Mike Toulouzas entered three designs in the recent Nob Yoshigahara Design Competition. His Fairy’s Door won the coveted Puzzlers’ Award, but there were only two of those made (and yes, I’ve already expressed an interest if any more ever become available!). I took quite a fancy to his Crosslinks when I spotted it in the competition room. I saw a couple of folks playing with it but didn’t manage to get to play with it myself – in fact I ended up spending remarkably little time in the competition room this year. There were a couple of trademark-Toulouzas aspects to the puzzle so I was pretty sure it was his work (remember the design competition entries are all anonymous) … sure enough to ask him on the Friday whether there might be any available for sale at some point, and when he grinned and said possibly I would be happy the next day, which just happened to be the puzzle party day, I knew I’d need to seek him out early on in the day…
And so it was that Mike was the second person I sought out at the puzzle party the next morning… he was sharing a spot on the end of Bernhard’s table and had a copy of Crosslinks coyly wrapped in Clingfilm in the corner of the table. When I asked if there were any left for sale, he offered me a choice of woods and after running through all the choices I did the obvious thing and selected the very first one he’d mentioned. A little money changed hands and I packed a Clingfilm-wrapped thing of beauty into my rucksack…with a fat grin on my face.
Flash-forward several days and I’m back at home and it’s one of the first puzzles I haul out and play with. [When I got home I took the obligatory puzzle-haul shot on the dining room table, then packed them all into three plastic crates for temporary storage up in the puzzle cave until I get a chance to play with them, photograph them (possibly even blog about some of them!) and then give them their proper place in one of the ever-more crowded cabinets.] The puzzle arrived disassembled so the first job is to work out how it goes together. My memories of it at the competition are that there’s a pair of interlinked rings on a stand, so I set about trying to work out how the two ring-bits fit together.
First impression is of just how exacting the ring pieces are – the tolerance between the pieces is incredibly fine – so they need to be perfectly aligned to get them to start going together… and then you realise there’s something stopping you from doing what you’re wanting to do… then the puzzling begins.
Find how to deal with that and you end up wishing for an extra hand at one point, until you finally manage to lock it all in place… at which point it looks really bloody gorgeous… begging you to play with it … and when you’re suckered in, you realise you have no choice now but to solve the thing!
Mike’s work is always pretty special but I find this puzzle to be particularly beautiful – this one’s going to invite and challenge puzzlers visiting my puzzle cave for many a year … Bravo Mike – it’s gorgeous!