Saturday 26 March 2022

Turning Quarter Hole

Another excellent puzzle from the mind of Hajime Katsumoto and the fair hands of Mine-san.

It’s beautifully open and honest – the name even describes it all pretty accurately: put the pieces into the box through the one quarter hole in the rotating cover. The interior of the box is two cubies high and the corners of the square box are cut off at 45 degrees to remove the corner cubies – leaving an octagon-ish space to be filled.

You’re told that the aim is to insert the three pairs of pieces to form a cross-shape inside the box, and a little experimentation outside of the box soon shows you that there are plenty of ways to do that… so far so good…

However, when you seek to transfer that construction into the box you begin to realise just how restrictive that opening really is… it only lets pieces go in in one way. Helpfully there are plenty of little finger holes to help manoeuvre your bits around inside, but there’s only so much you can do with the little opening.

The good news is that experimentation is richly rewarded in this little packer, and there are a few unintuitive things that you’ll find might be quite useful…

Then of course it’s just down to finding the most suitable assembly and working out how the heck to get it all inside. There might well be an obvious last piece to go in, but you’ll find that the order of some of the preceding steps might need more than a little thought as well.

I really like the fact that you need to use your wits on this one, it’s not just about bashing through all the possible assemblies – it’s also about experimentation and learning.

Thank you Mine-san for bringing this great design to life!

Saturday 19 March 2022

Brian Young’s Twisted’s Sister

(Yes, that’s perfectly punctuated!)

I’ve been after a copy of this puzzle for a while now so I was really chuffed when I managed to find a copy at a reasonable price recently. What makes this puzzle really stand out is its presentation: designed to be used as Brian’s exchange for IPP24 in Tokyo, the stand for the disentanglement puzzle resembles a classic Japanese torii, or archway – and I suspect that this little extra probably took as much, if not more effort than making the actual puzzle bits… the effort’s really worthwhile in my humble opinion as it makes this puzzle instantly recognisable.

The disentanglement puzzle itself consists of a pair of identical bent nails joined at the hip. Clearly they’ve been carefully doctored to get them into this situation – nails don’t normally come in gold, do they? Oh, and they’re rather bent!

Fiddling with them produces remarkably few available moves – and even though it might look familiar when you first pick this puzzle up, you’ll soon realise there are a few variants and this one’s different… in fact the difference comes from a discovery while Brian was making up another puzzle altogether.

You’ll solve it eventually but hopefully you’ll have the same “That’s clever!” reaction that I had when I first played with this copy…

Definitely one of the most beautifully presented disentanglements around… and a mighty fine puzzle too! 


Monday 7 March 2022


With Wil’s recent success at encouraging Roger D back into the puzzle-making (and designing!) game, I patiently joined the queue for a copy of Feuerzeug as I hadn’t previously managed to find one for sale at what I considered a reasonable price.

Patience paid off and a handsome new copy duly arrived in Barnt Green – I was well-chuffed!

Feuerzeug is German for “lighter” – which should probably be obvious from the accompanying pics as the little brass and aluminium gadget looks just like a lighter with a flame coming out of it. Your goal is to release the flame – which sounds innocuous enough. Achieving said release is less so…

The brass flame is clearly going to come out at some point – it wiggles ever so slightly, but cannot be yanked out – feel free to try! The only other feature (apart from the “F” logo between the initials “RD”) is a recessed hex bolt which doesn’t seem interested in much at all.

Shaking and tilting the puzzle suggests there might be something else at play inside, but how the heck you use that information to release the flipping flame, is a mighty large puzzle.

It turns out that some fancy footwork will cause some magic to happen and then you can inveigle something useful to take place which will in turn cause the puzzle to levitate and make breakfast, releasing the flame in the process… some of that might be true – but the flame can definitely be (fully) released… your mission, should you choose to accept it…

It’s a classic!