Friday, July 27, 2012

Spin to Win Puzzle

Shortly after I solved my “Ribik’s Cube” I started to take a bit more interest in sequential puzzles.  One puzzle that I’ve had my eye on for a while is a puzzle called Spin to Win.  Don’t leave yet internet traveler.  If you thought this was a lottery website then you are sadly mistaken.  However, unlike the lottery, you have a good chance of winning and by winning I mean solving a cool puzzle.  I sense many leaving at this point.  For those that do stay I have a special code for you 8675309, 8675309, 8675309.  Nevermind, I just thought I’d do a little retro groove.  So before I get lost talking about the 80’s let’s talk about this puzzle.  The two middle sections rotate independently from the rest of the cylinder and from each other.  In addition, they can rotate clockwise as well as counterclockwise.  Furthermore, this puzzle has balls (it had to be done).  There are 4 red balls, 4 blue balls, 4 green balls, and 4 yellow balls.  The goal of this puzzle is to scramble up the colors and then bring it back to its solved state.  I wanted to scramble it good so I took some time messing up the colors.  When I was finally satisfied, I started on what I thought was going to be a long journey.  As it turned out, I was able to solve it within thirty minutes.
I would say that this puzzle isn’t as hard as a rubik’s cube but I think it is still fun.  In fact, I think it is more fun than a rubik’s cube because you don’t need to memorize algorithms to get to the solution which is a big plus in my book.  I’ve already scrambled the thing up a few times and solved it so in my opinion the replay value is high.  This is a good puzzle to have when on a road trip or just bored because it is challenging but you won’t blow a fuse trying to solve it.  I received this puzzle from Brilliant Puzzles.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

P and A Puzzle

Hello cyberspace people!!!  Today I’m going to talk about laser guns, weird shapes, weirder commentaries, frustration, and victory.  No I’m not going to recite poetry.  I’m going to talk about a puzzle by a German puzzle company called Jean Claude Constantin.  The puzzle is called P and A.  The puzzle is composed of 10 pieces and nine are held in the large square while the last piece is held in a small square.  The objective is to get all ten pieces to fit into the larger square.  Why is it called P and A?  Well it looks like a bunch of A’s and P’s smashed into each other.  The result is some odd shapes.  Don’t worry Jean Claude I forgive you.  After all, you did cut the pieces with a laser gun, which is awwwwwwwwesome!  Joking aside.  Jean Claude really does use a laser cutter to make some of his puzzles.  This puzzle is one of them.  Although, I don’t know if he actually designed this puzzle or if someone in his company did it?  Anyway, I really like this puzzle because of its size and appearance.  While I wouldn’t say that this is a portable puzzle because you can’t put it in your pocket.  I think this is a great puzzle to have on a coffee table.  In addition, the contrasting colors are nice on the eyes.  This packing puzzle is rated an 8 out of 10 in difficulty.  This puzzle did take me about two evenings of casual puzzling to solve.  I received this puzzle from Puzzle Master and you can find the solution here if you need it.  This time I’ll end this with a question or two.  Will the puzzle pieces fit the entire square or will there be gaps?  If there are gaps, how many will there be?  It is possible to find the answer to the question/s by just looking at the picture above.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cast News Puzzle

The first person I talked to about mechanical puzzles was a guy named Allard in the Revomaze forums.  He kindly invited me to one of his puzzle parties in England.  I thought that was very nice of him so I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about puzzles, which he expertly answered.  During the conversion, I mentioned the second puzzle I solved after the Mi Toys one.  The puzzle is called Cast News.  This puzzle is rated a 10 out of 10 in difficulty and was designed by one of Japan’s great puzzle designers.  A man by the name of Nob Yoshigahara.  The object of the puzzle is to take the two pieces apart and then put it back together.  I bought this puzzle from a vendor on Amazon and I was thrilled when the package arrived.  I wanted to see if I could solve a puzzle that is considered rather difficult.  When I finally removed the puzzle from the package, two qualities really stood out which were the weight and build of the puzzle.  The puzzle is sturdy and feels good in the hands.  This puzzle will probably survive a few generations.  I wanted to start solving it right away but I had to leave for an appointment.  With puzzle in hand, I walked out the door.  I performed a specific movement just to see what would happen and the thing opened!  I was shocked and delighted because it literally happened at the threshold of my doorway.  It took me less than 10 minutes to open the puzzle!  I took a minute or two to study the innards of the puzzles and then I understood how to replicate the solution.  As the days pasted, I wondered about the level 10 rating as well as the rating system in general.  While I did find the solution by chance, I wondered if all mechanical puzzles exhibited this quality.  Now that my puzzle collection has grown, I know that this is not the case.  Although, I’m glad that I did happen to find the solution by chance.  Frankly, it gave me confidence and sparked curiosity concerning mechanical puzzles.  I don’t know about you guys but to me that sound like very good puzzle design.  Hats off to Mr. Yoshigahara.  I probably would not be writing this blog if it wasn’t for his creation.  Thank you.    

