Friday 26 August 2011

Some IPP31 Exchange puzzles from Puzzlewood

Bernhard Schweitzer is purveyor-in-chief at Puzzlewood and seems to be one of the central ‘fixers’ in the puzzling community, applying his extensive connections between designers, manufacturers and puzzlers to facilitate exchange puzzle production for a number of IPP attendees each year. This year was no exception and shortly after the conclusion of IPP in Berlin, Puzzlewood announced the availability of some of the exchange puzzles in limited quantities. A quick email to Bernhard confirmed availability (and very reasonable pricing!) of a couple of interesting looking items produced by the New Pelikan Workshop and a few days later they arrived in Barnt Green.

Brandenburg Gate
Marti Reis’ exchange puzzle was designed by Jos Bergmans in 2010, the completed puzzle looks a bit like the Brandenburg Gate (and helpfully it says exactly that across the top) and the aim is to “open the gate”. It was made in oak and in maple and the finish on the assembled puzzle is that good that the first move is quite well disguised even if it isn’t all that deeply hidden. 
Removing the first piece will half-open the gates in a fairly tantalising manner, but as with a number of Jos’ designs, that’s just the beginning. A bit of fiddling around will soon convince you that rotations may be required, or perhaps that the designer is having a laugh and that they have been glued together in situ. At this point there are quite a few ways of encouraging the pieces apart – some requiring more “encouragement” than others, but if you persist a little, there is a very neat solution that allows the pieces to pass by one another virtually effortlessly – as long as all three pieces are properly aligned – neat little puzzle with a satisfying solution.

Reunification (Twins)
Reunification was Rob Jones IPP31 exchange puzzle. It’s a slightly re-badged puzzle designed by Bram Cohen in 2010 under the name Twins. This is a two-piece assembly with a bit of a twist to it – this time the twist is figurative though, not literal: the pieces are identically shaped and combine to form (most of) a 4*4*4 cube. 
The two halves slide together in a satisfyingly non-linear manner over 6 moves. Really nicely made with tight tolerances, with one face of the completed cube resembling a pair of interlocking F’s.

Röver 6 Piece Burr Variation II
This great design from Andreas Röver takes six simple, identical burr pieces and then adds 3-unit L-shaped blocks to each of them in odd orientations to produce 6 unique pieces and a unique 6-move solution. 
The New Pelikan workshop have produced the pieces with the L-shaped additions in a contrasting colour – that makes for a neat little surprise when you start taking the pieces apart as the contrasting colour is all safely hidden away on the inside in the completed state.

3-Piece What’s It
George Bell designed his own exchange puzzle that was produced in Maple & Robinia by the good folks at the New Pelikan Workshop.  Even though the puzzle is made up of cubes joined at right angles, the offsets make it quite a disorienting puzzle. 
Mine arrived solved, and I suspect that if it hadn’t, I’d still be hunting for that symmetrical solution – even though it only has three pieces!! “Difficult” puzzles don’t need to be complicated.


  1. I also couldn't resist the new releases from Bernhard!!
    I got the Reunification which is made to unbelievably tight tolerances! The 3 Piece What's It - mine came unassembled and it took me about 1/2 an hour to piece together. I am sure this was simultaneously discovered by Steve Strickland as part of his Qcube project.

    I really couldn't resist the Trigo puzzle which you have reviewed before - it is absolutely gorgeous! Not attempted it yet.

  2. Indeed the final shape of my "Three Piece Whatsit" is the same as Steve Strickland's "Don's Q'b" (invented by Don Charnley around 2000). I was curious and ordered one of these from Steve last week, and I can now report that all the pieces are exact mirror images of those in my puzzle. So the same design has come about independently twice.

    Good job on Rover's Burr! Did you assemble it without using BurrTools?

  3. Thanks George - I spotted Donz Q'b in Steve's shop and thought it looked pretty similar...

    Rover's Burr: Did I, heck - no chance! I'm rubbish at difficult burrs - I really liked the apparent simplicity of the design though - very clever!

  4. Hi Allard

    many thanks for the nice review about some of the IPP 31 exchange puzzles we organized and made; we were very proud that 2 of our exchanges were voted under the top 10 and we have to thank every designer who gave us the permission to use their designs for real very reasonable royalties;

    happy puzzling