Your top 5 favourite puzzles

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Your top 5 favourite puzzles

Post by Pio2001 » June 21st, 2012, 12:29 am

What are you top 5 favourite puzzles of all times ?

Here are mine, in chronological order :

The Tangram


My mother introduced me to this puzzle when I was young. Probably between the ages of 5 and 10. We had the excellent book by Joost Elffers, that came with one of the best Tangram set ever in black plastic.
The variety of figures that can come from these basic geometric shapes is amazing. Tens of human characters, birds, geese, cats, houses, boats, riders...


In order for the figures to have the best visibility, choose a dark set of pieces of uniform colour, rather thin than thick, and if possible with raw edges rather than beveled.

The Rubik's Cube


This is a picture of Meffert's Treasure Chest, a recent variant.

I was also very young when my parents got one. Between 7 and 10 I'd say. I was just capable of doing "one side". My father quickly found a very interesting trick that turned the cube into an easy puzzle : always move two opposite sides the same way at once. It allows to create beautiful coloured patterns, while leaving the puzzle not too difficult to reset.
Like many french cubists, I discovered the general solution explained in a scientific magazine, and quickly learned it by heart.
I've still got the old cube of these times. Certainly a copy, since it has the blue side opposed to the white, while genuine Rubik's Cubes have the yellow side opposed to the white. It is very sturdy though, and endured an incredible amount of manipulations.
I later managed to solve the 4x4x4 and 5x5x5 cubes by myself, creating some quite clumsy algorithms.

The Happy Cubes


I discovered these puzzles through a chocolate brand, that gave away small versions of them. My cosin then brought me a complete set of the spanish edition, called Cococrash.

They are meanly considered by retailers, probably because they come in individual cubes, while the interesting part is the challenges involving several cubes at once.
The difficulty range from quite easy to extremely difficult. Solving the 2x2x2 cube or the crystal requires a mathematical classification of the pieces.

The spanish edition features a big mistake : the yellow cube is the same as the orange one. By chance, this does not prevent to solve any of the challenges, though it may have turned the six-colour cube more difficult than expected.

The Condor's Peeper


In 1987, I spent 10 hours solving Jean-Paul Pierlot's Super Croix, a 18-piece burr sold in France by Arjeu as their most difficult puzzle. Since then, nothing really interesting hit the french toy stores until the arrival of Hanayama Cast puzzles.

Turning to the Internet, I discovered MrPuzzle's store, and began to collect puzzles again. Now that I have got a lot of burrs, I can say that the Condor's Peeper is one for which I never lost interest.
The 62 moves required to remove the first piece are structured in a progressive way that is both intuitive and complex enough to be impressive.
Brian Young's work is good. The puzzle is quite loose and privilegiates a smooth mechanical operation rather than geometric perfection.
The woods, though not very much polished, are nice, and their colour is extremely stable. After two years, no marks are visible on the parts exposed to ambient light.
And once disassembled, it is not very difficult to remember how to reassemble it again.

The Ultraburr


The choice is difficult among all the burrs recently designed and manufactured. Donald osselaer's puzzles stand out as the sequence allowing to remove the first piece, though very long (115 moves here), is completely designed by hand, and thus very logical.
I hesitated between the Ultraburr and the Millenium, a larger variation featuring several hundreds of moves. On one hand, the Millenium sequence is more repetitive and hypnotic than the Ultraburr. On the other hand, the reassembling of the Millenium is nearly impossible without help. On the Ultraburr, the presence of dowels, together with enforcing a unique solution, leaves hope for learning to reassemble it without the solution.

I finally choose the Ultraburr for my top 5 because of the beautiful work by Maurice Vigouroux with the curly maple, cherry and walnut, and the nice dowels too.

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Re: Your top 5 favourite puzzles

Post by Donald » June 24th, 2012, 8:07 pm

I must say I'm flattered, Guillaume, to be part of your list :)
I find it difficult to think of 5 "best" puzzles, since most of my interest goes to burrs.
The list is in no particular order ... I think it's impossible to name "the best puzzle" since there are so many categories and it's like comparing apples and oranges.

