Thursday 28 June 2012


So in my last post, I described all these rather expensive (and beautiful) handmade puzzles which I had bought from various craftsmen around the world. Whilst I absolutely love these, I am well aware that many people can't afford to buy such things and these are actually less good value in terms of puzzling than the ones I have bought from Puzzle Master and other stores. I like those for the beauty of them and the craftsmanship. In fact I have spent quite enough for a while and always find myself coming back to the various wire, twisty and Hanayama puzzles they supply. In terms of "bang for your buck" you really cannot beat this store! Plus of course - they just have so much to choose from, I spend hours surfing and choosing toys to play with without feeling guilty.

At the recent Midlands puzzle party, I discovered that the puzzling community seem to think of me as a bit of a wire puzzle specialist! This has never been my aim - I lurve ALL puzzles! But I do keep coming back to them!! They are so simple and yet can be such a tremendous challenge - real value for your puzzling money.

So this time I am going to describe the Mosquito wire puzzle. This one looks like a nice simple construction with a short length of string (meaning it is less likely to cause that horrible knotted feeling!) and a nicely made yet simple looking set of wire rings etc. This is a very reasonable $10 and is rated by Puzzle Master as 8 out of 10 (Demanding) on their difficulty scale - the only user review on the site states that it is "very difficult!", so I couldn't resist it could I? It comes in the usual nice clamshell package and has only the instructions to remove the string. Dimensions are 10.6 x 13.2cm. There are no instructions included but if you need help then get them from here.

Sunday 24 June 2012

A Bountiful Bonanza of Beautiful and Positively Perplexing Puzzles

I've been a VERY bad boy again!

After a little "issue" I decided that it was time I spoiled myself and bought some of the puzzles I had been hankering after. The present Mrs S has managed to acquire another 2 Mulberry handbags for her "collection" and so she did not mind too much when I decided that I deserved a treat.

This means that over the next few months as I solve them, you also will get a treat as I describe them to you in all their glory! (I will still discuss the more every day puzzles too!!)

All right all right! I'll spill the beans! My first acquisition after months of saving up was the Opening Bat from Mr Puzzle - from what I can gather, this is the piéce de résistance of the puzzling world - it is staggeringly lovely and very large!! I got mine just in the nick of time before the last one sold out.

I've waited a long time for this!
I couldn't resist the last batch of puzzles from Eric Fuller's Cubic dissection site! I was originally only going to buy 3 but changed my mind at the last moment and bought all 4 new ones:

Slow Waltz
I Shall be Released           Chen's 6 Board Burr             N-One
Of course that's not it - the wonderful Brian Menold also produced another batch of new puzzles for sale on his site Wood Wonders. I could resist another packing puzzle - Blockhead (designed by Bill Cutler) and you know how I love interlocking cubes, so I bought Convolution (designed by Stewart Coffin):


I am just starting to get a little embarrassed now! But what was I to do when after ordering lots of others, I heard from Wil Strijbos (my puzzle pusher) about some brand new puzzles of his own design? Well, I had to buy them too didn't I?

New Dovetail and First Box
I had also been having a conversation with Jerry McFarland for some time and reminded him about something I had ordered 9 months ago. He had one partially finished in stock so I asked him to send it out when finished and it arrived yesterday! These are stunningly beautiful and really quite large!

Quadlock 4
At the last Midlands puzzle party, I saw a few people attempting the Brandenburg gate puzzle and saw how difficult it was. After reading Allard's review, I asked the wonderful Bernhard Schweitzer whether there were any left. I managed to nab the very last one and he knows how much I love cubes, so he gave me a freebie - a prototype he has made of Jos Bergmans' Star Lock Puzzle. I have solved the latter, but the former is causing me quite a lot of grief just now - how can 3 simple pieces be so damn difficult to get apart?

Brandenburg Gate
Star Lock Puzzle

There can't be any more can there? Ahem (looks a bit sheepish!!!!)

Stellated Improved Square Face
Also at the MPP, I saw a copy of this and it reminded me that I had been emailing the amazing Scott Peterson about some cubes. I then remembered that it had been 9 months since our last contact, so I emailed again and he hadn't yet made any cubes but had another one of these available - it is based on Coffin's Improved Square Face burr puzzle but Scott had altered the ends to give them a stellated shape. It is absolutely gorgeous! Even the present Mrs S had to admit that it was lovely (although she still won't let me put it in the living room!)

Popplock T2
So how about that being the last of them? I'm afraid not. As you know I am quite partial to the occasional Popplock and one of my fellow revomaze forum members wanted to sell his T2. He posted on line and it was mine in another 1/2 hour! Gulp!!

Ghost cube
I also have a ghost cube in transit just now:

And,   Oh dear!!! Vaclav Obsivac also added more stuff to his site - luckily they are very reasonably priced so another 6 Vinco puzzles are on their way!!

So! I do apologise! I've been very very bad!

Wednesday 20 June 2012

A Parity of False Equivocation!?

