Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Puzzle-A-Month Challenge

To kickoff this new puzzling year, I’m proposing a challenge – A puzzle-a-month challenge.
  • It’s about keeping the mind limber by exercising the brain.  We talk about exercising the body at the gym, exercising our speaking and leadership skills here at Toastmasters, and now, exercising our problem-solving skills with puzzles.
  • It’s about having fun.
  • And it’s about providing exciting new topics for future speeches.

This was the beginning of my speech earlier this month at my Toastmasters International club, Freehold Phrasers.  The speech I gave was for a project on presenting proposals.  Since it was the beginning of the Toastmasters year, I decided to issue a puzzle-a-month challenge.  The challenge for willing participants was outlined as follows:
  1. I would collect $15 from each person that wants to participate.

  2. I would purchase a variety of puzzles equal to the number of participants.

  3. Each participant would be given a puzzle to solve.

  4. Each month, the puzzles would be rotated amongst the participants.

  5. After all particpants had a chance to solve each puzzle, each participant would get one of the puzzles to keep.

I explained that this was going to be a Puzzles 101 event and that I was not looking to pound anyone over the head with extremely difficult puzzles.  The goal is to provide puzzles with obtainable solutions that have an Aha moment when you finally see the solution.  If anything, I would be erring on the side of people complaining that they solved it in 5 minutes and then had to wait a month for the next puzzle.  In that case, I planned to carry some additional items from my own collection to tide people over in the meantime.

I acquired 6 willing participants, which is roughly the number that I needed to kick the challenge off.  With $90 in my pocket, I headed over to the online Puzzle Master store to chose from the thousands of puzzles that they offer.  I chose to buy the puzzles at Puzzle Master due to their large selection of puzzles, great pricing, and free shipping on orders over $100 CA.  Of course, I bought some puzzles for myself, so I was well over the $100 requirement for free shipping allowing me to apply the entire puzzle budget to puzzles.

I knew that my biggest challenge would be to avoid selecting puzzles that were not too difficult for non-puzzlers.  Puzzle Master ranks puzzle difficulty on a scale from 5 to 10 and I did my best to focus on the Level 5 and 6 puzzles.  The puzzles ordered were as follows (clicking on the names will take you to that puzzle on Puzzle Master’s website):

Two Keys by Jean Claude Constantine
Two Keys – I chose this puzzle to represent the maze category.  It’s made by Jean Claude Constantine and is a very handsome laser cut puzzle.  I chose this puzzle because it was not simply a single maze but has a maze on each side that needs to be solved simultaneously.  Since you can only look at one side at a time, it forces the user to stretch their awareness and envision what is happening on the other side as the pieces are moving.  I also chose this particular maze since it had the lowest difficulty rating of 5.  Reviews that I’ve seen are mixed concerning the level of difficulty.  The Puzzling Parts blog says that it's easy and the Gabriel Fernandes' Puzzle Collection blog says that it is harder than rated and "casual puzzlers will struggle to figure it out”.  The Puzzling Parts blog also offers an additional challenge by pointing out that the top maze section can be flipped over once removed and then constructed with it upside-down.  Thank’s Neil.

Symmetrick by Vesa Timonen
Symmetrick – Symmetry puzzles have become very popular in recent years and I wanted to include one in this challenge.  The choice was a no brainer for me.  Symmetrick was one of the Top 10 Vote Getters in the 2013 Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition .  It was designed by Vesa Timonen and made by Sloyd.  I consider Symmetrick a classic and was very happy that it was available at Puzzle Master.  It’s only 2 pieces and yet it’s not trivial.  The objective is to lay the pieces flat on a table next to each other so that they form a single symmetric shape.  Very easy to describe, not so easy to solve.  There is a good description of the puzzle on Puzzling Times.  Looking back at what Allard had to say about the puzzle, maybe I bit off a little more than someone else can chew.  In my defense, Puzzle Master gives it a difficulty rating of 6.

