For the last several years, I have always received acrylic sliding block puzzles from collector and designer Dinair Namdarian of Germany during the IPP Puzzle Exchange. Afterall he is very well known for his sliding block puzzles and has many designs to his name. But usually these are left untouched by me after the event as all the ones I have gotten from him so far are of the “very to extremely challenging” categories, well beyond my solving abilities.
But this year at IPP37 in Paris last August, I received a pleasant surprise. His exchange puzzle HOPE was not a sliding block puzzle but an interlocking caged burr!
At first glance, the HOPE appears to consist of a cage and 4 separate burr pieces. But actually the entire puzzle is only made up of 3. Typically 3D printed puzzles do not have that sort of sharp and precise lines and edges found on well-crafted wooden puzzles. But the copy I have I must say, the quality is really very decent and well made (printed). The slightly shinny shade of blue chosen by Diniar for the pieces really stands out; a nice contrast against the white cage holding them. And if there’s one thing I really like about this puzzle is the colour and aesthetics. The puzzle measures 7cm x 5cm x 5cm. Pretty sturdy and tough too.
The object of course is to remove the pieces and then put them back in the cage. This is where the 2 pieces bring the level of difficulty down a couple of notches. The “H” and “P” pieces are fused together as in the “O” and “E”. While there are only 2 pieces, this burr is still (as far as my counting tells me) a level 15 or 16.1 solution puzzle. This means it takes 15 (or 16) moves to extract the first of the 2 pieces out of the cage. Not a walk in the park for novices.
I am usually hopeless at this sort of interlocking puzzles but I did manage this one pretty well and didn’t have to resort to Burr Tools! A bit of practice here and here I was able to repeat solve the HOPE a couple of times even. Not too difficult once you commit the moves to memory and frankly, for this puzzle it is not that hard to do so.