Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A Particlely Nice Puzzle - XI

XI by Haym Hirsh
How many XI particles can occupy a small planer space?  Well, that all depends on the spin and orientation of each XI particle.

XI is a restricted opening 2D packing puzzle designed by Haym Hirsh and made by NothingYetDesigns.  The 2 openings in the top permit the XI and anti-XI particles to be injected within the frame.   The anti-XI particles are simply XI particles with a 180 degree spin.  Although the 2 openings conspire to suggest that both XI and anti-XI particles should be injected, it is not obvious how many of each is required or even if both types are needed.  Even if each anti-XI particle cancels out a XI particle as they bounce around and collide with each other, the odd number of particles suggests that the solution will eventually end up as a XI or anti-XI puzzle.  I leave it up to you to find out which.

Needless to say, the particles need to be added in a specific order and potentially rotated as they are entangled.  It’s nice that the top is clear so that you can see what you are doing.  Of course, you have to perform all those particle movements and rotations using the 2 openings.  Fiddly, but not that difficult.  However, if you regularly refer to your digits as sausages, you may find the physics of manipulating small particles more of a challenge.

XI is made with laser cut acrylic and has a nice heft to it.  The use of washers to elevate the clear top ensures that the 5 particles move nicely within the frame.  The puzzle information engraved on the top is also well done and useful for distinguishing the puzzle from other restricted opening 2D packing puzzles by Haym from NothingYetDesigns.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Going Postal - Letter Box

Letter Box by Pit Khiam Goh
Your task - to stuff a Letter Box with letters until it is completely full.  Oh! - and there are 2664 assemblies.  And you can’t just shove them in, some have to be rotated while they are in the box.  You may even find yourself stuck and frustrated if you’re not careful.

All the letters that you will be stuffing in Letter Box are copies of the L tromino - 9 of them.  They all have to be inserted through the small slot.  When solved, the 9 L trominos will completely fill the Letter Box.

Letter Box, designed by Pit Khiam Goh, was made by Cubicdissection and released in December 2020.  The box is made from Walnut and each of the L trominos is made from a different exotic wood: Wenge, Canxan, Jatoba, Zebra, Bloodwood, Purple Heart, Katalox, Chakte Viga, and Ash.  It’s especially nice that each of the L tromino pieces is made from a single piece of wood.  In addition to the slot that permits the L trominos to pass, there are 2 additional holes that can be used to view and manipulate the pieces within the box.

Letter Box Pieces
There are many ways to tackle a puzzle.  Since this puzzle has 2664 assemblies, I wouldn’t recommend an exhaustive approach to try each one until you find one that works.  Even if you found a working assembly, it may not be obvious since the solution requires rotating pieces within the box.  For this puzzle, a better approach would be to start at the other end and envision how the pieces would be removed from the box.  How would the first piece come out?  Then with the first piece out, how would the second piece come out?  Using this approach, I was able to find a workable assembly and determine the rotations needed to solve Letter Box.  Not overly difficult but a very nice challenge.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Puzzling Preparation Purgatory – Helical Bits and Pieces

Helical Bits and Pieces
I recently had the opportunity to acquire some nice helical puzzles from one of the Two Brass Monkeys.  I’ve been eyeing these types of puzzles for years and finally acquired some when a set became available on Puzzle Paradise.  Included in the set were: HeLLical Burr, Oliver Twist, Twiddle Dee, Twiddle Dum, and Dodekastar (improved).  The first 4 were designed by Derek Bosch and are from his line of helical burrs, which he has been expanding over many years.  Although Dodekastar is not a helical burr, it is a great puzzle designed by Yavuz Demirhan and tweaked by the Two Brass Monkeys to be more difficult.  A nice little additional fidget puzzle was also included, which was the only puzzle to arrive already disassembled.

Puzzles arriving in their solved state is a sin and need to be disassembled into purgatory before being redeemed into a solved state.  Although a sinful puzzle and one that has been redeemed share the same outward appearance, deep down, you know the difference.  Every serious puzzle collector is able to scan their collection and weigh their sins against redemption.

Having received this batch of sinful puzzles, I quickly (or not so quickly) banished the puzzles to purgatory (a nice looking decorative bowl) for all eternity (the average amount of time it takes me to get around to solving puzzles).  Most were straight-forward, but one of the Twiddle twins (I really don’t know which is which), was a bit of a challenge.  I was also surprised to find out that Dodekastar was a challenge to take apart as well.  A lot of movement, but no obvious exit point.

Stay tuned for further updates on these puzzles as they are redeemed and take on their divine forms.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Puzzle Of A Year! – 20-22

20-22 by Stéphane Chomine (22 side)

20-22 is a level 22.02 puzzle announced on Twosday, 22.02.2022, by PuzzleWillBePlayed (PWBP).   It was designed by Stéphane Chomine and consists of 2 pieces that fit within a frame.  When solved, one side shows the numerals 20 and the other 22.

20-22 by Stéphane Chomine (20 side)
I always check out the new puzzles released on PWBP and this one caught my eye and interest.  I quickly printed a copy with a gray frame and red pieces.  One piece has a 2 on each side and the other has a 2 on one side and a 0 on the other.  Of course, the frame has some internal obstructions keeping the pieces from simply sliding in.  Must be a puzzle.

This puzzle embodies several qualities that facilitate the solving process.  The first is the level.   At 22 moves, you would expect it to be non-trivial but not too hard.  The second is that the piece with a 2 on each side is the same when you rotate it 180 degrees on any axis.  That means that you can’t possibly add this piece incorrectly.  You just need to figure out which side of the frame it belongs to.  Lastly, since the piece with the 0 can go in the frame in four different ways, there are only 4 assemblies to check.  With a little experimentation, the complete pas de deux is revealed as the pieces find their final resting place.

20-22 Pieces

A special thanks to all the MPD’rs that unknowingly contributed to this post.