Monday, 26 March 2018

Yin Yang Master Puzzlebox


I have a simple rule about emails from Robert Yarger: whatever he offers, I say “Yes, please!”. Quickly. So it won’t surprise you, dear reader, that when I heard from Rob that he’d reserved a copy of a joint venture with the late Randal Gatewood for me, that I said “Yes, please!” and duly dispatched some PayPal… but this was a little different. 

Rob had been planning a collaboration with Randal around a new puzzle, but sadly those plans got kiboshed with Randal’s untimely passing. When Rob heard that Randal had been partway through completing a run of 60 copies of his latest puzzle box when he passed away, he hatched a plan with Karin, Randal’s widow, to resurrect the project and complete the run.

Randal had pre-cut most of the parts needed for the run and assembled the puzzle mechanisms for pretty much all of them, so Rob rounded up the unfinished bits and duly set about completing the project and adding a bit of his own touch… and then offering them for sale with the proceeds going to Karin – What an absolute gentleman! 
 
The resulting puzzles bear both Rob’s ‘Stickman’ and Randal’s ‘Quagmire’ branding - bringing the best of two puzzling legends together in a single puzzle. 

The five-inch cubed padauk box has a wonderfully detailed lid with an inset yin yang symbol and an unusual peg sticking upwards… with maple and purpleheart accents setting off the details rather fetchingly. The yin yang symbol has a couple of shorter pegs in the two halves and your first instinct turns out to be useful… sort of… inasmuch as the symbol will generally turn, but the lid will stay resolutely locked in place…

It’s not super-hard as a puzzle – Rob describes the solution as “requiring a minimum of at least 7 elusive steps” but it does yield to an inquisitive mind, a sensitive touch and a keen sense of observation. 

Quite a poignant collaboration.

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