Sunday 26 February 2023

Counting to 4 in the Correct Order

Number Blocks
Mrs S has been away for over a week visiting the Outlaws. She returned home yesterday whilst I was at work and this meant a  flurry of cleaning up my mess (with dozens of puzzles lying all over the house) and then making the place look vaguely presentable and doing a bit of my assigned DIY over the last few days. This has left me knackered but at least I have managed to solve a few puzzles to blog about. Today I have a lovely puzzle that was great fun and is absolutely perfect to take to work for "normal people" to play with. It's a little bit of a shock to have to finally admit after all these years that I am "not normal"! ­čś▒­čś▒

Recently, I had a little chat with Tom Lensch via email when I was seeking a copy of his award winning 4 Pac puzzle designed by Hajime Katsumoto. This had been very highly rated by Allard as well as appearing a few times in the EPP book. Of course, Tom always has a bunch of creations on the go at any one time and sometimes has a few toys lying around from previous batches. He talked me into purchasing a new version of the Melting Block puzzle (it has a bunch of gloriously coloured woods which I couldn't resist) as well as the Number blocks by Goh Pit Khiam.

New Melting Block
4 Pac
I immediately fiddled with the 4 Pac and realised that this was going to take some serious working out time which I didn't have straight away and suspected that the New Melting Block might be totally beyond me, so I started on the Number blocks. 

This gorgeous puzzle was created and entered into the IPP design competition way back in 2015 where it won a Jury honourable mention award. It has been reviewed by Jerry Loo who really enjoyed the solving. I am not entirely certain how I missed out on this one (I suspect that I ran out of budgeted funds or had been treated with terrible bodily harm by "she who frightens the bejeezus out of me"). I already have the Arrow blocks and the Road blocks already and very much enjoyed them. 

The aim of the puzzle is to convert one to orientation to another:
            1    2                1    2
                           
            4    3                3    4
There are also several other orders that you can attempt but they are quite a lot simpler (although still a fun challenge). Obviously this cannot be like the traditional 15 puzzle - there is no gap to use to slide the pieces around with. Obviously something has to come out first and I discovered that by turning it over to look at the reverse of the tray: The 4 has no protrusions and then the other pieces can slide. Simple I thunk©, now I slide them into the correct position and reinsert the 4 piece. Of course, our good friend Pit would not have made it that easy - the sliding does move things about but you always get blocked no matter what direction you try. I guess that I had better take all the pieces out?

Now you can see why the puzzle isn't that simple
Maybe the tray needs to be rotated before trying my simple reinsertion? Nope, too easy - the tray just has a slot under the frame all the way around with no obstructions. Time to Think© again - ooh that's painful!

The challenge is not terribly difficult - I think it must have taken me about two hours over a couple of sittings. The lovely thing about this puzzle is that there are 2 very distinct Aha! moments before you can solve it. The first of them I came to quite quickly because whilst I'm not terribly bright, I am not entirely stupid! The second Aha! moment took much longer. I seemed to get fixated on trying one particular thing which was not going to work but I tried anyway...multiple times. Doh! Eventually I had my breakthrough and could count to 4:

I can finally reach 4!
I then brought this wonderful challenge to work where I tortured a few ODPs, nurses and medical students who needed a break from my barrage of information. It was really quite fun to watch them all go through the same process as me. The got fixated on the same problems and eventually had the same Aha! moments (occasionally with a little nudging) and were all delighted with the challenge.

This fabulous puzzle is well worth obtaining and sharing with friends if you can find a copy.



Dale Shows Passion Before Wedding Vows are Allowed

Passion Puzzle by Dale Overy
I have enjoyed Dale's company at many MPPs over the years. He sits quietly solving stuff with ease and enjoys showing off new finds and new creations. He has a particular penchant for disentanglement puzzles which is a delight for me because so few puzzlers seem to really love them. I had purchased a few little toys from him at the last MPP and promptly hidden them when I got home so that Mrs S did not see me moving a bunch of extra toys into the house after a day away. With so much work on my plate, I promptly forgot them and only found them again whilst "she who makes murder hornets fly away in fear" was away.

The Passion puzzle may look very familiar - it looks rather like the classic Wedding Vows puzzle which I reviewed in 2015. The aim is to move 1 bead across to the other side alongside its' lover. Of course, the bead will not fit through any of the holes in the puzzle. There are a number of similar looking puzzles that I have reviewed in the past but they have had very different solution paths. It is definitely not a hugely tough puzzle compared to the monstrosities that I have acquired from Aaron Wang or some of the worst of the sadly missed Livewire company puzzles. But the challenge is really quite fun and, dare I say it, probably suitable for beginners or non puzzlers.

