Naoaki Takashima designed this sliding block puzzle way in March 1985. From what I have heard, Takashima-san owns the largest collection of mechanical puzzles in Japan. The collection it seems is well in excess of 10,000 puzzles. IPP37 was Takashima-san’s 30th IPP party todate! So far I have played with one other of Takashima-san’s puzzles and that was his IPP36 Exchange Puzzle called Seal, another sliding bock puzzle. The Puzzle 9 was first given out by Takashima-san at IPP9 in Tokyo in 1988. Back then very few copies were distributed as there was no puzzle exchange as what we have in today’s IPP gatherings. Last year in Paris, Takashima-san decided to use his Puzzle 9 as his Exchange Puzzle.
Sliding block puzzle. For more information on sliding block puzzles generally, you may want to take a look at Edward Hordern’s 1987 book called Sliding Piece Puzzles available from Amazon. Takashima-san’s Puzzle 9 design was featured in Hordern’s book and numbered as “B25”.
Produced by a company called ASOBIDEA in Japan. There is not a lot of information about this company. They do sell a small range of products including some folding puzzles. The assembly of the puzzle was done by Takashima-san.
The Puzzle 9 is made from laser cut acrylic and quality is outstanding in my opinion. The puzzle measures 14cm x 8cm x 0.4cm. The pieces which resemble playing cards have their design etched on, no stickers used here. Very good detailing indeed. Having produced acrylic puzzles myself in the past, such detail and quality would not have come cheap at all.
The object of the puzzle is to position the pieces in the START position and move rearrange the pieces to arrive at the END position. The Puzzle 9 is similar in some sense to the very well known 15 Puzzle which has a pretty long history. Aside from rearranging the pieces to the desired format, the Puzzle 9 also requires the solution to show the uncovered #9 at the top of the tray, an additional challenge.
The Puzzle 9’s solution eluded me for quite a few days. Even just getting the correct order of the cards right I had problems. When I finally took a look at the provided solution, I realised why I was not able to solve it. I can’t say more here without giving away anything. It has a nice rather unexpected solution which awaits the successful solver.