Wooo yeah. I’m still buzzing from having just completed Blocage, design by Stephane Chomine and handmade by Pelikan Puzzles. This is one super fun puzzle! Oh my!
First off, this puzzle is beautifully crafted. I chose the Ipe/Maple variation and I’m very pleased with it. Ipe is a a very heavy and strong Brazilian Walnut that makes for perfect burr sticks. The Ipe pieces feel heavy and they slide in and out of place with an audible ‘thunk’ which is very pleasing when manipulating this puzzle. The dark color also contrasts very nicely with the maple frame. This is a striking puzzle that stands out on my shelf.
This one really connected with me. The process of solving this type of puzzle seems to click with my brain. It’s quite simple really, you just try all the combinations available at every step and explore every path to the end. But despite being simple in concept, it’s somehow delightful when you finally discover an overlooked move (which is inevitable). Is it the flawed human brain that makes these puzzles fun ? Perhaps.
The opening moves are great. There are a few different paths to go down, but you know you are on the right track when you hear the audible ‘thunk’ of a particular burr piece succumbing to gravity. The next sequence of moves yields a second audible ‘thunk’ as a second piece falls into position. The end is not too far away from this point, but there are a few clever moves one has to navigate in order to reach the solution.
There are really just a ton of clever moves packed into this puzzle – down to the final two pieces which need to perform a bit of a dance to be released. Once all the pieces have been removed, it is time to put them back.
Re-assembly is simple – it’s just the reverse of dis-assembly. That is, assuming you memorized the moves or wrote them down. However, if you want to squeeze the most life out of this puzzle, it is recommended to assemble from scratch with no help. I’ve yet to take on this challenge, but have added this puzzle to the “to be continued” pile.
Overall, this puzzle is super solid and very fun. It feels sturdy, like a piece of furniture, and the craftsmanship is, as always, top notch. It has enough clever moves to feel challenging, but it doesn’t stump for long (at least with dis-assembly). With some perseverance, I think just about anyone could solve this one eventually and experience the rush of hard fought success.
Wooooo boy. This week, I have Doable 12 created by Juno over at Pluredro. This is my Third puzzle from Pluredro and I anticipate that I will be ordering many more over the coming months and years.
Doable 12 is a 12-piece burr that is labeled as “very difficult” – but as the name implies – “Doable” The 12 pieces are constructed of Juno-created plywood comprised of Black Walnut and European Beech. The plywood is then shaped with a CNC router. This results is a beautiful looking puzzle that is incredibly sturdy and pleasing to hold.
My first impression is that the puzzle is quite large. It easily fills two hands. It’s also easy to manipulate. The fitting of the puzzle is intentionally a little loose to prevent grabbing when you manipulate the pieces and I have to say, I think this was a wise choice. There is zero binding or other issues when playing with this puzzle where I think if the tolerances were tighter, it would be very difficult to manipulate.
Onward, we go past the descriptions and into the solving process.
This is a puzzle that wants to move! While some puzzles have a tricky opener, this one has multiple moves available straight out of the gate. In fact, I found myself quickly getting lost in the early stages of exploration. There were a few different paths I could go down and each path had further branches and all of them felt like they could keep going. So, for the first half hour, I would cautiously venture down a path and a branch until I was a few moves in and then would back out. I was trying to explore all the options to get my head wrapped around the possibilities.
Eventually, I found a move that seemed to significantly progress things. Once I had the puzzle in this new state, I had a few new options available and the puzzle began to significantly loosen up. I knew I was on the right track, but as things began to loosen up, I began to get nervous. What if I lost my place and couldn’t figure out how to get back to the start? Maybe I’m too conservative when solving puzzles, but I’ve been burned in the past by moving too quickly and then getting lost.
So, back and forth I went. I’d move 9-10 moves in and play around a little bit and then back out again. I’d set the puzzle down, then pick it up and once again progress 9-10 moves in, this time, I’d find an 11th move and then back out. This was my process, but the problem was, I had no idea how many moves it would take to release the first piece. Maybe I was only one move away? But maybe, I was 10 moves away. It felt close, but you never know, so I continued with this solving method.
