Friday 7 March 2014

A couple o’ Irvine's

Ken Irvine gave the interlocking puzzling fraternity a great jolt in the arm when he rocked up at IPP32 with a rucksack full of new puzzle designs – many of which didn’t even have names yet. There were piles of interlocking cube puzzles, most of which had a twist in their solutions – almost none of which had been available of sale…

Now Bernhard Schweitzer has a particular passion for TICs, or Turning Interlocking Cubes, having written a couple of articles in Cubism For Fun on this very topic. He also has some terrific contacts for getting puzzles manufactured and as a result, the inevitable happened and Bernhard has managed to get a couple more of Ken’s designs manufactured and offered them for sale on his website – where I ordered a copy each of Turnkey and Matador.

Each arrived with a little white sticker with the puzzle’s name and a note of the level. Neat! 

They’re both five-piece puzzles made of mahogany and their tolerances are just right … so you know when you can and cannot make a particular move – quite useful for some of the rotational moves.

Matador has a couple of interesting (conventional) moves before the first piece can be removed, leaving you with a couple of ring-shaped pieces and a pair of interlocked pieces running through the middle of them… from there there’s one reasonably obvious move but the next one is a bit less obvious and had me holding off for a while before I eventually realised the only way those pieces could be extracted from the rings was if something in particular could work … and it does … just. 

As I said, the tolerances are spot on here.

Turnkey, by comparison is a far more spontaneous riot of movements. Release the first piece and then the movements get pretty fun(ky) straight away. It would be easy to lose your way on this one and end up tying yourself in absolute knots. My favourite bit is the second last piece to come out - I like that one! 

Trying to picture how the pieces need to lie in order to admit the last piece, and then how the heck to actually get them there or thereabouts makes for a nice little challenge.

…and don’t bother trying these two on BurrTools! :-) 

Advance warning: I'm going to be travelling on holiday for a while so there may not be many blog posts in the next few weeks ... or if the weather turns out to be rubbish, there may well be several! :-) 


  1. What we going to do Allard without you?

    1. Puzzle, damnit! Puzzle! (Or chat amongst'll be fine... )

  2. hello Allard

    thanks for the nice Review for the first of a Serie of Ken Irvines TICs( Turning Interlocking Cubes)
    you explained the different tricks very well without giving some hints; may be after my Rehabilitation time in a Hospital ( after a strong and heavy surgery on my back bones) there will come may be the next 2 Irvine cubes and also may be some another very interesting turning cube designs


    1. Get well soon, Bernhard. (Not just because we'd all like to see some more of Ken's great designs! ;-) )

    2. Hello Allard

      as you asekd for, the next 2 of Irvines are here now and also a very interesting TICs by William Hu

    3. Thanks Bernhard - email sent! :-)