Sunday 19 December 2021

Locking Heaven or Locking Hell?

Mind the gap.
Just a quick blog post today - I am working yet again and don't have much time to solve and write, I'm afraid. Thanks to Mike last week, I did at least have some time off from the pressure of writing whilst I have to work so much.

I can now say that Andrew Coles produces VERY nice puzzles! That will be plural. I really loved his Lock Out puzzle back in August 2020 (it was a very welcome relief from the pandemic and definitely made me feel much better having had the virus and felt absolutely awful for a month in the early summer). We have all been waiting to see what he came up with as a follow up and he has certainly done something quite wonderful here. He has used a very "non-standard" padlock (certainly not one I have ever seen before) and modified it so that it doesn't open properly until you do something to make it open properly. It is not available for general sale yet but will be coming soon - a bunch of previous customers and friends got a chance to buy it a little early and I am very grateful for that opportunity. Andrew describes this puzzle as one of medium difficulty and I would agree with that. Maybe even a simple puzzle as a numbskull like me solved it in about 20 minutes. This does not detract from the pleasure - it is a very nice mechanism which has been beautifully made. If you collect locks or metal puzzles then you HAVE to buy it. 

Mind that gap!
It is a fully brass lock with the exception of a screw in the top (obviously a modification from Andrew) and the steel keys. It didn't occur to me straight away but the routed ring in the shackle is also a modification (surely Abus would not deliberately weaken a metal shackle?) and the routing work gives you something to think about. Of course, you have to do it even if you know it won't work! Put the damn keys in the lock and turn them... I got a fright - it went click and the shackle moved quite a bit.

Nope the lock didn't open - it just moved a bit and made a gap. Remember that you have to "mind the gap". Absolutely would not go any further. Now what? Time to have a look at what you have and think©. I thunk for a bit and my simple mind sort of said to me..."what if I???" Ooooh that's interesting! Now what?

The gap is minded!
I cannot give anything away but after the "what if I???" moment, there is a very nice Aha! moment and then another one of those maybe I should try ??? ideas will occur to you. It is all quite logical and before long you will have a proper gap and a little satisfied grin on your face. Mr Coles has engineered something very clever and quite logical. I dropped him a message with a photo of my open puzzle and my appreciation of his mastery. I knew it would be good - Shane Hales is an expert on locks and lock puzzles and he said this had a mechanism that he had not thought of before and that it was a good puzzle. I trust Shane implicitly and I handed over my money as a result - let's just say...he was right yet again! When it comes up for sale - you won't be disappointed.

Loki - a devil of a lock!
Next I go to hell with Loki from the incredible Boaz Feldman. I have played with this every evening for over a month now and I am convinced that Boaz sent me a broken one! I am not the only one - my friend Neil (an incredible puzzler) has also singularly failed to open his copy. Now, you must know that I am joking about broken puzzles - Boaz' engineering skills are superb (this can be seen when you see the solution to the original B-Lock (available here and here) and the Danlock which Boaz is now making (also available here)). What we have here is a master at making trick locks producing something that is too difficult for a simple medical practitioner like me to figure out. 

Key turned and removed.
As usual, yet again, you put the key in the lock and sometimes the key turns and sometimes it doesn't. When it does turn, the shackle moves a bit which gets your hopes up and then it stops with not a hint of a gap there. Sigh. So you turn the key back again to "lock" it and sometimes it turns back and sometimes it doesn't. Boaz has definitely broken this lock rather badly!

After inspecting the puzzle for any other signs of things I can do, I run out of ideas rather quickly so it's back to turning the key. I noticed that when the key is turned the shackle won't open and the key won't come out again...except if you do something special then the key will come out. That is very interesting and has gotten me absolutely nowhere! What else can I do? I have no idea! I am a simple man - I sort of think that you put a key in a lock and you turn it and you expect something to happen (usually it opens) but here sometimes something happens and sometimes it doesn't and I think I can make it do all of those things at will whenever I want them happen. 

That is unexpected!
I spent a happy few evenings doing the same things over and over and over again getting nowhere when I suddenly found that there is a way to turn the key in the lock, still remove the key but then be unable to reinsert the key more than a few millimeters. That is very interesting far completely useless!

I am certain there is more to this than I have found so far but just like with the B-Lock, it will require very close examination and thought - this could take me years! Loki is a the name of a norse god and is supposed to be a trickster or little devil and so far over a month he has lifted me up a little bit and taken me to hell. I have absolutely no idea what to try next and am reduced to doing the same things over and over again in the vain hope that something different might happen one time. 

If you want a challenge then you should definitely buy one (at the moment they are only available direct from Boaz' site). They may be available from PuzzleMaster or other vendors in the future.


  1. The foreign office has also failed to open Loki, thus far. We must all be missing something exceedingly clever.

    1. Hi Mike, I’ve managed to open it now. But cannot for the life of me lock it back up again! Great puzzle!

  2. I'm glad I found your site. I am really enjoying it. I have not been puzzling that long so your site provides great info on puzzles I might want to try. I'm working on the Loki Lock now. It's the hardest puzzle I've attempted and so far I have not gotten anywhere with it.

    1. I am glad that my site is useful to you. I spend a lot of time and effort doing it and it’s great to hear from other puzzlers. Good luck with Loki. I have only just opened mine after a real struggle (it’s very well implemented) and now I cannot close it up again.

  3. Great site! Thank you. I sent you a previous comment but looks like it got deleted?
    Been at the Loki for over a week and gotten nowhere!?

    1. I’m glad that you are enjoying my little piece of the web! Keep working on Loki, it’s brilliant!