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November 30, 2014

Holiday Discount Puzzle 2014

Fifth Annual Holiday Discount Puzzle

Solve this puzzle for 10% off any order!

December is here once again, and that can mean only one thing: it's time again for the Pavel's Puzzles annual Holiday Discount Puzzle! Solve this puzzle and submit the answer along with any order for the rest of 2014 and you'll receive a 10% discount on your order. Even better, you can use your discount over and over again, on as many orders as you like before the year's end!

This year, the discount puzzle is a classic word search, reimagined through the lens of Pavel's twisted mind. Your first step is to assemble the word-search grid from the eight pieces you'll find by clicking on the image at the right. All of the details are given in the linked PDF file. Good luck!

Once you’ve found the discount code, make any order at http://www.pavelspuzzles.com and enter the code in the “instructions to merchant” space at PayPal. When we get the order, we’ll issue you a refund for 10% of your order amount (excluding tax and shipping). And remember: you get that same discount for every order you make through the end of 2014!

To sweeten the discount deal and further whet your puzzling appetite, let's take a look at five new puzzles added to Pavel's Puzzles this year.


In the “12th Piece” Puzzle, you fit twelve blue pieces and twelve white pieces into the tray to recreate the iconic emblem of Seattle football fandom. Are you loud enough to solve this puzzle and cheer on the pride of the Northwest?

From the mind of Singaporean designer Goh Pit Khiam comes Dancing Shoes, winner of the prestigious Puzzler's Award at the 2013 International Puzzle Design Competition. This delightful and elegant creation truly lives up to its name. Can you manipulate the four shoes and one cross to fit them all into this partially covered frame?

It's been nine long years since Pavel produced his infamously deceptive “Sleazier” puzzle, but the idea for a worthy successor to that challenge finally came to him in a dream. When you take on the Eccentric's Dream, though, you may discover that his dream is your nightmare!

This is what happens when Pavel takes on the classic “edge-matching” puzzle form: he's created Pair-Shaped, a new multi-level solving experience, ending with a satisfying one-word answer. Can you escape harm while playing with matches?

Oh, what a tangle Pavel did weave, when first he practiced to deceive! Weaving together the 20 strips that make up X Games only begins the games you'll play as you wend your way through to the one-word final answer in this multi-level solving experience!

Naturally, all of our many earlier puzzle designs are still available as well. The Pavel's Puzzles holiday discount puzzle is a perfect way to satisfy (or frustrate) that puzzling person on your gift list (or perhaps yourself!) while saving a little cash at the same time.

Happy holidays, from Pavel's Puzzles!

November 27, 2013

Holiday Discount Puzzle 2013

Fourth Annual Holiday Discount Puzzle

Solve this puzzle for 10% off any order!

It's that time of year again, time for the Pavel's Puzzles annual Holiday Discount Puzzle! As in past years, I've created a brand-new multi-stage puzzle that leads to a one-word solution. That solution word is a special discount code that you can use when making an order from Pavel's Puzzles to receive a 10% discount on any number of puzzles. Even better, once you have the discount code, you can use it over and over again, on as many orders as you like, between now and the end of 2013!

Do you have what it takes to solve the discount puzzle? (Indeed, what does it take? Well, never mind that...)

To get started discovering the 2013 holiday discount code, carefully cut out the nine square pieces linked to by the image below and arrange them, without overlapping, within the frame on the second page of that PDF file. Exactly how you should arrange them, and what you should do after that are for you to determine. I know you’ll enjoy working that out...

Once you’ve found the code, make any order at http://www.pavelspuzzles.com and enter the code in the “instructions to merchant” space at PayPal. When I get the order, I’ll issue you a refund for 10% of your order amount (excluding tax and shipping). And remember: you get that same discount for every order you make through the end of 2013!

We have one more holiday tradition here at Pavel's Puzzles: to sweeten the discount deal, I've recently added a whole slew of new products to the website! It's been a particularly productive year here, with no fewer than thirteen new puzzles for you to peruse and be perplexed by!

First up are a trio of classic puzzle designs, now available in new editions from Pavel's Puzzles.

The Buttonhole Puzzle is truly one of the greatest designs of all time: it's just a stick and some string, but I'll bet it gives you fits to take it off once it's attached! By far my most popular design, I've already sold hundreds of copies of this devilish delight since introducing it at the farmer's market this summer.

