Sunday 5 February 2012

Slidy 7.a.1

Slidy 7.a.1 is a great spin on what could otherwise be a fairly straight-forward puzzle. I spotted them on the LaserExact! stand at the Dutch Cube Day and thought they looked interesting, but didn’t end up buying a copy (mainly because of all the other things I did buy there!). A couple of months later Wil Strijbos included them in one of his usual newsletters so I ordered a copy.
First impression is that this a cleverly designed little puzzle that forms part of its own case. The lid is fastened on with magnets and has a laser etched picture of the innards on the top. 
Well mixed up!
Opening the case reveals a simple-looking sliding puzzle with two rows of numbered tiles: 1 to 3 and 4 to 7. The tiles can all move independently up/down and left/right if there is a gap in that direction. In the top right hand corner there’s a curved track joining positions 7 and 3 … which is what makes this puzzle interesting…
Moving a tile along this track from the 7 to the 3 position, twists it 90 degrees anti-clockwise and moving it back in the other direction twists it clockwise. Cycling the closest tiles round and round progressively twists them all the way around until they return to their starting orientation – but that’s not really very interesting… it gets fun when you randomly mess up all of the tiles and then try and return them to their starting position, with all tiles in the correct orientation… invariably you’ll find that when you get all the tiles back to their right places, one or more of them isn’t upright – and you find yourself having to ‘undo’ a lot of your good work, this time thinking a few moves ahead so that you use the final twists to not only put the tiles in the right places but also leave them all upright.
A neat, deceptive little puzzle that provides a nice step up from the standard Sam Loyd Fifteen puzzle. 

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