And then, it happened. The first piece came out! Wow, I was so close for so long, but those nervous thoughts had me backing out over and over. Well, this time, I got it done. One piece removed. I wonder whether this is the beginning or the end…
Ok, well with one piece out, the puzzle is now very loose. I’m trying to delicately move the pieces around to see if anything else is ready to be removed and sure enough, another piece comes out with ease. It seems that the first piece was indeed the lynchpin – once removed, the rest come out with few or no additional moves.
Whew! So now I sit with a pile of pieces and a decision to make. I’m fairly certain that I could put the puzzle back together by retracing my steps (and utilizing a couple of photos I took with my cellphone) However, this puzzle is called doable for a reason. It’s supposed to be doable. That means, I should be able to get it back together without computer or camera aid. So, that’s what I’m going to attempt.
See, the 12 pieces are actually comprised of 6 pairs. The 6 pairs are joined by unique “puzzle-piece” type cuts that make them unique and thus finding the 6 pairs is easy enough. Had these pairs been joined with straight edge cuts, then there would be no possible way to tell what goes together (outside of tedious trial and error) So, at least I have that going for me. The next step is going to be to try to determine how these 6 joined pairs fit together. If I can figure that out, then all that remains is the sequence of events.
After another couple of hours of work, I’ve had some success and some failure. Through lots of trial and error, I eventually figured out the position of the 6 pairs. The hardest part for me was keeping track of what I had tried and what I hadn’t tried. And attempting to fit together these pieces without the puzzle exploding in my hands or knocking over was challenging. Many times, I’d feel like I was getting close to the solution only to have some pieces slip in my hands which would cause a catastrophic failure. I’d then have to spend a lot of time reconstructing the pieces back to where they were.
Eventually, though, I was sure that I had things correct. I could get 9-10 of the pieces together and could see that the remaining 2-3 pieces would surely fit. However, getting them in place was another story. I tried many times but ultimately failed to put this puzzle together from scratch and gave up.
Defeated in that endeavor, I pulled up some of the photos on my phone and used those as a reference. I eventually got the puzzle back together though the steps were a bit challenging. There are just so many interlocking pieces that it was a difficult to get everything sewn up just right. It almost felt like a coordinated motion puzzle for me in that I wish I had another hand or two to hold things steady. I would guess that if I knew the correct method that things would have done together better.
In the end, this is a really fun puzzle. I feel slightly defeated because I didn’t get it together from scratch, but I feel like if I put in enough effort, I could have done it. This one will have to go in the “must revisit” pile for a rainy day.
YyYy – All right. Here we go. Time to go on a journey with YyYy designed by Osanori Yamamoto and brilliantly crafted by Jakub at Pelikan Puzzles. This one has me intrigued. I haven’t played with it hardly at all. I’ve spent maybe 2 minutes playing with this thing and in that 2 minutes, I was able to get the cube more scrambled than anticipated. The first little move took a few seconds, but then everything started moving and, oh my god, it was getting all mixed up and , holy crap, I have to pay attention and get it back to the start..
Well the time is right and I’m ready to focus my energy and really see what this here puzzle has got going for it. I’ve got some nice tunes on the turntable and a drink in my glass, the kids are asleep and I’ve got the evening ahead of me. I’m ready to get lost in this thing.
Oh man. 5 minutes in and i’m so confused and intrigued. I can’t quite figure out what the pieces are shaped like. They seem to hook on each other, but also slide into each other when positioned correctly. I’d also like to state for the record – this puzzle is gorgeous. It really is. Its got a good weight to it and somehow Pelikan puzzles are always so smooth. They are not only beautiful, but the pieces glide against each other and within the frame, and there is never a hint of binding. Ok, it’s calling me, so I gotta go back for more.
Well Damn. color me stumped. What seemed like a dangerous never-ending pit turned out to be only about 4 moves deep in 2 directions. Neither direction yielded any further development. What was initially scary unknown terrain soon became very familiar ruts from one dead end to another. There has to be another path hidden in the movements. I don’t know if I’ll find it tonight.
And I didn’t. I was stumped and set the puzzle back on the shelf to try again another day. Several days went by and occasionally I’d pick the puzzle up and tinker with it, but I never got any further than the original dead end. I was practically carving grooves in the wood from tracing the same path over and over. There just didn’t seem to be any other options available.
