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Before I start my review, a bit of news first - As some of you might already noticed from the banner at the left, Creative Crafthouse has now a new website with a nicer and fresher look, Puzzle Crafthouse. You can still access the old website for now, but in the meantime, check out what's different on the new one. To help with the transition, I have updated my previous reviews to point to the new website and the Creative Crafthouse label has been replaced by a new Puzzle Crafthouse label. You're welcome to leave feedback on the new website look and features and I'll be sure to pass them onto them or you can use their contact form.
The new puzzle I got from Puzzle Crafthouse was the Save the Queen puzzle, which is based on an old design from 1979, the Brain Drain. You have four square pieces, each with a 4x4 grid and two star shapes (representing a chess queen) occupying two of its sixteen spaces. Your task is to arrange the four pieces in an 8x8 grid Pattern in the tray, so that no two queens can be seen in the same row, column or any diagonal (not just the two main ones), this way saving them from a chess type move attack. The pieces can be rotated and are double sided, so it will double your chances for failure... You can also see the rules beautifully engraved on one of the pieces.
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This particular version is made at Puzzle Crafthouse and it's crafted from thick Maine hardwoods. The one you'll get can be from Ash, Maple or Birch wood. A great thing about the puzzle that I immediately noticed was that the pieces had this shiny golden effect finish, only made possible by a polyurethane coating. It's the first time, at least that I can remember, I've seen it used on a wooden puzzle. While it helps to protect the wood, at the same time it gives off an amazing look to the overall appearance of the puzzle.
The concept of the puzzle is very easy to understand, but solving it might not be so simple. There's only one solution in over 12.000 possible orientations, leaving a lot wrong possibilities. What seems fascinating is the deceptively hard challenge you're presented with. When one looks at just four pieces and a set of simple rules, it is led to believe that the solution is easily reached within a reasonable amount of time. At first, these were my exact thoughts, but within 5 minutes, I had changed my mind. Many times, I thought I had it solved, but much to my despair, when checking for diagonal matches, I had two queens in the same line of sight. This was getting frustrating... After almost half an hour under constant attack, the queens were finally saved. If you want to see the solution, check this link, although it will be much more rewarding if you solve it on your own.
The Save the Queen puzzle is available exclusively at Puzzle Crafthouse (or Creative Crafthouse for the time being) for $13.50 USD. For an additional $4 fee, you can get any message engraved on the puzzle.
The concept of not repeating objects in straight lines is certainly not new, but I liked the original approach of this design, with chess roots. I was very impressed by the superb quality of the pieces with this new coating finish, and I've been told that all future Picture Frame puzzles from Puzzle Crafthouse will have it, so I will look very much forward to that.