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Ring on a Stick is the second puzzle from Dimiter Vakarelov I've had the pleasure to solve so far. Recently, I've received a very nice package from Dimiter with several unique string puzzles, all designed and handmade by him, and among them there were these three amazing puzzles that were made using real wooden sticks - Something I had never seen before, although Dimiter took inspiration from one of Kirill Grebnev's designs, the Attached Ring.
The Ring on a Stick puzzle is a little different from the first puzzle I reviewed from Dimiter, the Cherries on a Stick, but not that different... On the outside, both puzzles look quite different from each other, and besides the stick and the metal rings, there's not much similarities. So how come they are so similar in their solving methods? This is what's so fascinating about this type of puzzles. You have to discover for yourself what principle - or combination of principles - comprise the solving method for each puzzle.
See, all these string/wire puzzles you ever saw are based on only 5 or 6 different principles. It's up to designer to find different ways of utilizing these principles and using different combinations to create a new puzzle. So, for every string/wire puzzle you solve there may be one, two or even more principles represented in the design, and the fun in them is to apply your previous knowledge learned from other puzzles. It sounds easy in theory, but I'm far from understanding all principles, and sometimes it's quite difficult to visualize how to solve a certain puzzle, even if you've solved a hundred different ones before. It all depends if the designer was successful to mask and hide as best as possible the principles used in the puzzle.
The goal in the Ring on a Stick sounds easy enough to understand. Just find a way to remove the big wooden ring. To make your task a bit more fun, a metal ring and a string, which is too short to be stretched across the entire length of the stick, make the design quite challenging but still easy enough for an experienced puzzler. Attached at the end of the string is a small wooden bead that's too large to pass through the opening in the metal ring, and the protuberance at one of the stick's extremities is too large for the wooden ring's diameter, but there's a simple way to overcome that...
The Ring on a Stick was a very pleasant surprise in the way that it only took me a couple of minutes to solve after I had solved the Cherries on a Stick - which by the way took me a few hours. This is a bit difficult to explain in words, but to make it simple, both puzzles use the same principle. I had the fortune of finding out almost right away that the Ring on a Stick had to be solved in a similar way, in other words, the string had to pass from the inside of the metal ring to the outside. After that, the wooden ring was all but free.
In terms of difficulty, the Ring on a Stick is slightly easier than the Cherries on a Stick. Not only because I already knew the solving process, but because I believe it's easier to do the steps required to solve. They're easier to understand. I'd classify it as a level 7/10. As a reference, the Cherries were to me an 8/10.
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It's hard to choose from the two puzzles which one I prefer. They're both so original and fun to solve, I wouldn't want to choose. For a beginner, the Ring is probably a better choice to start, but it's always a bit relative when it comes to classify string/wire puzzles.
Availability: Dimiter can produce any of these puzzles on request. For prices and other questions, drop me an e-mail and I'll put you in contact with him.