It was Edward
Hordern (my mentor) who taught me the first and, I believe, the
most important principle to designing a "nice" puzzle
which consists of a number of pieces e.g.. box packing, polycube
assembly, dissection etc. and that is:- THE FEWER PIECES THE BETTER
- provided, of course, that the puzzle is difficult to solve.
Excellent examples of this principle are Stewart
Coffin's three piece puzzle and
Dic Sonneveld's three piece burr both of which are very difficult
put-together puzzles. Another nice but easier three piece puzzle
is Oskar van Deventer's "Oskar's
Blocks". The ideal is not to exceed 12 pieces in your
There is nothing more certain to drive away members and potential
members of our puzzle fraternity than to frustrate and anger them
with a puzzle that is ill conceived....
Unlike Stewart's, Dic's and Oskar's your three piece design
was too easy so you added a piece.... still no good, another
piece, and another and yet another until you end up with 50 odd
pieces that even this humble PC would find difficult to solve.
So, where is your beautiful hand crafted work of art now? Probably
at the back of a drawer never to see the light of day again or
more than likely it has been cremated! Simply because it was not
a "nice" puzzle.
Here endeth lesson one.
Don't allow your PC
to design your puzzle for you, it has no soul!
with your puzzle the finish may dull somewhat from finger marks
etc. Buff it with a soft duster (cloth) and it should gleam again.
Occasionally use a thin film of high quality SILICONE FREE wax polish
before buffing. All my puzzles will benefit from such periodic treatment.
It is also invariably bad tempered and uncooperative, and certainly
does not have any sense of humour! All of which does not help
with the search for the Ah! Ah! factor which is another
major element in the design of a "nice" puzzle. What
is the Ah! Ah! factor?
You've been putting pieces here, moving them there, pushing this
and that, spinning, rotating; making every piece placement or
move but the right one. Then, suddenly (perhaps with a little
dose of lateral thinking) the penny drops. Ah! Ah! you say.....
or if the puzzle design is really special, mind boggling
even, your exclamation will be WOW! Can your PC, any PC, assist
you here? I think not.
OK, I admit it. I have used my PC during the course of designing
a puzzle; but merely as a tool not as a source of inspiration.
In the past I produced all my drawings and leaflets by hand, now
I use Corel Draw, Photoshop, Word etc. I would also claim that
a polycube assembly had but one solution, now I can prove it (or
not) by using Bill Cutlers BCP Box program. Tools, my workshop
is full of them.
Store away from heat and damp. If the atmosphere in which they are
stored is dry, (dry climate or centrally heated home), a small container
of water placed in the display cabinet or close by will help to
prevent shrinkage and warping of the wood.
Note: with all wooden articles the colour of the wood darkens with
age. This aging can be retarded by not exposing them to direct sunlight.