The fun thing for me is the realisation that this lovely challenge is one step before the Wedding vows. You definitely need to go through the Passion puzzle stage before reaching the Wedding vows:

Very clever.
I still have a couple of others to play with from Dale that will keep me jingling and annoying "she who can freeze a lake with just a look". Whack! Ouch!

Type 4 Zig-zag design by Dick Hess

I have no idea what it is called - it's in Czech




Sunday 19 February 2023

The Vault Has No Room Inside

I Get A TIC Trying To Open It

TIC Vault by Andrew Crowell
I sort of knew that this puzzle creation was being developed but had no idea when it would be released. Andrew doesn't seem to market his toys very much and I heard nothing about it. I guess it will have been mentioned on the Discord but I just don't have time to visit it any more than once in a blue moon which probably means that I miss out on a lot of stuff. Luckily for me, at Peter Hajek's End of Year Puzzle Party, the TIC Vault was mentioned in the list of people's favourite puzzles of 2022 six times and  was the favourite for Goetz, who has absolutely impeccable taste that very much overlaps with mine. I contacted him and was told that some were being made and would be available soon and to keep an eye out for when they go on sale. I was very lucky to get one and took delivery at the end of January.

This puzzle is a triumph of 3D printing - it is stunning! The Vault itself is a deep Navy blue and has the characteristic 3D printing layers on it with a black central area circumscribed by a red circle inlay. The sides have very smooth inlaid patterned inserts which break up the layering. It really is pretty attractive and surprisingly heavy - I suspected there might be quite a few magnets embedded in it (one can be seen on the picture above). It is 5x5x2.88 inches in size which upset Mrs S as it will take up even more space that I don't have!  

It arrived with another of Andrew's colourful cards describing the challenge:

1. Unlock the vault
2. Find Your Unique ID Number

Rules: No external tools, excessive force, shaking or spinning is necessary.
Fab, I Thunk! Reach in to the handy gripping sections for the nice quartz finish TIC in the middle. Grab and pull and nope...that ain't coming out of there that easy. Maybe the centre rotates and releases it? Nope! Maybe holding it in different angles or upside down will release it? You guessed it...Nope! My next attempt would involve spinning but that's not allowed/needed. I'm not sure that I want to waste a whole bottle of gin submerging the puzzle and really doubt that Andrew would be that devious. I am obviously missing something. But what?

And here I got stuck all of my first day of playing with it. I tried the same things over and over and over again of course but the answer was still Nope!

Maybe it would work another day? So I left it until the next day and again tried all the same tricks. Still nope!

This went on for 4 days in total and I began to think about tearing my hair out before remembering that I don't have enough to get hold of. I suspected that hair would not play a part in the solution and so I went back to Allard's think©ing trick. It hurt but I remembered a mechanism used previously by other puzzles and tried that. Initially, I tried it in the wrong place but kept at it all over the place and I had found a tool - it looked remarkably like a piece of the cube in the middle. One thing about this tool though...it had a funny shape on the end and a magnet embedded in it - Aha! I needed to try and use this tool next. Fortunately there are only so many places left for using the magnet and I found a couple of areas that caused a clicking noise. Despite a lovely and repeatable clicking noise, nothing else was changing. I could tell that I was going to exhaust my think©ing organ!

I tried something else and got my wonderful Aha! moment and visibility of a clever mechanism that had been used to lock it inside. I now had yet another tool. Now what could I do with that? Removing it had revealed some interesting stuff inside but nothing reachable with the tools I had. I know it's hard to believe but I got stuck again! Yes, being not terribly bright is not very helpful when solving complex puzzles.

After another day or so I noticed something slightly odd and tried to use it in various ways with no luck. But then the earlier clicks suddenly made sense. I had another tool/piece and then finally the cube pieces were all removable. Now I obviously had a TIC - lots of pieces. Lots and lots of pieces which had a very odd feature. Counting the voxels and the fancy features, I realised that something was missing - it was still in the vault and required a simple move to remove it. I had this:

Lots of pieces, lots of magnets and some odd slots
It was immediately clear that the TIC pieces needed assembly first. There were 3 pieces with slots in them and magnets at the end plus 3 pieces that would obviously engage into those slots and lock at the ends. BUT (a very big BUT) which went where? I am absolutely terrible at assembly puzzles and this challenge stumped me for quite a long time. Yes, embarrassingly it took me a week to work it out and get my TIC pieces assembled and then the TIC rearranged into another cube. My excuse for the long challenge is that whilst all the pieces are quite simple, it is quite tough to arrange them into a cube without interlocking them first and I struggled to visualise the shape they would make. Don't look if you don't want to see the assembled cube.