-=Rubik's Magic=-


I remember playing with this thing in school when I was 10 or so and I clearly remember that although we tried for hours on end to find a solution ... not one ever found it. As kids, we thought this thing was unsolvable.
Years later, after the entrance of the internet in society, I saw a video of how to solve it ... it's that one rotational move that we never found :) Pure genius at work here.



A classic obviously and one of those puzzles that simply baffles people at first.
Show it to random people and ask them if it's possible and most people will try it for a bit and will quickly give up and say it's impossible ... then you take it back and just fling the ring off with a simple "tsching" :D
... then you put it back on quickly and it still proves difficult!

-=Love's Dozen=-


I love burrs and this is the highest level classic 6-piece burr there is. Not only that ... it was even discovered BEFORE computer analysis! Nice.



This puzzle by Frans De Vreugd is, in my opinion, a wonderfull design.
It's also the puzzle that inspired most of my own puzzles like Xenon and the rest.
As far as I know, Frans invented what I call "seperated board burrs" ... a wonderful concept with a lot of possibilities for interesting high level burrs.
This one is perfect because it uses relatively simple pieces and has a completely unique, high-level but doable solution.



As a designer ... is it not a logic consequence that you like your own creations?
This puzzle is what I call, up until now, my greatest achievement.
I sat up with pencil and paper for hours that night ... hurting my brain trying to envision it and when I finally figured out the correct way in which it should work and later saw exactly that way being virtualized on my computer's screen ... I think I felt like Archimedes felt when he screamed "eureka".
I even woke up my wife to tell her that "IT WORKS!" ... she wasn't that amused :D

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Re: Your top 5 favourite puzzles

Post by bluesign2k » June 24th, 2012, 10:00 pm

Hi Donald, welcome! It's always good to see a new name about, but when it a designer, that's even better.

I'm finding it difficult to narrow down a top 5. I think the immediate reaction for most puzzlers when asked for their top 3, 5, 10 (or whatever) puzzles, is to go for the newest/rarest/most challenging - I know I've done that before. I like that Happy Cubes and Horseshoe have made it to the list though. It's been a while since I've had a go with either but I remember playing with both when I was younger. I don't think a Christmas goes by without someone getting a copy of horseshoe in their Christmas cracker! :lol:

I shall have to pick a a copy of the happy cube pack at some point too. I found a blue and a yellow on in a cupboard a month or so back but I don't think I ever had the others.

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Re: Your top 5 favourite puzzles

Post by Pio2001 » June 25th, 2012, 12:03 am

Hi Donald,
Donald wrote:-=Rubik's Magic=-
I've got the Rubik's Magic when it went out too. I don't think that I found the solution by myself. I learned the one given in Scientific American, then found a shorter one.
I then got the 10-square extended version and found the solution. It is always easier when you already know how to solve the smaller model. Its like solving a Millenium once you know how to solve a Fermium.

What I liked most was to put the puzzle in the most complex possible tri-dimentional shape, and try to reset it to its inital configuration.

I stopped playing with them after a thread broke. They still work because all threads are doubled. I know that spare threads, together with tutorials, are available on the web to repair Rubik's Magic, but I never took the time to do it.

For the time being, I've got a Dayan Bermuda Cube Earth on order. It's a twisty puzzle that looks very complicated. Not only to rearrage, but to bring back into a cubic shape to begin with !
Donald wrote:-=Horseshoe=-
It's a classic indeed. I agree with the "tshing" method. It can be done so fast in both direction that even if we play it in front of people, they can't see what happens. :mrgreen:

