With these time limits in mind, I rummaged in my "puzzles to be solved" pile yesterday and took out the Max Out disentanglement puzzle from Eureka puzzles' Pastime range. I had been hoping for something fairly easy to solve that would not take too long but I seem to have run out of those. I had bought this from Tomas Linden's Sloyd store some time ago and was a little concerned that the rating on the packaging was 4 stars indicating that the puzzle was for "puzzle geniuses" and that Tomas had rated it with his maximum of "Very hard".
|Very hard but the string can be removed|
So having presented this as a very tough puzzle (Puzzle Master have rated it as a 10/10 in difficulty too) and mentioned the need for a quickie, why is my title saying "It's not so hard"? The secret to this puzzle is that it bears a great resemblance to a classic type of disentanglement which most of you will have encountered during your puzzle journeys. Having taken the puzzle out and had a fiddle for a while - I realised it had a huge possibility for getting badly knotted up. At this point I sat and looked at it for a while. I had an inkling that I had seen something similar before - not the same puzzle but a familiar configuration. It was time for me to take a leaf out of Allard's book and think©.
Much puzzling is based on experience - we learn from previous puzzles solved and rack up a catalogue of techniques which we can apply to new toys. My utter delight in the twisty puzzle genre is based on about 6 months of learning basic skills and then using those skills on new puzzles that come out - the key is to look, recognise similarities and think©. This particular puzzle is probably not a good idea for a beginner but if you are at all familiar with disentanglement puzzles then you WILL have come across this mechanism before - it is just a matter of recognising it. Hence the blog post title - Look and Think.
Having looked and 'thunk', I realised what I had and after an initial error which always happens to me with this group, I had my puzzle solved. My Aha! moment occurred in my head without actually holding the puzzle - this was very rewarding. I can finally say that I am more than a beginner at disentanglement puzzles - I am an intermediate disentanglement puzzler! Now I just need to get to grip with burrs, packing puzzles, discovery puzzles......
|Solved - did it in my head first!|
|6 boards - all apart after looking and thinking!|
Solving puzzles can be trial and error but if that was all there was to it then they would not be as much fun as we all claim. The whole point is that we use knowledge, experience and skill to work them out and taking a minute to look and think is crucial. A similar experience with another unique burr did happen to me with the Maze-N-Cubes puzzle that was given to me by my friend Derek. This delightful little burr looks terribly complex but enough is visible that you can see inside and plan a pathway - hence the maze in the name.
Now back to the soup before Mrs S catches me! Whack! Ouch! Aargh - too late!