Sunday 17 March 2024

Amazing Value And Two Fabulous Resources For You

The CubeTwist Bandage Cube Set
Incredible value for money
Yes the 3x3 cube in the photo does look very easy - no stickers or tiles and all black. Even a 3 year old could solve that but above it in my nice little organiser is a complete set of tiles for it in all the usual colours. It includes tiles that are 1x2, 2x2, 2x2 and 2x3 cubies in size. The whole point is to make a bandaged cube of your choice.

I mentioned this puzzle many many years ago and feel that it is worth showing it off again because there is now something available for you all to help you with solving it and finding lots of challenges to be done with it. My friend Rline of the TwistyPuzzling YouTube channel fame has rebought this amazing set and has created a fabulous post on the Twistypuzzles forum where he annotates a method of describing the puzzles that can be created and also has produced an amazing spreadsheet that he has called CheckMakeSolve for allow you to visualise all the various puzzles that have been described so far as well as to make your own designs. The amount of work that has gone into this creation is incredible!

To go alongside this spreadsheet, Rline has been constructing and solving puzzles and posting videos on the approach to it. The whole point about Rline's approach is to use very simple methods to solve as many puzzles as possible. He showed off the "Ultimate solution" to the Rubik cube at the beginning of his YouTube career which uses just 2 or even 1 simple algorithm. The whole point of this sort of approach is not to memorise and fail to understand. The aim is to understand what simple things do and then use them creatively. I know all you non-twisty fans are shaking your heads and saying no, no, no! but it really is pretty straightforward for the basic twisty puzzles.

I had bought this set many years ago and played for a while but had been using the beginner's method for solving the Rubik cube at the time and found that this was rather hard with bandaged puzzles. I had set it aside and completely misplaced it. Now, with this new resource available I was determined to get back to it and bought the set again. Luckily it is a nice cheap puzzle and easily available (HKNowstore or Cubezz) - I bought it from Cubezz for a mere $11.99. How is that for value?

The cube above is the first one in the series that Rline is working through - it's the Block Built Cube. It's a very nice one to start with because the puzzle has 3 faces adjacent to each other that can easily be turned without becoming locked up. Having this set of faces available to move means that the top face pieces can easily be moved and rotated. Using the simple edge piece series once 3-cycles three edges but if you do it several times then you can use it to swap corners around and even rotate them. Remember, the edge piece series is nothing more than up, up, down, down. Using just a 4 move algorithm and using it creatively allows you to overcome a whole lot of bandaging. I was truly delighted when I was able to solve this challenge in just 20 minutes! I am a genius! Except, I'm probably not!

I have not had much puzzling time this last week and despite receiving some wonderful new challenges from Brian Menold (he sent me out a year of orders that he had kept aside for me until it was worthwhile paying the postage), I have not had time to play (I've not even had time to take photos!) I moved on to the second challenge, the Detour puzzle and my intelligence ran out (along with my luck). 

This one, as you can see, has only 2 faces that can be turned from this start position and even with the simple edge piece series system, it is hard to make this usable. I spent a whole week, on and off, trying to think of a way to solve it. In fact, it was even almost impossible to scramble the bloody thing! At the end of that week, I realised that it is possible to turn the blue and yellow faces 180º 3 times each which flips the pieces enough to free up a third face. From this position we are back to the same approach as before but just using it creatively. This was an amazing AHA! moment and having spent a week looking at it and failing to find anything useful, it then took me only another 20-30 minutes to solve it.

Just using basic techniques creatively is an amazing thing to be able to do and the sense of achievement is fabulous. If you can master a 3x3 Rubik cube and use the Ultimate technique and be able to think© a bit then this set will provide hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of fun and frustration. With the amazing resource from Rline (it has taken him hundreds of hours to create the spreadsheet and the ever increasing series of videos), this is a MUST HAVE puzzle set. If you truly get stuck then the video for the one you are stuck on is there to help and once you have understood one then maybe the next will be easier. Don't be afraid, just DO IT!

MatchBox Playground Resource

MatchBox Playground from Pelikan in collaboration with Péter Gál
I had written about this wonderful (actually incredible) puzzle set from Jakub and Jaroslav back in February and they sold out within minutes. Luckily a whole new batch will be produced soon and those who managed to pre-order will get their hands on them and have a whole lot of wonderful challenges.

I have been chatting with Péter about this amazing creation and the work he has done for it. He offered me the full set of BT files for the puzzling community to look at and play with. It has every single puzzle that his analysis created and is a fascinating thing to peruse. I have uploaded the whole lot as a resource to my Google drive and it can be downloaded as a single zip file here. The individual xmpuzzle files are gzipped inside the main file but this should not cause a difficulty for you. 

Thank you to Péter for this - I hope that you find it as fascinating as I do.

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