Sunday, 14 January 2018

MiSenary Puzzle Box

Gentle readers, 

A friend of mine is trying to raise some money for a really good cause: Cancer Research in The Netherlands. He’s auctioning off a copy of his entry in last year’s Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition – the MiSenary Puzzle Box – or Michel’s Senary Puzzle Box.

I first got to see a prototype of this puzzle at Wil’s King’s Day Puzzle Party last year and it thoroughly confounded me. It was a totally enclosed box and you could sometimes hear things moving backwards and forwards when you fiddled around with the orientation… and sometimes it sounded like those things were moving further, and sometimes shorter… 

I fiddled with it for a while and didn’t feel like I was making any progress whatsoever… so gave it back to Michel, who then opened it and showed me the insides… and I rather liked what I was seeing inside there, but my dodgy hearing meant that I wasn’t able to distinguish the nuances of what was going on inside there… and feared it would be pretty hard work trying to deduce what was going on inside there in order to solve it blind the first time… so we had a bit of a chat about it and we suggested adding  window along one side… and a few months later a window had indeed been added to the lower part of the box – and I think this makes a massive difference to the playability of the puzzle. 

The little window allows the puzzlists to see things wandering backwards and forwards and even allows some deduction about what you can’t see, which is rather crucial to the solving of this puzzle… 

…and I wouldn’t be spoiling the puzzle at all by calling out that the name tells you it’s Michel’s Senary (MiSenary) Puzzle Box… there is an n-ary locking mechanism keeping the lid from opening and you need to find how to manipulate the various parts of the lock through a reasonable number of steps to finally allow the lid to be removed… you can see elements of your progress through that neat little window on the side, and you can easily see if your going the “right way” through the n-ary sequence thanks to the labels on the sides of the window… all good additions to improve the puzzle's enjoyment, IMHO. 

If you’re allergic to boxes, it is clearly an n-ary puzzle with a cavity… if you don’t have that problem, this is a neat little puzzle box with an interesting n-ary locking mechanism… either way, this is the last one that Michel will be selling – he’s had enough of the schlepp of fettling these things together and reckons he’s highly unlikely to make any more of them… so if you want one, you need to be generous to a couple of Dutch cancer charities – it’s currently listed for sale on Puzzle Paradise and remember that none of the proceeds are going to Michel or the auction site – everything goes to cancer research. 

Please bid generously!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Tell me about it…

Seriously. Please tell me about this puzzle!

I want to know who made it, what it’s called and anything else you can tell me about it… please!

…in return, I’ll tell you a story about it…

[EDIT: Thanks to the wonders of the inter-web, and in particular Nick and Matt, I now know this is called "Keep" by Mike Green. So now you know too.]

I found this lovely little red puzzle box in one of Wil’s crates at IPP – it looked fairly rustic and I made the mistake of assuming it would be reasonably simple to open… I fiddled around a little and made some progress fairly quickly, opening the top of the box and finding a coin resting on top of a silver coin-shaped sticker in the recess… so far so good…

…and then found I couldn’t get anything else to happen – to the extent that I found myself asking Wil if there was indeed any more to find (surely I’m not THAT rubbish as a solver, am I? RHETORICAL QUESTION – STEP AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD!) – Wil did a Wil and shrugged before returning his attention to the paying customers. Fair enough.

After a while he suggested I take it away and try harder – I was pretty sure there must be another opening – there was a lot more space available, and the bottom panel seemed to have a fraction of movement in it – at least more movement than it might have if it had been glued together!

So I took it and tried for quite a while during the Puzzle Party to open it further.

I carried it pretty much everywhere I went and offered it to everyone I came across…

Until I offered it to Louis and an MPP-crowd while I wandered off to do something important (Don’t ask, I can’t remember!) – when I got back they gave it back to me, significantly heavier and jinglier than it had been when I gave it to them… they not only opened it, but they had also had a quick whip around for the largest volume, lowest value pocket change they could find to fill up my little red box…

So I sat down to try and open it again.

And failed, again.

At dinner the next night I summoned up sufficient courage (partly mine, partly Peter’s) to try again – and then finally made the breakthrough I was needing…

This box is very unusual, I’ve never seen a puzzle box use a locking mechanism like that before… it’s rather sneaky and quite clever, and I love my little red box…

After that I let Wil know that I’ve finally solved it and tell him I really rather like it and I’d like to purchase it… at which point he tells me it’s a gift from his lady- friend – chuffed doesn’t do it justice!


Friday, 5 January 2018

Juno’s Diamond Case

Let me start this write-up with the most appropriate tagline I can think of: “Juno got me good…!”

I’d been keeping an eye on Juno’s web-site and spotted the arrival of his Diamond Case secret puzzle box a little while back. It looked interesting I made a mental note to pick up a copy at some stage … actually the mental note was more along the lines of “Pick a few things to make the postage worth the while… and while you’re in there, add in the Diamond Case”.  

As it turned out, I hadn’t gotten around to doing that when I found myself in The Hague at DCD, where Wil mentioned that he had a spare copy if I’d like it… I did… and I added it to the little pile of puzzles I was taking home from DCD.

Back at home over the course of the next few weeks I tried on and off to open the darn thing… and failed miserably. 

I’d surmised one or two things from the form factor and the visual clues in the pics I’d seen, and was able to confirm pretty quickly that there was indeed a slidy thingy and that one of the diamonds would turn, sometimes, interfering with the slidy thingy… you’ll find all of that within seconds of picking it up, and I did indeed find all of that within seconds of picking it up… only for me to spin my figurative wheels on it for many weeks to come, making literally no forward motion whatsoever!

I was pretty stumped. So when my puzzling solving machine of a friend spent the weekend recently, I left it out for him to solve… no problem. While I slept, he solved, and then duly returned it to the locked position. Thanks!

I tried on and off again, but had to ask him for a hint or two before I finally managed to open it, and it instantly soared in my judgement of it… it’s such a wonderfully simple mechanism that will have puzzlers entertained for hours, and the eventual opening is an unexpected little joyful thing to see.

Reset is virtually instant and it’s wonderful to see just how complicated you’ve managed to make it all seem, when in truth, it needn’t be…

Juno, you got me, good and proper! And I love it.

...and they're still available from Pluredro, Juno's shop