The classic dissection puzzle ‘T’ Party has been stumping people for many decades: can you assemble the four simple pieces into a perfect block letter ‘T’? Preying on a psychological ‘blind spot’, you'll swear this puzzle can't be solved, just before it finally clicks together for you!

Finally, The Four T's Puzzle is a deceptively simple and very elegant 2D packing puzzle: it's easy to fit all four pieces into the one-star tray, but that two-star tray is another matter entirely!

Did you notice that the Four T's Puzzle above is packaged in a CD ‘jewel case’? You can't tell from the picture, but so is ‘T’ Party, and we also have new CD jewel-case editions of three of our best-selling earlier designs! These convenient and economical editions are ideal for travel, for family fun nights, and (dare I say it) for stocking stuffers! Be sure to check out these new versions of Square Dance, Easy Eight / Hard Eight and Sleazier.

This year, I expanded into the category of sequential-movement puzzles with Marble March, a classic, tricky marble-jumping puzzle, and Marble March 2, my own original (and surprisingly more difficult) variant of that design. These handsome, solid puzzles will look great on any desk or coffee table, and your guests won't be able to resist trying “just one more time” to solve them.

I also broke into the category of disentanglement puzzles this summer. In addition to the Buttonhole puzzle above, I've added five other such designs, all made from shiny brass chain and PVC plumbing parts!

Star-Crossed is my version of an old classic design, now with a romantic twist. These two young lovers (represented here by the two smallest parts) have been cruelly separated, each on their own loop of chain. Can you reunite the lovers, bringing them together onto the same loop?

Several years ago, German designer Bernhard Wiezorke produced his wonderfully nasty Hemispheres puzzle, and shortly thereafter American Gary Foshee created his variant design, Holey Bolt. Neither puzzle is widely available, though, and that's been a real shame, because it's a doozy!

Now, I've stepped into the breach with my own version, The Bickering Couple. You can think of it as a sequel to Star-Crossed, a little bit later in the lovers' relationship. Now, the couple have had a falling out, turning their backs on one another. Your job, of course, is to reconcile these troubled lovers, getting them back face-to-face. (What they do after that is none of our concern, ...)

Rounding out the new disentanglement puzzles are a set of three versions of The Plumber's Candelabrum. This puzzle comes in three-, four-, and five-stick variants, with the difficulty going up exponentially with the size. Your goal is to completely remove the rubber O-ring from the candelabrum, somehow moving it along from chain to chain.

Naturally, all of our earlier puzzle designs are still available as well. My holiday discount puzzle is a perfect way to satisfy (or frustrate) that puzzling person on your gift list (or perhaps yourself!) while saving a little cash at the same time.

Happy holidays, from Pavel's Puzzles!

November 25, 2012

Holiday Discount Puzzle 2012

A Holiday Discount Puzzle

Solve this puzzle for 10% off any order!

Well, this is the third year in a row for the Holiday Discount Puzzle, so I guess now it's officially an Annual Tradition around here!

For those of you just joining us this year, in honor of the holiday season, I've created a puzzle that you can solve to earn a discount on any order here at Pavel's Puzzles. To get started discovering the 2012 holiday discount code, cut out the eight squarish pieces linked to by the image below. Arrange them in the eight positions in the diagram also shown there, without overlapping, such that some of the heavy black lines form a complete diamond shape; some other lines will stick out in various places. The letters on the pieces must remain right-side up.

There is only one solution to this challenge. Once you’ve found it, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble at all figuring out the holiday discount code. To use it, make any order at http://www.pavelspuzzles.com and enter the code in the “instructions to merchant” space at PayPal. When I get the order, I’ll issue you a refund for 10% of your order amount (excluding tax and shipping). Even better, you get that same discount for every order you make before the end of 2012!

Continuing to follow tradition, I've just released a whole bunch of new puzzles on the website for your holiday shopping excitement:

Any good mason knows: when laying bricks, you don't want the cracks in one row to line up with those in other rows. Can you satisfy The Bricklayer's Challenge, or will you end up banging your head against this wall? Mathematician and writer Barry Cipra showed off a huge wooden version of this at the Gathering for Gardner last Spring, and now I've brought a more portable, and more colorful, version to the website!

At first, Trail and Error seems to be just a little jigsaw puzzle, and it is, but it's a tricky one, and that's just the beginning of the solving experience! My 10½-year-old nephew handily solved his version of this one; can you do as well with yours? This puzzle is especially great for that jigsaw fan on your list that you'd like to push just a little ways off their well-worn trail.

