This is an interesting Stewart Coffin designed puzzle that was exchanged by Rob Jones at IPP37 in Paris this past August. It’s also my first “pin-hole” puzzle from Coffin. Looking at the photos you will probably realise why its called Long & Short. This design is designated STC 20-D. Outwardly, the Long & Short looks like an ordinary six-piece burr made out of exotic wood (in this case its Wenge) but really its an interlocking puzzle of sorts using a combination of pins inserted into holes.
There are 3 congruent pieces of one design and a pair of another, while the last piece is “pin-less”. Object is to take apart and put the puzzle back to together. Very well made by Bart Buie (check out his site here which features a tasty selection of Stewart Coffin puzzles ranging from $45 to a whopping $405 for an STC-7 called Jupiter with 30 different woods!). While the pieces fitted too tightly at first due to the high Singapore humidity, this problem was solved after several hours in my puzzle dry box. The puzzle is about the size of a regular Rubik’s Cube.
Taking apart is pretty straight forward; once you have the first piece out, the rest is easily removable. But putting the thing back together is a tad more tricky, particularly if you scramble the pieces. But because there are two sets of identical pieces and the outer surface of the puzzle is not supposed to show any pinholes, the assembly is not overly complicated. Certainly manageable with some patience, although if you got the orientation of the pieces wrong, you may hit a dead end; some pins just don’t fit into certain holes. Sorry Burr Tools won’t be of any use here. Again, I have to say its at a level of difficulty appropriate for an Exchange Puzzle. Even novices can have fun with the Long & Short and not feel frustrated.
The Long & Short, according to fellow puzzle blogger Kevin Sadler, is the easiest challenge of a much bigger (a bit of an understatement here) puzzle called the Grand Pinhole which has a mind-boggling 43 pieces (if I counted correctly).