Wednesday 26 November 2014

Spot the Difference!

OK, so it’s a bit of a trick question.

Who’d have thought? 

On a puzzler's blog, eh?

On the right we have Gordian’s Knot from Thinkfun – fine purveyors of puzzles to the mass market … and on the left we have a rather beautiful incarnation of Frans de Vreugd’s Extreme Torture.

Thinkfun’s marketing proclaims this to be “the world’s hardest take-a-part puzzle!” and that it takes 69 steps for the full solution.  

Coincidentally, Frans’ Extreme Torture also takes 69 moves to take it apart… 

Hang on… 

OK – so pretty much everyone already knows all that (Gordian's Knot IS Frans' Extreme Torture!), so why the long-winded intro? Basically just to give me an opportunity to introduce a really beautiful piece of work from Tom Lensch

If you surf puzzle-crafters web-sites like I do, you’ll have seen a gorgeous version of Torture (Frans’ forerunner of Extreme Torture that requires a mere 29 moves to disassemble) on Tom Lensch’s site. It’s a stunning puzzle crafted in some beautiful woods whose image has been stuck in my mind for a while now.  

…so when I spotted what I thought I’d seen on Tom’s web-site, I snapped it up – except when I got it home I was in for a bit of a surprise – it wasn’t Torture, it was Torture’s bigger brother ... in a set of different woods – with Tom’s logo stamped on it. Whereas Torture appeared in Tulipwood with Ebony spacers and holly slip-feathers, Extreme Torture comes in Wenge with Holly spacers and Tulipwood slip-feathers. [I've already told you I was rubbish at identifying woods!] 

The fit and finish is classic Tom Lensch – simply perfect and gorgeous to boot!

What’s it like as a puzzle? Well, it’s a high level 6 board burr… which means that disassembly is just-about within my reach … and assembly is well beyond it – especially at 28 moves to release the first piece, and a further 21 for the next one … with several multi-piece moves and a lot of positioning before you can do “useful things” along the way… it’ll provide anyone with a decent challenge! 

The Thinkfun version is super-colourful, totally stable with regards humidity changes (are you listening over there in Hong Kong?) and comes with a handy spiral-bound solution booklet to walk you through the solution in either direction – a really neat little touch! 

They might be the same puzzle, but I’m guessing you can tell which version I like a little more than the other! ;-)


  1. No problem Allard, just sent the Tom Lensch version to me and be done with it! :-)

    1. Sorry Michel - can't be doin' that... :-(

  2. It's worth getting the plastic version just for the solution booklet!