Thursday 23 August 2012


In the midst of all the wonderful coverage of the goings on at the last International Puzzle Party (IPP32) in Washington DC by my fellow bloggers I have hesitated to post a mundane puzzle review. Especially as I can't make it a positive one!

Amongst my last hoard of puzzles (a term I have taken to using to describe the suitcases of my friends who went to the IPP) from Puzzle Master, I received a wire and string puzzle called Keyhole. I got this one because I had decided that it might be a good idea to try my hand at some of the more complex wire puzzles to give myself a bit of a challenge. This one is indeed at the top of their scale at 10 out of 10 (Mind Boggling). Plus with the apparent simplicity of it, I thought it would be a pleasant solve process. Made of wire, sturdy string and painted wooden baubles it measures 12 x 4.9 x 2.5 cm and is a nice tactile puzzle to hold and play with. No solution is included but one can be downloaded from here.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Nickel Box

Nickel Box
In honour of the recently concluded 32nd International Puzzle Party in Washington DC I thought I should review a puzzle that is significantly more than just ordinary. One day I hope that I might be invited to join the great and the good in the puzzling world at an IPP and to show that I am a serious collector of "beautiful and tough puzzles", I introduce the Nickel Box!

Quite a few blind ends!
I have been playing with this on and off for a couple of weeks and have solved it today (at least half solved it). I bought this from the Arteludes webstore. This is a french-based site run by Jean-Baptiste Jacquin which I was able to browse easily courtesy of the built in translation from the Chrome browser (my French is pretty poor)!! For international customers you need to contact Jean-Baptiste himself and he is very helpful. The puzzles on this site are beautiful and most (if not all) have been crafted by the superb Maurice Vigouroux (my copy of the incredibly tough 150 move 18 piece burr, the Tiros, was made by him and is available on the site too - Allard reviewed Tiros here). I couldn't resist it and bought it and another puzzle at the same time!

This puzzle was initially designed by Donald Osselaer and Stephane Chomine added the ornamentation to make it harder. Limited to only 20 copies, it is a caged burr measuring 7.5cm on each axis and is surprisingly heavy (400g) due to the use of Ebony as its main component. The burr pieces are made of Purpleheart in my copy but it is also available as Padauk. The burrs are carved from a single piece of wood with no gluing used at all. The embellishments to the burr pieces and box are made from Beech. Even the present Mrs S (doing ok for a first wife!) immediately said that it was stunning and actually allowed it to sit on the coffee table in the living room for a few days before returning it to my study - this is a major feat for her!!

Thursday 9 August 2012

Hanayama Cast Amour

Cast Amour
Whilst we all sit and wait for news of lovely new toys to come out from the 32nd International Puzzle Party (IPP) in Washington being held just now, I thought I might try and distract you all with "tales of lurve"!!! Yep here we have a heart with what looks like a couple of tails! This is the Cast Amour from Hanayama.

There is also another Tale of Lurve here too! Whilst the present Mrs S has no interest in playing with this (or any other) puzzle, she has agreed in principle that I can go to an IPP in the future (wherever it may be) - how about that for real lurve??? I am too late to go to the current Washington one but hopefully I will get to the next (in Asia somewhere) or the following one in Europe. Now all I need is an invitation. If any of you IPPers out there happen to read my blog - how about it? I quite clearly have a good collection, I even more clearly have a "passion for puzzles"! Do I deserve an invitation to this most prestigious of puzzling events?

I received mine from Puzzle Master as part of their huge selection of Hanayama puzzles. It is rated as 5 out of 6 in the Hanayama difficulty scale or 9 (Gruelling) on the 6 to 10 scale used by Puzzle Master themselves. I personally think it may well be slightly easier than that but others have agreed with the rating. This puzzle was designed by the great Akio Yamamoto and consists of a golden coloured metal male and female symbol intertwined within/through a flattened disk which I initially thought was a heart shape but which the puzzle instructions insists is the shape of the "forbidden fruit". It is 5.2 x 5.2 x 3.1cm and is really shiny and catches my "magpie" eyes very nicely.

This one has been reviewed by Brian here (his only complaint was that the shape doesn't sit straight on a table!), by Gabriel here and Oli on his blog here. The reviews on the Puzzle Master product page for this one were all positive. All of this did make me quite keen to try this one. No solution is provided but you can obtain one here.