When you think about iconic items in society today, the crack of a Judges Gavel has to be up there. So when Michail Toulouzas took that iconic item and made it into a puzzle, there was little doubt that it would be special. And at IPP 31 in Berlin, the Judges Gavel won First Place.
Mike recently offered a number of these puzzles for sale and with an award winning puzzle, how could I possibly pass up the opportunity to add one to my collection, so without any thought I clicked 'buy' on the Puzzle Paradise auction! Update: Since posting the review, the last of the gavels on paradise has gone.
The goal of the puzzle is to remove the Mexican Ebony ring from the handle of the gavel. Sounds simple enough. So before you ask, no it doesn't come off over the handle. The inner diameter of the ring is too small to allow it to do that, and clearly it's not going to come off over the hammer end!
Measuring 4.25" x 1.25" x 9" for the hammer, this version is slightly larger than the IPP entry. Made from a stunning combination of Mahogany, Lignum Vitae and Mexican Ebony, the Puzzle looks stunning. Mike tried to keep the choice of woods dark, rich and full, not fancy, and I'd agree with most of that. The woods certainly are dark and rich, but the Lignum Vitae on the handle and base have such depth and character, that I can't classify them as anything other than fancy. When you turn the puzzle over in your hands, the light reflects off the wood with an almost magical property... and I love it! The whole puzzle has a warm feel to it; it exudes quality and has a feeling of something expensive and high quality.
Ed: Now returning to your regularly scheduled review ...
Ok, so I like the look and feel of the puzzle. You get that!
Sadly I wasn't in Berlin for the IPP, however those who were (Brian I'm thinking about you) recall that you could tell when someone was working on it thanks to the crack of the gavel hitting the block.
Since Brian had already commented in his review that there was more to the puzzle than just hitting the gavel, I was really looking forward to trying this one out myself. Like Brian I wasn't disappointed. The puzzle is a piece of master craftsmanship, and there are subtle details that you'll need to understand to be able to solve it.
It's a clever puzzle, and needs (by my count) 5 steps to solve it and remove the ring. Some of those are fairly obvious, but others are well hidden and really need you to think about what's going on. The beauty is that this is a solid puzzle, and designed to be used in the way the object it mirrors would be. So giving it a good whack is both part of the solution, and incredibly satisfying as well.
On the base of the wooden block, in possibly some of the neatest handwriting I have seen in a long time is Mike's signature and a few details about the puzzle including the number in the run and the date it was made.
There is one last detail that Mike included with the puzzle, and that's the small leather round to sit on top of the base to help deaden the sound... but when it makes such a nice sound, why would you want to? Not to mention that it would cover up the beautiful grain that you can see below.
In summary, this is a great puzzle, and highly deserving of its first place prize. If you're quick, you should be able to add one to your collection, and in my opinion, you'd not be disappointed if you did!