The Cross Puzzle

Posted on Nov 29, 2011 by Gabriel | 6 comments
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(Click to Enlarge)

There's something about hidden mechanism puzzles that I find very appealing. The challenge of finding the secret that keeps the pieces connected and interlocked is somewhat rewarding, always leaving you with that a-ha moment when the solution is discovered.

The Cross Puzzle, by Bits and Pieces is one of such puzzles. Beautifully designed, resembling a gift-wrapped package, your objective is to separate the two pieces that comprise the puzzle.

Now, if you're like me and already solved the 'X Marks the Spot' and/or the 'Cast News' by Nobuyuki Yoshigahara, you're in luck. The concept and principle behind the puzzle is very similar to those and you'll solve it pretty quickly. If, on the contrary, you're unfamiliar with the mechanism, it can be quite tricky to solve.

A close inspection will reveal that, when shaken, the puzzle makes a rattling sound, giving away that the solution is related to this particularity. Others things you might notice is how the two pieces are joined together and the way they are locked at the middle.

Since both pieces are not that tight, you can see a little of what's going on inside. Adding how the mechanism in the middle works with that rattling inside, I'm sure it won't be that hard to solve after that. Even if you understand how to separate the pieces, it could be a bit frustrating getting the internal parts to clear the way. An easier way to do this (Spoiler ahead) is to get the puzzle to spin fast in a hard surface (like you would make a coin spin). The centrifugal force will send the internal pins to the edges, leaving the middle free. Just lift one of the pieces and there you go, the puzzle is solved. For a graphical solution click here.

The difficulty of the Cross Puzzle is rated by PuzzleMaster as a 6/10, although the Cast News, with the same mechanism is a 10/10. The only reason I can see why is because the cast puzzle has the pieces much more tight together, giving away very little information regarding its solution. The rattling is there though, and the same solution can also be applied.

(Click to Enlarge)

Closing Comments:

In general, the Cross Puzzle is a very nice puzzle. Light and small (7 cm/2.75"), it can also be categorized as a trick puzzle,  because the solution can be interpreted as some kind of a trick, not a series of movements. When I first saw it, I didn't know that it was similar to the above mentioned puzzles, but it's another neat way of presenting a known concept.

The Cross Puzzle puzzle came from PuzzleMaster, but it's currently sold out though. If you're interested, check back later or drop an e-mail to the customer's service asking for an expected date.


George said...

I think the News is harder because it needs several moves to open. But I don't have the Cross Puzzle so I can't say if is the same mechanism.

When you say "spin like a coin" I think of spinning a coin on its edge. The News is not spun like that!??

Gabriel said...

Hi George,
No, the Cast News is practically the same. I probably didn't explain very well. You spin a coin on its edge, but since you have more grip on the News and the Cross, you spin them on their bases (parallel to the movement of the mechanism). If you do it like this, you only need one move.

George said...

I'm confused! The solution sheet for the Cast News shows the puzzle being spun twice (both times on its base). I think it is often possible to open it by spinning it only once, but I don't think it is supposed to open on one spin. It is just a problem with the way it is made.

You can get the solution sheet from puzzlemaster.ca (I just did, I was relying from memory before).

Gabriel said...

Hi George,
Indeed, the solution says to spin once for each side. I had another go with the Cast News and it's very unpredictable. Sometimes you can open it with one spin, while other times it needed even more than one spin. I guess it's just the nature of the puzzle, because the movement used is just the Physics law of centrifugal force.

In principle, it would only need one spin, which happens with the Cross Puzzle, but I guess wooden parts cause less friction than metal, therefore it won't always work...
Cheers ;-)

George said...

I just played with my Cast News and I never got it to open with one spin. I think the pins are supposed to retract with the piece in one orientation, so opening the puzzle requires turning it over and spinning again to unlock the second piece. As designed, I think it takes 3 moves. My copy seems to be working perfectly!

Gabriel said...

It's probably related with how we rotate or spin the puzzle. The solution sheet is not very clear on how strong the rotation has to be though. That's why I mentioned the example of the coin, which needs quite a fast spinning.
Puzzle Regards ;-)

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