Beginner Set with Heartbreaker, Handcuffs, and "A" Puzzle
PerseusBeginner Set – I was conflicted with which puzzle to provide for the disentanglement category.  I immediately thought of the Heartbreaker puzzle, which has a great Aha moment for new puzzlers and provides the first clue of what an exit point looks like in a disentanglement puzzle.  The other puzzle that I consider a classic in this category is the Handcuffs Puzzle (2 linked horseshoes with trapped ring).  This puzzle seems to have been around forever and is very clever.  Unlike the Heart puzzle, the solution is not as easy to see.  Lucky for me, Puzzle Master sells a set of 3 beginner puzzles that includes both of these puzzles allowing me to provide both as one entry.  And it comes with a bonus third disentanglement puzzles called the “A” puzzle.  This puzzle will provide a good next step challenge using the exit identification skills acquired solving the Heartbreaker puzzle.  Puzzle Master rates the Beginner Set as a Level 6 but individually the puzzles are rated: Heartbreaker - 5, Handcuffs - 6, “A” Puzzle - 7.  This one was a little over budget, but I thought that it provided a nice series of escalating challenges.  People may not solve them all but most will probably be able to solve the first one.

Perseus – I wanted to include a classic Stewart Coffin put-together puzzle and this was the closest that I could find.  Perseus looks like Stewart’s Pin Hole puzzle but I was disappointed that it was not identified as such on the Puzzle Master website.  That makes this one a bit of a wildcard.  The puzzle is made by Philos and Puzzle Master rates it at a Level 6.  The puzzle will be provided unassembled to the participants and I believe that everyone should be able to solve it.  You can find more information about Stewart Coffin on the PuzzleWorld website including electronic copies of Stewart's compendiums.
Six-T Puzzle
Six-T-Puzzle – Packing puzzles have become very popular of late and I wanted to include one in the challenge.  I chose Six-T since the Aha moment looked readily achievable by a new puzzler.  It also looked attractive for an inexpensive puzzle.  The puzzle was designed by Dr. Volker Latussek and made by Rombol.  Puzzle Master rates it at Level 6.  This would make an excellent choice for a 60th birthday gift.  The puzzle will be provided unassembled to the participants and I expect that everyone will solve this one.

Spring Time BoxSpring Time Box – How about including a puzzle box in the challenge?  The biggest puzzle box trick is to find something suitable within the puzzle challenge budget.  Fortunately, Gabriel Fernandes recently blogged about a puzzle box that caught my attention and I decided to include the Spring Time Box in the challenge.  You can read what Gabriel had to say about it on the Gabriel Fernandes’ Puzzle Collection blog.  This puzzle box is one of a set of 6 puzzle boxes with this one being one of the two larger boxes.  Although Puzzle Master rates this at a Level 7, Gabriel indicated that it’s really not more than a Level 6.  The important thing to remember here is that it’s Gabriel’s fault if it is too hard.  However, I am prepared to swap in another puzzle box that I have and know to be easy if this one turns out to be too hard.

Dynacube by Gabriel Songel and Gianni SarconeDynacube 1 – If you have been paying close attention, this is the 7th puzzle entry for the 6 participants.  It never hurts to have a spare and there is one person that showed interest but hasn’t committed yet.  I’m placing the Dynacube in the folding puzzle category.  It also has the property of multiple challenges instead of the one-and-done solving experience of the prior 6 puzzles.  The puzzle comes with a booklet of 60 target shapes that can be made by folding the pieces along their hinged edges.  I had some reservations about including a puzzle with multiple challenges since no one will probably do all 60 challenges and this may leave them with the feeling that it wasn’t completely solved.  That’s always a risk.  The Dynacube Puzzle were designed by Gabriel Songel (physical design) and Gianni Sarcone (pattern design) and made by Recent Toys.  Puzzle Master gives it a rating of 6.  Dynacubes 2 - 4 have the same physical design but different pattern designs. 

I would be interested in hearing everyone’s opinion of the puzzle choices made and what puzzles you would have chosen instead.  You can leave your feedback in the comments below.

I’ll provide another post after the puzzle challenge has completed with the results of what the participants thought of the experience and which puzzles they managed to solve.

As a final note, the puzzle pictures in this post were shamelessly lifted from the Puzzle Master website.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Where Do Great Puzzle Designs Come From?

Trifecta by Ken Irvine and made by Tom Lensch
Trifecta made by Tom Lensch
One of my prior design competition entries.
What can inspire metagrobologists around the world to produce new, innovative, and extremely clever delights for the puzzle community?  What about the Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition held every year at the International Puzzle Party!

