Tuesday, 11 August 2020


Osamu Kasho created this rather interesting little puzzle box for the latest Karakuri Creation Group exhibition entitled “GO” – which if you’ve been paying attention to my blog posts, dear reader, you know that the symbol for “GO” can also be interpreted as “five” – and there are five neat little buildings on the top of this box. There’s a rather obvious drawer on the front and a potentially slidey-looking-thingy on the side of the box… and an unusual pattern on the top the box. 

It looks interesting and draws you in…

Examine the buildings a little closer and you’ll see they can change height – by the way, I love the little details on the buildings in the windows and doors and even a helipad. 

So having discovered that they change height, it becomes clear that you’re going to be setting the heights properly in order to release the drawer – so far so good – and if you’re a bit of an agricultural puzzler like I am, you might be tempted to try and pick this particular lock – and you’ll discover that the designer is a better man than you are… you cannot actually feel this one out – you have to solve it properly!

So much for the brute force approach!

Turns out using some finesse is definitely rewarded, but the tolerances on this one are wonderfully precise – you really do need to gets things absolutely spot-on before she will reveal her secrets.

I love the fact that this one teases a little and then forces you to do things properly. Much respect to the craftsman on this one…

Wednesday, 5 August 2020


Way back in 2010, Matt Dawson exchanged a puzzled called Ambidextrous Hexduos that he and Robert Yarger had developed. A duo of wooden hexahedrons, or a pair of cubes if you prefer, would interact with one another interesting ways when they were near one another – the trick was to control the interaction in such a way as to open both the little boxes… and it was a fun puzzle!

Fast forward a few years and Matt and Eric have had a go at making things a bit more “interesting” – read “challenging”. This time you’re offered a trio of hexahedrons… sometimes there’s a familiar feel to them when you bring them near one another – and sometimes there isn’t. 

You mission this time is to open all three boxes and reveal the (incredibly valuable!) gems hidden inside. The boxes are beautiful, as you’d expect from Eric – with Yellowheart, Goncalo Alves and Purpleheart sleeves. The Purpleheart box has a couple of holes in one end, but apart from that, there aren’t any visual clues to what the heck is going on inside there. 

Exploring the boxes also yields virtually no clues as to how they would even come apart… the boy has skillz!

Trying a few of the old tricks will help you make some progress, and you might even find yourself opening a couple of the boxes, but one of them is a thoroughly evil sod! That last one will require not only all of your powers of observation, but several layers of deduction as you work through the frankly fiendish little locking system the lads have put in there. 

Eric has produced a stunning little set of boxes here with locks that will earn the respect of any puzzler – they’re not only fiendish but they’ve been very cleverly executed in there. A worthy successor to a classic little Stickman.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020


William Hu’s been designing interesting interlocking puzzles for a good few years now – his designs have often involved twists and turns of the sort that make BurrTools less useful than normal. About a month ago Eric produced 60-odd copies of Geneva and they didn’t last long. 

Geneva is a 4*4*4 almost cube – that’s not a spoiler – you can all count the cubies and see you’re always going to be a few short! It’s made up of ONLY FOUR pieces and it is decidedly non-trivial! 

My favourite sort of assembly puzzle – just a few pieces – you can convince yourself you know where all the pieces must go – and then you cannot find a way of getting them there. 

That’s pretty much the story with this one as well – although I will admit that I had a wobble in the middle of my solve where I began to doubt whether that was the only way to put these pieces together into an almost-cube. BurrTools merrily confirmed I was being an rrrs that was the only assembly so I went back to bashing my head against the desk. 

Knowing where the pieces must end up, and knowing who designed it and that it will invariably involve some rotations REALLY DOESN’T HELP. It is still a wonderful challenge… but the final realisation of how things need to go together and the inspired bit of choreography they perform along the way is an absolute delight – there’s a wonderful reward for persevering and finding just the right combinations to encourage the pieces to intertwine properly.

This is another excellent design from young master Hu!