lot of possible movements and I was initially frightened of losing my sense of direction. Luckily this one doesn't get tangled up easily and at no point do you feel that you will be unable to return to the beginning. It is possible to sort of turn it inside out and this gives the impression that it may increase your options hugely. Unfortunately at this point I discovered why George had called it a "beast" - nothing seems to work at all. After 3 weeks of carrying it around and jingling whenever I could (oh boy! Is she pissed off with me!!!) I had gotten absolutely no-where! I put it down and did some other puzzles instead. I even managed the level 9 Annihilator puzzle without too much trouble.

After a few weeks away from it, I heard it taunting me from my study (can you all hear unsolved puzzles shouting obscenities at you when you pass? Or am I just nuts?) So I picked it up again and had a fiddle to no avail. I then downloaded the solution for "just in case"!! But did not look at it. Instead, I surfed around and found Brian's post and saw how his fiancé had pointed something out to him. Unfortunately, I did not have the eureka moment the way he did (Mrs S never looks at puzzles except with a view to throwing them out to make space for more shoes and handbags!) so I got no helpful female comments! However, I saw the picture of the string version and studied this closely. From this, I could see the puzzle reduced to a much simpler construction and quickly I had my own bright light go on. I went back to my own puzzle and quickly saw what Brian had noticed and soon had the brass ring off!! When you think you see 2 possible exit points then ignore them - the real exit point is quite surprising!!!

Proof - it can be done!!!
I have given this to quite a few others now and no-one has come even close to solving this as yet.

Do I recommend this one? Absolutely yes! It is unbelievably difficult and for once the wire version is tougher than the string one. Definitely not for beginners but the experienced puzzler should definitely give it a go.

5 comments:

  1. Congratulations!! My copy is still unsolved and I haven't taken it out in many a month. Maybe it will solve itself if I leave it alone long enough! That is an interesting tip to look at the string version though ... hmm ...

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  2. I've had this buckle in my closet for over 10 years and just bought it out it makes me feel stupid

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    Replies
    1. No need to feel stupid - it's a VERY tough puzzle!

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  3. my dad gave this very nice puzzle to me as a gift recently without telling me which puzzle it is and I solved it in less than three hours. My dad also eventually solved it in a few weeks time. I also know of another person who needed just two days.

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    Replies
    1. Obviously, you are a genius! Well done solving a very tough puzzle!

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