After that it was clear that the cube would interact with the vault (Nothing else was possible with the empty vault and moving the cube around the outside of it or underneath did nothing. I returned the cube to the vault and apart from a huge number of clicking noises, it did not do anything. I was obviously going to have to try other orientations. Was I going to have to try each face down and in 4 different directions? After another little think I had another a realisation that probably attempting 24 different ways to reinsert the cube was not what was intended. I thought, I saw, I conquered and another Aha! moment happened. This was really really clever. I had a coin telling me the puzzle was a TIC Vault but did not have my unique ID. Looking at what I had, a "what if I?" question occurred to me. There was a particular feature of the vault that did not seem to be necessary unless I used it in a certain way.

Aha!
Now that is absolutely wonderful! I had my unique ID and could see how the puzzle worked. It is a masterpiece and I have a candidate for puzzle of the year already! It's looking like 2023 might be a really good year!

All solved - I left my coins outside so will have to solve it again to return them
The reassembly is much easier to complete but still fun. This is an absolutely wonderful puzzle and I will challenge some people at work to play with it if we have any downtime - will go on display with the rest of my ARCPuzzles and be a centrepiece. Thank you Andrew for a wonderful odyssey that took me nearly 2 weeks to complete. Wonderful!



Sunday 12 February 2023

Japanese Packing Causes Some Difficulty

Shutout by Osanori Yamamoto
Today will be a really really quick post - I spent 8 hours yesterday sitting at my computer doing the worst puzzle ever and I am fed up with sitting down and fed up with typing. Yes, it was that time again - time to write our consultant anaesthetist on-call rotas and it was a nightmare. This one covered Easter and various school holidays including 5 public holidays in the 2 month period. The numbers of colleagues are rather depleted and there were a LOT of requests. At the end of that I wanted to run away!

Today I will write about my first ever Osanori Yamamoto puzzle. No, not the first of his puzzles I have ever solved - this is the first puzzle that has been actually made by the master himself. I had seen that Osanori-san's Shutout design had won a "Top 10 vote getter" prize in the 2022 IPP Design competition and I had been intrigued. I have solved quite a lot of his designs over the years and only a few had either been entered into the competition and fewer still had won a prize. I sort of forgot about it until the end of last year when at Peter Hajek's end of year puzzle party the Shutout was shown off by Naoaki Takashima as one of his puzzles of 2022 and looking through the EPP book there were 3 other very serious puzzlers who had announced this as one of their best (they were Boaz Feldman, Theo Geerinck and Guy Loel). When Naoaki-san had showed it off he had announced that he had placed a few of the pieces inside and couldn't even work out how he had done it and couldn't remove them. How could I possibly resist? I contacted Osanori and asked if he would make some more and send one to me. Like a true gentleman he just asked for a bit of time and would let me know when. The postage from Japan was quite ferocious!

Delivery arrangement
It is very nicely made with an MDF box and a lovely grained set of wooden pieces. When it arrived I was slightly surprised to see that it had been sent out in the solved position and went back to the Design competition page to read the aim:
"Build an apparent 3x3x3 block inside the box. (The opening of the box is completely filled and any empty space is hidden within the box.)"

Ah, there is the difference. The arrival position had an obvious gap visible and the aim was to take them out and return them with no holes visible. With 6 tetrominoes there would be 3 gaps in the cube and they all needed to be under the sides of the box or in the centre. 

Initially I struggled to actually take the pieces out of the delivery packing which did not bode well for the main challenge. OK - start outside the box. There are a good few ways to arrange the pieces in a 3x3x3 cube and obviously each one can be oriented in lots of directions inside. First find an organisation that would leave the gaps covered - I found 2 and started to work out how to get them inside. Of course I started on the wrong one because I'm an eeejit and it only took me about an hour to realise that my proposed solution was obviously impossible. Doh! By this time I had forgotten my other arrangement and I had to find it again. I was certainly getting my money's worth.

