|The Yak Puzzle|
The Yak puzzle comes in the usual Puzzle Master clamshell plastic container and has the instruction simply to "remove the handle" and then, obviously, to put it back the way you found it. It was designed by the Master wire puzzle designer, Dick Hess. There is no solution provided but it is available for download here - believe it or not, you might actually need it!! It is well made, and actually, if you squint at it, looks vaguely Yak-like! It has good quality wire and two diamond shapes are gold coloured (one of these is not removable). It is also a good size at 13.9 x 11.5 x 5.8cm so is not too fiddly to play with. Puzzle Master rate it as a 10 (Mind Boggling) out of 10 in their difficulty rating! Gulp!!
When you look closely at it, you will see that the 3 "rings" are not actually interleaved! Each one sort of straddles another one and the way they are arranged blocks them from falling apart. This is a mathematical structure called Borromean rings:
|3 rings locked but not interleaved|
My initial thoughts were that there were only 2 possible exit points and one was far too small to consider - therefore this was going to be fairly easy! I started jingling just before dinner and quite quickly got shouted at for the noise. "She who must be obeyed" absolutely hates this sort of puzzle. I had to put it down for dinner and afterwards whilst on the phone to my mother, I picked it up again (Mrs S won't shout at me whilst we are on the phone!!)
The very odd thing was that, I had a sudden thought (I'm not known for having many thoughts so I suspect that will be the last one in 2012 and possibly I have used up 2013's allocation too!) and after about 15 minutes of fiddling in total, the freely moving gold diamond dropped off into my lap and then the handle came off a moment later! I was so surprised that I stopped talking in mid-sentence to my mother!! I was able to get it back together fairly easily too. Now in the process I had used a very small amount of force and I suspected that this was a cheat. I didn't want to look at the solution just yet so I left a comment on Brian's page asking him the relevant question (Blogger is quite good in that it informs the owner of a blog when comments are left even on pages that are very old). A few days later, Brian got back to me and he also remembered the forced move and reassured me that there was another way to solve it.
At least I had discovered the correct exit strategy but needed a new way to get to it. This was where things went wrong! I tried for about 2 weeks with no success - I continued to try the same thing again and again and again (Einstein's definition of insanity) to no avail. I later remembered that someone told me that with this sort of puzzle, if there is an odd shape on it then it is there for a reason. The Yak puzzle has quite a few interesting shapes to it and whilst fiddling, I saw how to get it into a new conformation. This opened up a lot of possibilities. Whilst exploring this I had a Eureka moment - it allowed me to do the move I had before but without force. This time the puzzle slid apart with ease.
|Three pieces - effectively rings|