What if you left some beer bottles out in the sun too long, and they melted and slumped all over each other? And what if you could take that pile apart and put it together again? Each Dali Bottles puzzle sculpture is custom-made for you from real beer bottles by Oregon glass artisan Sarah Gage-Hunt. It will baffle and intrigue your guests for a long time to come!

I've discovered that I really enjoy creating custom-designed jigsaw puzzles, and now I'm officially bringing that offering to Pavel's Puzzles! I'll use your photograph or other design and I'll work with you to incorporate a set of 'special' representational pieces to make your puzzle a one-of-a-kind delight for the intended recipient!

Of course, I still offer all of my earlier designs, too. My holiday discount puzzle is a perfect way to satisfy (or frustrate) that puzzling person on your gift list while saving a little cash at the same time. Just imagine the look on their face when they find one of these puzzles in their stocking!

November 20, 2012

Trail and Error

One great thing about being an uncle, as opposed to a parent, is that you have a societally acknowledged right to spoil your nieces and nephews. Personally, I take that right a step further: I believe that it is my obligation to fill in any holes I see in the rearing environment provided by my sister and her spouse for their children. Specifically, I see it as my role to corrup—I mean, indoctrinate—my niece and nephew into the world of puzzles.

(Admit it: you're surprised, aren't you? No? Oh, well, never mind that then.)

I think I started in on my nephew when he was only eight or nine years old, making a couple of small pencil-and-paper puzzles for his birthday that led to some kind of a silly metapuzzle answer. For his tenth birthday, I stepped it up a bit to a sequence of four puzzles, each unlocking the next, leading to him finding his real present, hidden somewhere around his house. He's 11½ as I type this, and I'm already planning something even more involved for his twelfth...

I tell you all of this because my nephew was the original inspiration for this puzzle. For his Christmas present last year, I wanted to try my hand at creating a jigsaw puzzle. Of course, I couldn't just leave it at that, could I? No, I had to make it one of my multi-stage puzzles: after he'd solved the jigsaw, there would be a new puzzle revealed, and that would lead to yet another puzzle, until he finally got a satisfying answer. The version I made for him led to a final message that was very silly indeed, and very specific to him; it was his present, after all.

After Christmas, though, I got to thinking that the main ideas in his puzzle were good enough that I should really use them again in a puzzle for the website. Some months later, I finally got around to creating the puzzle you see here, and testing has shown that it works pretty well. It's a real jigsaw puzzle, and not a trivial one, but also not a huge one; it's only 64 pieces, but take my word for it: it'll still keep you busy for a little while. And, of course, that's just the beginning of the solving experience! I won't even tell you how many layers of additional puzzle there are after assembling the jigsaw; not only would it spoil some of the surprise, but it's actually a little tricky to count them!

(By the way, the puzzle's name isn't a typo; believe me, you'll understand why by the time you finish this one...)

So the question comes down to this: my 10½-year-old nephew handily solved his version of this puzzle; can you do as well with yours?

November 26, 2011

Holiday Discount Puzzle 2011

A Holiday Discount Puzzle

Solve this puzzle for 10% off any order!

I had so much fun with last year's holiday-discount-puzzle promotion that I've decided to do it again! Who knows, maybe it'll turn into an annual tradition around here...

Just like last year, in honor of the holiday season, I've created a puzzle that you can solve to earn a discount on any order here at Pavel's Puzzles. Simply cut out the fourteen strips linked to by the image below, cutting along the heavy lines. Then weave them together into a square with seven strips placed horizontally and seven placed vertically, such that you can see all of the letters. (Ignore the orientations of the letters. I've scrambled them to avoid giving you too much information. Heh.) Finally, read out the message to learn the secret discount code!

Once you know the answer, make any order at Pavel's Puzzles and type the answer into the "Instructions to Seller" space on the PayPal checkout form. When I get the order, I'll issue you a refund for 10% of the cost of your order! (Sales tax and/or shipping excluded.) Even better, you can get the same discount on as many orders as you like between now and the end of this year!

To further spur you into action, I've just released three new puzzle designs:

Edgewise is just a simple little jigsaw puzzle, isn't it? With only a couple dozen pieces or so, how difficult could it be? This was my Exchange puzzle at the International Puzzle Party in Berlin this summer, and it's the latest in my series of multi-stage solving experiences, sure to keep your mind occupied for a little while.

