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At the end of last year, I reviewed a very interesting packing puzzle, the Interlace Square, which is from an impressive series, the Paradigm Puzzles, by Family Games America. These are actually designed by a very talented puzzle craftsman, William Waite. The new puzzle from the series that I'll be reviewing today is the Celtic Knot, another brilliant design.
The Celtic Knot has more similarities with the Interlace Square than any other puzzle in the Paradigm series. The overall appearance of both patterns do have some similarities, but the Interlace Square is inspired by Arabic patterns, whereas the Celtic Knot - you guessed it - is inspired by Celtic shapes. The pieces are also quite alike, reminiscent of some kind of ancient alphabet, although the Interlace Square has slightly more curved pieces. All Paradigm Puzzles are precision laser-cut - A requirement for this type of puzzles - and they measure about 10 x 10cm (4").
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Like any other packing puzzle, the object is to remove all pieces from the tray and then pack them all inside again. What makes these puzzles rather challenging, however, is their complex shapes. It's just very hard, once the pieces are all mixed up, to remember what exactly the puzzle looks like in its solved state. I would suggest you take a picture of the solved puzzle before you remove all of its pieces - That way you can always turn to it if you find yourself stuck.
PuzzleMaster rates all Paradigm Puzzles as a 7/10 level of difficulty, but in my opinion some are harder than others. In fact, all puzzles come with a guide that shows the level on each of the six puzzles and they do vary in difficulty. For example, the Interlace Square is actually the harder in the series with a level 9/10 and the Celtic Knot has a level of 7/10. This is more accurate, and I totally agree, because I found the Celtic Knot a few notches below in terms of difficulty. It took me about half an hour to build the pattern again, although it's the one with more pieces, 16 of them.
Like the Interlace Square, the Celtic Knot also has one-sided pieces. This is noticeable by the lines that cross the pieces, which depict the actual knots. Not having to use both sides of the pieces can make it easier, but note that in all 16 pieces, no two are alike. The hard part is placing the first few pieces in the frame, but once you get some of them right, it does get easier. After you find a solution, you still have something left to do, because the puzzle has two dissimilar solutions.
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The Interlace Square is still my favorite in the series, but I really enjoyed the Celtic Knot as well. It's quite challenging to solve, especially if you're a novice, but it's a great puzzle to look at and a must-have for any collection.
I feel a little upset with my copy, though. Strangely enough, it came a little warped, as if it were being stored close to a heat source. The wood used is apparently fragile, so not much was needed to make some damage. Not sure if this was caused in transit or not, but it's strange nonetheless. The actual puzzle was still solvable, but as a collector, you like all your puzzles flawless, no matter what...
Availability: As of the time of writing, the Celtic Knot is currently out of stock at PuzzleMaster, but check back again soon, as they restock often. If you like this type of puzzles, you can take a look at the others in the series.