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cast Equa Puzzle

Hello puzzlers.  This review will consist of my first EPIC FAIL!  The puzzle I will be talking about is called the Cast Equa.  I know that this puzzle can be solved as some fellow puzzle bloggers have solved it.  This puzzle is produced by the Japanese puzzle company called Hanayama and was designed by Oscar van Deventer.  I received the puzzle from Puzzle Master and you can find the solution here.  However, I refuse to go that way.  In the far future, they will find my bones in dark cave clutching this freaking thing.  There is one thing to have tried and failed but there is something different when you try and cheat and still fail!  That’s right puzzlers I committed the ultimate sin against the puzzle.  Let me explain a few details about the puzzle first.  So the puzzle is composed of three pieces.  Two circular pieces are held in the center, while the third “contains” the first and second piece.  The objective of the puzzle is to take it apart and then put it back together.  On the first and second piece, there are small protrusions that restrict movement.  This is an important detail, as you will see later on.  So I was able to take the thing apart in less than an hour but I could not put the thing together to save my life!  Days passed and I still was unable to solve the thing.  The dreaded moment came late one night after a particular eventful day.  I was sipping an ice-cold diet dr.pepper and messing around with the puzzle.  After about an hour, I was feed up.  So I went to my garage and rummaged through the old tool box and found the instrument of destruction.  That’s right a set of red craftsman pliers.  Remember those extensions that strict the movement of the puzzle.  Well as you can guess, I tried to cut them off.  Don’t leave yet puzzlers it gets worst!  While I was able to cut a significant chunk off, I didn’t cut them well enough to free up the pieces!  Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!  I didn’t have the heart to continue to mutilate the puzzle.  To top it off, I didn’t take a picture before I started the puzzle and I have not been able to take it completely apart again so the picture this week resembles the original puzzle if it were ran over by a Mac truck.  So there it is puzzlers.  Don’t cry for me Stewart Coffin.  I will rise again from the ashes of defeat.  In a few days, I will talk about a puzzle that is considered more difficult than the Equa that I was able to solve.  Stay tuned.  Oh and don’t cut pieces off your puzzle it leads to having nightmares of metal puzzles kicking your ass.  

Update 07/22/12.  I think I will call this one filed, solved, and served.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cast Cricket Puzzle

Oh man finally some summer rains.  I’m sure that many of you out there hate the rain but clouds in the afternoon sky is a beautiful thing here in the southwest.  The best rains come around July and August.  The desert is something special when it rains.  The day starts cool without a cloud in the sky.  The lack of clouds makes the temperature reach over 100 degrees by about 2pm.  The leaves on the mesquite trees start to sway about 6pm and you see dark rain filled clouds appear out of nowhere like a pray that has been answered.  The day was hot.  Very hot.  Then it starts to rain.  Everything just looks and feels different.  So you might be asking yourself.  What does this have to do with the Cricket Puzzle.  Nothing really. 
The original version of the puzzle was made a long time ago but a puzzle collector by the name of James Dalgety helped design the version in the Cast series.  James is a puzzle collector and curator of the Puzzle Museum since 1988.  The museum holds a fine collection of puzzles.  One of those puzzles is the original version of the Cast Cricket.  Needless to say.  The museum is worth visiting.  So I’ve heard anyway.  Have not been there myself.  The Cast Cricket is composed of a six cricket bat star and a gate.  The objective is to separate the two pieces and then put them back together.  I like the idea of making a puzzle after a fun sport.  I wonder about the person who made the original version and if they really had a passion for the game.  While it isn’t that difficult.  I think that it is a worthwhile addition to any puzzle collection because of the history behind the puzzle and the puzzle mechanics.  If you are fond of Cricket then it is a no brainer.  I think there is something special about associating good memories like playing Cricket with a puzzle.  While I have not played Cricket, I can understand that link and it makes the puzzle more meaningful.  I guess summer rains and puzzles would be a fine fit for me.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Desperado Puzzle