This competition has been held each year since 2001 in honor of Nob Yoshigahara, one of the founding members of IPP, and serves as an incubator that spawns many new puzzle designs each year.  New designs are selected by craftsmen, manufacturers, and shop owners.  This is only natural since the many participants are creating wish lists of puzzles that they would like to acquire copies of.  If you browse through the historical listings of past design competition entries, you will run across many now familiar puzzles that got their start as entries in the yearly competition.  Some of my own designs have been picked up in past competitions to be produced.

The puzzle competition room is organized with many tables, each supporting about a half-dozen puzzles.  Each puzzle is also accompanied by a description sheet identifying the name of the puzzle, some details of the puzzle including a photo, and the solving objective.  The backside of the sheet provides the solution to the puzzle if needed.

Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition RoomThere are always more entries than there is time to solve them all.  Unfortunately, this means that you have to prioritize the puzzles that you dedicate time too.  It also helps to keep an ear out for what other people like.  For instance, last year, Jigsaw Puzzle 29 was pretty low on my list because I didn’t think that I needed to spend any time on a jigsaw puzzle.  After hearing many people rave about the puzzle, I finally sat down, solved it, and discovered what a brilliant puzzle it was.  I could have easily missed out on that one.

Table in Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition RoomAwards are given for the best designs and the Design Competition Trophy is?  You guessed it - A Puzzle!  This year’s trophy was designed by Yavuz Demirhan and made by Tom Lensch, so you know it’s extraordinary.  Pin’s are also awarded for the Puzzlers’ Award, Grand Prize, First Place Prizes, and Honorable Mentions.  All prizes are awarded by a judging committee except for the Puzzlers’s Award, which is voted on by attending IPP members.  Certificates are also given to the top 10 designers that received the most votes.

This year, there are 61 entries in the puzzle design competition.  You can find the official entry list on the 2019 Puzzle Design Competition web page.  Since the design competition rules allow puzzles that have been released in the last 2 years, some of these entries are already available.  After reviewing the competition entries, I tallied 15 of them that I recognized before seeing the competition entries.  They are as follows:

1.    Brass Monkey Two – You can read about this puzzle at Puzzling Times and PuzzleMad.  It is available at Puzzle Master or the TwoBrassMonkeys Etsy shop.

2.    FantasTIC – This puzzle is a level requiring 30 moves to totally disassemble with 6+ Rotations in a 4x4x4 format.  I really love these Turning Interlocking Cubes and I’m looking forward to eventually playing with this one.  The ‘TIC man has been cranking out very high-quality designs at a rapid rate and they are all highly recommended.  My guess is that this puzzle will eventually show up on Wood Wonders.

3.    Hokey Cokey Lock – This puzzle lock, accompanied by a rather intricate and shameless presentation ritual, was a highlight of last year’s IPP puzzle exchange.  You can read about it at Puzzling Times, PuzzleMad, and Boxes and Booze.  You can acquire one from Mr. Puzzle, although it’s just not the same without the presentation.

4.    Jack in the Box – Videos of the creation of this puzzle box include Jack in the Box Part 1, Part 2, and Box Pieces.

5.    Logical Progression – This puzzle was included in the last release from Cubic Dissection.  If you missed out, Eric Fuller is planning on releasing another batch in September.

6.    Mazeburr L – You can read all about this puzzle at PuzzleMad.

7.    Multiball – This puzzle was included in a recent release from Cubic Dissection.   I wouldn’t be surprised if Eric released another batch of this puzzle in the future.

8.    PedanTIC - This puzzle is a level requiring 36 moves to totally disassemble with 10 rotations in a 4x4x4 format.  Wow!  I haven’t had the opportunity to play with this puzzle yet, but it looks like it’s all about removing that 4th piece.  26 moves is a lot of moves for releasing a piece from a 4x4x4 puzzle.  I expect that this one will become available at Wood Wonders in the near future.

9.    Puzzleduck Pastures - You can get some additional information about this sequential discovery puzzle from the Lumberjocks site.

10.    Slammed Car – This puzzle was recently released and still available at Pluredro.  You can find a good description of it on Puzzling Times.

11.    Slider – This is the most recently released puzzle from Hanayama.  You can acquire a copy from Puzzle Master.

12.    Somaa CubeWood Wonders has been releasing several Soma variants recently including the Somaa Cube.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see more copies of the Somaa Cube in future releases, especially with it being in the design competition.

