(Click to Enlarge)
Once in a while I like to torture myself with a Wire Puzzle. Most of the times they drive me nuts while I try in vain to find a solution. Others, however, are not that frustrating and give me an incentive for tougher levels. The puzzle that I'm reviewing today, the Iron Maiden is fortunately one of those examples.
The Iron Maiden is an original design by Tucker-Jones House from 1982 and the version I have, more affordable, is produced by PuzzleMaster. While it's cheaper, it's still a good quality puzzle, so you'll get the full experience. Quite honestly, I kind of prefer the PuzzleMaster ones with a smooth coating finish rather than a rough surface and because of the coating, the puzzle doesn't leave that characteristic metal smell on your hands afterwards.
The puzzle is very well named, as it resembles a figure of a maiden in uniform. The goal, as always, is to separate or remove a part of the puzzle. In this case, a golden ring.
When you first inspect the puzzle, you quickly notice that the ring is not large enough to pass through either of the two triangular parts at both ends. It can easily go around the curved middle part, though, but it doesn't help much, as the top end gets in the way. The solution for this one, or for any other wire puzzle, is not so straightforward, but can be easily accomplished with persistence. This one took me about 10 minutes to solve.
This is rated by PuzzleMaster as a 6/10 (Tricky) and belongs to Tucker-Jones' second group of puzzles from 8 (8 being the hardest). It's far from being a complex puzzle, however it does has its advantages. If you're a beginner on this type of puzzles, these are great to learn some key movements that will prove very useful in solving many other higher level puzzles. Although you won't be using the same exact movements in other puzzles, you'll be able to solve them more intuitively.
I'll try not to give too much away about the solution, to avoid spoiling it for you. Instead, I'll write just a couple of pointers that can guide you in the right direction. As I mentioned above, the middle curved part is the only one that allows the ring to pass freely back and forth - Use this to your advantage. Another thing to keep in mind is the bottom part of the puzzle. When you try to move it past the 180º, it appears to require a little more force to come down and touch the middle part. Don't be afraid to break it. It will bend a little bit, but it's a necessary move and that part returns to the original position on its own. If after this, you still need a graphical solution, go here.
(Click to Enlarge) - Solved
The Iron Maiden is available at PuzzleMaster for about $11 CAD. If you prefer the original version produced by Tucker-Jones House, you can also get it at PuzzleMaster for $25 CAD.
For experienced puzzlers, the Iron Maiden won't be so ruthless. For beginners though, it can be still be quite the challenge, but a nice training for harder difficulty levels. This is also a recommended level to torture you friends with, but it's not so frustrating to the point that it'll make them hate you for a long time.