World-renowned computer scientist Donald Knuth conceived of this puzzle a few years ago and I've designed this elegant physical realization of his five progressively more difficult challenges: can you fit the pieces into the tray such that the Tromino Trails form a single continuous loop? Each challenge has a unique solution and helps ‘train’ you to be ready to take on the next one.

This big, icy beauty is perfect for those coming winter nights in front of a fire. Icicle Jam was inspired by the startlingly blue ice of Alaskan glaciers and once you've assembled it you'll have a display piece that will be a striking addition to any room. Of course, first you'll have to survive its jagged interlocking challenge. Dress in layers, and make sure someone knows where you've gone!

Of course, I still offer all of my earlier designs, too. My holiday discount puzzle is a perfect way to satisfy (or frustrate) that puzzling person on your gift list while saving a little cash at the same time. Just imagine the look on their face when they find one of these puzzles in their stocking!

November 25, 2011

Edgewise

A couple of years ago, I was privileged to be commissioned to produce a unique, custom puzzle for the 2009 Science Foo Camp, a eclectic annual gathering of scientists sponsored by the journal Nature, by Google, and by O'Reilly Media. I ended up producing 300 copies of a special version of my then-new puzzle Anansi's Maze, which they then handed out to all of the attendees that summer. I was also invited to attend the event myself, which was truly wonderful, and they asked me back again the next summer. At the event in 2010, I started discussing with the organizers the possibility of my producing another puzzle for them for the 2011 gathering, this time a puzzle that had been designed from the beginning specifically with that event in mind.

I spent some time brainstorming puzzle themes with Kay Thaney from Nature, and we hit upon what I thought was a great inspiration. Tim O'Reilly, the founder of O'Reilly Media and one of the organizers of the event, has a favorite saying that he brings up at the introductory session of each Foo Camp:

“All of the most interesting stuff happens at the edges.”

When Tim says this, he's referring to the edges between intellectual disciplines, and how Foo Camp is designed to bring together people from different areas and enable a kind of creative friction as the areas butt up against one another.

When we brought up the saying in our puzzle-theme brainstorming, however, it immediately took on an entirely different meaning for me, and my mind began chewing over all sorts of ideas for embodying that meaning in a puzzle design. Edgewise is the result of that chewing. (Hm. That sounded better in my head than it reads here. Oh, well...)

Edgewise consists of about two dozen jigsaw-puzzle pieces, most with large letters etched on them, and some with additional words of potential significance. As this is the latest in my series of multi-stage puzzles, I won't say anything more about the solving experience here, but I can tell you that it should keep you happily busy for a little while as you make your way through it.

In the end, ironically, Edgewise did not wind up being used as a Science Foo Camp gift, but I remain grateful to Tim and Kay for providing the inspiration for this puzzle. We did use it in this summer's Microsoft Intern Puzzleday event, and I also used it for my Exchange puzzle at the International Puzzle Party in Berlin, so I think it's getting the kind of exposure it deserves, particularly because now it's available here on the website for you to try out for yourself!

November 23, 2010

Holiday Discount Puzzle 2010

A Holiday Discount Puzzle

Solve this puzzle for 10% off any order!

In honor of the holiday season, I've created a puzzle that you can solve to earn a discount on any order here at Pavel's Puzzles. Simply cut out the pieces below and assemble them into the shape shown; then find the clues to the one-word final answer. (Ignore any words shorter than four letters.) The final answer is just three letters long (or five, depending on which form you prefer).

Once you know the answer, make any order here and type the answer into the "Instructions to Seller" space on the PayPal checkout form. When I get the order, I'll issue you a refund for 10% of the cost of your order! (Sales tax and/or shipping excluded.) Even better, you can get the same discount on as many orders as you like between now and the end of this year!

To further entice you, I've just released two new puzzle designs:

This puzzle is shaped like a magnifying glass, but the glass has been broken! Reassemble the glass in two different ways to reveal clues to a mystery! "Get a Clue!" was my Exchange puzzle at this summer's International Puzzle Party in Japan, and I've finally finished the minor revisions I wanted to make before releasing it on the website.

Easy Eight / Hard Eight is a lovely little tray puzzle designed by my friend Bob Hearn: just pack the letters of the word "EIGHT" into each side of the tray. The "easy" side isn't too tricky, but the "hard" side will keep you busy for a while...

