This glass puzzle called the Ring Bottle Puzzle. It has been sitting at the top shelf of my puzzle closet for the longest time. So long that I had forgotten about it for almost 7 years. I had bought it from Finnish online puzzle store Oy Sloyd Ab (sorry I can’t pronounce) run by Tomas Linden. For the history behind the Ring Bottle and how it came to be sold by Oy Sloyd Ab, see Ad van der Schagt’s comments below.
I have met Tomas on a couple of occasions during the past IPPs. Not only did I buy the Ring Bottle Puzzle but also a couple of other bottle puzzles. One of the latter had already shown some signs of mould inside! And you can tell by the marks and stains inside the Ring Bottle that I have not touched it for a long time!
The Ring Bottle is the design of Wil Strijbos, who also entered the puzzle for the IPP21 Puzzle Design Competition in 2001. The competition version featured a red plastic rod and balls. It is also not your typical looking bottle in that the body is slightly curved like a hip flask. Not sure whether the shape was intended to have anything to do with the puzzle or merely co-incidence. Dimensionally it is about 16.5cm tall (including the stick) and about 8.7cm wide.
Bottle puzzles like the Ring Bottle are usually classified as “impossible objects”, meaning that it looks physically impossible to solve. The majority of impossible objects are of course possible to solve. Some of the impossible puzzles that I have played with include Smiley In A Bottle, Cast Vortex Puzzle In A Bottle, Puzzle Jam, and truly impossible looking stuff like 4 Street Elbows and of course Wil’s Coke Bottle series.
Impossible To Solve?
At first glance it looks difficult to solve. The Ring Bottle Puzzle is like a hybrid between a bottle puzzle and a disentanglement puzzle. The goal here is not to remove the stick or the balls attached to the string. Rather the puzzler is required to remove only the metal ring that is resting on the larger of the two wooden balls. The ring appears to be trapped by the larger ball and the stick with no chance of release. Like most bottle puzzles, some form of dexterity is required in the solve.
For such puzzles, some initial thinking is required prior to play. Otherwise you just end up wasting a lot of time and effort and no solution. I would imagine that puzzlers who are experienced with entanglement or string puzzles would more or less figure out quite quickly how to untangle the ring. While it may look impossible, it does not defy physics and there is a solution. It took me a while and bit of trying this and that before I managed to the ring off the large ball and then out of the bottle,
The challenge doesn’t end here. The trick is also to be able to get the ring back to its original position. Now this second task was for me far more difficult as I had to wreck my brain to figure out the reverse steps. I must have at least tried 4-5 times before finally hitting upon the right strategy and then the solution. Now one thing that still puzzles me; how to get the two balls in and out of the bottle??