Sunday 20 August 2017

A New Essential Twisty

That's a whole lot of pieces to move!
Well I must be officially getting old! Not only do I catch a cold at IPP and it poleaxes me for a week but a 24 hour on call yesterday which had me at work from 8am to half past midnight completely kills me! I have relapsed my cold and am shattered - definitely too old! Despite feeling crap, I have dragged my carcass to my computer to produce a quick something for you.

A month or so ago the Chinese company LanLan showed off on the TwistyPuzzle Forum a new production of theirs. It really didn't seem to get much fanfair and there has been very little written about it. Originally designed by Minh Sanghsu in 2011, it is a hybrid of one of my favourite puzzles of all time, the Curvy Copter, as well as a nice easy twisty puzzle, the Dino cube which I have never reviewed because it is pretty simple to solve but was mentioned in my discussion on depth of cut in Twisty puzzling.

The edge turn - Curvy copter style
The corner turn - Dino cube style
This puzzle has only just been released on the market and as far as I am aware is only available at present in the Chinese stores like HKNowstore but I am sure it will be available in Europe from Martin's Puzzlestore UK and in North America from PuzzleMaster. I managed to get an early copy of the puzzle courtesy of my good friend Otis. He is a solid member of the Twisty puzzling fraternity and is an absolutely superb solver. Being Chinese he also has some fabulous connections with the incredible Chinese designers and manufacturers and his Facebook page often shows him playing with some amazing puzzles. He had been given a bunch of LanLan's latest creations to bring along to the Paris IPP and I was very much drawn to them during the Twisty Puzzle meetup there (some pictures are included in John Haché's blog post). At the end of the TP meetup, prior to the awards banquet, Otis said to everyone that he didn't want to take the Lanlan puzzle's back home with him and they were available to anyone to take. When people didn't leap on them I casually sauntered up and lifted the Flowercopter (named for pretty obvious reasons).

In my room prior to the meal I had a little fiddle and the shear number of possible moves with it are truly fabulous. The puzzle jumbles just like the original curvy copter and even after jumbling the corner turning is still possible meaning that the puzzle can be well and truly scrambled with ease and very shape shifted too. The puzzle I received had already been scrambled and I ended up taking it apart when I got home to get it back to unscrambled form for some initial exploration. I heard you gasp in horror at that and I don't blame you! I am merely a feeble amateur at twisty puzzles and if I am going to stand any chance at all then I need to start with an unscrambled puzzle and try and work out what different types of moves do and then whether I can fathom any useful algorithms. After about 15 minutes of confusing play I found a simple sequence of 4 moves would do this:

Yesssss! A 3 cycle of flower petals.
Here we see that a very simple 4 move algorithm can cycle 3 flower petals on 3 adjacent sides of the cube and by varying the direction of the corner turns it is very easy to make slight changes to the petals that are cycled. Having found this I knew that I could solve the puzzle with a bit of work. This meant that my approach would be a Curvy Copter solve first followed by a progressive petal rearrangement. Time to scramble.....

Oh boy! That is truly stunning - at least it looks good if I cannot solve it.
I did finish off the scramble by jumbling it too but for the photo I didn't bother. It is almost trivially easy to undo the jumbling using Dino and Copter moves (unlike the Curvy Copter). Now from this point on there will be spoilers - an explanation of my approach and problems I found. If you don't want to have the solution spoiled for you then don't read any further.

So I stated that I would start with a Copter solve (one of my favourite puzzles to solve) and I found I was wrong - in the CC the edges are all in place but can be rotated 180º and in the Flowercopter the edges are all over the place. So to my delight I had to do a Dino cube solve first of just the double triangle edges (not hard but fun to add) and then to my continued delight I found that there were 2 problems with the Dino solve - some of the edges are rotated 180º (easy to fix) and finally I was left with a parity. Oooh! I lurve a parity! It is one of the facets of twisty puzzling that is the most fun... the new design apparently breaks one of the laws of the cube and one needs to work out why and what is required to get around the break in the space time continuum without destroying either cube or the universe.

This parity left me with all edges in place and oriented and 2 of them needing to be swapped (no photo because the rest of the puzzle is still scrambled and it looks the same as above to most people) - the law of the cube doesn't allow a 2 swap. After a bit of thought I came to the conclusion that my initial face/colour choice was incorrect and what was needed was to take one chosen colour and move it to an adjacent face and resolve. Did it work? Yessss! I'm a genius! Ahem... maybe not.

Now it was time for the CC solve. At least I thought so and on I went. This involved my usual approach of working on the bottom face and solving the bottom half by intuition and fiddling. All worked fine. The top half can be a little involved but is not hugely tough (I managed it after all) and suddenly I found another parity. This was proving to be a truly spectacularly fun puzzle. The final part of my CC solve involves positioning and then rotating the corners with a couple of pretty simple algorithms but at the very end I was left with one corner rotated out of place. Again an impossible position. I was pretty sure that none of my play had forced the corner and so my second parity must have occurred because of the construction of the hybrid puzzle. How to solve it? Think©! The issue with the CC part MUST be because of something done by Dino scrambling. I made a Dino turn and resolved the Dino cube again and completed the CC solve a final time and I was left with just a few Flower petals out of place. Actually a LOT of flower petals.

Like many puzzles like this it was time to use my four move algorithm and start switching them about. This was simple at first and became progressively tougher as they were further and further away from any useful place. Some of the switches needed 4 separate setup moves before the algorithm and then remembering how to undo the setup was key. Any mistake here and it was back to the beginning. All in all the puzzle took me a couple of very enjoyable hours. Thank you Otis - this one is truly wonderful and may well become one of my all time favourites as it is a Curvy Copter plus some more fun stuff!

For all you non-twisty puzzlers - go try a twisty! They are not that bad if you pace yourself and learn slowly and many are very approachable without lots of algorithms to learn. The Curvy copter is brilliant and fun and this one is just an extension of that fun. Go for it! You will love it!

Well, that was not a short blog post! As always I get a bit carried away when writing about puzzles and spend far too long despite feeling like death warmed up. Mrs S is not amused yet again and I had better go and do something harmonious! Until next week......

Now before I go pacify She who frightens me to death, I really need to make some headway with Shane's Haleslocks 3 and 4 which he gave me at the IPP! They are absolutely stunning and I cannot see even a hint of his meddling. I have certainly not got anywhere near solving them! Damn him!

Haleslock 3
Exchanged by Peter Hajek
Haleslock 4
Exchanged by Allard Walker


  1. I'm VERY pleased to keep you busy on something else! They are not that hard mate, now them twisty puzzles are a whole different ball game....nice read!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the blog post mate, despite the subject matter. Twisty puzzles really don't have to be that tough you should try them! I'm going back to the locks tonight but it's tough when I don't really understand how a lock works. Here goes!