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Siebenstein-Spiele is fast becoming one of the best puzzle manufacturers out there. Their puzzles always have something fresh in their designs. You might have seen similar concepts before, whether they're slide piece puzzles, packing puzzles or even interlocking puzzles, but their approach to visual appealing designs is their strong suit.
To my knowledge, all of the Siebenstein-Spiele mechanical puzzles are designed by Jürgen Reiche. Note that the company also publishes interesting board games, but even those are also designed by Jürgen, with the exception of maybe a couple of them. Also, judging by the number of new puzzles I keep seeing from him, it doesn't look like he's running out of ideas anytime soon. Jürgen must be a fascinating person to have a conversation with, especially if you're a puzzle enthusiast like me.
One of the most recent additions to my collection is the "Who's the Boss?". This is a very interesting slide puzzle with a twist, which you'll be able to find out as soon as you try to solve it. The puzzle itself is not very big, but you won't have too much trouble to move the pieces. It measures approximately 10cm in diameter (about 4"), and it's made from laser-cut wood, both pieces and frame, except the cover which is made from acrylic. The materials ensure a very light puzzle that feels nice to hold and play with.
The object of the puzzle might be a little confusing, at first... And this is where the "twist" comes into play. It consists of six tiles, three are displayed in the vertical and the other three in the horizontal. Each tile has a fragment of a symbol inlaid in it and, when arranged correctly, they will form the symbols for the male and female genders. The trick is that you can only rearrange the tiles to form one of the symbols at a time. When you solve one of them, you have to slide the pieces around to form the other. It's just not possible to have the two solved at the same time.
Sliding the pieces from one state to another seems simple, but it can actually be quite difficult. Not surprisingly, the puzzle is rated as a level 8/10, and I have to agree with this classification. This is not your typical 3x3 slide puzzle. The fact that half the pieces have a different orientation begs for a different approach. There are four holes in the acrylic cover and these can be used to help you move the pieces wherever you want - Well, sort of...
The empty space, unlike the traditional slide puzzles, is not the equivalent of one tile, but actually two. This seems like too much, but trust me, you'll find it too small when you're trying to solve it. Solving time will greatly depend on your slide puzzle skills. It took me about 10 minutes to solve the first symbol, but I found that to solve the other, you only need a few extra moves, cutting the solving process to a fraction of the time.
(Click to Enlarge) - Male and Female Symbols Solved
Slide puzzles are among my favorite types of puzzles. Ideas like these that introduce you to a new way of thinking and how to go about solving them deserve all the praise they can get. Siebenstein-Spiele always surprise me for their bold creations and, as a designer, Jürgen Reiche seems to outdo himself every time I see a new puzzle from him. "Who's the Boss?" is a fantastic puzzle and I highly recommend it to anyone that knows and loves any type of slide puzzle.
Availability: "Who's the Boss?" is currently available at PuzzleMaster for $20 CAD. You can also find here a wide variety of puzzles from Siebenstein-Spiele.