This, like all of the ladder ring group, requires a large number of sequential moves to progressively disentangle the trunk from the tree. I immediately saw what was required but struggled to implement it the first few times - I progressed nicely and then found myself back at the beginning without realising where I had turned about-face! The other disorienting problem is that the shuttle can go through the rings in two different ways and if you go the wrong way then you just end up at a dead end. After about 45 minutes I had this one apart and proceeded to put it back together again (this is just the reverse of the original movements). It has taken me about 5 attempts before I am happy to say that I can do it easily. If you only want one or two of the ladder ring group then I would suggest that you choose the Chinese rings and the Centipede - both of which are more challenging than this one.
I worked at this on and off for 3 days before finally solving it. I reckon probably about 4 or 5 hours in total. I didn't solve this one by working it out, I did it more or less by exhaustion!! There is one particular move that has to be done just so to avoid a knot. Definitely a great puzzle and NOT for beginners!!
My initial attempts at this one lead to me getting fairly knotted up. I was able to undo the worst of the knots but really struggled to return it to the starting position to try again and I am ashamed to say that I needed to remove the ball and undo it completely to retry it. What is more this happened to me many many times. This is absolutely a swine of a puzzle. Unless you are really confident in your abilities to undo other peoples' messes then DO NOT give this one to anyone else - Unless they are a real pro at disentanglement puzzles they will stand absolutely NO CHANCE and you will have to undo it for them. Even putting the blasted thing back together is really tough! I completely failed to do this and after knotting it up terribly again, I used the solution page that was provided and eventually managed to get it back to the beginning. Using the solution was not straight forward - there is one step in the instructions which is almost impossible to do backwards! I don't think I will be attempting this one again!!!
"Trouble Clef requires a twist in your thinking that makes it much more difficult to solve than one would expect. For yet more reasons, which I'll leave for you to discover, Trouble Clef certainly deserves the "toughest-of-the-lot" spot in our current puzzle lineup."
They are not joking when they state this!!! The biggest problem is that in trying the various possibilities you do end up with some real "OMG!!! knots"! Again, things got so bad that I had to dismantle the blasted thing at least 20 times - pulling the knot out of one of the balls and extracting the string and ring before retying it. Luckily at work, I have an unlimited supply of rather large needles!!
Eventually I had a brainwave and tried something I had done with another similar type of puzzle and by shear luck - it worked. I was even able to get it to return to the other side again. This is a very clever idea and I think most people will fail to solve this one. I myself solved it by shear luck and by trying everything I could think of. It is not actually very rewarding to do when you have had to dismantle and unravel knots every time. Even with the great glow of success, I tried to do it again and ended up knotted. It is a puzzle that will backfire on you if it is not done absolutely perfectly every time.
So this ends my Livewire puzzle group and I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience - they are beautifully made and most are good fun to do with varying levels of difficulty. If I was to select my favourites and those I would avoid then (with difficulty) I would have to say these:
|Quadrangle (10/10)||Trouble Clef|
|Skip a Beat (8/10)||Tripwire|
This has been a wonderful journey - I do not yet consider myself to be an expert on this type of puzzle but I do absolutely adore them (even if the present Mrs S doesn't!) - I have managed to get quite a few more from other sources too.
For 2012 Livewire have added a couple more to their range and I will try to obtain these and review them for you sometime soon. At least these ones do not look like they will knot up too easily. I think that the main bugbear with the puzzles involving string is the ability to get into a position which cannot be reversed without dismantling the puzzle completely.
Just as an aside, I was contacted by Gordon Smith. He has posted a page of 10 mathematical puzzles related to age. As a man getting on a bit, I decided to have a look. It is quite fun and also humorous! Have a look if you are interested.