Back in March this year Scott Peterson caused a fair amount of excitement on the Renegade Puzzlers Forum when he posted a video of a modification he’d come up with to Stewart Coffin’s Improved Square Face puzzle. The video explains that Scott had been toying with Coffin’s Improved Square face and changed the shapes of the ends of the sticks and come up with a totally different looking puzzle, dubbed the Stellated Improved Square Face (SISF).
The video demonstrates how the Improved Square Face (ISF) is a development of the standard Diagonal Burr (“Coffinising” it and making it a far more interesting puzzle than the standard Diagonal Burr) , and SISF is in turn a stellation of the ISF – hence SISF.
Quite a few of us expressed an interest in the SISF if Scott got around to making a few for sale, so I was delighted a few months later when I had an email from Scott to say that in spite of his hectic travel schedule he’d managed to put a few of these SISFs together and asked if I was still interested. The email included some absolutely gorgeous pictures of the puzzle in a variety of different combinations of exotic woods and it didn’t take long to settle on a bocote and African blackwood copy – which luckily was still available – in fact Scott had made two copies in those woods and the second one has ended up ten minutes down the road at Chris’ place! Small world, eh?
The puzzle arrived pretty soon after the usual PayPal exchange and if anything, it is even more gorgeous in the flesh. The woods Scott has used are tremendous and as usual, the fit between the pieces is simply astonishing – with the puzzle assembled, you cannot see any seams or joins!
Playing around with it you’ll find that it can slide apart on a few different axes – turning it into a pair of assemblies each made up of three dissimilar pieces ... and taking those apart in turn can either provide a serially interlocking assembly, or a co-ordinated motion assembly depending on how you separated the initial structure ... I think that’s right – or at least, that’s how it seems to me!
Assembly from six scrambled pieces is decidedly non-trivial!
When I took my copy along to our last Midlands Puzzle Party it drew plenty of admiring looks and more than a few highly favourable comments – and Chris commented on something that I hadn’t noticed – Scott has even thought to take off the sharp tips on the ends of the stick so that they don’t poke holes in things, like desks and unwary puzzlers!
A beautiful modification to a classic design gives us a lovely new puzzle – courtesy of Scott Peterson’s fine mind and superb craftsmanship ... or as I put it to him on the forum: “Good mod that man!”.