Fisher Cube
Fisher cube other side
There! I bet that title made you do a double take!!! This terminology was coined by my puzzle friend Jon - he is SuperantonioVivaldi on YouTube. Go and view his channel - he is absolutely amazing! If you think that you can't do twisty puzzles then let him teach you - EVERYONE can do twisty puzzles and Jon is one of the best teachers I have ever seen. He is also starting out as a puzzle maker/designer so if you really want to try something special then have a look at his Shapeways store (this is NOT for beginners however). Whilst I am advocating good teachers for twisty puzzles, please go and view Rline's site - this teaches many twisty puzzles using just intuition and 2 (yes JUST 2) very simple algorithms. It provides some fantastic techniques. I personally use a mixture of methods and just now am working my way through the Crazy 3x3 planet series and seem to find myself mostly using Rline's techniques because they really go back to absolute basics.

The Fisher cube was designed by the world famous puzzler, Tony Fisher - he has been designing cube modifications since 1981 when he unleashed the Siamese cubes on the world and has designed at least another 100 puzzles over the years.

I got the Fisher cube from Puzzle Master as part of my recent large order - they have a huge selection of Meffert's and other manufacturers' Twisty puzzles at decent prices (if you prefer it in black then Puzzle Master have it in that colour too). This can also be bought from all the usual specialist twisty outlets. It follows the standard Rubik's cube puzzle colouring and is a 5.7 cm cube also like the standard cube. Puzzle Master rate it as a level 9 in difficulty and this is correct if you are not a twisty person but if you can solve a regular cube then it is not so hard (apart from the alleged "parity of false equivocation")!

So, if you can do a 3x3 cube should you get one of these? Absolutely yes! This uses the same basic techniques but adds some very interesting twists to them, making it a rather interesting and really fun puzzle to solve without being ridiculously tough.

Friday 15 June 2012

Broken Heart Trick Lock

Broken Heart Trick Lock
So, I couldn't resist it much longer! I had come to the end of my large Puzzle Master order (I think I had managed to ration myself quite well - I had spread them all out over 3 months!) and I had a dilemma: Should I get any more? OK you have probably guessed that I only hesitated for a nanosecond! Puzzle Master have such a huge collection in so many different subtypes that there is always a puzzle still to be tried so I placed another order and waited! (I really don't understand why the Canada post office are so much more expensive than all the others around the world!) A little tip for you - don't EVER use the overland option for Canada post to Europe - a previous order from a different Canadian based puzzle company took 4 months to arrive by this route!

Using the airmail option was more expensive but it arrived within a couple of weeks. I was like a child at a funfair unpacking another very large hoard!!!

Having recently reviewed another of Rainer Popp's fabulous Tricklocks (the T3), I have definitely gotten a taste for Puzzle Locks. So I ordered the Broken Heart Trick Lock from  Puzzle Master. It is rated as a level 5 (the easiest level). It is nicely packaged in the Puzzle Master plastic clamshell with only the instructions to open the lock. It is really quite attractive, made from brass in a heart shape and provided with 2 keys also having a heart motif. It isn't particularly large measuring 13 x 6.4 x 1.3 cm. It does feel like a nice quality puzzle. No solution is provided and it doesn't appear to be available for download either but do not worry about this - you won't need a solution.

Sunday 10 June 2012

Jos Bergmans cubes

I apologise for the little hiatus in posting! I felt I was getting a little stale and needed a break. But, I am back again having made a good number of new toy purchases (not told Mrs S yet!!!) and am ready to go. It is a nice mixture of special craftsman made puzzles as well as a rather extensive hoard from Puzzle Master.

Starting with Pirouette, I had initially played with this at the 3rd Midlands Puzzle party. This was just a prototype that Richard had made for his own pleasure. He had not at that time gained permission to sell the design so could not let any one have it. I recall quite vividly my exclamation when it came apart with such a beautiful final set of moves. Richard had only made the one copy for his own personal use and had not asked permission to produce it for sale. I encouraged him at the time that he should but it didn't seem to occur. I reminded him once and he seemed to get the idea that it might be a seller!!!

When it came up for sale on the Puzzle Paradise auction site, I couldn't resist it and bought it immediately - remembering that very first exclamation many months earlier. It is still available on Richard's Etsy store. This time it is made in a large format than the original and is all the better for it.

Richard's description is:
"This has to be one of my new favourite puzzles. It is a classic Jos Bergmans design which builds on the techniques first demonstrated in Whirlwind to create a puzzle that requires multiple rotations and coordinated movements. Jos also has a knack for coming up with great names for his puzzles and this one is truly balletic to watch as it gracefully spins in different directions as it slowly comes apart."

It is a 4 cm interlocking 4x4x4 cube with no internal or external holes. It consists of 6 pieces with 1 solution. Be warned that rotations are required and Burrtools is thus not helpful! The number of steps needed to remove each piece - 1-2-2-5. This doesn't sound difficult but just try it!