Sunday 3 September 2023

Not All Disentanglements Are Wire Or String

Some Are Solid Plastic With A Box
Trapped Bird (photo from the design competition page)
A few months ago I managed to get hold of a copy of the Trapped bird designed by Koichi Miura (beautifully made by Mine). I ended up buying 2 different coloured copies of it because, like an eejit, I had not realised that the two versions being put up for sale were identical in function/solve (I got the one above plus another with a light beige box and a blue bird). The picture doesn't do the puzzle justice but I don't want to post my own picture in case it gives too much information away.

I could not resist it - it is really cute and I thought would be a nice easy solve before working my way up to the more difficult puzzles from that delivery. I was really quite wrong - I had thought when I bought it that it might be a bit like the Hedgehog in cage puzzles but no, it is actually a disentanglement puzzle but with a central piece to be separated from the frame (box). I lurve disentanglement puzzles and a new idea in the genre was very pleasing. There is a nice sequence at first which is easy to find but very quickly, there are decisions to be made and some moves are distinctly not intuitive or easy to find. 

To my surprise, it took me a good 45 minutes to free the bird after which, I took my photos (I of course did it with both copies so that I had a nice pic with both colours for my database. At that point, I put it back together again...except I couldn't! About 5 moves in to the reassembly I was stuck at a dead end. Now, that was very unexpected and caused a minor panic for a while whilst I freed the bird again. It was time for some think©ing and it hurt quite a lot. I actually failed to do it that evening and had to try again the following day. After a good 30 minutes of work, I realised what I had been doing wrong - the design by Koichi-san is very clever. he has made it perfectly to mislead you into following the wrong path and missing the correct one. It really is not easy to find it once you have taken the wrong way - it upsets your perception and has a lovely Aha! moment when it is finally restored to the start position.

To prove it is possible
Phot from Mine's FB - not giving too much away
Interestingly, despite knowing about the false passage being present, it catches me almost every time I dismantle the puzzle. The design is perfectly made to lead you astray even when you are expecting it. I can see why it was successful in winning a Jury Honourable Mention award in the Design competition this year. I have noticed at yesterday's MPP that when this puzzle is attempted by people who are not particularly interested in disentanglement puzzles, they seem to idly fiddle with it but have a very low threshold for abandoning it and their interest waned quite quickly. Indeed, on several occasions people got stuck very fast and instead of working at it they gave up and I had to return it to the start again.

Personally, I agreed with the Jury at the IPP, it is definitely worthy of an honourable mention rather than a first prize but certainly that mention is needed. What did I do with my second one? I thought it would be a fitting gift to Dale at the MPP yesterday - he is a big disentanglement fan and has given me a number of toys over the years so time to repay.


  1. I have been in the "idly fiddle with it but abandon it" group. You've inspired me to take another look.

    1. It’s well worth the effort. The misdirection is clever and for something so simple It’sa nice challenge.