I eventually found my arrangement and worked on assembling it inside. OMG! This was quite tough - I had failed to notice one of the cardinal features of the box which is immediately obvious from my photos - Doh again! and spent quite of time attempting the impossible. I finally realised what I was doing and tried again only be stumped for a couple of hours. There are sliding moves but also TIC moves inside the box. Solving this puzzle took me a whole afternoon of fun and frustration. I am sure that most of you brilliant puzzlers out there would manage it in about 30 minutes but little me...about 4 hours! This puzzle was at least as good as, if not better than most of the other Yamamoto puzzles that I have in my collection made by various other craftsmen.

No spoilers here!
Having taken my photos, I dismantled it and tried to put it back in the travel assembly. Embarrassingly, this took me a little while. It had been quite a while since I had taken it apart and it does require a bit of thought just for that part. This makes this puzzle doubly worthwhile. I have solved it a few times now and it has required me to work it out each time and whilst it no longer takes me 4 hours, it still takes an embarrassingly long time. I think I might just take this to work to torture some colleagues.

If you can get hold of a copy then this would be well worth your while - great for a collection and a really fun challenge. 

Sunday 5 February 2023

Something for Everyone From Pelikan

OMG! Sooo beautiful - Plus one more that I couldn't easily arrange as I am in mid solve
I have been lucky enough yet again to get advance access to the latest creations from Jakub and Jaroslav's amazing Pelikan factory. This time we have 8 incredibly beautiful challenges varying from the simple and quirky to the unbelievably difficult. There is something for everyone here. 

Luckily for me they arrived in 2 batches. The first 6 arrived 2 weeks ago with a warning not to write anything yet due to delays of the whole release caused by sickness. This certainly made it a little less fraught for me and I have solved those first ones in a leisurely fashion over that 2 weeks. Then unexpectedly another 3 arrived with a request that Jakub would like the solutions as soon as possible. I have been feverishly trying to solve 3 of the hardest ones in the week. There is something for everyone here - if you like burrs then there is something from easy to challenging but fun right up to the OMG difficult. Packing puzzles as well with something that I managed fairly easily to another that is fabulous but really tough.

On we go:

Imogen's Cube

Imogen's Cube by Alfons Eyckmans
         Incredible design and incredible manufacture
Imogen's cube is one of Alfons Eyckmans amazing interlocking cubic designs which he names after significant people - this one was designed and named for the daughter of a puzzling friend. I had already bought this one from Alfons several years ago and have so far failed to dismantle it. I was astounded when I took this out of the box! It is stunningly beautiful made from multiple hardwoods. There is a frame and several interlocking sticks crossing each axis of the puzzle with 4 crossing one direction, 3 in another and 2 the final one. There is a lot of movement in this right from the very beginning and I have managed to get myself lost several times during my to and fro approach to solving these. On several occasions I have found myself with a stick a long way out and nowhere to go but then unable to work out how to get it back in again. The solution level is not astoundingly high but the sheer amount of movement and blind ends seems to have made this really tough for me. In fact I have yet to solve it. For those of you who are really keen on burrs/interlocking solids or those of you who want something truly gorgeous for the display then this will be a must have.

Lucia

Lucia by Alfons Eyckmans
Another incredible design showing the skills of Alfons. This seems to be something new from him. I have seen him design a number of interlocking cubes and various burrs over the years but I have not really seen him spend much time on a rather special and enjoyable type of 6 piece burr. These have the sticks based on a 3x3x8 voxel grid which allows the construction of the obstructing marts to be much more intricate and more like a maze to navigate. The first one like this was the Dracula from the last release (which is still in stock). This has been beautifully crafted from Acacia with a lovely grain. The exploration is fun and with a level 10.3.2 the disassembly is fun without being too difficult. For those of you with some real burr skill, I definitely recommend scrambling the pieces and after a break attempting a reassembly. It is tough but even I managed it with only a medium struggle.

Pin-up Box

Pin-up Box by Lucie Pauwels
This delightful little packing puzzle by the amazing Lucie Pauwels really packs quite a punch. It is surprisingly heavy for its' size (85x36x46mm) which I presume is due to the density of the Jatoba box. The pieces are made from Wenge and there is a beautifully made pin made withMaple and Bubinga. The pieces are a small subset of the Soma pieces with 4 of them having a hole drilled through. The aim is to assemble the pieces inside the box leaving space for the pin to be poked though the hole into the piece which lines up with it. There are obvious 4 different solutions depending on which piece you wish to pierce. I found this a delightful little challenge to try in the evenings and finding the final one took me a surprising amount of time (but then I am usually terrible at packing puzzles). This is a lovely puzzle for beginners and experienced puzzlers alike.



