Sunday 10 May 2020

TriTIC and GeneTIC

Brian Menold recently made a bunch of new Turning Interlocking Cubes (or TICs, courtesy of Bernhard) designed by Andrew Crowell – the current TIC King. Having seen Brian’s work come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and having “enjoyed” many of Andrew’s designs already, it wasn’t really a tough choice to decide to buy these little guys. 

They duly wended their way across the ocean, no doubt following the circuitous new routes that COVID-19 seems to have condemned all puzzle packages to take, before arriving safely in Barnt Green. 

I started with what I assumed would be the simpler of the two: TriTIC – which, as clued in the name, consists of only three pieces… and that’s the main beauty of this one for me: Andrew’s created a wonderfully non-trivial puzzle that forms a completed 4*4*4 cube on the outside, using only three pieces. Let that sink in for a while – not only does this one not just fall apart, but it will actually provide a nice little challenge - using only three pieces.

Brian ships his puzzles unassembled (‘cos he’s nice that way!) so a little fiddle around with the (only!) three pieces will show you pretty much exactly where every piece must go – getting them there is the challenge though! By my count it takes about 11 moves to form a cube from those (only!) three pieces with somewhere around half of them being things that BurrTools won’t help you with!

I reckon this is probably the ideal TIC to introduce people to – you can get your head around it pretty quickly, yet it will still provide enough of a challenge that you’ll get a sense of achievement when the “A-Ha!” finally strikes. 

GeneTIC, on the other hand, is the mean old ugly step-sister to the elegant Cinderella above. This one arrives in six pieces – one that you might generously call a “frame”, and the others “stuff-that-will-probably-go-inside-the-frame” – somehow! I managed to work out where I thought the pieces went and then even managed to get quite a few of them more or less into place – of course, more less in this case left me with a piece or two on the desk. 

Obviously, I’d inserted the pieces in the wrong order, so set about trying a different assembly sequence – same problem, different pieces. 

At some point I begin to doubt my idea about where the pieces have to go – and I seek BurrTools assistance to convince myself that there isn’t another potential assembly – I needn’t have bothered. 

Slowly I manage to whittle down the possible things that can move and where I can make spaces and then finally, I chance upon the real “A-Ha!” and watch as pieces slide gently past one another, almost as though they were designed to, and things slot into place.

It’s excellent!

Brian has done a thoroughly brilliant job on these – lapping or pinning the potentially weak joints, making sure that every piece has just the right amount of bevelling on its edges and then giving the wood a stunning finish so that they look gorgeous too – I salute you Messrs Crowell and Menold!

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