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They say "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". While this statement may be true in most situations, when it comes to puzzles it's sometimes the other way around, especially if you're talking about Jürgen Reiche, who designs most puzzles for Siebenstein-Spiele. This German-based company not only creates their own puzzles, but also improves on other known designs, resulting always in a better and more interesting puzzle overall.
One of such examples is the New H-Puzzle, a variation of the classic H-Puzzle that has been around for over a century now. As a matter of fact, the H-Puzzle is itself a variation of the T-Puzzle, which was invented as a way to promote the tea that came from Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka). Much like the T-Puzzle, the H-Puzzle was also invented as a promotional item, except they weren't looking to sell tea but Hathaway's Bread instead. Since then, other letter puzzles were also created, like the F or the K...but for now, let's just focus on the New H.
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If you already know the classic H-Puzzle, then the differences between the old and new versions of the puzzle are easily spotted: the H in the old version is made in a sans-serif font and the new is made with serifs. The result is much more elegant, but those are not all the improvements Siebenstein-Spiele made. One improvement that stands out right away is how the puzzle is presented, which comes in a stylish dark wooden frame. The puzzle is actually very small, measuring only 8.5cm x 8.3cm (3.4" x 3.3"), which fits perfectly on the palm of your hand, due to the fact that the pieces are packed in two layers of three pieces each. Also, each of the six pieces is made in a different wood color, as different types of wood were used. The goal is simple, but deceptively hard, since making the letter H from those six pieces is not very intuitive. The six pieces are actually three pairs of identical pieces, and the solution has a nice symmetry.
I already knew the H-Puzzle before, but I couldn't remember its solution, so it was still a bit challenging figuring out how to solve it. The puzzle is rated as a level 9/10, but from my experience I don't believe it's that hard. Before finding to the real solution, I stumbled upon a couple of failed attempts at making the H. An example of this can be seen below...Could still be seen as an H, no?
|(Click to Enlarge) - Close, but no cigar...|
A few minutes later, I was finally able to build a perfect letter H. What complicates the task of discovering the solution are those two longer pieces with the right angle cuts. Combining them in the right way is a real exercise of spatial and visualization skills, but once you do the other pieces will fall in place almost immediately. The key to solve the puzzle lies in those two special pieces.
So, tell me, which version do you like more, sans-serif or with serif? To me, Siebenstein-Spiele simplifies that choice and debunks the idea that the original is always better. As far as I'm concern, Jürgen, please, improve away...
Availability: The New H-Puzzle can be purchased at PuzzleMaster for just $14.99 CAD. You can also get other interesting puzzles by Siebenstein-Spiele.