Cherries on a Stick by Dimiter Vakarelov

Posted on by Gabriel | 3 comments
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A few weeks ago I got in the mail a nice package with several string puzzles, all designed and made by my puzzle friend Dimiter Vakarelov. Dimiter is a mathematician, so coming up with all these different and interesting designs comes natural to him. As you can see from the image above, his designs are highly original and, of course, quite difficult. I'm going to describe in more detail one of the puzzles I already solved, the Cherries on a Stick.

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The design of the Cherries on a Stick is quite unusual, especially if you're used to the mass-produced string puzzles. Inspired by Kirill Grebnev's Attached Ring puzzle, Dimiter decided to use for this puzzle an actual wooden stick from natural wood. Only the wood bark was peeled off, leaving a beautiful natural color. The rest of the design is complemented with two bright red beads and a highly malleable string, which is actually quite useful in the solving process. The main piece - the one you're supposed to remove from the puzzle - is an odd-shaped metal ring that moves somewhat freely along the stick's length.

The goal of the puzzle is pretty straightforward. As I mentioned above, all you have to do is find a way to remove the metal ring from the stick. The "how", however, is anything but straightforward. Keep in mind that even though this was the first of the seven I've managed to solve, it doesn't mean it's easy. It just means it's easier than the others. In terms of difficulty, I'd say it's around a level 8/10.

So, how do you solve this thing? On one end, the stick stretches out in two opposite directions, making it physically impossible to remove the ring from that side. That means the ring has to come out from the bottom end of the stick. The only problem is that both Cherries prevent that from happening, since the string is too short to guide the ring all the way to the end. That's when a couple of tricks involving the string and the ring come in handy. The idea is to free one of the cherries from the ring, which in turn frees all the string's length enabling you to slide the metal ring out of the stick. It's not easy to discover this process, although with a lot of experimentation and persistence you'll start to see it from another perspective.

It took me a few hours to solve this puzzle and, on the first time I was able to remove the string I didn't have a clue how I got there. I managed to reset it after much trial and error, and after another dozen times solving it, I am now able to understand what's going on. I could still be solving it with an extra step or two, but I can do it fairly easy now, both the solving and the resetting parts.

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Closing Comments:

Dimiter's Cherries on a Stick is a brilliant puzzle. I've never seen anything even remotely similar in my six years of collecting. Both the design and presentation are flawless, and because it's handmade it has even more meaning for me.

Availability: Dimiter produces his puzzles in very small quantities, and in some cases he might need some time to make extra copies, but if you're interested in any of his designs drop me an e-mail and I'll send you his contact.


Dimiter Vakarelov said...

Thanks, Gabriel, for the so nice presentation of the puzzle.

Kevin said...

Oh wow!! Drool!!
Look at all those LOVELY disentanglement puzzles! You know how much I lurve this type of puzzle! Very very jealous indeed!


Gabriel said...

They're really gorgeous and unique. I'm sure Dimiter can make a few extra copies if you're interested ;-)

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