A very Happy New Year to all my puzzle friends and blog readers! This is my first post for 2019.
I have known puzzle collector and designer Rex Rossano Perez from the Philippines for the last several years. Like most others who use social media, I got to know him via Facebook and within the puzzling community. From what I understand, Rex started with mainly twisties but eventually the dark side took over and he got into the “real” stuff. He also started designing puzzles and had a number of his designs uploaded to PWBP. Like me, he frequently used the triangular/hex format and came up with a number of unique and interesting designs. He has been producing 2D packing puzzles on and off. Most recently he came up with four new and interesting coin puzzles.
I am also very grateful to Rex for all his help in providing me with Corel, DWG and DXF files. These files enabled me to bring to life and manufacture a variety of my own designs. These have included a number of 2D packing puzzles and interlocking ones such as Dirty Dozen, L(8)-tice, Berro(skull) and Partitions (by Goh Pit Khiam).
Last week I received from Rex the four coin puzzles. He had started off designing the Rizal first. Then he added extra features to his next three designs, Aguinaldo, Barasoain and Kusing 25 . The puzzles went from the usual “free-the-coin” puzzles to sequential discovery puzzles.
Sequential Discovery puzzles are a class of puzzles where you have to use certain “tool(s)” that are incorporated within the puzzle to aid in solving the puzzle. Apart from these given tools, no other external tools or implements are allowed. All the four coin puzzles are produced from coloured acylic sheets. The layers of acrylic are screwed together at the four corners. They are all pretty compact in size. For example the smallest, Aquinaldo measures about 5.7cm x 5.7cm x 2cm (excluding the protrusions). Construction, fit and finish is excellent. On all my copies are precision cut and the moving parts all slide smoothly. Each of the puzzles carry a coin of different denomination, and the Filipino names of the puzzles reflect some famous person featured on the coins. All four puzzles have different mechanisms and solutions.
With my new puzzles in hand, I was wondering which one to start with. So I asked Rex to rank the puzzles in order of difficulty from the easiest to hardest. He indicated them as Rizal being the easiest and Kusing 25 the hardest. The other two were somewhere in between. I decided to try out both the easiest and hardest and leave the middle two for another day. So I got to work on Rizal. Being the easiest of the four, I quite quickly managed to extract the coin from the case. It was not difficult. But Rizal had a certain level of trickiness with a simple but elegant solution and minimal moving parts. It was fun to solve and easy to return the coin back in place. I took approximately about 5-6 minutes with Rizal.
Happy with my success with Rizal, I moved on to Kusing 25, the hardest of the four. Now this one was a different beast altogether. Knowing that it was a sequential discovery type puzzle, I set about searching for the necessary tools. It din’t take me long to find what I needed. But the tool was recessed in the puzzle in such a way that it took me more than a several moments to extract it.
It was obvious that the tool was needed to progress with the next steps. Without it you are stuck. Difficult to describe more here without giving away any spoilers. So I will just say the tool needs to work in conjunction with some other movements including the sliding plate. It took a fair amount of fiddling to free the coin. Much longer time needed than Rizal and a lot harder too. Whereas careful observation and thinking helped me to solve Rizal pretty quickly, Kusing 25 had a mechanism that was well hidden inside the layers that gave no clue whatsoever. A lot of parts seems to be moving and interacting with each other and I had little idea what was going on. A very much more complicated design than Rizal.
Not only that, I also had much difficulty returning the coin to its place. The coin kept wanting to come out of the box. The restraints which were supposed to lock the coin in place refused to work no matter what I did. In fact, at the time of this writing, I still have not succeeded in getting the puzzle back to its original state. I shot Rex a note to let him know that I was stuck in the current situation with the coin. He replied …”then that is the puzzle”. Now I know why its the most difficult of the four puzzles. The design genius of Rex is somewhere inside still waiting to be solved!
I am not sure what will be in store for me for Barasoain and Aquinaldo but from what I have experienced so far, I think they will be fun. If I can manage to fully solve Kusing 25, I think I wouldn’t have too much of a problem with these other two then….but until then. So far the two I have played with are great coin puzzles. They are well made and with a good level of challenge. For anyone who is interested to purchase, please PM me and I can link you up with Rex directly. Happy Puzzling for 2019!