Sunday 20 September 2020

TwisTIC'ing Away With Andrew


This version with brass reinforcing dowels
One of the puzzles that I bought from Brian Menold a few months ago has been sitting on my desk for quite a while - the TwisTIC puzzle designed by the incredible Andrew Crowell was one that I couldn't resist. The description of 5 exotic woods by Brian immediately makes me start to drool and with this version having brass dowels for reinforcement, I could not resist. The trouble is that I cannot resist any of the Turning Interlocking Cubes when I see them come up for sale.

The TICs have really helped my puzzle solving abilities which many thought was impossible for me. More recently, I have received most of these puzzles as disassembled pieces requiring assembly which several years ago would have been something I would never have considered. However, practicing with these seems to have improved my 3D visuospatial ability enormously and (even if I struggle a bit...or even a LOT) I do manage to work out where the pieces need to go and usually manage to work out how to get them together without resorting to asking for assistance from any of my savant puzzle assembly friends. 

I couldn't resist this because of the look at the description by Brian:
"I've just entered rotation hell! I think I lost count after about a dozen rotations. I really think this is the most difficult TIC I have tried so far. I must admit though, I think it has surpassed HypnoTIC as my favorite of Andrews designs. I don't even know what else to say except that, if you feel that you are rather good at this type of puzzle, you have to give this a try. Let me know if you are humbled by the experience!"
If Brian thinks this is tough then it is going to be hellish! On this basis, everyone should try it. There was a bit of a delay before I received it and several people on Facebook who had got their copies quickly had shown it off and exclaimed about how long it took them to solve. I reckoned that I was sunk but in an enjoyable way.

The pieces are beautifully made as always and I love the wood choices (I'm such a sucker for beautiful wood) and having convinced myself that my skills had not left me by solving the TriumviraTIC (with only a little struggle). With 5 pieces it was always going to be at least slightly tougher but interestingly, I even had a hard time working out how the pieces should end up. This didn't bode well at all. After almost 3 evenings of work, I at least had an idea where everything should go - time to start on the rotations.

At this point, I realised just how good this puzzle reminded me of my favourite rotational interlocking puzzle of all time, the Changing Partners puzzle which I bought many years ago from Bernhard Schweitzer (designed by ChiRen Chen)

Changing Partners - 2 out of 6 possible challenges

This puzzle has been amongst my top TICs ever since they really became a "thing". The multiple rotations are just as confusing as the Changing Partners because of the sheer number of turns as well as not being clear how to start to orient the pieces against each other at the beginning. It is a wonderful and tough challenge. After a day of randomly trying to put pieces together, I decided to think© and realised that this needed thought and planning. Certain pieces would fit together in a certain way only if a starting orientation was used. This narrowed things down quite a bit and I was off. After working like this for an hour or so I had my wonderful Aha! moment. 
TwisTIC finally solved after a week!
Yes Brian, this is a brilliant and ever so slightly hellish puzzle - definitely a great addition for the collection but probably not for beginners. One thing that I really am looking forward to is a new 5x5x5 TIC designed by Richard Gain together with Andrew Crowell. They worked together to design this and Richard printed it at home. Apparently he had been unable to assemble it without assistance which means that it will be incredibly incredibly tough - I've asked for him to print me a copy too and they will be up for sale on his Etsy site in the near future (the stl files are up for sale already).

Have a great afternoon everyone - keep puzzling.

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