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Puzzle Crafthouse (a.k.a Creative Crafthouse) has a very nice selection of exclusive wooden puzzles only available at their store. The Royal Flush puzzle, designed by Phil Janelle is yet another fine example of the good work they do at their shop.
I love to play poker and when I saw this puzzle, I knew I had to include it in my latest order, as it looked absolutely stunning. The puzzle consists of nine wooden laser-cut pieces made from Maple (you can also choose from Alder wood) and they're laser engraved with five card designations. The goal is to arrange the pieces in the tray so that you can see a Royal Flush on every row, column and two major diagonals. Be warned that the puzzle comes packaged in the solved state. If you don't want to know the solution, have someone to scramble it for you or unpack it upside down, scrambling it afterwards.
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Side note: If you don't know the poker rules, you can still solve the puzzle. A Royal Flush is made with a five card combination of 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace, all with the same suit.
The suit chosen for the cards is Spades - Probably the most beloved suit - and as you can see, the attention to detail is superb. This clearly shows how precise the laser cutter can get. The pieces have two distinct shapes: One is a three-card L shape with various orientations. There are seven of these pieces; The other is a two-card straight piece, which is comprised by a 10 and a King. Only two pieces have this shape and they're identical, whereas from seven the L-shaped pieces, only two are identical.
The Royal Flush puzzle is a level 3 puzzle, according to Puzzle Crafthouse's rating scale, but as it's described in the puzzle's page, it's more like a hard level 3 or easy level 4. I couldn't agree more with this statement. The puzzle is simple enough for anyone to try his luck, but it can be rather difficult to find a solution... And I'm not sure if it has more than one.
I think this is one of those puzzles that can be solved very quickly, within 15 minutes, but it can also take some time, which in my case it took around 2 hours, not straight, though. I've had the puzzle for about two months now, but only recently I got around to actually try and solve it. There's no particular strategy besides systematic attempts, so you either get lucky and solve it fast or you might spend some time working on a solution. It's not my favorite strategy for puzzle solving, but it'll get it solved eventually.
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When solving the puzzle, there's a few things you should take into account:
- There's no particular order for the Royal Flush. It may start by a 10 or by a King, as long as the five cards are different.
- In the solution, you see all cards facing up. In other words, there aren't any cards placed at a 90º angle. At first, I wasn't aware of this, but when I tried a way to get them all facing up, it got easier, because there's less possible orientations.
- Always check your diagonals to see if there's any card duplicates. This happened to me and it's very easy to forget about them.
Solution: If you wish to solve it on your own, don't click this link.
Solving this puzzle was a little frustrating. High levels of patience are a definite requirement. I found myself many times with two pieces left to place, but no more possibilities. Removing a couple of them would only result in more disappointment, so there I was starting all over again.
I did love the look of puzzle. It's one of the most aesthetically pleasing by Puzzle Crafthouse and it'll most certainly appeal to any poker or packing puzzle enthusiasts.