Finally, one day, I had the puzzle in my lap and of course, like any other puzzle solving story, I tried a move that I hadn’t tried before(duh). And what do ya know? It worked. With just one additional little move that I hadn’t seen, I was now able to make a second move, and a third, and a forth and just like that, a piece was free. Wow, that was pretty cool. That hidden move was staring me in the face the whole time and I never tried it.
After the first piece is removed, the rest come out easily and the puzzle is solved. And I have to say, I’m amazed. I’m amazed because the puzzle is so simple. Holding the pieces in my hand reveals all the shapes and I really appreciate this puzzle because of its simplicity. The cage is completely straightforward, there are no hidden cubes or protrusions, its a simple, basic cage (albeit totally gorgeous). The pieces are also very straightforward, they do fit nicely together, but I’m just amazed that something made of such simple components can harbor such interesting moves.
Overall, this puzzle is great. Its hard enough to call challenging and its pretty enough to call beautiful. I choose the Wenge/Ovangkol variant, and I absolutely love the tone and grain of the Ovangkol. I think it really pairs nicely with the Wenge burr pieces. As always, the craftsmanship is perfect. Everything sits perfectly flush and it is a delight to handle.
Well that wraps up another blog post and another completed puzzle. I’ve got a shelf full of unsolved puzzles and more arriving in the mail this week. Upcoming are new puzzles from Rombol, Pelikan and Pluredro, so please stay tuned and check back in. I’m working on adding a subscribe button to the blog, but in the meantime, you can stay up to date by following this page on facebook!
2 Rings is a puzzle that was made by Eric Fuller and was sold back in October. The October batch of puzzles at cubicdissection was especially strong and it seems to me that this puzzle didn’t receive the attention it deserved. I wanted to make sure I got this writeup in before it got lost in the never-ending wave of new puzzles.
Straight out of the gate, this puzzle is stunning. The wood choices are spot on and the craftsmanship is truly impressive. Eric spliced in these strengthening corner pieces (sorry don’t know the technical term) that add great accents, but also create an extremely strong and rigid frame. This is important with this puzzle because it is very easy to accidentally generate a lot of leverage and force while manipulating the two pieces. I can imagine that this exact puzzle built with lesser standards might snap or break if someone torqued on it enough.
Outside of the beautiful aesthetics, this is also a very fun puzzle to play with. I didn’t find it too difficult, but I really enjoyed that it stretched my thinking. There was something exciting about rotating the pieces in a 3 dimensional space and navigating this 3 dimensional maze. I also really like the fact that the puzzle has open sight lines. So many puzzles hide their movements inside a box, but here you can see everything and freely rotate the puzzle to view from all angles.
The puzzle arrived in a “incorrectly” completed state – that is, the two rings were together, but they were incorrectly oriented and the magnets were resisting each other. The first step was then to separate the rings. This was not too difficult of a challenge, but I wasn’t done yet. I still had to correctly assemble the rings. I made several attempts and several times found myself back at the beginning.
There is an obvious spot where the two rings can connect and disconnect. I found myself connecting them together, manipulating the rings through several moves and rotations to the point where I felt I was going to solve it – and then, suddenly, I’d be back at the connect/disconnect spot. Hmm. How frustrating!
After a few more attempts, I finally found my way to the end of the puzzle and that satisfying “snap” as the magnets came together. I would guess that there are a few separate solutions for this puzzle, and I’m not sure of the exact moves I used. I just kept moving forward and eventually found the solution.
As a kid, I always loved mazes and this puzzle brought me back to those roots. The two pieces have to be manipulated correctly through a sort of 3d maze. Since the magnets are visible, it is fairly obvious what the completed state will look like, so the difficulty lies in the journey to the completed state, which, in my mind, was very similar to solving a maze. Manipulate the pieces until a dead end is reached – backtrack to the previous junction, try the other path and continue on and on until the end.
Solving this puzzle is great – the two rings really “snap” together as the high strength magnets find each other. The magnets also make the first move very tricky to find when disassembling the puzzle. I’ve had this one sitting on the shelf for a few weeks and each time I pick it up, it takes me a few minutes to find the first move. It takes some real force in one specific direction to break them free.
To me this puzzle acts as a proof of concept. I think it is a clever idea with unique manipulations, but I also think that the idea could evolve into something even better. I’d love to see what “3 rings” would look like, or what if the voxels were smaller, or what if the faces were curved to invite unique rotations? I really think there could be many future possibilities using this same concept of open, interlocked rings.