Get My Goat

Posted on by Gabriel | 7 comments
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(Click to Enlarge)

Puzzle Crafthouse has been responsible for bringing new life to some nice classic puzzles, that otherwise would've been very difficult to obtain. Get My Goat, which dates back from 1914 and designed by J. I. Wiley, is one of such examples.

This classic design is a Slide Puzzle with a very original theme. By sliding the pieces, the goal is to get the goat block inside the octagon cage (at the center), without disturbing the correct orientation of the blocks.

The puzzle is very well done, all built in hardwood with its own base and cover, and the patterns of the blocks are deeply laser engraved. The cover is also engraved with the starting position, in order to get the puzzle ready for solving it.

(Click to Enlarge) - Cover

Not counting with the piece that's supposed to be removed to play, there are 10 blocks in the puzzle, with one of them having a 2-piece length (it's the one where it reads "USA patent 1914"), which will block some of the movements. Because of its size and having only one free space to move, the large piece can only move in the upper row, back and forth.

If you've seen many slide puzzles, you'll notice that this one is a little different, with an area of 4x3 units. Usually, most puzzles have an area of 3x3 or 4x4 (like the 15 puzzle). With the 2-piece block, the strategy to solve this puzzle will also have to be different.

It takes a minimum of 28 steps to solve it, although it's very difficult to achieve that goal (John Rausch has an online Java version of this on his website, by Nick Baxter). My objective, though,  was just to get the goat where it was supposed to be, and that was a hard challenge on its own. After many tries, I think I have solved it, but here's the catch: (Spoiler Ahead) - If you look closely, the top left piece of the cage is identical to the bottom right piece. Both have a pattern of forward lines. When I solved the puzzle, I noticed that these two pieces exchanged places, because even though they have identical patterns, one is slightly darker toned than the other.

(Click to Enlarge) - Left: Starting Position; Right: Solved Position

After having noticed that unusual feature on the puzzle, I think that it has indeed, a very clever solution.

Closing Comments:

Although I'm still not certain if I actually solved it (I am certain now, after reading the first two comments left by Coaster1235 and George - Thanks), the Get My Goat puzzle is a very nice example of a different take on a classic and simple concept. I recommend it to anyone interested in Slide Puzzles.

You can get your own copy at Puzzle Crafthouse for $20 USD. If you can afford it, there's an original from 1914 for $95 USD here.



Coaster1235 said...

As you can't only swap two pieces (as far as I know), but have to swap two others aswell, you've solved it correctly :D Took me 56 moves... though only about 1 minute :D

George said...

It sounds similar to the 15-puzzle. If the difference between the starting and solved states is an odd permulation, then the puzzle is unsolvable, UNLESS it is also possible to swap two identical pieces. This swap of identical pieces turns the solved state into an even permutation. Thus, it will be impossible to solve this puzzle without the identical piece swap.

Aren't the upper right and lower left pieces also identical?

Gabriel said...

Thanks Coaster1235 and George for your comments and your help. I knew this puzzle had a fancy trick :P
@George - The upper right piece is that piece that I mentioned that has a length of 2 pieces. It's glued to the right most piece. You can see this in the online Java version that I linked in the review.
Puzzle Regards

George said...

I did it in 30 steps using the online Java version!

Gabriel said...

Wow, that's awesome! I don't think I can get close to that:P
George, you're just two steps away from a perfect score :D

George said...

Actually, I don't think it is so hard to do it so fast. I just concentrated on exchanging the two pieces I know have to be exchanged, and didn't move the goat! Then I moved the goat at the end.

Gabriel said...

Nice strategy ;-)
Haven't thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense.

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