Aquarius+ – Stephane Chomine

Ok. tonight I have the Aquarius+ designed by Stephane Chomine and crafted by Cubic Dissection. This puzzle is smaller than I envisioned, but it is far more beautiful than expected. The striped wenge grain on the two burr pieces is just georgeous and the inclusion of a smaller slider piece is fascinating. I received 3 puzzles in this shipment and I was drawn to this one first. I can’t wait to get started.

Well 5 minutes in and I very well may be screwed. I was trying to keep track of the movements and manipulations but I quickly lost track of what was happening and that cute little slider piece is now pretty loose inside this thing and I think I can prolly just shake it out, but I’m not exactly sure how it got to where it is now, so I’m contemplating whether to push forward and solve the puzzle or whether to try to backtrack a step in order to not lose track of the movements… 

At 10 minutes in, I’ve now reset the puzzle. Whew. I’m not sure how close I was to the solution, but I realized that I never really looked very hard at the starting position, so I’m glad to have gotten it back to where I can now start a little more methodical in my approach. Back at it.

At 15:56 I got the little slider piece out. There is actually a surprising amount of room in this puzzle to move the burr pieces around. I’m not exactly sure what the sequence of moves were to free the slider, but hopefully, I’ll be able to re-insert it during assembly and sort of nudge it back into place similar to how I got it out… Lets see how easy the burr pieces are to remove..

Turns out removing the burr pieces is trivial once the slider is out. And so there it is, solved and laid bare for me to examine. The scary part is… Its not exactly clear how this puzzle should be reassembled – that is – even though I studied the starting position a bit, I’m not entirely sure which orientation the pieces need to be.. which makes the prospects of re-assembly… scary.

All pieces removed. 

Well, I was able to put the puzzle back together after a bit of work – at least I think I got it back to the starting position – unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any photos online of what this puzzle looks like in the completed state, so if there are multiple possible configurations, I may not have it done correctly.

Which leads to my next thought – Does this puzzle really require a 17.9.3 solution? I do not believe that it took 17 moves to take out the first piece. It was more like 6-7 moves and then a bit of jostling to free the slider. Maybe I am completely off with my solution and analysis, but I didn’t find it nearly as difficult as the rating would suggest.

My other criticism lies in the manipulation of the small slider. It is not easy to manipulate and in the end, I used a toothpick to reach into the cage and help position the slider. Perhaps there is a solution that involves moving the burr pieces around to shift the position of the slider?

Overall, this really is a beautiful puzzle – and I like the idea of using a smaller scale piece in the puzzle – in fact, I’d like to see more puzzles use different sized pieces. But I do think this puzzle falls a little short when compared to the other offerings at cubic dissection. The build quality is not quite as good (burr pieces have grooves and saw marks). And having to manipulate and rotate the slider within the cage didn’t feel like solving a puzzle, it felt more like chance.

If anyone else has worked on this puzzle, please let me know of your experience. I’d like to know if I missed something or not.

4 Replies to “Aquarius+ – Stephane Chomine”

  1. Hi,

    i recently ran across your blog and i’m very much enjoying it. I like your taste in puzzles .

    Keep up the good work

  2. Aquarius+ has been a big disappointment for me for the exact same reasons. Ultimately that little piece just finds it way to move/rotate freely around and then the solving is no longer interesting. Trying to solve it the “right” way is tricky since it’s too hard to move the small piece and keep it upright.

    Either it’s a flaw in the design (likely) or perhaps with the pieces this small, the fit isn’t sufficiently tight.

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