Saturday, 15 June 2013

(Another) Puzzling Cruise

Gill and I went on a fantastic Baltic Cruise for our main summer holiday this year... we sailed from Harwich and despite concerns about the treacherous North Sea crossing, virtually all of our sailing was wonderfully smooth.

Certain that I wouldn't be able to last almost two whole weeks without some puzzles, I made sure that I took some toys along to keep me amused between all the eating, sight-seeing, shows, eating, movies and of course eating. 

Keen to make sure that I could get the maximum amount of puzzling out of the minimum amount of space (even though we didn't have to fly to meet our cruise and effectively had no luggage restrictions at all!) I took along some multiple challenge-type puzzles and one that I thought would be really hard...

First up I took along three sets of Tantrix Match puzzles that I'd bought from Tomas at Sloyd.

Before I left I'd noticed that the three sets all used the same pieces and boards, so I took along a single board and pieces and three sets of challenges ( Basic, Family and Expert). [The other Tantrix Match set I wrote about previously uses the same pieces as well... FWIW.] 

Each of the sets of challenges has a variety of difficulty levels among their twelve puzzles, with the Basic set having predominantly easier puzzles, the Expert having predominantly harder puzzles and the Family set having a nice balance between the two extremes.

I worked my way through all of the challenges starting with the Basic set up through to the hardest ones in the Expert pack. It was great having a puzzle handy that I could dip into every now and then and spend as little or as long as I had without feeling like you'd lose a train of thought (or a set of positions you'd already tried) - although some of the later problems definitely needed a more systematic approach every now and then...

As you'd expect the easier problems can generally be dispatched in a matter of minutes (some literally only have a couple of permutations for the first few pieces) whereas some of the later problems ended up taking me several ten or fifteen minute sessions to find the solution. Great puzzle to dip in and out of and plenty of puzzling for relatively little bulk - i.e. a good travelling puzzle!

The second puzzle I took along to work on was Ton Delsing's Cat and Dog Sliding puzzle... while this one may look pretty benign, it has a few little quirks that Ton helpfully described when I met him at Wil's place a few weeks earlier. First of all the central column can only be entered from the top or bottom row (you can't slide inwards from the side positions) and one of the blank pieces in the central column is limited to only being able to move between the two middle blocks of the centre column ... which gives you an outer ring for circulating the pieces and the ability to swap a piece into the centre where it won't circulate.

The starting position has "CAT and Dog" across the top and then the words "DOG" and "CAT" running down, so all you have to do is swap either the sets of letters of the individual words around to get them properly lined up...

Before I left on the cruise I'd begun idly playing around with it and had managed to massively scramble it ... so I thought it would make a good puzzle to take along on the cruise... unfortunately it was too good a puzzle to take on the cruise and in spite of several sessions of trying to get the hang of it, it has come home just as scrambled as it was when I left on holiday ... so Ton wins, for now...

By the way, it's cleverly designed, right down to the locking piece to keep things where you left them...

The third puzzle I took along for the ride was a copy of Ivan's Hinge that I'd picked up from Amazon. Ivan's Hinge is a loop of triangular plastic pieces with hinges between each adjoining triangle that will enable every joint to be folded either way. Each triangle has a combination of red, orange or blue colouring. There's a deck of cards with a challenge printed on each side of the cards and your goal is to fold the loop so that you get the shape indicated on the card with the colouring matching that on the card...

Things start out pretty simply with having to make a red square against a blue background ... and if you've done it properly, turning it over will match the next challenge: an orange square against a blue background.

As you work your way through the challenges, not only does the colouring get a bit more challenging, but the shapes start to get a little more unusual as well ...a good fun couple of hours puzzling in between all the eating, and some other stuff on the cruise.


  1. I am so glad to see that I am not the only one who brings puzzles on holiday with me!! Just this week on holiday in Arran I finally solved my Bauhinia dodecahedron, my Tern key and my Binary key. She didn't even mind!!

    Good luck on Ton's cat and dog puzzle. Steve and I had some theorems about how to do it and we're working on setting up some commutators. It is a fiercely tough puzzle. I really need to contact him myself to get one too.


  2. I spent quite a lot of time on the Cat & Dog as well and in the end still got no where...always one tile in the wrong place somehow...Ton sent me a solution in some form of excel format...I couldn't figure out the solution also, everything was too scrambled! Damn difficult sliding puzzle...I am glad I am not the only one who couldn't figure it out!!