Escape From Alcatraz

Posted on Sep 26, 2013 by Gabriel | 0 comments
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(Click to Enlarge)
Robrecht Louage has accustomed us to his ingenious coin puzzle designs over the last few years, and this year's 33rd IPP Design Competition was no different. The latest addition to the family is the Escape From Alcatraz puzzle, a secret opening box with a hidden maze.

The design itself is one of the best from Robrecht. He used the back of a Belgium €1 coin, featuring King Albert II, and designed the puzzle around it, as if to imprison the King behind bars. Your task is to navigate the hidden maze and free the King from Alcatraz. The puzzle is made from fiberboard and is a bit smaller than its predecessors, measuring 9cm x 7.5cm (3.5" x 3").

(Click to Enlarge) - The Escape Begins
The concept can be compared to Rebrecht's Remove the Yolk, which featured a hidden maze as well, but even if you know all its steps by heart it won't be of much help for you to Escape From Alcatraz. The main reason is obvious, the two internal mazes are completely different. But how different, you ask? - It's hard to say, really. The only way you know they're different is by the moves you do with each other. From my experience with the two puzzles, I'd say the Yolk puzzle is a little harder than the Alcatraz, probably because the maze has a few more moves to free the coin, or just because I got better since then.

Looking at the description of the puzzle at IPP's website I discovered that one of the materials used, besides fiberboard and steel balls, is a magnet. I only knew about this after I had solved it, so I was a bit surprised, because I would've never figure out a magnet was present. Maybe that explains why it's so tricky to navigate the maze, since you never know exactly where the steel balls - or just ball - are. The magnet may be preventing the balls from moving freely.

(Click to Enlarge) - Escape Imminent
The first time I tried to Escape From Alcatraz it took me about 15 minutes. The platform that holds the coin has about 5 steps. In other words, it will slide off the frame in 5 different stages, with the coin being closer to the exit point with every step - An alternative name could be "5 Steps Invisible Lock". Strangely, it took me much less time to get the coin back at the starting position - about a minute or two. I was expecting it to be equally challenging, but I was glad it didn't. After several successful solves I can now solve it in just a few seconds. I think I pretty much learned all the basic moves, but I'm still not certain what exactly is going on inside that mechanism. I think it's just part of the fun in solving it.

(Click to Enlarge) - Escape Successful
Closing Comments:

Escape From Alcatraz is yet another brilliant puzzle from Robrecht Louage. It may not have won an award at this year's IPP, but the design alone is deserving of recognition. The best part about it is that it keeps you guessing and analyzing it in further detail. It may be a while before you can figure out its mechanism completely. I can't wait to find out what Robrecht has in store for us next year.

Availability: To order a copy of Escape From Alcatraz, you can contact Robrecht directly.


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