Lucie has contacted me free I posted this to correct me and tell me the true aim:
"The goal of the Pin-Up Box is to pack everything inside and fix with the pin, in a way that nothing drops out when you hold the box upside down. Four pieces with a pin-hole, each giving a solution."

Time to try again! 

Turtles

Turtles designed by our very own Jakub
This one is very cute. Jakub decided that he wanted to turn his hand to puzzle design himself and created something delightful. Turtles reminds me of the Bison puzzle from Xmas 2021 - it is a sequentially interlocking puzzle created from Wenge and Acacia. The secret is to find the way to remove the first piece and then it will serially disassemble. In the end you are left with a bunch of rather interesting pieces and a genuine laugh out loud moment when you suddenly realise what the guys have done. When I showed Mrs S, even she was delighted with the end result. It is not a difficult puzzle but it is genuinely delightful.

Timburr

Timburr by Christoph Lohe
There seems to be no end to the design skills shown by Christoph Lohe. His interlocking/burr puzzles are always relatively simple in basic outline shape but the design of the solution is always a wonderful and very fun challenge. Over the years he has produced a bunch of burrs with frames and they have all been brilliant. I think that the Timburr (beautifully recreated here by Jakub from Purpleheart, Padauk, Wenge and Ash) is one of his very best designs. The solution level is a very high 31.3.1.3.3.3 which is astonishing for just a 6 piece burr. Despite the high level and a fair number of dead ends at first, finding the pathway is a pleasant exploration and has 2 or 3 lovely Aha! moments in the process. It took me a couple of evenings to dismantle it.

It looks so simple!
Unfortunately for me, having balanced the pieces on my cat as I sequentially removed them, he rolled over and they all slid off into a pile. Despite this, I was actually able to reassemble the puzzle from scratch with only a couple of days attempting to place the pieces the wrong way around. I found the reassembly challenge even more fun than the initial disassembly (although I very much doubt I could have managed it without having done that first). This puzzle is simply fabulous - one of my favourites in this batch.

Cerberus

Cerberus by Girish Sharma
Girish is a relatively new name to me. I noticed that he suddenly appeared in the IPP design competition winners list this year with what looks like either a TIC or sequentially interlocking cube puzzle. Here we have another interlocking cube puzzle made from Wenge, Padauk, Acacia and Maple. I have always adored these puzzles ever since I got hooked by Richard Gain's microcubology puzzles way back at the beginning of my puzzling career. Initially, I could only disassemble them and over the years got better and better and even enjoy them as assembly puzzles. One of my all time favourite interlocking puzzles is one of Juha Levonen's designs - the Juha's 12. This puzzle has a special piece which marches up and down through the other pieces during the solve process and is absolutely wonderful to play with. The Cerberus by Girish left me with a similar feeling. The pieces move all over the place and one piece in particular marches through. Once it has been removed (after 25 moves) it takes another 5 to remove the second and then 4 to finally separate the last 2 pieces:

Absolutely stunning design and beautifully made
This puzzle was probably my absolute favourite from this release. I am really looking forward to any new creations from Girish in the future.

Umbrella

Umbrella by Tamás Vanyó
On Facebook, Tamás has been designing and producing some absolutely incredible challenges and has worked with Pelikan over the last year to bring them to reality for us all to enjoy, however, I have not seen him design a packing puzzle before. I was surprised and delighted to see the Umbrella amongst the latest arrivals. This packing puzzle has something special which is just what I would expect from Tamás - all the pieces have a unique box like design which allows them to be changed into 2 different shapes. The workmanship required to create this puzzle is astounding - the American Walnut L shaped pieces have a stem and a box round that stem which slides freely into each of the two positions. All the pieces need to be placed into the Ash box. There are quite a lot of solutions and it is a rather delightful soothing process to try and find them. There is always a single voxel gap inside and I have attempted to find solutions which have that gap in various different positions. This is a lovely idea and fun for all experience levels.

Just one of the solutions

Stuffing Burr

Stuffing Burr by Volker Latussek
It would seem that no release from Pelikan is complete without something from Dr Latussek and you will not be disappointed this time. We are all delighted when the good doctor creates yet another of his impossibly difficult packing puzzles (I have still not solved Fermat or Euklid for Nick) but here we have something completely different. It is called a burr but is it really? This nice chunky puzzle is made from absolutely gorgeous Purpleheart and consists of 2 pairs of identical L-shaped pieces which have notches cut into them. The aim is to assemble a shape that allows all the notches to be filled. Only four pieces in the burr and only 8 notches...it must be easy? Not for me it wasn't! Would you expect Volker to release an easy puzzle? This was one of the puzzles that arrived earlier this week and I had limited time to play. There is a shape that absolutely screams to be assembled from these pieces - I tried and tried to assemble it and got nowhere. Back to the drawing board and time to totally change my approach - think© differently which is not one of my strong points. It took me a couple of evenings of play before I had my Aha! moment. It really is quite elegant and, in the end, not as tough as I had imagined but really quite clever.

