6 Bottles

Posted on Jul 16, 2014 by Gabriel | 7 comments
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Jean Claude Constantin is among a small group of elite designers that make the best n-ary puzzles currently in the market. Very popular among experienced puzzlers, n-ary puzzles are some of the hardest puzzles you can attempt to solve, especially if said puzzles require hundreds of steps to be solved.

Why are these puzzles so hard, you might be asking? Simple. You need lots of concentration, and that's very hard to do when we're talking hundreds of steps that need to be performed in a specific order. Lose your train of thought for a moment and you'll struggle to resume the solving process. Add that to the fact that most puzzles lack a simple way to be reset, and you're left with a hell of a challenge.

6 Bottles is my latest n-ary acquisition. The puzzle has a very original and interesting design. I haven't seen anything closely resembling it in the n-ary family. There are six identical bottle-shaped pieces that slide vertically and a bar that moves horizontally. The movement of the bar is restricted by the position of the steel balls that allow only one bottle at a time to move freely up and down. The bar itself has two slots, one deeper than the other, which also allow two bottles to be moved down at different lengths. The idea is to get five of the steel balls in the lower left slot of the five leftmost bottles, and the sixth ball in the special slot located at the far right. Once all the bottles can be pulled at the same length outside the frame, you'll be able to slide the bar all the way and remove it.

This puzzle belongs to the 3-ary, or ternary group. The number in the "ary" word refers to the states a puzzle has in its solving process. For example, the binary puzzles, which are the simplest - but not necessarily the easiest - have only two states (on-off). The difficulty, besides its n-ary group, is also given for the number of steps the solution has - the more steps, the more difficult it is.

Fortunately, the 6 Bottles puzzles is not that difficult because it doesn't have a large number of steps - still, 252 is challenging enough. The puzzle is rated as a level 9/10, but honestly, I don't believe it's that hard. It's an 8 at the most, and that's being generous.

Putting it back in its original state can prove to be equally challenging, if not more, since you'll have to perform all the steps backwards. This is why I'd love for this type of puzzles to have an easy way to be reset...

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Closing Comments:

6 Bottles can be a great puzzle to train for harder and demanding n-ary puzzles. It's not overly difficult, so you can easily understand how these puzzles work and know the logic behind them. As a Constantin fan, I can easily recommend this puzzle to anyone, collector or not.

Availability: The 6 Bottles puzzle can be purchased at PuzzleMaster for about $50 CAD. Click here to browse many more Constantin's interesting designs.


Tom Cutrofello said...

How does Constantin keep coming up with these great puzzles? Gabriel, you're giving me a preview of what I'm buying at IPP!

Gabriel said...

Thanks, Tom. Indeed, I don't know either how Constantin can constantly come up with all these great puzzles. Well, he's "Constant", but I also suspect he has a twin or something. He has to...

Anonymous said...

Hello Gabriel.

I just bought 6 Bottles because of your post.
6 Bottles is my first n-ary puzzle.
It was very fun, and glad to buy.

I am wanting another n-ary puzzle.
What would you recommend for a little harder?

I bought my 6 Bottles for $17 USD.
But I was very disappointed with the quality.
The version I have is distributed by Project Genius.
Project Genius version is called The Waiter's Tray, and Made in China.

I am going to look for the Made in Germany version.
I like the look of the wood more than the China.


Gabriel said...

Hi, thank you for your nice words.
PuzzleMaster usually has the German version on their website, so check back often.
Another great n-ary puzzle I can recommend is the Schloss 250: https://mypuzzlecollection.blogspot.com/2018/11/schloss-250.html

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Gabriel.
I enjoy reading your blog greatly.
I will try out Schloss 250 definitely.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Gabriel. I got and solved the similarly principled Steuerrad years ago, and only very recently got this one under its new name (The Waiter's Tray). You were right: it is a beautiful option to introduce others into 3-ary and n-ary puzzles in general. However, I'm very confused by now about the calculation of the solution length. Back in the days I calculted Steuerrad's length to be 127·4=508 (I can't recall how), but according to the Compendium it is 3·(2^8)=768. Apparantly I no longer understand how this worked, if I ever did; could you give us some insight on why this one's solution lenght is 4·((2^m)—1)=252? By all means, thanks you very much for your work with the blog; it inspired me dearly.

Gabriel said...

Hi, I don't know the mathematical formula for calculating the steps. The formula you mention might not be aplicable here.

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