Sunday 5 November 2017

Diniar Goes Hardcore

All the pieces of the Sliding Tetris (Hardcore version)
Today's post may be even less coherent than my usual drivel! I am stuffed with a cold and drugged to the eyeballs with all sorts of medication intended to stop me dribbling nasal goo all over my keyboard. An unfortunate side effect of this is that my bwain is fairly foggy just now. This doesn't help me with my puzzling and definitely doesn't improve my ability to write interesting articles. Bear with me if you can.

Remove the ball
Today I feel the urge to talk about one of the best value puzzles ever! The Sliding Tetris puzzle was Diniar Namdarian's entry into the 2017 IPP puzzle design competition. Brian seemed to like it in his roundup of all the competition puzzles. I remember playing with it a little bit during my time at the IPP and finding it somewhat challenging but I was very easily distracted by all the wood around and bits of shiny metal (I am a very shallow puzzler) and after solving a couple of the challenges I moved on. A few weeks Diniar let it be known to a bunch of previous customers that he had some of these for sale and also had created a "collectors edition" with an additional 11 pieces and a "Hardcore version" with a total of 25 pieces and a huge number of challenges. How could I resist? Well I couldn't and a quick FB message placed my order for the full Hardcore set.

The clips that hold the lid onto the frame get quite a lot of use and Diniar provided a whole envelope full of spares just in case one snapped. I had forgotten how chunky everything was and when they arrived I realised that I might have an extra packing puzzle of where to put them all. Mrs S hid her irritation and provided me with a nice big Tupperware box (she seems to collect them as they are everywhere!) and I had a nice little container to put next to my living room chair whilst I worked on an assembled puzzle:

Very convenient - maybe I need a nice wooden box for them?
Over the few days after it arrived Diniar sent me various iterations of the puzzle booklet as a pdf which got bigger and bigger each time. Eventually the final version had 125 sliding piece challenges and 18 packing challenges (which I had not expected). For a fab price of 67€ plus postage this is tremendous value for money. During my conversation with him I exclaimed that it would take me months! He seems to think that a weekend is adequate but then he is a genius at sliding puzzles. The puzzles range from 25 up to 46 moves and, for me, even the easier ones are a decent challenge.

The size is perfect so as not to be too fiddly and to allow fingers to poke through the sides to manipulate the pieces or the ball. Gravity can be helpful at times but often a nuisance as things keep sliding where they are not wanted. The first few puzzles seemed to be a lot of random movements to me but after that I did get the hang of the idea and was able to make more calculated attempts. After the third or fourth challenge I attempted, I seemed to get stuck for a bit. At that point, I discovered a very ingenious extra twist to the design. The square hole for removal of the blue ball was just the right size to allow this to happen:

A piece pokes out
For some reason it had not occurred to me to let the pieces slip through the exit hole. For a number of the puzzles doing this is essential to create enough space for the ball or other pieces to move into an appropriate position. I have to say that this adds a whole new dimension to the challenge and makes it even more interesting for me.

Having done about 20 so far and before writing this blog post, I decided to have a go at one of the packing puzzles. I am sure that most of you have owned a Soma cube and if not, why not? It's an essential puzzle for every collector. I got mine made from Rubberwood from Creative crafthouse and I recently bought the Restricted soma reborn set from Brian Menold. The soma cube uses a set of very simple shapes to make a 3x3 and Brian and C. M. Huang used an ingenious way to restrict the ability to assemble the cube by adding a lid with a cutout (a finger hole is required in the box to allow sliding and rotation of the pieces after they have been inserted through the lid. So far I have singularly failed to solve any of the 3 challenges in this one.

Rubberwood Soma cube
Restricted Soma reborn
Another fun variation on this theme is Coffin's Half hour puzzle which I bought as part of a set from Brian as well as a cheap version from Village games in Camden.

A lovely set of three (including a half hour puzzle)
Now let me say that I am just terrible at these "make a cube" puzzles! They are supposed to be relatively straight forward and after my initial success within 5 minutes at the half hour puzzle being due to a fault, it took me a LOT longer than the proposed 30 minutes. The Soma cube also takes me ages to solve. The packing challenges that Diniar created with his set require far fewer pieces but they tend to be much more complex in shape - I gave it a go!

Only 5 shapes but.....
I always end up like this!
Blush!!! I somehow find these incredibly tough! Just the first challenge alone took me 45 minutes:

Proof that I did solve one of them
This 67€ set will definitely keep me busy for a VERY long time (not just the weekend that Diniar suggested) and is fabulous value for money! I love it - definitely worth every penny/cent. Diniar is great to deal with and as these are 3D printed by him they may still be available if you ask.

Thank you my friend!

Now I need to lie down in my deathbed and feel sorry for myself - this bubonic plague is very unpleasant. Mrs S really hates all the coughing, wheezing and snortering noises that I cannot seem to control. She has several times asked me to "stop breathing" which I think is not very nice!

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