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In my latest PuzzleMaster shipment, half of the puzzles included were from Jean Claude Constantin - A real treat. As a result, you're going to see plenty more reviews for his puzzles.
Today's puzzle is the 8 Balken (German for bar), and as the name suggests it's comprised by eight bars that have small discs attached to them. Each bar can have one, two or up to three discs attached. A small detail you should notice once you have disassembled the puzzle is that there are four different colored bars, and for each pair of bars the combined number of discs is four. This is not done by accident and it's something to keep in mind once you're trying to solve it. The colors aren't just for aesthetics either, as the solution follows a simple rule of colors.
The first thing it came to my mind when I first saw the puzzle was the 4-in-line game. I bet Constantin was inspired by it to create this puzzle. The rest of the design is complemented by a beautiful red-colored wooden stand, and the pieces are kept in place surrounded by ten metal rods, which contrast nicely with the wooden pieces and stand.
|(Click to Enlarge) - The Pieces|
The 8 Balken puzzle is a bit tricky to solve, not just for its level 8/10 difficulty, but also because it's kind of a pain to assemble. Now, one of things you have to make sure when assembling the pieces back to their original positions is that no two colors can be repeated on any row or column. The final rearrangement has four pieces in the vertical position and the remaining four in the horizontal position. The annoying part is that when you think you're close to packing all the pieces, the layout of the remaining ones don't match the already packed. And the worst part is that you don't know if you need to exchange just one pair of bars or more.
My strategy to solve the puzzle was to pack a pair of the same colored pieces, one in the vertical and the other in the horizontal, as if you were following a sequence. This way it's easier to remove the pieces if you need to make some changes.
Solution: If you need a solution for this puzzle, you can download it here.
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The 8 Balken puzzle is a deceptively hard challenge. The design looks simple enough, but when you remove the first couple of pieces you're in for some serious puzzling. The design and the different colors used will sure make this a very nice addition to any collection. Definitely harder than the 4-in-line game...
Availability: PuzzleMaster has the largest selection of Constantin's puzzles that I know of. You can find the 8 Balken and over 150 more there.