Well puzzle people you can’t win them all and this puzzle has proven to be quite difficult.  The puzzle is called Desperado and is made and distributed by Puzzle Master.  It is rated a 10 out of 10 in difficulty and that is about right for me.  The objective of the puzzle is to remove the ring from the puzzle.  There are five “stairs” that you need to get through in order to release the ring.  The puzzle is well made but this will probably be the first of several puzzles that I’ve waited to review because they have proved to be a bit too much for me.  They will have to sit of the shelf for a while.  It was a bit frustrating to have been unable to solve this one but it was humbling.  Some problems take a bit of time and patience to solve and that is ok.  Unlike life, we have the solution webpage, which might be helpful if you want to go that way.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Geek Superstar Puzzle

That's right people.  I’ve crossed the line this time.  I present to you the Geek Superstar Puzzle!!!  It was made by yours truly.  Well sort of because I didn’t make the dice and the actual puzzle design isn’t my own.  I’ve been messing around with puzzle design for a few weeks and I wanted to tell my story.  Renegade Puzzle forum is where some puzzle designers hang out and discuss puzzle design and such.  It’s a private forum so you need to request access.  I don’t believe the admission requirements are very strict.  Hell I got in.  So I was on the forum and I was told that a good book to get is Geometric Puzzle Design by Stewart Coffin.  I guess he is considered one of the great puzzle designers of our time.  I’m not going to review the book right now because there is still a lot I need to learn.  I read some of the book but I wanted to start designing something.  Neil suggested the half hour puzzle by Coffin.  So I decided to go with it.  I bought some bass wood from my local Hobby Lobby and a Japanese Pull Saw from Home Depot.  I think I paid about 15 dollars for everything.  So I cut the wood and glued the pieces together.  I used some sand paper that I had from an old project and smoothed the sides a bit.  Overall, I wasn’t very impressed with my first attempt because it didn’t hold together very well.  
In the Coffin book, he mentioned that if you can make cubes accurately then there are many puzzles that can be made.  I needed to find cubes because of budget and skill constraints.  I found a solution in my old warhammer 40,000 box.  A set of gaming dice!  I told you guys I’m a geek.  Deal with it.  The set came with 27 gaming dice in a dice container.  So I super glued the dice together using the half hour puzzle design method and the finished product fit quite nicely in the container.  I’m very happy with the results.  I decided to call it the Geek Superstar Puzzle because it’s a beautiful combination of sci-fi gaming and puzzle design awesomeness.  Either that or I was going to call it “Not Invited” ;)  The puzzle is composed of six pieces and the objective is to assemble them to form a 3x3x3 cube.  There are many different versions of this type of puzzle.  The interesting thing about this particular puzzle design is that there is only one solution.  So if you want to make your own puzzles but don’t want to pay a lot of money to cut perfect cubes then using dice might be a good alternative.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Blossom Puzzle

Hello again puzzle fans.  A lot of really cool puzzles have been coming out lately.  All I can do at the moment, is look at the reviews given by my fellow puzzle bloggers with envy.  I’m looking at you Allard.  That stickman milestone puzzle looks freaking cool!  Ok back to the review of a puzzle that isn’t a stickman but still a good puzzle.  This week I’m going to talk about a puzzle that was originally called Blossom by Bernhard Wiezorke.  The reason it is called Blossom is that each face of the completed puzzle is suppose to look like a flower.  Puzzle Master decided to call it Atom Bomb which in my opinion was a bad choice.  The puzzle was first introduced in the 17th International Puzzle Party in San Francisco.   

The puzzle is composed of four pieces.  Each piece has four wood spheres glued together in an L shape.  Three of the spheres are a natural wood color and one is scarlet.  There are two versions of this puzzle.  The other version is made of rhombic dodecahedra.  See the image below.  The puzzle comes assembled and the object is to take it apart and then put it back together.  Taking it apart is very simple.  Just pick the thing up and the four puzzle pieces will fall apart in your hands.  I would strongly suggest looking at the puzzle closely before picking it up so that way you can have a mental picture of what you are trying to achieve when you are putting it back together.  This is a good puzzle if you like to play practical jokes on people.  For example, telling someone that they just broke a rare 18th century puzzle when the puzzle falls apart in their hands ;)  Overall, a good puzzle.  Puzzle Master gives the consumer the opportunity to own a puzzle that was at the IPP for a very good price.  Currently the price is 11.95 which is not bad at all.  What I don’t understand is the fact that many puzzle stores don’t provide very much information about the puzzles they sell.  The story behind the puzzle makes the product more interesting.  Sure, there are bloggers like myself but not everyone wants to read our ramblings.  Anyway, I received this puzzle from Puzzle Master and if you need the solution then you need to jump up and slap someone.  Just kidding.  You can find the solution here.  Special thank to George Bell for the additional information and of course to Puzzle Place which is a great source of puzzle information for rookies like me.  Please see the comments section if you would like some additional information regarding the other version of the puzzle.
Photo by George Bell


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