I’ve written about Jerry McFarland’s puzzles a couple of times before. Not only does he produce Bill Cutler’s puzzles superbly, but he also designs and makes his own puzzles. His website lists a couple of really interesting-looking puzzles, sadly not all of them are generally available.
Nick Baxter’s latest auction included a couple of these hard-to-come-by puzzles including one of Jerry’s Quadlock 1 puzzles. That piqued my curiosity, so when Jerry’s website announced that he’d be making a new run of Quadlock 1’s in a slightly smaller size, my email to Jerry asking for one was into the ether in minutes ... and a little while later Jerry got in touch and offered me a slight variant for a few dollars extra, so a Walnut, Maple and Cardinal Wood Quadlock arrived in the puzzle cave.
Jerry designed the Quadlock 1 in 1992 and describes it as a 19-piece puzzle that’s difficult to take apart. It takes the form of a slightly squashed cube and it’s pretty clear from the get-go that it consists of a seriously interlocked set of unusually shaped pieces.
Starting to play around with it you will quickly gravitate toward the four central pieces that seem to have a reasonable amount of vertical play, although playing with them doesn’t seem to do an awful lot ... a bit of experimentation and feeling your way around in the dark leads to some interesting discoveries, and I have to say that the first move caught me out quite a bit in that things didn’t move the way I’d expected them to – nice one Jerry!
The first moves will let you remove a few pieces, but then you need to execute a couple more nifty moves before the next few pieces can be removed, effectively then leaving you with a core and a framework made up of a number interlocking pieces. When I complimented Jerry on the design of the framework, he deflected most of the blame / credit to Bill Cutler for that particular element of the design.
It’s a great design with one or two little red herrings to amuse the unwary (No, I’m not going to mention those, find them yourself!) and Jerry’s precision makes stumbling across the first part of the solution by accident virtually impossible, while rewarding the careful explorer with plenty of feedback.
Nice one Jerry! Thanks for making another run of a great design and thanks for my ever-so-slightly unique variant ... looking forward to Quadlock 4 now...