Sunday 12 April 2020

Philipp’s Flux Puzzle

<I’m breaking with tradition here and jotting a blog post about a puzzle that’s not mine… in fact with any luck, quite a few people will get the chance to have a bash at it courtesy of Royal Mail… now I realise that the more cynical out there reading this might even be tempted to suggest that by writing anything at all, I’m breaking with recent tradition… but hey – things have been a bit strange lately… and my usual sources of blog-fodder (MPPs and other gatherings) have been
stopped by the reaction to the novel coronavirus. So here we are…>

Having spent a couple of year’s working on the ideas inside this puzzle, Philipp recently decided it was ready to be unleashed on some puzzlists – so he sent it across the channel to our good mate Shane – who looked at the innards for a while and said to himself “Gosh, that looks quite complex” – not a direct quote, he’s generally far more parsimonious with his words – chucked something rattle-y inside it and sent it off to yours truly. 

It duly arrived in the post and Gill promptly quarantined it in the dining room (aka Quarantined Post Sorting Office) – for several days… I told you things were a bit strange! When she deigned it safe, I was handed a rather pretty, if somewhat customised wooden box. A large digital padlock hangs off the bottom corner, a couple of bulbous knobs appear to be potentially helpful, there’s a large steel bolt screwed into the corner and then a cute little brass handle in the opposite corner. 

Turning the handle provides a soothing reminder that your troubles did, indeed, seem so far away before you picked up this little bit of trouble. 

I spent a while exploring things and noticed something obviously clattering around inside… and some IM-ing later established this was Shane’s helpful addition to make a subtle, elegant puzzle a little less so… it also made it a lot harder to identify some of the potentially more helpful clues a solve might provide – thanks dude! 

Around this time Philipp merrily tells me it’s probably not solvable now and sends me a pic of the innards… which terrify me a little – I’ve deduced the main conceit, but this goes a long way beyond that… he’s developed his ideas a long way from where I’d last heard them! 

Over the course of the next couple of weeks I manage to have a few more goes at it and find myself wondering once or twice if I’ve done something silly and snookered myself… I hadn’t – and the design is solid so you cannot back yourself into a corner that you can’t get out of – nice one!

Earlier today I sat down with it again and was determined to get things un-gummed – and had a nice little “A-Ha!” moment – and then actually managed to get it to behave the way I was expecting it to behave – whereupon it duly unlocked – and looking at the innards in real life – and now understanding the mechanisms (for yea, there are multiple!) – this thing is clever! 

The original main conceit has had several layers added to it and they make this a rather nice puzzle. The start and the end are all quite clever – one of the mechanisms is VERY CLEVER indeed… 

So having had the joy of opening this little guy up, I feel like the best thing to do with it is immediately ship it off to someone else for them to enjoy it too… enjoy chaps!


  1. I was never quite sure what to make of those conceited puzzles.