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"! 😱😱

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