These two join two more new designs I released late this summer:

In Derrick Schneider's Square Dance puzzle, there are just four simple-seeming pieces to fit into each side of the tray, but they're much trickier to get your head around than you'd think, and there's only one solution per side! This award-winning puzzle design is available again for the first time in many years!

The Calibron 12-Block Puzzle was originally copyrighted in 1932 by the son of Thomas Edison; it has been unavailable for over half a century. Can you assemble the 12 blocks into a single, solid rectangle? Just how easy a puzzle do you think an Edison would design?

Of course, I still offer all of my earlier designs, too; it's a perfect way to satisfy (or frustrate) that puzzling person on your gift list. Just imagine the look on their face when they find one of these puzzles in their stocking!

August 05, 2009

Anansi's Maze

As I write this, I'm helping to host the first Microsoft Non-Intern Puzzleday, a re-run of the puzzles from this year's regular Intern Puzzleday, just to give the actual Microsoft employees a whack at them. I'm sitting outside a room in which I've set up six "solving stations" for the multi-stage mechanical puzzle I contributed this year, Anansi's Maze. (The Intern Puzzleday actually has a budget, so I could afford to give each team a copy of the puzzle; for the non-interns, they have to timeshare.)

This year, I wanted to play with transparency, as you could probably guess from the picture. I started out with a much more complex puzzle idea, but whittled it down, stage by stage, to get something that was a more appropriate level of difficulty and that hung together more completely. The result, I think, is my best multi-stage puzzle yet, so I decided to also use it for my 2009 Exchange puzzle at the International Puzzle Party in San Francisco.

Anansi the Spider is the trickster spirit of Caribbean and Western African myth and legend, known for his creative mischief making. This puzzle will tease you with its ambiguities and lead you on a merry chase to find its hidden meaning.

Here is a maze, Anansi tells us, but there are no walls, no paths to follow, let alone any dead ends or cycles. Our treasured ‘right-hand rule’ is useless in these uncharted territories.

Anansi’s Maze is a multi-stage solving experience: finding the solution to one stage leads to a new puzzle, and that one to another! Where does this pathless path lead? Can you see through all of Anansi’s tricks and find the answer he’s left for you at the end of your journey?

Gamesters of Triskelion

My orignal plan, when designing the Octamaze puzzle, was that it would serve double duty, being both my gift to everyone at Gathering for Gardner 8 and something to torture the interns with at the 2008 Microsoft Intern Puzzleday. Sadly, though, it became quite clear during initial playtesting that Octamaze would be too difficult for the intern event. (I was willing to make the mathematicians, puzzlers, and magicians at G4G8 work harder...)

Still, I thought I could at least reuse the primary mechanical idea of Octamaze, and so I started from there when designing the Gamesters of Triskelion puzzle; I did, though, make that part a bit easier. The 2008 Puzzleday theme, for those of you who didn't recognize it immediately from the title, was Space, including many science-fiction references. I was put in mind of the Gamesters of Triskelion episode from the original Star Trek series by the triangular shape of the pieces from Octamaze, and somehow it occurred to me to check whether or not "triskelion" was actually a normal English word. As it happens, it is: a triskelion is a (sometimes quite literally) three-legged motif from heraldry and graphic design. I particularly liked some of the more modern interpretations of the motif, so I incorporated one into the etching on the pieces.

Gamesters of Triskelion is the third in my series of multi-stage puzzles, where solving one stage of the puzzle creates another puzzle for you to solve, on through some number of stages until you reach a single-word or short-phrase final answer. I'm having a lot of fun designing such puzzles, so you can expect the series to continue for quite a while.

Unlike most of my puzzles, this one comes with some "flavor text", not essential to solving the puzzle, but perhaps helpful:


Captain's log, stardate 3211.9: We are leaving starsystem M-24 Alpha, having convinced the three disembodied Providers, the one-time Gamesters of Triskelion, to help their former gladiators to form a new, free civilization. This should end the deadly gambling in their obsessively triangular fighting arena.

As we left orbit, the Providers transported a small octahedron onto the bridge, along with an engraved tablet (three sided, of course) in what appears to be their language. During transport, the faces of the octahedron detached from one another, so now we have eight triangular pieces.

Spock believes it will be straightforward to reassemble them since, he says, they can only fit together in one way. He is more puzzled about the meaning of the etchings on the faces, and how they might relate to the tablet, but assumes that this will become clear once the octahedron is back together.

