Monday, 18 June 2012

Stellated Improved Square Face puzzle


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!”.


8 comments:

  1. Once again - thanks for all the kind words, and glad to hear that everyone enjoyed it at MPP!

    I take the points off because that way it is a little softer than playing with a cactus!

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  2. Mine arrived yesterday - it is simply superb. I just don't know how he does it. The rapid decent of my bank balance continues!! :-D

    Kevin
    Puzzlemad

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  3. I agree, they're fantastically well made and certainly got some attention at MPP - I still recall the look on Ali's face once he had it in pieces and we told him we hadn't yet fully disassembled it :D

    FWIW, I'm pretty sure there is only the one sliding axis... which will always leave the same two halves - one of which is serially interlocking and the other which requires coordinated motion... like Rosebud but with with only half the amount of pieces to align :)

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    1. ...Hmm, I must have dreamt that bit... sorry!

      Listen to Chris - he's WAY BETTER at these things than I am! :-)

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    2. I ALWAYS listen to Chris!!! Especially when he helps me acquire marvellous new toys to bore my wife with!!

      Kevin
      Puzzlemad

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    3. There is only one sliding axis, but the halves can be oriented in any of the three ways and slide back together. That was the fun part when I discovered this - one half assembles with coordinate motion, and the other in serial order - but they can both be rotated and still assemble to make the same shape!

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  4. I have to say this is a real beauty. Yes Chris, when you told me that I did start to sweat!! I wish I owned this particular puzzle to do a few more times.
    Another great read Allard, thanks

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