Tube in Cube

Tube in Cube by Volker Latussek
The name of this was at the suggestion of Allard who I assume must have helped with some prototyping. This name is much better than the original and whilst the pieces are not hollow, it is a good description of what needs to be done. Dr Latussek was heavily influenced by the now classic puzzle by Vesa Timonen, Lox in Box which has cylindrical wooden pieces to be packed into a tray. Volker with his amazing 3D design skills really wanted to turn this into a more difficult packing puzzle more than just fitting pieces into a tray. When he knew that I was going to receive a copy he contacted me with his origin story:
Place the eight logs into the box.” This is the simple goal of the wonderful packing puzzle LOX IN BOX by Vesa Timonen. These round rods, beveled on one side, are just crying out to be twisted out of the plane. I wanted to find eight round rods that would fit into an open cube-shaped box. And to do it in a unique arrangement. For this job, I needed to understand the shape of these round rods. At times I was convinced a nice mix of eight round rods would fit into the cube in a particularly clever way, only to learn that by tilting, rotating and swapping, other fillings could be obtained. Those round beveled rods can hurt. In the end, a mix of round rods with only two different lengths won out. Unfortunately, after that, I wondered why I wasn't using my typical box. A new problem was formulated and an intensive collaboration with Pelikan ensued.

The result is TUBE IN CUBE. For this, one round rod had to be shortened. This is not pretty, but in return the round rods unfold their full beauty in the restricted box, at least the part I was allowed to discover. If you want to experience the beauty of the round beveled rods, I highly recommend practising with two rods first and only then successively increasing the number...and so my story ends as it began: “Place the eight logs into the box.
An amazing design and wonderfully brought to life
Volker was not wrong! This puzzle is a fabulous creation and is tremendously difficult without being impossible. The shapes scream out for experimentation in pairs and different combinations but assembly outside the box is impossible because everything is very unstable and rolls all over the place. However, despite this, you get enough ideas to then start assembling in the box. It is also a dexterity puzzle - the pieces just do not want to stay in place (in fact I have really struggled just to get the thing back to the travel position). As you play, it becomes obvious how the short pieces can interact and then it is a matter of working out how to get them inside. Lots of different ideas spring to mind as you play but always the last piece cannot be inserted - not just because the lid gets in the way, but because there is simply no room inside for that piece. Eventually there is an incredible Aha! moment and with a lot of fiddling about the final piece can go inside. The precision is amazing and they only just fit inside the box. This is also my pick from the bunch.

Moving Castles

Moving Castles by Tamás Vanyó
Yes, I am sure that this is one of the puzzles that you would expect from the amazing design brain of Tam├ís Vany├│! This is the third of his castle collaborations with Pelikan. I have to admit that I have not had much time to try this one yet. It consists of 9 pieces to fit on a frame. Each piece has the same basic structure with a waist that is 2x2 voxels in size which will fit into the frame and then on either side of that waist are the wonderful characteristic castle shapes based on a 3x3 grid. This puzzle is not quite as straightforward as that because they have added an extra twist. There are 8 ways to place the pieces on the frame but the extra challenge is to organise them in such a way that can walk through the entire castle from START to STOP (i.e. create one continuous path using both sides of pieces). There is a start mark on the frame and a small arrow which serves as a sort of "checkpoint" telling you to flip over as it's on the opposite corner of the start and end. 

So far I have managed to assemble all the pieces on the frame which alone was a nice fun challenge but I have certainly not gotten anywhere near creating a path all the way around the puzzle from beginning to end. I think this might well take me several weeks to complete. The assembled puzzle on the frame looks like one of MC Escher's impossible 3D creations and even unsolved looks beautiful on display.


There are some absolutely amazing puzzles here and all have been created with the precision we have come to expect of Jakub, Jaroslav and their team. You will not be disappointed! My favourites from this batch are:
  1. Cerberus - just for the wonderful progressive movement and because I am addicted to interlocking cubes.
  2. Tube in Cube - Volker does it again and uses a new shape to make something incredibly clever.
  3. Timburr - I love Christoph's special burrs.
  4. Turtles - the Aha! moment made me laugh out loud.