Tuesday 21 February 2017

Mike Toulouzas’ Three Chain Rings

I don’t make much of a secret about the fact that I really like Mike Toulouzas’ work, and whenever I get the opportunity to pick up one of his older pieces, I tend to find myself trying hard to acquire it… 

…so around the tail end of last year I managed to find a copy of the Three Chain Rings Puzzle, Mike’s entry into the IPP23 Puzzle Design Competition, and duly added it to the humble collection. 

This copy had been very lovingly looked after and it arrived in perfect condition, in spite of being 13 years old – it’s easy to describe in that there are three rings (there's a clue in the name, I guess!), each with a square cross-section (strangely, made on the diagonal) interlocking in the shape reminiscent of a traditional burr – did I mention it was thoroughly gorgeous?

The pieces are shaped so that there’s no space between them – which makes it look like a diagonal burr – albeit one with slightly extended arms that are closed off at each end – take my word for it, or just take a look at the picture!

This one kinda messes with your head a bit because when it starts to come apart, it generally does so in a manner that you aren’t necessarily expecting – or at least one that I certainly wasn’t! And it tends to come apart quickly, leaving you with a pile of unique pieces – and there’s very little chance of being able to keep track of where they came from…

What’s really interesting to me is how Mike’s taken a standard kernel for the puzzle and then layered on something really special – to produce a puzzle that looks like something else entirely and earns respect quickly. 

Solving it requires a touch more method than madness (so I’m at a distinct disadvantage immediately!) – but some experimenting and thinking ahead about how things will need to ultimately go together will lead you to the right combinations and ultimately to the solution…

It’s beautiful and it’s a super puzzle – what’s not to love?


  1. hello Allard
    you described very well the fantastic work of Mike Toulouzas; I`m real happy that I own a lot of his designs including the latest design competition entries;
    I like it also that he makes puzzles looking like a known Piece but then you will be very surprised if only the outside shape Looks familiar

  2. Id love a copy of this - I really enjoyed playing with it at the last MPP even if you were all laughing at me when it came apart and I couldn't put it back together easily!