Friday, 6 April 2012

My nemesis - finally solved

Almost a year ago now, I bought a puzzle from Wil Strijbos. I had been lusting after one for some considerable time and it suddenly became available, so I snapped it up! Yes it was the Cola bottle number 1 designed and manufactured by Wil himself.

Cola bottle #1
I bought mine direct from Wil, but it is available from Sloyd here (they have a couple of the other bottles too). Despite being owned by several several of my fellow puzzle bloggers, only Oli has actually written a review of it! He is a very experienced puzzle fiend and it actually took him a fair while to solve it.

It is difficult to see from my amateurish photo but it consists of a genuine 250ml Coca cola bottle. Inside it is a black marble and the aim is to remove this marble. Preventing you from doing this is a long and thick plastic dowel which blocks the top of the bottle. Why not just remove the dowel? Because there is a nut and bolt through the end of the dowel! Hmmm! What now?

I had spent the best part of a year working on this one and it had beaten every effort I had made - it was my nemesis! My failure to solve it was not helped by the fact that being made of glass (with a marble inside and a steel nut and bolt) it is quite a noisy puzzle to play with. All of my regular readers know that the present Mrs S really hates my jingly wire disentanglement puzzles. Just imagine what she must think of this bottle!!! I can tell you that I have had many burns between my eyes caused by the laser stare, many bruises caused by a sharp smack on the back of the head and many days of profound earache caused by the thorough verbal bashing I got whenever I attempted this puzzle in her presence or even when she was within 50 metres of me. Despite my hesitation to pick it up, being frightened of the multiple injuries she threatened me with, the real reason that I failed at this puzzle was because I just couldn't work out how to solve it. In desperation, I even asked Wil if he had any solution sheets or clues and all he said was that he would get around to it eventually. Eventually never happened!!

I had actually seen this one in the solved state for about a minute! Unfortunately I did not see how it reached that state, nor how it was reassembled! This occurred at the 3rd Midlands Puzzle Party, when fellow puzzle freak Nigel (Barcared on the Revomaze forums) brought his along to show people. All I saw was a marble in one hand and a bottle in the other before he whisked it away with a clinking noise and turned his back on me very fast and went to a hidden area to put it back together. the only thing I could see was a sort of swishing movement of the dowel - Aaargh!

It is reasonably easy with some dexterity to remove the nut from the bolt and then slip this out of the bottle (not necessary to remove it but it was an attempt to make it a little quieter!) Unfortunately nothing I did could help me remove the bolt. I had to admit defeat and had put it down for the last 4 or 5 months to preserve my sanity and my flesh. Recently, I saw it again during my visit to the puzzle museum and a small discussion with Allard ensued. It would appear that one of the things I had thought of was correct but just hadn't been done quite right. So when I got home and Mrs S was out, I had another go - it still wouldn't work. After further discussions with the great puzzle-meister I discovered what I had done wrong.

Finally the marble could be removed! My nemesis has been vanquished:

At last - the marble is out!
Now I just have 2 more of these blasted bottles to solve! I haven't a clue how to do them yet but once my bruises have settled a bit, I might just give them a go!! If you don't hear from me again then she has killed me and hidden the body!


  1. Ooh, ooh - dibs on the puzzle collection! [and glad you beat it in the end! ] :-) - allard

    1. Ok everyone! If I disappear and Mrs S seems distraught, then Allard did it!!!

  2. You posted this the day I finally solved the rubik's cube!!! Don't worry about taking a while to solve the bottles. Hell. I took thirty years to solve the cube! That would make a great t-shirt to wear at the IPP. Lol!!!

    1. Congratulations on the cube! It's a remarkable achievement to solve the "greatest puzzle of the 20th century"! Now you need to learn how to solve other twisties - watch out for further reviews from me soon. I have become hopelessly addicted to them (now have 37!!!)

      As for going to the IPP - it is by INVITATION ONLY from a committee. Only SERIOUS puzzlers get to go. I think you need more than 300 puzzles in your collection to qualify - I do now but not been invited as yet (not sure I can afford a trip to Washington this year)!

  3. Ok I'll get three hundred and one rubik's cubes and talk seriously until I get invited.

  4. My "collection" (if you can call that a collection) was barely 80 puzzles... Sigh, a long way to go! And to think my wallet was already crying in pain...

    1. Keep it up Wil! To many people 80 puzzles is a good collection!
      It takes a while but slowly and steadily does it - I'm up to about 450 now and even that is considered small to many collectors!



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