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Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Knitted Puzzle Cube

I hope each and every one of you had a great Christmas! And now that the new year is quickly approaching I thought I'd squeeze in a quick post (or two) before 2012.

This isn't so much one of my standard reviews, but there was no way that I could get away without mentioning this particular puzzling gift that I received for Christmas from my Other Half's Mum (AKA: Sally).

That's right! It's a knitted puzzle! A Soma Cube to be exact, which is possibly the most famous cube puzzle after the Rubik's Cube. I'd wager that most of you will either own or have come across a Soma Cube at some point during your travels. Like the Diagonal Star it really does turn up everywhere as it seems to have been favoured by the mass production market. But when have you ever seen a knitted one?!

Some of you may even remember that a little while ago I actually made my own Soma Cubes out of dice as a little DIY project.

The Soma Cube was designed by Piet Hein in 1933, and is made up of seven different pieces that can be assembled into a standard 3x3x3 cube with 240 unique assemblies. That sounds like quite a lot until you have to find one. Sally actually said that after she had finished the pieces it took ages to actually find a solution to get it into the box!

Most puzzlers have probably memorised one particular solution to this puzzle, and that is the one that they will choose whenever the need to reassemble a Soma Cube comes up. It is not a hugely difficult puzzle, most people will turn up a solution within 10 minutes or so if they keep randomly playing with the pieces. But this really is one of the true classics, and every puzzler should have one in their collection.

I was really touched by the thought and effort that went into making this puzzle for me, and it has to be one of the real gems in my collection that I'm going to enjoy showing others from now on. Thank you Sally!

I mean really, how often do you see knitted puzzles?

EDIT: After some keen observation from George and Chris (see comments below), it turns out that due to a minor piece irregularity this is not actually a true Soma Cube, but in fact a different puzzle entirely! In a Soma Cube all pieces are different, however in the knitted cube there are two 'right screw tetracubes' whereas in a Soma Cube one of those would be a 'left screw tetracube'.

So in essence, Sally invented a new 3x3x3 puzzle cube with 323 unique assemblies! Pretty funny really. Maybe it should be called 'Sally's Cube' instead?

10 comments:

  1. I saw that on your Christmas photo post, and my first thought was what a lucky guy! Someone really loves him. I'm envious...

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  2. That is awesome, what a wonderful wife you have!!

    Incidentally, aren't the orange and dark blue pieces identical? Hmm ...

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  3. That is so cool! :D I imagine it would be quite difficult to make it that well so that it stays together.

    As George said, the orange and dark blue pieces both look like Right Screw pieces... is it a trick of the camera?

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  4. Ooh! You guys are right, I'll have to check that out when I get back home. Maybe it's an entirely new puzzle!

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  5. BurrTools says that a standard Soma Cube has 240 assemblies (as you mentioned), but your one with two right screw pieces apparently has 323 assemblies... it's clearly a different puzzle, so what will you name it? The Oli Cube? :p

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  6. Nope, definitely not a trick of the camera! It is a different puzzle!

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  7. In terms of looks, thats has to be one of the best looking puzzles I seen on your site Oli.

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  8. Can't you flip one of two inside out?
    On the other hand why would you try as it looks great as it is!

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  9. I imagine this will confuse puzzlers who assume it is a standard Soma cube! Plus you can build a 2x2x2 cube, which is something not possible with a normal Soma.

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  10. It seems as though the piece was made inside-out by accident. It's amazing that it ended up as a working puzzle really! Who said puzzle design was difficult eh?

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No puzzle spoilers please!

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