Tuesday 3 February 2015

Stickman #12 Cross Box

I was recently offered the chance to purchase this rather interesting little puzzle box. 

It didn’t take very long to decide that I wanted it.

Cash changed hands and it arrived at Puzzling Times HQ rather shortly thereafter. 

Cue many hours of happy puzzling. 

…and if this was a short blog post I could probably leave it there, but that would totally ignore the best bits…

Sure it looks gorgeous, and the pics will show you that – but I suspect that if you’re still reading you want to know more about it… so let’s start at the beginning:

The Cross Box was first released back in late 2006 when 30 of them were created by the Stick-meister. He declared them to be of moderate difficulty and sent them out into the world to confound puzzlers across the globe. 

Built largely of Bloodwood, it looks pretty unique with the upper half consisting of a frame that holds two layers of cubes in place with as little projecting into the sides as possible to allow the puzzler handy access to those walnut cubes. A quick examination of the frame will convince you that that cubes are never coming out of there, the best you can hope to achieve is to move them around a bit…

The bottom half of the puzzle has some gorgeous inlay work decorating all the sides and a little feeling your way soon suggests that there might be a drawer running through the bottom - only it’s locked firmly in place. Finish admiring the work around the bottom – love the feet and the detailed inlay in the corners themselves – and then shift attention back to the top of the puzzle.

There are seventeen cubes arranged in two layers of three by three, with a single gap somewhere… every block has some pins, some holes and a track or two on the sides… so they interfere with one another – not only that, they also interfere with the arms projecting up or down the sides and with that cross shape across the top of the frame…
So that’s interesting – Robert’s made it tough to move the cubes exactly where you want to, so maybe that’s a clue to what you’re going to have to do … surely he wouldn’t have done that just for a laugh, would he?

OK, so get the reading glasses out and spot a few more subtler clues and we’re off – we think we know what we need to do… except those pins and holes and tracks really do rather get in the way – quite a lot – so you end up having to think several steps ahead in order to manipulate things just right, and when you arrive at the first waypoint, there’s wonderfully satisfying click as the drawer in the bottom is released – SUCCESS!! So you pull open the drawer only to be greeted with another click – Uh Oh…

Great you are now trapped halfway – there are two secret compartments and you’ve found the first one… trouble is that the drawer is now locked open, until you find the second secret compartment… now I had a little difficulty finding the second one and my puzzle ended up half open for quite a while … it mocked me silently from the shelf – I’d have a bash every now and then only to have it mock me some more…

At some point I managed to get it opened fully and discovered that it was a wonderfully elegant reset mechanism – just shut the drawer and you’re done… right back to the start again…

I had a lot of fun inflicting this one on some puzzling mates who came visiting a little while later. As luck would have it, it was locked half-open again so I gave it to the solvers who duly spent a while moving blocks randomly, and not so randomly until at one point Steve was left holding a fully locked up puzzle – much to his own surprise he’d managed to unlock it and then just close it fully without taking the time to bask in the glory of having it totally opened. Of course it thoroughly resisted all further attempts to open it that day!

So much more than a three dimensional sliding tile puzzle – this one’s got some sneaky little tricks up its sleeve and it can be very tricky indeed … so methinks that Robert’s idea of Moderate Difficulty and mine are somewhat different – another great Stickman puzzlebox that I’m rather chuffed to have added to the little hoard in the cave at Puzzling Times HQ.

[...and thanks a stack to Robert for supplying a spare instruction booklet as my puzzle’s copy had gone astray somewhere over the intervening 8 years.]


  1. You said: "I’m rather chuffed to have added to the little hoard in the cave"!
    Errrm..... Allard! It's not a LITTLE hoard anymore!

    Great addition to the collection - I get more and more jealous with every blog post of yours!


    1. I think you and I both mastered the art of denial a while back, Kevin! ;-)