Sunday 9 September 2018

Just Meandering About

Meanders Box
Yukari sends out an email to subscribers of the Pluredro blog when new stuff has been made. As well as puzzle stuff she includes her random thoughts on the blog just to hone her English language skills (which are pretty good by the way). At the beginning of August, I learned about the release of 2 versions of the Meanders box - a lovely design with 4 different setups to allow 4 different solutions. There was one version (348 moves) which Juno and Yukari both considered too difficult/arduous to be any puzzler's primary choice and another (172 moves) which they thought would be perfect for almost everyone. I had recently spent my pocket money and decided to wait a while before placing an order and promptly forgot about it. Puzzlers, of course, are a contrary bunch and they immediately homed in on the most difficult one and the puzzle stock promptly began to fall. Luckily for me, I chat with Matt Dawson fairly frequently and he noticed that when he bought his copy they were down to just one left. He notified me and I immediately (within a few minutes) jumped on the last one...PHEW!

This gorgeous puzzle arrived a couple of weeks later from Oz and I have been working on it intermittently since it arrived. Yes, yes! I know it's labelled as a box but it really isn't a box! Firstly there was no bread in it and bread could not possibly fit inside! If this comment mystifies you then read my review of the Heart case from Juno here. I will buy some puzzles that have cavities if there is something else special about them - this puzzle is partially N-ary and partially maze puzzle so perfectly allowable for my collection.

Its' dimensions are 95 x 85 x 84mm and it is made from Burmese Teak, Rose Alder, Silver Ash (citrus family tree) and some metal pieces inside. Juno seems to be developing a certain look - his recent puzzles are instantly recognizable as his workmanship and that is no bad thing.

The aim is (as you would expect) to open the box by following the maze...except the maze that you can see is not the maze you are following. The real maze and pins inside it are inside and invisible so it needs to be done by deduction and feel. This sounds really simple (the mazes are not as complex as a Revomaze) but the difficulty comes from the fact that the movement of the pins needs to be made stepwise due to the plates having small steps cut out of the ends where they interact with each other. The effect of this is that I found I lost track of which direction I was travelling in and also missed a number of choices of direction to travel. The first time I attempted it I got to here and thought I had solved it:

Cavity visible - is it solved? Nope!
Reading on the product page I saw that the aim is to completely remove the maze lid from the box. and I was stuck. Several times I reached this position and tried to continue along the path only to find myself back at the beginning. Finally, after several hours (Yukari wasn't joking when she said that the high-level one was arduous), I found a hidden passage and took that. Finally, I managed to remove the lid:

Solved the first challenge!
To prove that I really understood it, I then reassembled it back to the beginning which strangely was much easier. I tried opening it again and struggled yet again but not quite so much as the first time. I was not able to count the number of moves but I suspect that the puzzle arrived in the easiest set-up with 260 moves. Time to try another one - each maze can be placed in the puzzle in 2 orientations giving a total of 4 challenges (260, 263, 337 and 348 steps to fully open the puzzle box). The only difference with the "simpler" puzzle is that the steps are bigger and there are less of them per side giving a solution level choice of 130, 134, 161 and 172 steps to fully open the puzzle.

I personally preferred to solve this as an "opening" puzzle and therefore chose to use Juno's beautifully implemented reset mechanism - there are screws underneath:

Such a simple reset mechanism
Here you can see the steps on the side faces.
Unscrewing those screws allows you to left the top frame away and place all the pieces back in the closed position and with the maze in whichever orientation you choose:

The quick reset method revealed - clever idea.
Pick the assembly you prefer.
Here are the 2 mazes for you to examine - believe me when I say that having seen them, you are no closer to solving the puzzle - this one has to be solved by feel rather than by sight. Derek has provided me with a Burrtools file for the puzzle but I have refrained from using it so far.

2 mazes each of which can be oriented in 2 ways in the puzzle

So far I have done 2 of the solutions and have still to do the remaining 2. It is quite arduous and I now agree with Yukari and Juno - this puzzle is still perfectly fun with the lower level construction - luckily for you, there are still plenty of these available on their store. It will look fabulous on display with my other Yananose puzzles. I am eagerly awaiting more toys from Oz! Thank you, Juno and Yukari.

Follow up with the Hales puzzles

Silver lock exchange puzzle is open!
Shane's recent puzzles have been kicking my butt! All excited at my success with the Hokey Cokey lock last week (they are still available for sale on Paradise if you are interested), I set to on Shane's locks and after a week of working on them on and off, I have managed to solve just the Silver lock exchange puzzle. The Goldilock and the amazing Haleslock 5 are as they were when I bought them. The Goldilock has one obvious first step and I am stuck, the Haleslock 5 doesn't even have that! I have a key which won't go in the keyway and a lock which rattles a lot more than one would expect for such a solid lock - something tells me it has been "doctored"!

How could I forget Allard?

Allard's exchange puzzle - the B Dorstrum Puzzle
Last week, when I wrote my blog after the MPP, I had not had time to unpack my box of goodies that I took with me and which also contained this lovely and historical challenge given by Allard. My friend Michel van Ipenburg seems to have a knack of finding the patents and descriptions of fabulous historic puzzles and then reconstructing them with the help of Robrecht Louage. The B Dorstrum puzzle is the latest of these. I have been fiddling with this for a day or so now and made some interesting discoveries but not got very far yet - it is telling that the genius that is Goetz Schwandtner has also not got very far either!

I will keep you informed when and more likely, if, I get anywhere with it. Thanks, Allard!


  1. Great review of the Meanders Box. I was able to complete one side of the maze but have yet to finish the other. Can’t wait to see what Juno comes up with for his next puzzle box.