2019-04-09Self, PuzzlesComments

A colleague of mine shares my love of puzzles. Whilst I like solving them, he also likes to design and build them. What I hadn’t realised is that there’s a community of puzzlers out there, who hold conventions, share designs, and generally celebrate and advance the art of puzzling.

Dr G — my colleague — is part of that community and also owns a 3D printer. He works from home but whenever he visits the office there’ll be a freshly-printed puzzle for us to play with. I feel as excited as a young hobbit when Gandalf visits the Shire.

The best puzzles have just a few simple pieces. You can see how the parts must finally align but the geometry conspires to confound. There will be a sequence of twists and turns. There must be.

Casino, designed by Dr Volker Latussek, is both mould breaking and an instant classic. You have to slot 6 identical casino chips into a cubic box. The lip which makes the opening to the box rectangular rather than square is the single asymmetry which makes this task almost impossible rather than utterly trivial.

I fiddled with it, rolling the chips into position, sliding and shunting. After many minutes of manipulation I put it down, the chips loosely arranged in and on top of the box. After a lunch break I picked it up, and to my amazement the chips slid easily and directly into place.



PackTIC, designed by Andrew Crowell is a very different puzzle. The TIC stands for Turning Interlocking Cube. A bit like a 3D version of Tetris, you have to manipulate a 5 very different cubilinear pieces so they fuse into an irregular chassis. I took this one on the train with me. At the end of the journey I had figured out how the pieces would fit, but not how to assemble them. The following morning, as with the Casino puzzle, everything just clicked into place.


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