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Vanishing puzzles have been around for over five centuries, but they weren't so popular until one man came around and change that completely. His name was Sam Loyd (1841-1911) and he created one of the most recognizable Vanishing puzzles ever, called Get Off the Earth, which was invented in 1896. He also created other interesting designs, and since then other designers followed in his footsteps. One of this designers is Jean Claude Constantin and the puzzle is called Magic Domino.
The principle behind the vanishing puzzles is quite simple and deceiving. Each puzzle is divided into smaller pieces that compose a picture. When you rearrange the pieces in a specific order it's possible to make some objects in the original configuration disappear. This trick seems like pure magic, but it's far from that. It's merely a well designed puzzle with every little detail carefully thought out to play with your mind.
The Magic Domino is exactly like the above description. There are two sets of domino pieces, one with eight white pieces and another with seven dark brown pieces. The goal is a little more complex than the vanishing puzzles, but still similar. The idea is to swap the brown domino pieces in the tray with the bottom white pieces. Since there's a difference between the number of white and brown pieces, you need to rearrange all the square pieces inside the tray so they can accommodate the eight dominoes.
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The puzzle is way more difficult than I thought. It is rated as a level 8/10, and while I expected some challenge I didn't think it was that hard. It took me a few sessions and the total time must be around three hours, more or less. You might not notice this right away from the pictures, but the white pieces are slightly smaller than the brown ones. This is a key to solve the puzzle and I didn't notice it at first.
Rearranging the brown pieces at the bottom was relatively easy compared to the challenge at the top. You just need to make a slight change to the rectangular pieces. The 12 square pieces at the top, however, seem much more complicated to swap around. It's only 11 pieces actually, as the piece that reads "Magic Domino" doesn't have any indent cut into it - Could've been even harder, but the slight easiness was more than welcome. Still, finding a correct arrangement was a pain, but the result is very rewarding.
Constantin's Magic Domino is the first puzzle of this kind - not a picture, that is - that I know of, so far. It's a brilliant puzzle and I really recommend it to anyone that knows Sam Loyd's puzzles. It provides a great challenge and, of course, it's a must-have in any collection.
Availability: You can buy a copy of Magic Domino at PuzzleMaster for $31 CAD. For other Constantin's designs click here.