Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Catch the Wave – Wavelinks
It’s swirly, whirly, wavey, and curly. It’s Wavelinks designed by Rod Bogart. In addition to being an excellent puzzle, it also has some appeal as a fidget toy.
I first encountered Wavelinks in the Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Competition room at IPP38. I wasn’t able to solve it in the limited time that I had but was duly impressed. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one impressed since it won a Top 10 vote getter award.
The version in the IPP competition was made by Shapeways, which provides online services for SLS manufacturing. Upload a design and get copies made and sent to your home. Before everyone had their own FDM printer at home, this was the best way to achieve rapid prototyping for puzzle development using non-cartesian geometries (I refrain from using the term square to avoid connotations associated with Cast Square). Even now, although more expensive, SLS is still probably better than FDM for puzzles such as Wavelinks. You can still acquire copies of Wavelinks from Rod’s Shapeways shop.
I had the opportunity to reattack Wavelinks at an RPP (A Decade of Puzzling - RPP 2019) where someone brought a Shapeways copy that they had acquired. This time, I was able to solve it fairly quickly while still appreciating the movements required to solve it.
Much to my surprise, a kickstarter project was announced in 2022 by Craighill to produce Wavelinks. Their campaign announcement had beautiful photos and videos of the 4 pieces (I refrain from using the term quartet to avoid connotations associated with Cast Quartet) made in contrasting silver and black. It was a complete no-brainer to join the kickstarter.
There is a video in the Kickstarter campaign where the pieces fall into the solved interlocked state (I refrain from using the terms spiral, vortex, and twist to avoid connotations associated with Cast Spiral, Cast Vortex, and Cast Twist). I suggest that you attempt this catch the wave move. Once everything is lined up, the pieces really do drop like that. I’m sure some would consider that video a spoiler, but I don’t think it’s really giving too much away and the appeal of the video is obvious.
I’m very happy that this puzzle was finally released in a format that it deserved and should become available in puzzle shops soon. I’ve incorporated it into my weekly exercise routine but if you prefer a much lighter copy for your workout, the plastic version is still available on Shapeways.