Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Daedalus was one of three puzzles that Gregory Benedetti entered in this year’s Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Contest at IPP31 in Berlin. His Ambigram Burr was one of the top ten vote winners that didn’t manage to win a prize and his S in Bloom looks like an interesting packing puzzle to pop on the Shapeways wish list, but Daedalus was the one that looked most interesting to me. 

[Keeping an eye on the Puzzle Design Contest website just after the competition is finished is a great way to find out where you can get hold of the puzzles entered in the contest – Top Tip!]

After the competition, the entry for the Daedalus was updated to mention that about 10 copies were available in marblewood and that about 20 further copies would be available from Gregory in other assorted hardwoods. One of my puzzling mates, Chris, had been in touch with Gregory and lined one up for himself and mentioned it to me as Gregory was about to ship one to Chris and the rest to John Devost to sell on Puzzle Paradise. With a little help from Chris, I managed to snaffle one for myself in the process and he duly brought it around at MPP4 for me – thanks mate!

The marblewood versions all got taken pretty quickly, so I had a selection of hardwoods to choose from, some of which I’d never heard of before – a little time on Google and glancing through the Hobbit House had me settling on a Wakapu cube – and rather handsome (and heavy!) it is too. 

The cube comes with a 52-page booklet, most of which is devoted to a series of wire-frame drawings showing the disassembly / assembly process. It also happens to note that the puzzle was made by Maurice Vigouroux – a rather sought-after craftsman – BONUS!

In its fully closed form, the puzzle hides all of its secrets rather well – there is literally no clue to the sheer pandemonium hiding inside in wait for an unwary puzzler. One of the pics on the Contest website shows the Daedalus with a single piece removed – and it has teeth! From that picture you can surmise that the pieces are constrained by a series of pins and channels, but even that doesn’t really prepare you for the challenge. 

Now in the past I’ve been caught out by Gregory’s Youtube channel name “Rotations Required” not in fact coming into play [on Stand Py Me] – however this time he’d given plenty of warning on the puzzle forums that Daedalus required rotations – plenty of them – ah well, sayonara Burr Tools on this one.
The day after MPP4 I had a pretty good go at solving Daedalus and ended up spending an hour and a half on getting it apart – now just to remind you, this is effectively a 3*3*3 cube that breaks down into 8 pieces – but those pins and those channels seriously manage to get in the way of taking this thing apart – and in fact putting it back together. 

From the very beginning there are a couple of things you can do to enable the cube to grow arms and legs, albeit in rather strange directions! Having given yourself some space, you can then start manipulating things around and about – and plenty of this involves rotating things in various directions ... and while you’re in there, you’ll discover that there’s a lot that you can do that isn’t in any way helpful as Gregory has rather kindly given you several blind alleys to explore in there!

...all the bits...
It must have taken the best part of an hour to release the very first piece, a single little block, albeit one with teeth! Progressing toward the next piece seemed to take me backwards for a while and it remains a non-trivial disassembly until virtually the last few pieces are ready to come out. 

This is the sort of puzzle that you can settle down with for a few hours and be challenged and entertained in equal measures – this is not a puzzle to pick up and expect to solve in five or ten minutes...

I’m way too much of a wimp to try and reassemble this brute without the instructions, although my mate Chris isn’t, and has – but he’s much better at these things than I am!    

Reassembly, even with the (disassembly) instructions is tricky because you need to work out which pieces are going where and the drawings don’t always make that clear unless you flick backwards and forwards a bit ... and now, having done it a few times, I’m getting used to the high level stages involved, but I still find it catches me out, like the third or fourth move from the end it’s just far too tempting to bang one of the pieces all the way home, effectively blocking one of the remaining pieces from being closed up properly ... this is a great puzzle.  I like it. I like it a lot!

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