Sunday 5 January 2014

Paperclip and how about a twisty for the weekend?

Yep! It's another disentanglement puzzle from Puzzle Master! I am so addicted to these - they are really shiny and appeal to my inner Magpie and they have that wonderful tactile nature to them. Plus, they are good value for money and really fun for torturing your friends with (that's one of my favourite pastimes!)

Cast Devil/Menace
The Paperclip puzzle was designed by the great Jean-Claude Constantin and is intended to be a new twist on a classic puzzle. I got this because I remember that one of the very first puzzles that I bought when I began to expand from my Revomaze cubby hole was a puzzle by Professor puzzle in the UK called the Menace. It was really big and chunky and rather than go jingle and get me a laser burn from "she who must be grovelled before", it actually was big and bulky enough to clank! This actually earned me a bruise rather than a burn! This puzzle is also available as a Hanayama cast puzzle - it is called the Cast Devil and is an essential in any collection. I remember that the Menace/Devil took me about 45 minutes to solve and was oddly difficult for the apparent simplicity. When I saw that the Paperclip was a new twist on this classic, I had to have it!

Interestingly the Paperclip is rated as level 5 (Easy) on the Puzzle Master 5-10 point scale and yet the Cast Devil is a level 8. My own experience would say that they both should be a level 6 (Tricky). Whilst the Cast Devil comes in the nice Hanayama box, the Paperclip simply arrives shrink wrapped with a tiny label that my aging eyes struggled to read! It is a nice chunky metal puzzle at 13 x 7.5 x 4 cm - even my orthopaedic colleagues aren't going to be able to cut it or bend it without using serious hardware! It makes a nice clanging sound as you play. It comes without instructions - but it is obvious that you need to separate the 2 pieces and there is no solution supplied. I doubt that you will need it but it can be downloaded from here.

It is quite clear where the exit points are (although if you have never done the Cast Devil or Menace then there may seem to be 2 possible exits) but due to the shape it seems to be very hard to actually get the pieces to reach it. I was very surprised that a level 5 puzzle actually kept me occupied clanging away for about 15 minutes before I managed to get the pieces lined up properly to disentangle them. The curves and distances on this are absolutely spot on! There is no way to force it and no way to find it by accident - everything must be lined perfectly. With a sigh of relief I separated the 2 halves! After all, I would be very embarrassed if I got stuck on a level 5 wire puzzle!!! I'm supposed to be "Mr Disentanglement!!"

Two stunning identical pieces
I have to admit that the reassembly also caused me some difficulty! Blush!!! I left the pieces for a while after separating them and then tried to put it together again. Of course I knew the initial insertion point but I then ended up locked at the insertion point and unable to get it properly back to the beginning point! After another 4 or 5 minutes of effing and blinding and some more painful clanging (sorry dear!!!) I returned it to the beginning point!

This is definitely a great challenge which is very tactile and perfect for handing around to your non-puzzling friends! Well worth the cost at $12. I have put it in my bag to take to work to annoy those orthopaedic surgeons with. At least you don't need to worry about knots or damage!

What about that extra goodie? Well recently I got some more Twisty puzzles - yes I am addicted to them too and have found one that might appeal to your sense of fun!

Squished Skewb
Ordinary Skewb
It is difficult to see from a 2D photo but the Squished Skewb is exactly what it says! The ordinary skewb is a very old puzzle and should be in most collections. I described it first a long time ago - it's a deep cut corner turning cube with the cuts going across every single face. It is pretty easy to solve as it only needs a single algorithm - repeat after me:
Down Down Up Up
There you are! You can now solve a skewb! So what about the Squished Skewb? It was designed late last year by John Lin from Taiwan and also on the Twisty Puzzle Forum. It is a VERY big skewb which someone has sat on and squashed it down. Dimensions are 11.8 x 13.7 x 11.8 cm so nearly twice the size of a skewb but still has the nice clicking mechanism of the original skewb. The squishing has a very interesting effect - it means that the centres are not square and the corners are all different shapes - therefore it becomes a complete shapeshifted monstrosity when scrambled and also it behaves as a supercube because the centres have orientation. This adds a nice twist (pardon the pun) to the solution process and plays with your brain!

Oh boy!!!
BUT fear not and repeat after me:
Down Down Up Up
Yet again you have shown your genius and solved it! Well done. So if you are out and about buying puzzles then treat yourselves to a Skewb and a Squished skewb - they're cheap and not too difficult!

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