Posted on by Gabriel | 5 comments
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Sometimes, the simpler things are the best and the most beautiful - That's exactly what I feel about Vesa Timonen's Symmetrick. Made with only two similar wooden pieces - Emphasis on similar, not identical - solving this puzzle will be anything but simple. The Symmetrick might be one of Vesa's greatest achievements in puzzle design, and already owning many of his incredible puzzles, that says a lot about this one.

The Symmetrick was Tomas Lindén's Exchange Puzzle at the 32nd IPP in Washington D.C., held in 2012. These two designers come from Finland and have collaborated in the past in what I consider one of the hardest puzzles I ever tried to solve, the Double Squared - Yes, I gave up on it and had to look up the solution.

The goal of the puzzle, like its design, it's as simple as it can be: You are asked to make a symmetric shape using the two pieces. The only rule you're told is that both pieces need to be flat on the table, not overlapping or using some kind of trick - It's that simple. Not like the Double Squared - Yes, I'm still pissed about that sneaky solution...

Now, I've had this puzzle probably for about a year - No, it didn't take me that long to solve it. The reason it took me so long to pick it up and try to solve it was exactly for the reasons stated above...that fiendish puzzle... I was just afraid it was going to take forever, again, to solve it like the other one. So, I was always delaying its review until I had the courage to tackle it and be done with it. That happened this week.

Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. At first, it was a bit difficult. The fact that both pieces have slightly different shapes is a little confusing, to say the least. My initial efforts were all unsuccessful as I merely joined the pieces at obvious spots. I knew the symmetrical shape would be something much more complex than a simple rectangle or trapezium or something. So, after 15 or 20 minutes I started with another strategy. This might contain minor spoilers: with the pieces joined at a given edge I'd started sliding the pieces slowly along that edge and see if I could spot any symmetrical shape or something closely resembling one. It took me probably another 5 or 10 minutes, but I finally discovered the solution. All I can say is that, you won't probably recognize it as a symmetrical shape right away, but don't dismiss it immediately. To my knowledge, only one line of symmetry is possible on the solution. Take some time to analyse the shapes you'll be creating and you'll eventually find it. I'm just glad it didn't take me forever.

Solution: This time, I won't publish here the solution, not even behind a button click. I believe you need to figure this one on your own and I don't want you to give up that easily. I will, however, send you a picture of the solution on request, but only if you can prove you're beyond frustrated...

Closing Comments:

Vesa's Symmetrick puzzle is superb, incredible and anything in between. It's definitely a hard puzzle, but not frustratingly hard. I know that some people will still find it frustrating. I know I was intimidated by it, and it's the designer's fault for designing some of the hardest puzzles around, but the Symmetrick is just not one of them. The solution is very elegant and I'm sure you'll love it as well.

Availability: You can get a copy of the Symmetrick puzzle at Sloyd for just €7.

Update: My puzzle friend Dimiter came up with a clever analysis for the Symmetrick puzzle and was able to solve it without resorting to simple trial and error. You can get a clue with the picture below left. Notice the lines marked denoting two different sized triangles. Dimiter also came up with a new puzzle, based on the same principle as the Symmetrick, but instead of using two pieces, you now have to make a symmetric shape with three pieces. See picture below on the right. Let me know in the comments or e-mail me if you can solve it.

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Kevin said...

This is one of my all time favourite puzzles! I have carried it with me everywhere for months now and tortured friends, colleagues and medical students with it! Very few have solved it and those that did took a very long time. It looks so simple and yet it is soooo difficult! Wonderful!


Gabriel said...

Indeed, Kevin. You need to be on the right mindset to recognize the symmetric shape, which is very subtle. Probably some people might be able to do it by accident but discard because they don't see it. It's really one of Vesa's best designs.

Assem Hachem said...

COuld you please inbox me the solution ??
Ty so much

Dimiter Vakarelov said...

Thanks, Gabriel, for including my analysis for SYMMETRICK. If someone wants the full text of the analysis you can send him privately. I am interested in the difficulty level of my New SYMMETRICK and a solution by a similar analysis.

Daniel Wyllie said...

Ex.3 by Hiroshi Yamamoto is better.

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