Thursday 19 July 2012

Black Widow

Black Widow
By now the majority of you must know that I really lurve wire puzzles!! I am less fond of those with string because they are just so damn difficult and you just end up in knots. That's not the bad part, however! I only get upset when I then can't undo the knots and have to cut or otherwise dismantle the puzzle. I practically have a heart attack when I give it to someone else and they later hand it back to me in such a tangle that I again have to attack it with scissors (yes Rachel, this means you!!!!)

I wanted some more difficult disentanglement puzzles and so in my last order from Puzzle Master I bought some of the level 9 and level 10 wire puzzles. This one is the Black Widow - it should be a relatively easy one (for an experienced puzzler like me - Blush) at level 9 (Gruelling) and for a beginner should be a real challenge. It arrived in the usual neat Puzzle Master clamshell packaging with a card insert saying to remove the string. It consists of what looks like the olympic rings intertwined with a snake and is made out of strong wire. There is a complete loop of string fed through it with a ball preventing it being fed through any of the rings. It is 6.4 x 10.8 cm and pretty good value at $10. No solution is supplied but if you really have to give up, then it can be downloaded from here! I don't think you will need to download it to solve but it will certainly be helpful to understand what is going on.

I had been dreading this one for a while but couldn't put it off any longer! I was overdue to post something and so bit the bullet! Initial exploration showed me what I thought would be the exit point and I started fiddling to try and reach it. After just a few moments it occurred to me that this was not a simple "find the exit point" puzzle - it became clear that this was another of those mathematical type puzzles. Don't let it put you off - it is not hard maths! It is an exercise in gray binary code like the Chinese rings puzzle or the Centipede and once I realised this it took me only about 10 minutes to extricate the string. I was a little horrified to see that the string did not come off at my expected exit point and when I pulled them triumphantly apart, I quickly lost track of where the actual exit point had been!! As usual, I'm not very bright!!

Black Widow can be solved! Can it be put back?
Obviously, as I have said before, it is not sufficient to just open or solve a puzzle in one direction. It is important to reassemble it and then preferably repeat the process. Having no clue where I had to begin, I rapidly got very lost during the reassembly and many times when I thought progress was being made, all of a sudden I had 2 separate pieces in my hands again! So despite it only taking 10 minutes to disassemble, it took me 4 or 5 times that long to put it back together again! Yep! Not terribly bright!

Next it was time for some photography for this post. Assembled photo taken, I took it apart again pretty quickly and was again taken by surprise at where the exit point was. I took the above photo and tried to reassemble it. Aaaaargh!!! Not again!! Still couldn't remember how to start - really really dim! Maybe I need to give up on puzzling and take up something else?? After another half hour it is back together again and I am just about to download the solution to see why it's so damn difficult! I could have sworn that my second reassembly was different to the first!!

Should you get it? Oh yes! It is a nice logical puzzle which doesn't seem to tie itself in awful knots. It will keep you occupied for a while and has repeatability in its favour - I still can't remember how to do it!


  1. I got this for Christmas this year, in a box with 3 puzzles. Unfortunately I spent a lot of time on one of the other puzzles, and built a mental model of how it worked -- when applied to this puzzle it was easier than I would have liked!

    1. You're obviously a better puzzler than me! I kept forgetting what to do!

      I guess if you have done several Gray binary code based puzzles one after another then this would become fairly easy! At least there's no knots!