Sunday 24 September 2023

A Wallet Worth Putting In Your Pocket

Coin Wallet by Koichi Miura
No spoilers (picture from the design competition page)
Here’s another of the wonderful puzzles by Koichi-San that did very well in the recent IPP design competition - it won the Jury first prize and there’s a good reason for it. 

I bought it a few months ago and it remained untouched because of time constraints and other puzzle arrivals. After Allard reviewed it in May, I moved it to my work bag where it again sat for several months. I did get it out and fiddle periodically but my case mix at work is now too challenging to split my attention off to play with a toy during a case. One weekend recently, I actually finished all the trauma cases a bit early and had a little time waiting around with nothing to do. Time to play with my money! Ok the coins are plastic and definitely not legal tender but still quite tactile and worth the expense.

There are 4 pieces with stacked coins and a limited opening into the wallet. When it arrived it is almost there. All the coins are sort of inside but peeking out the top opening:

Almost…but not quite
Taking the pieces out, the first thing to do is work out how the pieces can be assembled in the restricted space but outside. There are not many options really so should be easy…yeah right! Koichi-San does no design easy puzzles - there is always a catch and definitely with this one. After all, there must be a reason it did so well in the competition - if such experienced puzzlers rated it so highly then the Aha! moment should be fabulous.

Having worked out the only possible arrangement of the pieces inside, it was time to place them through what I thought was a decently sized wallet opening. And here is where the fun starts. That opening is tantalising. Big enough to give hope but small enough to dash them quite quickly. I even tried some disentanglement moves to place more than one piece at a time through that entrance. Whilst that was helpful in the end, it was only a small part of the solution. I spent a good ½ hour trying various entrance manoeuvres with no success and then tried some burr type moves. The Aha! moment was wonderful. It is really very logical and a nice sequence requiring several moves. My coins were packed - no photo spoiler I’m afraid.

I then handed it to quite a few work colleagues to play with and all thought it must be easy only to have their hopes dashed quite quickly. There is something quite compulsive to it because they could not put it down and at one point I had to take it away because they were ignoring their work in the operating theatre. They kept asking me for it each time there was a break in the day and none of them were able to solve it. Mr Miura seems to design puzzles with just the right difficulty level to be challenging to real puzzlers and yet almost impossible for newbies. The newbies keep playing with it because the design shapes are compulsive and demand to be picked up and played with. Who can resist a wallet with a bunch of coins to fit inside. I even showed the solution to one of my coworkers and then he still couldn’t repeat the solve despite having seen every step. This was a fun torture device!

This puzzle is so good that I will keep it in my work bag to keep other theatre staff occupied when they should be working. That bag is killing my shoulders as it is chockablock with puzzles for me and others to play with! 

If you want a copy then I think Mine is going to be making more of them and in more colours judging from his FB page. Again, no spoilers here.

This is awesome! Well worth adding to your collection.

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