My first encounter with Free Me 5 was in the Design
Competition room in Paris earlier this year… there was a loud twang from the
table next to where I was playing, an “Uh-oh” from said table shortly followed
by the sight of a puzzler scrabbling around on the floor in search of an errant
puzzle-bit… a few minutes later came the confirmation that nothing was missing
and Brian had put another proverbial notch on his IPP37 stick.
I had a go at it over the next few days and managed to find
my way through most of it… but needed a bit of encouraging right at the end…
which if you know this puzzle well, might well surprise you a little! :-)
Turns out I wasn’t the only one who liked it – it won an
Honourable Mention from the Jury in the Design Competition. Well Done, Joe!
Right, let’s go back to the beginning: Joseph Turner likes
making puzzles to torment his family – in fact he’s been making them puzzles
for Christmas for a few years now… and every now and then he enters them in the
Design Competition – Free Me 5 was in this year’s Design Competition – and I
was rather surprised and somewhat delighted when the Coolen-clan gave me a copy
of this little beauty for my birthday.
Free Me 5 is Joe’s 2016 Christmas Puzzle and comes with the
usual risk warning you might expect: No external tools allowed. No excessive
force is needed. Beware of little rolly-around thingies. No banging, bending or
burning required… and I’m starting to wonder what made Joe need to add that
last little bit…
Right – you get a couple of slabs of maple joined by a
dovetail along the centre – and there’s a nice big window in the top piece that
shows you a trapped coin waiting to be freed… a careful gander around the edges
shows a couple more interesting looking holes of differing sizes… but nothing
to poke in there.
Fiddle around a bit and you’ll be rewarded with some movement,
and possibly even a tool or too… and after you do the (not quite entirely)
obvious, you’ll find some thing rather interesting… and signs that this is
going to be a nice challenge!
Along the way you’re going to find those little rolly-around
thingies – try not to do what Brian did…
There is a thoroughly fantastic bit in the middle here that
I’m not going to tell you about, but trust me, it’s brilliant, and then there’s
a wonderful little bit of one-part deduction, one-part pure magic… and you’ll
have the bits slide almost all the way apart… and that was where I thought I’d
finished in the Design Comp room and began reassembling, until Louis pointed
out to me that the coin wouldn’t actually come out yet… and he was right –
there’s another little step or two to finish things off totally – freeing the
coin properly, and in fact taking everything properly apart so you can admire
Joe’s handiwork… and it’s good!
If you’re a puzzler, Joe’s Christmas Puzzles are definitely worth
trying to get a hold of!