13.    Venn Puzzle – This puzzle is the product of a recent kickstarter campaign and is currently available at Puzzle Master.

14.    Wave 5 – This designer has recently released a wave of new puzzles that have become very popular, including Wave 5.  You can try getting a copy at Puzzle Master, but as of the date of this posting, it was still sold out.  If you like this one, there is also a Wave 7, also currently sold out.

15.    Yosegi Pattern Box – You can read about this puzzle on Boxes and Booze.  You can also view a video on the box construction on YouTube.

If you are interested in acquiring a copy of Jigsaw Puzzle 29 from last years competition, it is available at Puzzle Master.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

To Bevel or Not to Bevel, That is the Question

Cereal by Ken Irvine
Would you like a bevel with your puzzle, sir?  If you were given the option of receiving a puzzle with or without the pieces being beveled, what would your answer be?  I’m glad that when I buy puzzles, the decision has already been made for me.  However, when I make my own puzzles, I’m stuck with having to make the decision myself.

When I first started to make puzzles, to compare the overall effect of a puzzle with and without beveled edges, I made 2 copies of my puzzle, Cereal.   One with beveling and one without.  After seeing both versions, my wife informed me that I will be making all future puzzles with beveled pieces.  In the end, I still don’t have to make the decision.

There are certain advantages for a newbie woodworker, like myself, in beveling the pieces:
  1. If you are gluing multiple pieces together in a corner jig, excess glue that may get squeezed out forms beads in the beveled area instead of having the piece get glued to another adjacent piece.  Once the beads have dried, they can be cut off.

  2. Without the bevels, near perfect tolerances are required to allow pieces to slide past each other without catching on the edges.  The bevel helps guide and move the pieces to avoid catching.

  3. My wife thinks that it looks awesome!  This makes the prior 2 bullets, moot points.
So how does one get those nice bevels?  There are many ways to bevel depending on how fancy you would like them:
    Beveling Jig for Sander
  • Sandpaper – For small bevels, some craftsman simply use sandpaper. Sometimes a small V shaped jig is used to orient the pieces at 45o to the sandpaper.
  • Sander – For speedy beveling, a 45o V shaped jig can be created to use on a sander.  This is what I use.  It is very safe and very fast.  I can bevel all 12 edges of a piece in seconds.  I do the 4 sides going with the grain before I do the 8 edges across the grain.  I somehow convinced myself that this was the best way to avoid tearout at the ends, but that is my own best guess.  The jig can be moved closer or further away from the sander to determine how much of a bevel is provided.  The downside of using a sander is that bevels end up with sanding marks but they are uniform and it looks like a texture has been provided.  We’ll call this a feature instead of a problem.  
  • Table Saw – Some craftsmen create a 45o V shaped jig that sits right on the table saw with the blade just poking up into the jig.  Since only a little bit of the blade is located at the bottom of the jig, it is also very safe as well as fast.  The blade can be raised or lowered to adjust the depth of the bevel.  However, the bevel can’t be any wider than the kerf of the saw blade, i.e., the width of the cutting area of the blade.
  • Router – When thinking about creating bevels, the router may have been your first thought since that is one of its main functions.  In fact, all of the previous techniques are limited to providing a 45o flat edge bevel, while the router can give you all sorts of fancy bevels.  You can identify the craftsman level puzzles from Mr. Puzzle by their distinctive beveling on the ends of the pieces. 
Exolution Cubes I-IV by Andrew Crowell
Exolution Cubes I-IV by Andrew Crowell
Super Bevel
Super Bevel
In addition to adding a finishing touch to the puzzle, the bevel can also impact a puzzle design.  Adding beveling to the pieces can introduce intended or unintended rotations to a puzzle.  Many designs have succumbed to the unintentional rotation blight.  The term legal rotations has been used to describe rotations that can be accomplished without beveling.  Of course, many great Turning Interlocking Cubes (TIC) puzzles have been developed that require beveling to accomplish required rotations and if you bevel deep enough, there is a whole other level of geometric shapes that can be explored.  It is no longer a simple cubic dissection world.

Although this post reads like a pro bevel advertisement, I also like seamless puzzles without beveling as well, like the puzzles made by Andrew Crowell.  They are very attractive and I have a hard time envisioning what they would look like with bevels.

