January 22, 2011

Quaint Wooden Puzzles

There are very few advantages to being dragged to a T.J.Maxx for a post-holiday shopping spree. The last time, however, was an exception. There is apparently a whole class of puzzles out there that is wooden, three-dimensional and works without the need for any controller. Siam Mandalay, is the company in question that makes these fun wooden puzzles. I picked up a box of 6 such puzzles, when we should have been rug shopping.

Cube Puzzle

Among the easiest of the lot is the Cube puzzle. It is basically a three dimensional Tetris, that involves dropping pre-builtRadius pieces into a 3x3 cube. A similar puzzle is called the Radius. Deceptively difficult, it involves assembling four parts built from cylindrical arcs, into a 4 unit high cylinder.

Hidden Passage

Things started to get more interesting with the next puzzle - Hidden Passage. Made up of 12 pieces, it is a complex interlocking cube, that involves sliding pieces back and forth to disassemble and assemble. Shooting StarSimilarly there is the other puzzle called Shooting Star. Made up of 6 identical pieces, it is both a challenge to disassemble (you have to believe you are not going to wreck it by trying) and a greater challenge just to visualize prior to putting it together.

Lock it Up

Then the two (as yet) unsolved pieces. Newton's CometLock it Up is wooden prison for a tiny wooden sphere. The other puzzle is, for some reason, called Newton's Comet. Bearing scant resemblance to the original, it instead looks like square version of the shooting star that feels so fragile that anything you do to it, could destroy it.

I know that the word "Genius" is generally abused. The puzzle maker, for one, refers to anyone that can solve them as a Genius. Whether they mean it in jest is another question, but whoever first visualized these puzzles, in my opinion, is nothing short of a Spatial Genius. Now how about that trip to T.J.Maxx?