Saturday 25 June 2011

Pagoda No 3

Pagoda 3
The recent Puzzle paradise auction (March) had many beautiful and interesting puzzles, many of which were completely out of my league in terms of cost (one went for in excess of $2000!) and I really do not like auctions because I either rapidly get into territory which makes me financially uncomfortable or just lose at the last moment.

I have been trying to get a puzzle box by Mr Makishi for some time and have been stymied by his refusal to open a PayPal account to allow safe payment across continents. So I was delighted to see that he has collaborated with Matthew Dawson to make a number of Pagoda puzzles. Number 1 and a tougher number 3 were available in the recent auction (in fact some are still up for sale). These are a limited run of 40 puzzles and were available on a "Buy now" basis which meant I stood a reasonable chance of getting what I was after without any nasty surprises. Within a day or so of the auction starting, I had obtained a price which included the PayPal fees and post to the UK. It was a little eye-watering but still manageable (I haven't dared tell the present Mrs yet!!)

After 7 days it arrived very nicely packaged. The box contained the Pagoda itself and a small sealed envelope with the solution inside. The puzzle is constructed from maple, oak and walnut and looks stunningly well constructed. It has the Makishi signature on the back. It is 5.75" tall, 3" wide and 3" deep.

Pagoda 3 solved
It is quite clear that the door at the front is to open (it turns out that this is a drawer). Initially I had absolutely no idea what was required. The lower 2 roof pieces can turn in any direction, the second one is fixed and the top one initially was stuck but seemed slightly loose. After a little fiddling I discovered that when the lower pieces were in the correct position then the top piece could lift up or move down and in certain positions the top could rotate. From this I deduced that the aim was to move the top piece through a hidden internal maze until it was all the way up and thus release the drawer.

Having now done 4 revomazes I did not find the maze hugely difficult but it was very enjoyable and really cleverly instituted and after about 30 minutes I had managed to open the puzzle. I was not particularly systematic in my navigation of the maze and did not plot a map or take notes which meant that after opening the puzzle and admiring the perfect construction, I was completely unable to lock it again. In fact several times I managed to part lock it but not get any further forwards or back. I have been stuck at this point for some time!!! I have even opened the instruction envelope and looked at that but unfortunately it does not seem helpful in closing the Pagoda. So at present I am stuck picking it up and playing without success. This is frustrating but is the sign of a good puzzle!

After 2 months of playing with this thing, I emailed Matt to see whether he had any closing instructions for it and literally immediately after hitting the send button on the email, I finally managed to get enough of an understanding of it to get it closed!! It is a pretty awesome design to have kept me stymied for so long! In fact I am not 100% sure that I will be able to repeat it! I will give it a go when I have the courage.

This kept me going for quite some time, my only regret about this particular puzzle is that there is no way to see the obviously extremely ingenious mechanism inside after opening it.

Matthew Dawson, the puzzle designer is to be highly commended for such a clever mechanism made in wood. I really look forward to any new puzzles by him (he has stated that his next designs will not be Pagodas this time). It was not particularly cheap but as a limited edition of 40, I think was a really good buy.

1 comment:

  1. Great Blog!!
    There are still some available here: ;)