Sunday 14 September 2014

Arrow Dynamics plus a special N-ary puzzle

Arrow Dynamics
Just a short blog post today! This week I have been away at a medical conference for a couple of days and then off on leave for the rest of the week. You might think that this would give me plenty of time for puzzling and blogging but she with the 'cat-o-nine tails tongue' and the laser stare had other ideas! Every time I settled down to try and play with something, I was given another chore to do or some DIY! Finally towards the end of the week the cats went into the cattery (much to their disgust) and we headed off for a very nice relaxing long weekend in North Yorkshire where I proceeded to eat and drink too much and managed absolutely no puzzling whatsoever! I did take this one with me in the hope that I could solve it and write about it - but as you can see it might be called "jingly" and the fear of retribution came over and hit me with paralysing accuracy. I got home a while ago and having unpacked and had a refreshing (and finally non-alcoholic) drink and was given kind permission to play with this whilst she pottered out of earshot.

This is the Arrow dynamics puzzle from Puzzle Master's own range of wire disentanglements. I have almost the entire set now and I think this must be the last of the high level ones for me to try. It is a good price at $18 and is level 10 (Mind Boggling) at the top of their difficulty scale. It is clamshell packaged and the simple instructions are just to remove the arrow (inside it reminds you that no force or bending is necessary). It is made of beautifully anodised thick wire and is good and strong - dimensions are 35.6 x 10.2 x 2.5cm. No solution is provided but it can be obtained on request at this link.

This puzzle reminded me a lot of the now discontinued Centipede puzzle which I obtained from Livewire puzzles several years ago and reviewed here. The Centipede was a refreshingly pleasant disentanglement with N-ary aspects to the solve and I really enjoyed it. The Arrow dynamics did not have quite so many pieces and would not require quite so many moves but the N-ary aspect would still be there and you know how much I lurve N-ary puzzles!

Looking at it, I immediately knew the sequence that was required and quickly attempted to embark upon it. Any of you who have done any N-ary puzzles or a lot of other wire puzzles (it is even similar to the classic G factor or Have a Heart puzzles) will know what the basic set of moves should be. The difficulty with this one is the shape of the arrow makes actually achieving the correct moves a good bit trickier. I found on several occasions that the move that I wanted to do was blocked and would require force/bending to achieve. This meant that I needed to backtrack and try the move from a different angle or aim for a different side of the puzzle. After about 20 minutes of fiddling (with no laser burns!) I finally had the arrow removed:

On the up?
Reassembly was again a little problematic - not because I couldn't remember the sequence but because the moves I wanted to do were blocked. Another 5 minutes to reassemble. I personally would move the difficulty rating down to an 8 or 9 rather than the stated 10.

This one is a great one for those of you who have a bit of disentanglement experience and want a nice challenge. I plan on carrying this around at work for a while for my colleagues - it's a great size and will provide a good bit of fun watching them work on it! I won't take into the Orthopaedic operating theatres as the "thugs" will attempt to use the bolt cutters again!!!

Having managed to finish the blog post in such a short time, I couldn't resist showing off another N-ary puzzle I managed to obtain at the recent IPP. I had noticed some time ago that my good friend Goetz had shown off a whole lot of really special N-ary puzzles in his amazing compendium. Quite a few of them had been made by the rather reclusive puzzling genius, Namick Salakhov. Goetz put me in touch with him and after a few emails I was hoping to get 1 or 2 from him whenever they were made. After nearly a year, I had still not managed to obtain any! I was delighted at the IPP when I saw a couple of N-ary designs entered into the design competition which were so characteristic that they had to be from Namick. I fiddled with the simpler of the designs, Digi Fork-Lock and got absolutely nowhere - brilliant! The more complex design (Complementary P-arity) I didn't even attempt as I knew it would take me months!

Digi Fork-Lock
Just after the puzzle exchange, Goetz whispered in my ear that he had been in touch with Namick and had done a nice deal that meant that we could each claim one of his competition entries and take them home rather than have the competition organisers post them back to him. All I needed to do was contact Namick to arrange payment! At last I had the opportunity to obtain one of these magnificently designed and manufactured N-ary puzzles. After a short PayPal exchange, my conscience was smoothed and I owned up to Mrs S about the extra purchase - OUCH! This was one of the first puzzles from the IPP that I played with when I got home - it is stunning. The workmanship is great and the design very attractive.

It is a rather confusing solve - a few people who tried it at IPP were unable to manipulate the 4th key and I quickly hit the same wall. It really took a fair bit of thought as well as trial & error to find the required sequence. I think that after about 2 hours of play I had released the slider:

Slider removed
Of course, there is just as much challenge to putting it back together again and it still took over an hour. Since obtaining this beauty, I have done it several times and each time I have gotten faster but I am still not able to solve this one without making any errors on the way. Due to the irregular cutout shapes on the keys it is really not an intuitive solve at all and you really cannot get into a rhythm like many other puzzles in the group. It is a great challenge and sits next to me cluttering up my desk and taunting me!

I am delighted to finally have obtained a Salakhov puzzle and really hope to get some more in the future! Thanks for the opportunity Goetz and Namick.


  1. Namick Salakhov isn't really reclusive -- he just lives far away in Azerbaijan! I saw him a lot at IPP32 because he joined us on the pre-IPP and post-IPP trips. Brian Pletcher caught this picture of him playing (with a puzzle of course) at IPP31 in Berlin...

    As I recall, he uses a Roland iModela to mill all his puzzles from blocks of vinyl foam. The iModela has a very limited vertical height, something like 15mm, so he's obliged to make his puzzles in layers. Hence, Namick Salakhov's puzzles are clearly distinguishible by a unique combination of materials, construction, and meticulous workmanship.

    1. Thanks for the very interesting reply Scott. I am certainly hoping to get a few more from him in the future!

  2. Kevin,have you thought of buying the Sluice and Ships by Namick Salakhov? _Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa,
      I have always bought directly from Namick and I think only 2 of those were made for the design competition and it was already sold to a couple of other puzzlers. I would love a copy if someone has one to sell for a reasonable price.