Aleksandr Leontev is rather fond of designing and making high order n-ary fidget toys – I’ve bought a couple from him in the past and his skills at 3D printing his designs are pretty impressive, and his patience at assembling them individually clearly knows no bounds!
A while back he showed an interesting cube design with a massively high number of moves required to remove a single piece – he’d 3D-printed a prototype but wasn’t happy enough with it to commit to making them… but the puzzling gods smiled favourably on him, Eric saw it and decided this was a challenge worthy of his skills and duly undertook to make them in wood(!).
The puzzling world held its breath a little, hoping he’d succeed, and a few months later the fruits of his labour arrived for all to see, and several to purchase.
This handsome hunk of many woods is comfortable in the hands, which is important for a puzzle that requires 12,000 moves to release a single piece - the move count gives the puzzle its name: 12,000 moves at a move a second, assuming you never get lost and backtrack will take you 205 minutes – yup, you’re going to be spending quite a while manipulating this one…
My first copy arrived with bit of a defect – one of the little maze plates inside had partially broken which meant that it would block certain moves unless you shook it in a particular direction, and then the other way when you needed to go back again… Louis spotted that little issue but didn’t let it deter him and he duly opened it up in the hopes that we’d be able to repair it… something that sadly wasn’t possible, so it needed to head back to Raleigh.
Eric insisted on sending out a new one even before it arrived home and the new one was in perfect condition… so even I was able to solve this one!
It sat on my desk for several weeks and I’d pick it up every now and then and spend ten or twenty minutes fiddling semi-mindlessly with it and then put it down again. I’d thought about this beforehand, realising that if I did lose my way, I could find myself undoing several days’ worth of work, so I added a couple of little masking tape indicators that would get moved around at the end of each session so I knew where to pick up again… it must have worked as I ended up finally releasing the single block after many, many little sessions of physical therapy.
Once the block is out, you can replace it with a second one that Eric supplies which has one less wiggle in the maze and requires a mere 8,000-odd moves to release… but the real genius of Eric’s implementation is a couple of ramps and sprung pins that allow you to reset the puzzle with a couple of clicks – MUCH BETTER than having to retrace your 8,000 or 12,000 steps all the way back to the beginning.
WELL DONE that man!