Monday, 5 May 2014


Kim Klobucher has been designing and crafting instantly recognisable puzzle boxes for a while. His website serves both as a shop window for new boxes and as a catalogue of the boxes that he’s made and sold in the past. When he has a batch of puzzles available for sale, they’re listed on his web site and it’s pretty much first come first served – his prices are jolly reasonable, but the limited quantities generally mean that they sell out virtually instantaneously. 

A couple of my puzzling mates have been lucky enough to snag a copy of his lovely little puzzles, but I hadn’t ever managed to get one … in spite of waking myself up at 2am on a Baltic Cruise to try and grab one of them when I knew he would be putting a batch up for sale. Perhaps it was my slow typing (hey, it was 2am and I was on a boat!) or the dodgy satellite internet connection, but I didn’t even come close to getting one…

So when one of my mates offered me one, I said “How much” and “Yes please” in the space of a few seconds… and when I saw him a while later, I found out which puzzle it was when he handed it over, and I was delighted!

It’s a puzzle with the catchy name of “MMMDXLVI” – which might strike you as an odd name for a puzzle unless you recognise it as Roman Numerals – for the number 3546 … the number of moves required to open the box … <GRIN> This is the grand-daddy of high level puzzle boxes.

Klobucher boxes all share a common style on the outside – they’re made up of little cubes forming a box shape and the top has a lovely pattern picked out in inlaid wood and brass – all perfectly finished. On the opposite side there’s a stamped KCUBE logo. They come in a cotton bag and each has a little solution card – all brilliantly professional – in keeping with the quality of the little boxes themselves.

Finding the first move is a little tricky because it’ll stay locked up the way you’ll want to start it.

Find the first move and the next one follows quite easily… until you fall into the pattern of things – there’s a pretty recognisable pattern – as you might expect from the massive number of moves to solve this puzzle, it’s based on a recursive pattern, with each layer adding an order of magnitude to the number of moves required to solve it … and there are nine sliding pieces on this one. You’re going to get to know the main sequence VERY WELL by the time you open this box for the first time…

Once I’d worked out a sensible grip that allowed me to move most of the sliding bits without having to change grip I settled down into a comfortable chair and worked my way through the series of moves… to finally reveal – Ta-Da! – the marble inside! – Just another 3546 moves to close it all up again – this time in front of the television… it’s a bit like physical therapy – only you end up with cramps in your hands after opening and closing this box.

As you go through the process, the box reveals little glimpses of its mechanism along the way and you have to admire the incredible engineering at play here – tracks routed into the wooden sliders ride on brass pins that force you to follow the pattern all the way through each little recursive routine before it allows you into the next track – not just clever, but beautifully executed. These things must take ages to get just right.

I’m very glad to be the owner of MMMDXLVI #17 – beautifully engineered n-ary therapy. [BTW take a look at the change in colour as the wood has matured - that almost whimsical pink has mellowed into a gorgeous deep purple.]


  1. Congratulations on finally getting a KCube!
    But I have to remind you that it's NOT a box! It can't be because I don't collect boxes! It IS an N-ary puzzle which I really am into. ;-)


    1. ...mate, the first step is getting past the denial ...

  2. Hmm, you guys have whet my appetite for one already...but how long does it take to go through all 3546 moves?

    1. I'm not very bright so it took me quite some time! I got back tracked on several occasions!
      I reckon it must have been at least 4 hours the first time!

    2. I find around 30-40 minutes if you're watching telly at the same time - remember it's therapy! You can work out which way to go if you put it down and come back to it...

  3. You're a bad man - that's another mailing list I'm registered with to tempt me to spend money. I'm sure I'll forgive you though ;)

    1. ...and once again, my work here is done ... moving on...