May 04, 2008

Octamaze

Back in 1994, some folks decided it would be a cool idea to give a special 80th birthday present to Martin Gardner, long-time author of the very popular and significant Mathematical Games column in Scientific American magazine, as well as many books of mathematical puzzles and articles.

What better way to mark the occasion, they thought, than to bring together a lot of people who had enjoyed, and been influenced by, Martin's work? So they invited a bunch of people from the fields nearest to Martin's heart, from mathematics, puzzling, and stage magic, to come to Atlanta for the "Gathering for Gardner": several days of talks, performances, and exhibitions in celebration of Martin's 80th birthday. That first Gathering was such a huge success that the organizers decided to keep doing it and, every two years since then, there's been a Gathering.

I've known about the Gathering for some time now, through contacts at the International Puzzle Party, but I was pleased to be invited for the first time this year, for "Gathering for Gardner 8", or "G4G8". Similar to the Puzzle Exchange every year at IPP, the organizers of the Gathering ask that everyone provide a gift of some sort for all of the other participants. Many people fulfill this obligation by giving a talk and writing up a short article for the conference proceedings book, but many others bring puzzles, magic tricks, or other entertaining objects.

You know, of course, what I did, right?

Every Gathering for Gardner has a theme; I think you may be able to guess what all of the previous themes were when I tell you that this year's was "8, or the crazy lazy 8 (infinity)". I wanted to bring a new puzzle design that would strongly incorporate the theme, of course, but I also wanted to continue down the path I'd forged with my Ooo Tray puzzle last year. I wanted to design another multi-stage puzzle, with each solving stage revealing clues to the next stage, culminating in a "final answer" that was somehow satisfying.

I'd been idly thinking about three-dimensional edge-matching puzzles for a while (What? Don't try to tell me you don't think about such things, too.), and I'd wondered if it would work to make a polyhedron where the sides fit together with tabs and slots. With a theme like "8", this was a perfect (some might say Platonic) opportunity!

A little software work and many design iterations later, Octamaze was born. There are at least four stages in solving this puzzle, providing a good hour or two of "play time". If you buy a copy of Octamaze and get stuck, I've created a sequence of web pages giving a progression of hints for solving it. (Don't worry: clicking on that link won't immediately reveal any spoilers. If you keep clicking on the links at the bottom of each page, though, you'll eventually see all of Octamaze's secrets, so be careful.)

August 17, 2007

The Ooo Tray

Every year, a group of volunteers puts on a one-day puzzle event for Microsoft's summer interns here on the Redmond campus called Intern Puzzleday. It's kind of a scaled-down version of the more well-known (and ambitious) Microsoft Puzzlehunt events. Although Puzzlehunt traditionally begins at about 10am on Saturday and continues straight through to dinner time on Sunday, Intern Puzzleday is a kinder, gentler one-day affair, almost exactly 24 hours shorter than Puzzlehunt.

This year, I had the great fun of joining the team of volunteers putting on Puzzleday 2007, and I designed or co-designed five different puzzles for the event, three of which we finally used on the day itself. Perhaps I'll write a fuller description of the event later, but for now I'll just show one of the puzzles I designed for it.

Traditionally, Puzzlehunt and Puzzleday puzzles are designed to have a short, one- or two-word answer that solvers can type into email or a web page to prove that they've finished. All of those answers are later used in one or more layers of "meta-puzzles" leading eventually to a final "hunt" somewhere on campus for an artifact specific to that hunt's theme.

I wanted to find some way to incorporate a mechanical puzzle into this domain that's typically dominated by paper-and-pencil or on-site-event puzzles. To do so, I started with the tray and piece design from my "Perkinson Guest Bathroom Tile" puzzle and laser-engraved some additional information on both. The result is, I think, something new in the world of mechanical puzzles: a puzzle with an answer, not just a solution. In this case, the answer is just four letters long, and finding it takes you through a multi-layer solving experience; guidance for the first layer is etched right onto the tray ("Place all twelve pieces flat in the tray"), and solving each layer reveals more guidance on how to attack the next one. There are a total of three or four layers to this seemingly simple puzzle, depending on how you count. During Puzzleday, the Ooo Tray was solved by all 28 teams of interns, and it was the first puzzle that many teams worked on.

Update:
I'm now making this puzzle in beautiful natural cherry! I've also tightened up the design slightly from the original to give the puzzle a somewhat nicer look and an even more satisfying ending.


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