Complex Cube

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
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Update (March 16): A week ago, I reviewed Bill Cutler's Splitting Headache, although a couple of days ago, I learned that this puzzle is not exactly a true replica of the original design. Note that the copy available from Brilliant Puzzles is not manufactured by the designer. The difference lies in a single piece and it's enough to ruin the solving experience Bill wanted for his puzzle. To avoid spoiling the challenge for you, I'll just mention that it has to do with the checkerboard pattern. If you have this copy, it's possible to fix it with this method, otherwise I would urge you to get an original copy from Bill himself. It's more expensive, but you get what you paid for, the puzzle as it should be. Below are two pictures that show the difference in the troubling piece. The left photo shows the incorrect piece and the right one, the correct. What follows is the original review published a week ago.

Left: Incorrect; Right: Correct

The Complex Cube is one of my favorite puzzles, currently available at Brilliant Puzzles. Designed by Bill Cutler in 1991, it was originally called Splitting Headache, because as the designer claims, you must use both sides of your brain to solve it - Your left side is responsible for logical thinking and your right side for solving problems intuitively. It was Bill Cutler's exchange puzzle at IPP 11.

The puzzle has nine pieces in a checkered pattern and your task is to build a cube with them. What appears as a simple 3x3 cube is in fact a mixture of half cubes with whole cubes. The pieces are all different, although two pairs are similar in configuration, differing only in color pattern or mirror effect. Another curious aspect of the pieces is that most of them are a combination of three unit cubes, again with the exception of two pieces, that have an area of 3.5 and 2.5 unit cubes each.  This is definitely a complex cube.

(Click to Enlarge) - The 9 Pieces

The presentation of the puzzle is stunning and has a very attractive design. It comes in a beautiful wooden stand with two square plexiglass sheets on both sides. The stand is not very practical for assembling though, so it's better to solve the puzzle on a table and use it only as display once solved.

The quality is also superb, one of the best I've seen in a while. The wooden pieces are carefully polished and beveled on the edges, and look like they've been glazed with a transparent coating, enhancing the contrasting two-toned colors and leaving them with a very smooth surface.

(Click to Enlarge)

Given the peculiar nature of the pieces, I was expecting the puzzle to be a tough challenge... And so it was. It took me about an hour and a half straight, with no interruptions, to see the cube shape finally done. Forget the checkered pattern. While it may be used as a guide to see which pieces can be used in a specific place, it won't help you much in simplifying your job.

My strategy, or better, the one that finally paid off, was to separate the pieces in two groups and start with the most complex ones. I then checked which ones could be joined together, while maintaining the 3x3 limits. Easier said than done, but I'm sure you get my point. After a few unsuccessful attempts and a splitting headache, the puzzle was solved.

The Complex Cube is available at Brilliant Puzzles for a very affordable $12.95 USD.

(Click to Enlarge)

Closing Comments:

The Splitting Headache is most certainly among Bill Cutler's best designs. A very challenging puzzle, coupled with an amazing presentation and sublime quality, definitely makes for an absolute must to any puzzle collection.

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