Auf dem Holzweg

Posted on by Gabriel | 4 comments
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Looking at some of the puzzles made by the company Siebenstein-Spiele, I think I know why I find them so fascinating. They are very similar in concept and appearance to some of Jean Claude Constantin's puzzles. Acually, they also produce puzzles designed by Constantin, but the majority of them are designed by Jürgen Reiche. The puzzle Auf dem Holzweg is one of such puzzles that closely resembles one of Constantin's designs, but at the same time is quite different in its own way.

Auf dem Holzweg can be translated into English as "on the wrong track". It's a rather fitting name, as you'll find yourself backtracking quite a lot during your attempt at solving it. Related to Constantin's Kugellager, the goal is to remove the two pairs of boards by constantly moving the slider left and right, and pushing and pulling the boards up and down. Both Kugellager and Auf dem Holzweg are classified as n-ary puzzles, with the former being a 5-ary and the latter a 3-ary or ternary puzzle (read more info on n-ary puzzles here).

The design of the puzzle is very elegant, made by a combination of wood in the boards and acrylic on the frame, front and back. It measures 13 x 6.5cm (5.1 x 2.6"), so it's relatively small, but still very easy to manipulate.

The mechanism of the puzzle is very simple, but quite functional. At first glance, it appears as if the two pins move independently, when in fact a slider is connecting the pins and moves as one. By moving only in one direction at a time, you need to constantly plan what moves you need to make in order to advance, and sometimes that means taking three steps back to take one forward. Both pairs of boards have different mazes, and even each pair has two different boards, meaning you are manipulating four different mazes simultaneously.

I didn't find the puzzle too difficult, but only because I have solved a few of these n-ary puzzles before. It took me approximately 15 to 20 minutes to solve. I didn't count the moves it took, but they were much less than the Kugellager's 1250 moves. If you think that's too much, try the Kugellager 7 with its staggering 4802 moves. I didn't have the patience to put it back as it was yet, but I think I'm going to cheat and disassemble it. I prefer to solve them from their original state rather than the other way around.

Looking at the boards out of the frame, I wonder if it's possible to interchange the pairs of boards and if it would still be solvable. My guess is you can, but I'd have to test it to know for sure. Not entirely certain if you can mix all four of them that freely though.

(Click to Enlarge)
Closing Comments:

If you like n-ary puzzles, Auf dem Holzweg is a superb addition to your collection. If you plan to solve more complex puzzles like the Kugellager, this is a perfect candidate to practice. I will definitely keep my eye out for more puzzles from Siebenstein-Spiele.

Availability: Auf dem Holzweg is available from Sloyd.fi in Finland.


Anonymous said...

awesome blog!

Kevin said...

I have developed a bit of a "thing" for n-ary puzzles and it was this one that started it! I have bought a further 7 or 8 at least. Just 10 minutes ago I finished all 4802 moves of the Kugellager 7 - what an achievement! I'm not looking forward to reversing the process!


Gabriel said...

Wow, congratulations, Kevin! I thought about getting the Kugellager 7, but seeing the daunting task that awaits me, I'm still unsure. I need to get the Kugellager 1 first, then I'll see how that goes :P

Kevin said...

I think I enjoyed the Kugellager 7 more than the original! I found the ball bearings in the original kept sticking but the big one has the usual JCC rivets. It also has a really interesting pathway.

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