Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Wonderizing Puzzles – Benno’s TIC 2.0

Benno's TIC 2.0 by Benno de Grote and Andrew Crowell
As I was enjoying perusing through the myriad of beautiful puzzle photos on the Mechanical Puzzles Discord (MPD) server, I saw a particularly attractive puzzle made from several exotic woods.  Paduak, Redheart, Canarywood, Yellowheart, Maple, and Walnut comprised this intriguing puzzle made by George Syriaque.  The story behind the puzzle was as interesting as the puzzle itself.

George was fascinated by a puzzle designed by Benno de Grote called Favorite.  It is level 7 puzzle and George was interested in knowing if the complexity could be increased.  To scratch that itch, he shipped the design off to Andrew Crowell to pass it through his Magical Puzzle Wonderizer.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Andrew’s Wonderizer, it takes a plain puzzle design as input, breaks it down to its core puzzle DNA, injects complexity steroids, and reconstitutes its components into its new uber form.  So what would happen if you put in a design that was already great to begin with?  Would it strip out the elegance and produce a quotidian block of wood?  As it turns out, the Wonderizer took the level 7 puzzle and produced a level 16 puzzle with some added rotations sprinkled in, which was summarily named Benno's TIC 2.0.

For a long time now, George has been posting enticing photos of the puzzles that he has been making, whetting everyone’s appetite for more wooden puzzles.   Certainly not immune to that allure, as I gazed upon the photos of Benno’s TIC 2.0, I said to myself, “I’d love to give that puzzle a try”.  And then I moved on since they were not being produced.

Benno's TIC 2.0 Pieces
Several weeks later, I received a package.  A package from my good friend George.  A package that contained a single cubic box.  The kind of nondesript white foldup box that puzzles sometimes come in.  Inside this box was, you guessed it – some foam wrapping!  Yes!!! Foam wrapping!   That's such a good sign!  And sure enough, protected by that foam wrapping was Benno’s TIC 2.0 that I saw on the MPD.  WOW!!!

Instead of drooling over pictures on the MPD, I now had one in hand.  TICs are my thing and…I can’t find the first move.  That first piece fits snuggly in the cube and took a couple of minutes to locate.  After a couple more moves, things start to open up and you may find that you are going in circles.   However, once you break out of that circle, pieces start emerging from the cube.

The dance required to separate the last 3 pieces was particularly nice.  Looks like it would be easy, feels like it’s impossible, and is greatly appreciated when you finally successfully traverse the correct path.  Need I say that the path is a bit twisted.

Reassembling the puzzle right after disassembly while all the moves are fresh in mind is easy.  It is much more interesting to leave it unassembled and tackle discovering the moves in reverse.

Since I don’t have a copy of the original Favorite design by Benno, I can’t comment on the differences between the original and the wonderized version.  I can say that the Benno’s TIC 2.0 is a great design and fun to solve.  Thank you George!  Thank you Andrew!  Thank you Benno!


  1. Replies
    1. I always look forward to seeing what George is making and I always look forward to seeing what is coming out of Andrew's Wonderizer.

  2. Thank goodness it wasn't reduced to a quotidian block of wood!! Had to look that one up!

    1. Would have made for a much shorter description.

  3. Thank you for writing this. I would love to try this 2.0 version. Is there any way I can get it?

    1. I'm Benno de Grote btw, the designer of the original puzzle.

    2. I'm glad that you enjoyed the post! I'll check with the guys on availability and will get back to you via your email address on your website.