Sunday, 24 July 2016

A Cheat! I'm Sorry!

Axis from Rademic Puzzles
This will be an attempt at a quickie - I know I don't really do short reviews due to my verbal diarrhoea but I seldom get complaints. I'm on call today and hoping not to be called in (sleep deprivation is hard at my age!!) so whilst I have a few moments I'm going to attempt a blog post.

After my triumphant announcement yesterday, I have to admit to something awful.... I have been a cheat and hope you can forgive me. A few months ago I acquired a couple of absolutely beautifully made Hedgehog in cage puzzles from Rademic Puzzles in the Czech Republic and absolutely loved the look and quality of them. Oli had raved about them on Facebook and Allard reviewed a few here. I solved the Gen version quite quickly and enjoyed the process very much and wrote my thoughts here.

The puzzle is 50 x 75 mm in size and weighs 340g. The cage is beautiful having been made from brushed stainless steel and it certainly feels a solid puzzle - drop it on a kitchen tile and you're in trouble with the wife. The hedgehog itself is 6 spined and stunningly made from a vibrant red anodised aluminium with the spines being varying lengths but each is at 90º to the others. It is really beautiful and a great price at 599 Czech Koruna (approx £18.50 or $24.50)

Looking at photos the obvious thought is that they work like other Hedgehogs and the hog needs to be rotated through the bars of the cage but on picking it up one quickly notices that this is impossible - this is no normal hedgehog puzzle:

The top and bottom disks rotate and swivel
The Axis puzzle is fabulously made with top and bottom rings surrounded by a double row of ball bearings which allows them to swivel in line as well as to rotate in position and flip over. This leads to the next thought that the hedgehog needs to be rotated about along with the disk to worm it out through the top or bottom. This is a similar practice to most of the other similar puzzles but using the end instead of the bars. I tried this for ages and got nowhere at all. I'm really not terribly bright!

The website states that there is a "Surprising solution" and both Oli and Allard were delighted with how it functioned so I was obviously missing something vital. Obviously if the usual thing doesn't work with a puzzle then you need to try something unusual and I tried lots of unusual things and got nowhere at all! I put it down for a while and focussed on other toys that had arrived recently but Oli's words kept nagging at me. I tried something very unusual and solved the puzzle! Yay! I had this:

Solved it! Or had I?
Yes after tilting the disk it is quite simple to pull out a few of the ball bearings on each side and remove the disk followed by the hog! Yay.....Nooooo! Whilst everyone else who had solved it seemed really pleased with the process and themselves, I was left with a disappointed feeling. It felt like a cheat.

After contacting Oli for advice he said that my method was categorically wrong and I should focus on alternative techniques but it might be really stiff. On Thursday I tried again and focussed on another aspect of the puzzle. It was very stiff but suddenly I had that sought after Aha! moment:

A legitimate solution!
This is totally unique and beautifully implemented - it is well worth buying and Radek is easy to deal with via email.

Now, ahem!!! I have to admit that this puzzle is not the only one I have cheated at recently:

50 Cent Labyrinth
Way back in September last year I wrote up about how I had received (from David Pullen) and solved the 50 cent labyrinth puzzle designed by Robrecht Louage. It is a very sneaky puzzle due to the presence of 2 ball bearings inside which need to be simultaneously manipulated around a maze. This has to be done without being able to see the whole maze and without being able to see both ball bearings a lot of the time.

This puzzle has been sitting in halfway back from the solved position on my tray of puzzles to finish (or start) ever since that initial blog post. This had annoyed both me and Mrs S and I was on the verge of delivering a Whack! Ouch! to myself for being so useless! Over the last 10 months I have not once managed to solve it despite trying many many times. This morning I decided to......

Cheated yet again!!
After lifting off the top plate and the acrylic slider I could see the maze in all its' glory. It actually is not a complex maze. I started at the beginning and worked my way to the end and then tried to backtrack without the top plate. Now I could see the intended pathways and discovered why it was so difficult to backtrack - the BBs need to move in opposite directions to each other on at least 2 occasions and this is a very tricky thing to do. With a little thought and practice I was able to do it with the top off and tried again with the puzzle fully reassembled. Yessssss! Finally after many months of trying, I was finally able to solve the puzzle in both directions.

The 50 Cent Labyrinth was a wonderful gift from David but had I bought it then this would have been fantastic value for money! Even having cheated, the difficulty working out the sequence even with it open still provided me with a very nice Aha! moment.

I hope that you can forgive me for cheating? The Aha! moment was still great fun but I will try not to do it again! Enjoy the rest of your weekend and wish me luck with my on-call!

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