I first spotted Tan-Talizing at the IPP32 Puzzle Exchange as Wil’s assistant. It was exchanged by Yee-Dian Lee and I remember thinking to myself that it looked interesting at the time. (Little did I know!) For some or other reason I didn’t end up picking up a copy at IPP and then when one of Wil Strijbos’ latest emails mentioned that he had them available I was reminded of this puzzle.
On our visit to The Hague for DCD 2012 we spent the Saturday afternoon at Rob Hegge’s place and I hauled out his copy of Tan-Talizing and played around with it ... and got nowhere ... then Louis solved it in a few minutes so I decided that I needed to get a copy from Wil the next day, which I duly did.
Tan-Talizing is billed on the box as “A 3D Tangram Puzzle with a twist!”. It consists of eight acrylic pieces made up of a combination of tangram pieces across two or three layers. The pieces alternate black and white across the layers and your task is to form a square block four layers high. The pieces are laid out as a black one-quarter square with some combination of white pieces stuck to it. Several of the pieces have white bits overlapping outside the black pieces forcing you to think outside the box a little bit.
Emptying the pieces out of the box it’s pretty easy to see how some of them will naturally fit together, and your brain (puzzling or otherwise) will naturally start down that route and you’ll end up with a fairly neat half-solution and a set of pieces that simply refuse to go together...
Hmm, this isn’t quite so simple after all.
OK, so experiment with a different configuration on the first half so that you use up different pieces there, leaving different pieces to make up the second half ... it’s worth a try, but I couldn’t make that work... so maybe you need to build it as a whole rather than in a couple of halves – that might make better use of the shapes you have ... then a new brainwave struck: the instructions didn’t say that the colours in the layers have to match!
No matter what I did, I always found that I ended up with a couple of unruly pieces that wouldn’t cooperate – even starting with them and trying to get creative with how the pieces might go together – perhaps they weren’t all neatly arranged around the perimeter, perhaps there’s a piece floating in the middle somewhere, or miscoloured?
Hopefully you’ll explore as many blind alleys as I did before you find the solution.
I’d been playing with it every now and then and not really getting anywhere, then woke up one morning having deduced what the answer had to be, walked through to the study and solved it, just like that.
It is a delightful puzzle – my mate Louis described it as a puzzler’s puzzle and I reckon he’s right!