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Jean Claude Constantin continues to surprise me, even after I've seen all kinds of original and outstanding designs from him. The latest addition to my collection is Auge (German for 'eye' - and curiously, Portuguese for peak), and at first sight it doesn't look that peculiar. It's only after you unfold it that it truly reveals its form, and it's nothing short of amazing.
Auge has an equilateral triangular shape made of two contrasting wood colors and covered with a sheet of transparent acrylic in both sides. At the center you can see a wheel, which is actually a two-layer wheel united at the center by a metal pin. It's this very wheel that you should be removing from the frame, but not before you figure out how to move the six wooden pieces surrounding it.
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The movable pieces are attached by pins at the tips of the triangle and are only allowed to rotate about 200º, but you have to move them in the correct order or they will be blocked by the other pieces. When you open all six pieces the wheel will easily be removed, and that's when the true challenge begins... Well sort of.
When in place, each of the wheel's two layers fit perfectly with the concave curved lines of the pieces (the wheel's protuberances have different sizes), but when you take it out and shuffle the position of the two wheels, putting it back and close the rotating pieces becomes an exercise of trial and error until you find the exact fit. You'll be doing the same thing for each side of the wheel, but the actual challenge is far from from being, well... challenging.
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I was actually a bit scared when I tried to put the wheel back, because I thought it was going to be really hard to find the correct positions for the wheel. Turns out, it's very easy. Once you put the wheel in place, you just need to keep rotating one of the layers until it makes a perfect fit with the inline of the rotating pieces. When you're done, close the other two parts and do the same for the other layer. It's that simple and you should be able to do this in just a couple of minutes. This was supposed to be a level 7/10, but for me it's hard to give it more than a 5/10. It's very easy to solve, and even a beginner won't find it challenging.
The design of the Auge puzzle is superb and the mechanism is quite ingenious. Coming from Constantin that's hardly surprising given the high quality standard he has already accustomed us. Having said that, the puzzle itself doesn't provide any real challenge and I can't recommend this one unless you're a fan of Constantin's puzzles.
Availability: You can find the Auge puzzle at PuzzleMaster for $19 CAD. You can also browse dozens of other Constantin designs.