Saturday 17 December 2016

Stumbling Blocks

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t spend much time playing with this puzzle in the Design Competition room at IPP36… there were so many other attractive puzzles and I don’t have the skills of a Pletcher who can literally work through solving every single puzzle in the Design Competition in the time available. 

After IPP, I was aware that Tom Lensch was making a few things available so I signed up for a couple of them in the hope that they’d turn out to be fun puzzles… Stumbling Blocks by Goh Pit Khiam was a wonderfully serendipitous discovery in that regard. (I should mention that it was one of the Top 10 most popular puzzles among the puzzlers at IPP36!]

Consisting of a simple frame with a base on it and four simple pieces, your object is to insert the four little pieces into the frame… of course there are a few protruding tabs on the pieces that get in the way a little and then there’s the little matter of the tiniest little cut off corners on one side of each piece and matching little triangular fillers in the frame… 

When the puzzle first arrived I had a quick bash at slotting the pieces into the frame and quickly found that it’s trivial to put any three pieces into the frame – but getting a fourth in there seems pretty darn impossible…

I idly fiddle around with it whenever I’m at the PC in the study over the next few days, with virtually no progress at all. 

At some point my mind turns to the designer and I try something different, and that seems to be an interesting path to explore a little further… until I find a rather clumsy solution – or it seems clumsy to me… 

A little more perseverance and I figure out a rather elegant solution and it is a pure little piece of delight! And of course, if you step back and Think© about things a little, it’s entirely sensible!

Super little “A-Ha!” moment beautifully executed by Tom… with this puzzle the maker’s art is almost as important as the designer’s! 

Heartily recommended to all puzzlers – find a copy and play with it – you’ll enjoy it! 

[Read Jerry's thoughts over here.] 


  1. This puzzle features a solving experience common to many great puzzles. Initially, it seems trivial. But, after looking at it more closely, you determine it is impossible. Finally, aha!, you figure it out.

  2. Is Tom Lensch making more? This puzzle sounds awesome!!!

  3. ...suggest you ask him... :-)