Sunday 23 September 2018

One Dimensional Thinking Courtesy of Diniar

Or should that be one direction(al)?

Sewing Box 'Front'
Sewing box 'Back'
No, I’ve not become even crazier than I previously was! No, I’m not listening to boy-bands and this definitely IS puzzle related! I’m very lucky that Diniar Namdarian contacts me periodically to offer me the opportunity to buy his latest inventions. He does so with a warning that posting about them is Verboten until after they’ve been either exchanged and/or judged at the IPP design competition. This year I received 3 puzzles from him that I can only now write about and only 2 have I solved.

The sewing box pictured above was one of these which was entered in the design competition (and I think was exchanged too). The name comes from the similarity with a single cotton reel as well as the fact that it contains multiple different colours of cotton reel. It is a very nice tactile puzzle - the box is 67mm diameter and 67mm tall. Inside there are 6 lovely brightly coloured cotton reels (and a 7th in the centre if you peek into the interior) which fit nicely inside and are each 20mm in diameter. The lid and the base are rigid and will not unscrew (don't try it as it might snap if you use too much force) but the cotton reels inside will rotate around inside freely - that is, they can all move en mass around the centre of the puzzle and individually they can pirouette 360º. The cotton reels clearly consist of at least 2 pieces each with a very odd looking staggered cut at different heights through them. The different height cuts can be clearly seen in the pictures above.

The aim here is to take it apart and of course, to reassemble it afterwards. It doesn't look that difficult, does it? It looks like it might just unscrew and release its' contents. Maybe the trick would be to unscrew it in the reverse direction? Think again - this will not work! The complexity of the construction makes for a lot of movement variables and hence it needs some thought© - this puzzle will not reveal its' solution with random fiddling - you need to properly work it out. A few of us received copies earlier this year (none of us going to the IPP) and Diniar was keen to hear our thoughts about the solution and how long it took. I played with it for about 15 minutes when I had a brainwave and decided to try out something "one-dimensional". It took me another 5 minutes of fiddling with all the individual components before my Aha! moment paid off:

They would appear not to be cotton reels.
No clues here...move along now!
The reassembly is a little easier than the disassembly but again requires thought to determine which pieces go where and in what orientation. it is also a bit of a dexterity puzzle to manage to get them all together without one or more pieces falling out in the attempt. Definitely quite fun! I cannot really work out whether this is a really complex puzzle which I managed quickly (I was the fastest amongst the early group), or maybe this is a really simple puzzle which I managed as would be expected. It will not be solved by luck or force - you need to focus on your inner Allard and THINK© - It is a really clever idea. Well done to Diniar for producing something so bright and attractive and such a nice challenge.

The next puzzle from Diniar which I received just a few weeks before the IPP is the Gyrotwisty. It looks like an oddly damaged tennis ball (although it is actually slightly larger at 80mm diameter and 65mm tall. It consists of an outer shell which is split into a top and bottom half via a rather complex curvilinear cut around the equator and an inner ball which can rotate freely within the shell. If you rotate the inner ball then it becomes apparent that this is also split into two pieces by another complex yet totally different curvilinear cut. It is oddly rather tactile and soothing to play with. It is vaguely reminiscent of the Cast Marble puzzle but obviously totally different in solution.

Again the aim is to separate the puzzle into its' component pieces and then (again) reassemble it. This one took me a few days to work out. The initial thought yet again is to unscrew the outer layer at least but after trying that I have to admit with shame that just by looking at the picture above it is quite obvious that unscrewing is impossible. Having realised that my complex 3-dimensional approach wasn't going to work, I dropped a dimension and carried on for a day or so. Nope! Yet again, this requires thought©. Before the thinking can occur, one needs more exploring - which is rather tough because only a small section of the inner sphere is visible through the holes in the top and bottom of the shell. There is also just a teeny tiny bit of movement of the pieces against each other to allow further thought. After another few days of swearing at the puzzle and Diniar, I developed a coherent visualisation of the shape and then could formulate a plan - I was down to one dimension yet again. I lined everything up, thought my one-dimensional thought and pop! I had this:

It's beautifully made and very clever!
Only after taking it apart and looking at the pieces did I realise just how clever this is: all 4 components are different shapes and fit together in a certain way without perfect overlap of the edges. It takes the perfect and (again) rather dextrous reassembly to show you that this puzzle works perfectly if done right!

At the last MPP, James Dalgetty, who had received a copy during the exchange asked me whether I knew how it worked. He had apparently managed to dismantle it with force but recognised that this was not correct and wanted to see the correct solution. It had been a while since I had done it but I was still able to roughly remember what to do and it popped open in my hands - I think he liked the true solution. It is really rather lovely and makes for a great (and rather large) worry bead for you.

Both of these puzzles are available from Diniar for a very reasonable price - his email address is linked on the design competition page if you would like to contact him.

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