Optimal Tumble & Peg Trap by William Waite

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William Waite is a puzzle designer from Wisconsin, USA and has been building puzzles since 1998. Most of his puzzles are wooden 2D packing problems, all laser cut with the exception of a few plastic ones. Here for review, I have two of his puzzles: the Optimal Tumble and the Peg Trap, both with many possible solutions, which means that you can always play with them and find a different solution every time.

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Built in 2009 with red alder and walnut wood, this is one of my favorite William's work, alongside the Celtic Knot, though I don't own it (yet), I love its brilliant design.

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With twelve pieces, divided into three types, you have to make shapes (preferably symmetrical) with the space unfilled by the pieces. This happens, because the area that the pieces occupy in the tray are smaller than the total area, leaving room to make all kinds of shapes with the hole left over by the piece's arrangement. All three types of pieces are symmetrical and you can use both sides of them, because they both have the same color, meaning that it's possible to have more configurations with a simple piece swap.

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The difficulty of the puzzle can vary depending on the type of shape you're trying to do. Asymmetrical shapes are much easier and there's probably many more solutions, whereas the symmetrical ones are harder to build and fewer. There's five shapes on the tray to try to get used to the solving method, but you can find many more.

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The number of solutions is unknown, so you never know if you've solved them all. A nice thing, if you think about it, because, even after you've found a handful of new solutions, there could be much more to discover. A great puzzle, indeed.

Peg Trap

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This puzzle was built in 2007, also with red alder and black walnut wood, and its goal is similar to that on the Optimal Tumble, meaning that you have multiple levels of difficulty that will suit anyone and the main challenge is to find symmetrical arrangements.

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You have nine pieces with a pattern that, when placed in the tray, they will leave six holes. Now, there's over 800.000 solutions, but most of them will be just random patterns of holes. If you want a harder challenge, you need to make a symmetrical pattern with the holes, although not all symmetrical patterns are possible. Also similar with the Optimal Tumble is the double-sided pieces that will increase greatly the number of possible arrangements. If you want to just move a hole around, you can do that by flipping a single piece.

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Overall, I noticed that the Peg Trap was a bit harder than the Optimal Tumble, mostly because it took much more time to come up with a symmetrical solution. I found that the trick is to just swap a couple of pieces at a time, instead of removing all the pieces from the tray and try again.

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Closing Comments:

William Waite's puzzles are a joy to play with. Both puzzles have a high replay level and are definitely worth their money. Even after you've played with them for many hours, you can always return to them and find new solutions. If I had to pick one of his puzzles, I would definitely go with the Optimal Tumble, for the amazing shapes it can create. All of his puzzles are original designs and you can find them only in his website, Puzzle Mist that has been a display for his great work.

As a special offer, Puzzle Mist is offering a free $10 puzzle for every 3 or more puzzles that you buy from their site, so don't waste this great opportunity. Also, shipping is free within the US for any order, and free International for 3 or more puzzles as well.

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