Cereal Pieces by Ken Irvine

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Sting of Five Fantastic Scorpions

The Sting of Five Fantastic Scorpions

Since the beginning of time, the crypt of eternal secrets has been safeguarded by the ancient elemental scorpions: Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Aether.  To ensure against trespassing by the unworthy, the guardians sealed the crypt with an impenetrable lock.  This lock, known as the Sting of Five Fantastic Scorpions, holds the ring of transcendence.  He who can surmount the locks challenges will achieve ultimate enlightenment.

The Sting of Five Fantastic Scorpions includes a pentagon representing the crypt of eternal secrets with each of the Fantastic Five walls created by one of the elemental scorpions.  The ring of transcendence is safeguarded by the crypt in the bottom right corner.  Through the heart of the ring lies the trigger for the Scorpion’s Sting, which when released, strikes with the might of the combined elemental scorpions.

Scorpion’s Sting
Scorpion's Sting (10/10)
Scorpion’s Sting SolvedThe Scorpion’s Sting consists of an eternal timeline terminated on each end with an elemental ring that passes through the stinger not once but twice to create a time loop.  Venomous yellow spheres located along the timeline on each side of the stinger keep them entwined for all eternity.  The secret to removing the ring of transcendence from the eternal timeline can’t be revealed here to avoid the wrath of the eternal scorpions.  However, we can mention that the elemental scorpions were careless in basing the Scorpion’s Sting on the cosmic Fork in time and the lone Scorpion, which is essentially the same without the time loop, and can be used to acquire the hidden knowledge required to release the ring of transcendence.

Fantastic Five
Fantastic Five (9/10)
Fantastic Five SolvedFantastic Five forms a pentagon for invoking the spirits of the eternal scorpions.  The pentagon is formed by chains that are 2 and 3 segments long.  Each chain is terminated by an elemental ring as well as poisonous purple spheres to keep them entwined for all eternity.  Although the pentagon is a powerful shape, it is flawed.  The two chains are unbalanced, which can be exploited to acquire the ring of transcendence.

Mortals can attempt their fate with the Sting of Five Fantastic Scorpions by obtaining Scorpion’s Sting and Fantastic Five from the PuzzleMaster Gods.  The Fork and Scorpion can be acquired from them as well.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Puzzle Complexity

In the last blog, I mentioned that The Nagging Wife puzzle had a level of 3.1.2 difficulty without really explaining what it means.  If you see a string of numbers like this separated by periods, it is usually the number of moves required to remove the pieces from the puzzle.  In the case of The Nagging Wife, it takes 3 moves to remove the first piece, 1 to remove the second, and 2 to remove the third.  For many puzzles, this is used as a proxy for its difficulty.  As the number of moves increases, the puzzle is generally more complex and difficult to solve.

Hanayama H&H Box
In reality, puzzle difficulty is completely subjective and although there may be a general consensus on the general difficulty of a puzzle, everyone is different and has their own perspective.  For instance, Hanayama puzzles come with a rating of 1 to 6 stars with 6 being the most difficult.  I particularly like the old style boxes with the die showing the level of complexity.  When a new puzzle is released, there are sometimes frequent mutterings on the miscasting of the difficulty within the puzzle community with some saying it was too low and others too high.  As I get older, it seems that the number of stars is skewing too low.

In 2017, I gave a speech on puzzle complexity and provided the following clues for gauging the difficulty of a puzzle:

Suggested Level – If the puzzle is mass marketed, it probably comes with a suggested level of difficulty.  In some cases, the level may be provided by the designer.  After all, these designers are the world's greatest puzzle experts and have a lot of experience with puzzles and how well people can solve them.  If you’re new to the puzzling world, you may find them underestimated.  If you are an experienced puzzler, you may find them overestimated.  Look for the ones with the icon of the guy pulling his hair out for the best puzzle experience.  I know quite a few bald puzzlers.

Delight by Stéphane Chomine
5 Piece Plate Burr
Delight by Stéphane Chomine
Number of Pieces – Piece count can be an indication of difficulty.  The more pieces that there are to work with the more difficult it usually is.  Of course, a 5 or 6 piece plate burr puzzle could easily be more difficult than a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

Piece Variety – Usually puzzles where all the pieces are different are more difficult than when they are all the same.  When they are all the same, you don’t have to worry about where each piece needs to go relative to the others.  This could be a factor of N! for mathematicians.

