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Friday, 30 March 2012

Z-Shift (Peter Hajek)

Some of you may know that another of the relatively regular Midlands Puzzle Parties (MPPs) has just passed by, and I'm confident in saying that a great time was had by everyone there.

One of the other attendees and fellow puzzlers who I met there was Peter Hajek, who I had met several times previously on my recent travels through the puzzle world. With him he brought a handful of very interesting and clever puzzles, several of his own design. This is one such puzzle that Peter brought with him, and that I was lucky enough to be able to get a copy of for myself.

This puzzle is called 'Z-Shift', and it is quite unlike any other puzzle that I have encountered thus far. It was designed by Peter as his exchange puzzle for IPP31 last year in Berlin, and manufactured by Buttonius Puzzles & Plastics.

It looks like a simple 2D assembly type puzzle, but what really makes it interesting are the varying levels of difficulty that can be solved using the same 7 pieces in different combinations. Despite the seven pieces there are only two different piece types, as the four larger pieces are identical, as are the three smaller ones.

The larger 'Z' pieces are made up of two layers of acrylic that have been glued together. Both sides of the piece are identical in shape, but one side is blue while the other is red. Due to the opposing nature of the 'Z' shape both layers can be seen at the same time from either side. The smaller pieces are only single layered and in just the one colour.

As you might be able to see from the picture here, there are a total of five puzzles that can be solved using a specified number of pieces, the first of which is to make a large red square and a small blue square using only the four larger identical pieces. This takes a bit of perspective to be solved as it could be quite easy to get the wrong idea with what to do with the pieces. But within a few minutes most puzzlers should be able to solve it. As the puzzle starts off easier it encourages people to try and solve the other problems as well, I've found that this is actually a very good puzzle to give to 'first time' puzzlers to try out as it holds interest very well.

Each of the conundrums on the card requires a different approach to be solved. Just because you solved the first one doesn't mean that you will immediately know how to approach the others. As an example; the conundrums lettered A and B are particularly clever and may require some serious 'out of the box' thinking to find the correct solution.

All in all a very fun little puzzle that I thoroughly enjoy. And the opinions of others that I have given it to seem to confirm my thoughts as well! I've taken to carrying it around and springing it on any person who dares to look bored in my vicinity.

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