I didn't list it in my favourites because it doesn't take long before knowing everything there is to know with this puzzle.
In the same kind, the two-pieces pyramid and the three piece block are among the favourites of some friends.
Donald wrote:-=Love's Dozen=-
You all know my passion for 6-piece burrs. I didn't elect one because, compared to the Condor or the Ultraburr, the enjoyment with them is quite shorter.
Among the ones that I've known long enough, I'd say that the Mega Six is one of my favourites.
It's difficult to predict if a given model will still be enjoyed after a long time. The L46AA of Bill Cutler immediately looked like the ultimate 6-piece burr when I knew it, because it is the only one I know where one can get lost in the disassembling sequence. However, after several weeks, I got a bit tired of it.
I've currently got a new promising one : Abad's Most Assemblies. I long thought that it was inhuman to solve because it has 896 false assemblies, and it would take tens of hours to try them all.
Then, playing with a Livecube model of it, I discovered that an alternative solving method could lead to the solution in 10 minutes ! It requires more logic, and it seems that this alternate, more clever method doesn't work with the other burrs that I know. It means that this 6-piece burr might be one of the most interesting to solve. Time will tell.
It seems that the method should work with Bill Cutler and Ishino's Most Assemblies too.
Donald wrote:-=Torture=-
I agree that this board burr is very nice. I discovered it thanks to you. I don't have any wooden copy of it yet. I think that I'd like it better than the Natrium.
bluesign2k wrote:I think the immediate reaction for most puzzlers when asked for their top 3, 5, 10 (or whatever) puzzles, is to go for the newest/rarest/most challenging - I know I've done that before.
That's right. Though, if I take these criterions litterally, I'm at a loss trying to match them.

My rarest puzzle ? I've got several ones that maybe unique in the world, like the Sharp, the Cristal en Entrecroisés, or the Three-in-a-Row.

The most challenging ? Many that I have seem inhuman even to disassemble ! Like the Zig Zag 2 or the Top Ten. The most challenging, but still within human reach, that I've got maybe the Tiros v2 and Lange Wapper 14 v2 that I designed adding bevels to the original designs. However, though I checked that it was possible to find the solution given only the bare disassembled pieces, no one ever tried and succeeded.

A fair choice for the rarest in my collection would be the Jupiter, as it is quite looked after by puzzle collectors.

A good choice for a challenging puzzle should take into account its apparent simplicity, and not involve unusefully long or complex solutions. Without hesitation, my vote would go for the Rubik's Cube. It looks quite simple, and is one of the most difficult puzzles I've ever seen.
Actually, I wonder who found the solution first. Everyone that I know who can solve it, including me, just read and learnt the solution somewhere.

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Re: Your top 5 favourite puzzles

Post by Paradox » June 26th, 2012, 3:05 pm

I will put together a top 5 list as soon as I can somehow choose only 5 puzzles. But until then I will say this:

That Ultraburr looks phenomenal! :shock: All of the puzzles made by Maurice look great, I'll have to make a mental note to buy one eventually.

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Re: Your top 5 favourite puzzles

Post by Pio2001 » June 26th, 2012, 10:28 pm

Paradox wrote:All of the puzzles made by Maurice look great, I'll have to make a mental note to buy one eventually.
If you've got questions about them, don't hesitate to ask. As a beta tester and photograph for Maurice, I've got nearly all the puzzles sold on Arteludes.

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Re: Your top 5 favourite puzzles

Post by jack » August 19th, 2012, 3:16 pm

I always like a challenge, and a challenge it is to name your top 5 of puzzles!
My choice might not be for the most difficult or lengthy puzzles. I appreciate the uncommon, the surprise a puzzle offers. Where does that lead to?
Most certainly Cutler's Blockhead is on my shortlist; I've often enjoyed people's frustration while trying to solve!
And that's also the case for Lox in Box II (Vesa Timonen).
Oscar's Matchboxes qualifies also. I like the assignment: close all boxes.
Next one is Tom Jolly's Twist the Night Away; simply because it keeps you twisting.
And finally, and I trust you will forgive me, my choice for number 5 on the list: that's my own Tipperary, for the to-and-fro repeating pattern in the solution. A mainly manual design, from the pre-burrtools era. Inspired by my favourite 6-piece burr, the Piston Puzzle Burr by Peter Marineau.

Of course, I'm doing injustice to splendid puzzles as Jupiter, Rosebud, Six Pentagon's Puzzle, Lolly Box, and so may others. Maybe I should post an alternative top 5...

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Re: Your top 5 favourite puzzles

Post by Stickman » October 24th, 2013, 5:01 am

How can anyone pic a top 5 favorite. There are so many good ones out there. But I suppose if I had to pick, at the top of my list would be the binary burr by Krasnow. It comes the closest to what I would consider a perfect puzzle - and I design puzzles. I have yet to come up with a design that rivals that.
The meaning of life is 42.

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