Moves Required – In general, as the number of moves required to solve the puzzle increases, the complexity of the puzzle  increases.  However, some puzzles like N-ary puzzles may require very large numbers of moves to solve but may not necessarily be difficult.

Spin Out by William Keister
N-ary Puzzle - Spin Out by William Keister
Piece Shapes – Everyone is really comfortable solving a cube dissected into smaller cubes.  Smash it, stretch it, skew it, and deform it in so many unspeakable ways and it becomes intimidating.  Haym Hirsh has been doing a nice job recently of distorting 3x3x3 cubes (Inelegant Cube, Inelegant Box, Somaa, Jitter Soma) by using pieces that aren’t cubic and some that leave gaps in the solved state.  It messes with your head when the pieces are no longer flush against each other when building the cube and once you start cutting pieces at non-right angles, things get much more complicated for the designers, craftsman, and puzzlers.

Wookey Hole by Stewart Coffin and Man-O-War
Burr vs. Disentanglement
Wookey Hole by Stewart Coffin
and Man-O-War
Puzzle Type – Most puzzlers have a preference for the types of puzzles that they are interested in at the moment.  Give a hard-core burr puzzler a rookie disentanglement puzzle and he may struggle like a newbie.  That’s what makes it so fun!

Rotations – For cubic dissections, the trend has been moving towards creating Turning Interlocking Cubes (TICs).  I believe that Bernhard Schweitzer coined this phrase while doing a study on TICs.  When solving a burr, knowing that a rotation is required is a significant clue.  It activates all sorts of additional puzzle solving neurons in the brain while working on a puzzle.  When you are completely stuck on solving a burr, you eventually ask whether a rotation is required.  If the answer is yes, you happily go on searching for the rotation.  If the answer is no, despair settles in.  It’s as simple as that.  Andrew Crowell is the current master of creating cubic dissection puzzles with rotations and they are all recommended.

NOS 5 Crenel by Gregory Benedetti
Coordinate Motion
NOS 5 Crenel by Gregory Benedetti
Coordinate Motion – Movements with pieces simultaneously going in different directions can add to a puzzles complexity.  In many cases, getting all the pieces that have to move at the same time in position can be a real dexterity challenge like Rosebud by Stewart Coffin.  One of my favorite coordinate motion puzzle designers is Gregory Benedetti who did a spectacular job with the New Old School (NOS) Burrs.

Number of Solutions – Many packing puzzles have multiple solutions.  In general, it is expected that as the number of solutions increases, the chances of finding one becomes easier.  For instance, the Soma Cube by Piet Hein has 240 ways to create a 3x3x3 cube and it is not that difficult to find one.  The Half Hour puzzle by Stewart Coffin, however, has only one way to create a 3x3x3 cube and is much more difficult.  I’m guessing that the Half Hour puzzle was named for how long it took Stewart to make the first copy of the puzzle given how much longer it took me to solve it.

Soma by Piet Hein & Half Hour by Stewart Coffin
Two 3x3x3 Cubes - They Don't Look That Different!
Soma by Piet Hein (Left) & Half Hour by Stewart Coffin (Right)
Cord Length – For disentanglement puzzles, the length of the cord is usually just long enough to accomplish the solution.  The longer it is, the higher probability that you can tie it into a knot.  Beware if it is long enough to hang yourself with.

I’m much more careful now about giving out information on puzzle difficulty after an extremely embarrassing faux pas.  While attending my first International Puzzle Party, hobnobbing with the cognoscenti of puzzledom, I put some of my puzzles out in the hotel lobby for others to play with.  One attendee asked me if one of the puzzles was difficult to solve.  It's easy I told him and then watched him struggle for hours trying to solve that puzzle.  I think that he may have been shamed by my comment into trying to find the solution and instead of enjoying the puzzle, it may have become a burdensome task.  Of course, I like to think that, like myself, he enjoys being frustrated.  Why else would we do it!

If you are interested in the Man-O-War puzzle, you can find it at PuzzleMaster along with Hanayama Puzzles, the Soma Cube, and the Half Hour puzzle.