Friday, 7 December 2012

1 € Labyrinth Puzzle

Robrecht Louage entered his 1 € Labyrinth Puzzle in this year’s Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition and my first encounter with it was in the Design Competition room – where it kicked my behind rather soundly.  I had a couple of attempts at it there and failed miserably each time, so when I got back home I made sure I ordered a copy from Wil Strijbos.

The 1 € Labyrinth looks like a classic hidden maze puzzle – there’s a little keyhole-shaped window allowing you a tantalizing peek into a maze milled into the base sheet of wood. The clear sheet of acrylic has a hole drilled in it that carries the one Euro coin ... so you can see it riding in and out and even touch it through the window, but until you find your way out of the maze, that coin is well and truly trapped. The maze is effectively created by the interaction between the horizontal slots milled into the wooden base and a vertical channel milled into the clear slider as a ball bearing trapped between the slider and the base moves between those channels. 

Tilting the ball bearing up and down while moving the acrylic sheet left and right should enable you to navigate through the internal maze ... through to some point where presumably the trapped one Euro coin will match up to the right hand edge of the keyhole, releasing the coin...

Well, that was my theory...

The peep hole shows you three or four lines of the internal maze – enough to give you a fairly good idea of the workings and get you started. You’ll find a couple of areas to explore soon enough and pretty soon you’ll be drawing a mental map of the likely layout inside the invisible sections of the maze. I managed to get a fairly decent mental picture of virtually the whole of the maze, yet I couldn’t find a suitable exit...

And that was where it caught me for quite a while... I was pretty certain I’d narrowed it down to two potential areas that should be interesting, but it wouldn’t open for me ... until I thought a little about the designer, and some of his earlier designs ... and then it opened in seconds – with a great little “A-Ha!” moment.

Robrecht came along to the Dutch Cube Day and had a table set up selling most of his designs at very reasonable prices, and it was great to be able to chat to him briefly (via his son's interpreting skills!) about his designs (Four Steps Visible Lock is still my favourite!) and to tell him how 1 € Labyrinth had totally fooled me until I thought about who’d designed it... :-)

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