Philos, a German puzzle manufacturer, has a very interesting series of original wooden sliding puzzles designed by the Japanese Hirokazu Iwasawa, the Jam Puzzles. I chose to review the easier of the four, the Triangular Jam Puzzle.
What I like about Philos’ puzzles is that they’re very high quality. The tray and the pieces are very well built and polished for a clean and smooth surface. This particular one is made from Beech wood, tray and the three lighter pieces, and the darker triangle is made from Cassia Siamea wood. The dimensions of the tray are about 15cm square (5.8″), so it’s very easy to handle the pieces.
The goal of the puzzle is very simple: you have four triangles inside the tray, three light and one dark (the dark one is also thinner), and the object is to only slide the pieces in order to free the darker triangle, through an opening at the bottom edge of the tray – No piece is to be raised or resting on another one. You are given a standard starting position to solve, but you can try other arrangements as well.
As I said above, this is the easier of the four Jam Puzzles, rated as a level 7/10 by PuzzleMaster. There’s one rated as a 8/10 and two as a 9/10. At first, when you start to move the triangles, they jam quite easily against each other (hence the name “Jam”) and you’ll struggle a bit to find a way through. Here, the quality of the puzzle really shows: because they are very well polished, their edges allow them to slide very easily, so most of the time, you just have to keep rotating them around the tray – in the case of the standard challenge, counter-clockwise – until you can slide your dark triangle through the slot.
When I say you have to rotate the triangles around, it’s not as easy as it sounds. It has more to it than a simple move. The trick here is to always try and make room for the next triangle to slide over. Note that the tray is not large enough to have two triangles with their bases side-by-side. After a few minutes of fiddling around with the pieces, the dark triangle was finally free. When you solve this challenge, however, the fun doesn’t have to be over. You can try other challenges as well with different starting positions. Below, you can see in the photos a couple of examples. I have tested them and they’re all solvable.
The Jam Puzzle – Triangular was a really nice puzzle to play with. It’s not particularly challenging, but still fun and enjoyable. Trying other challenges with different starting positions is a great way to keep playing with it. Now, after solving this one, I look forward to try the harder versions. Really worth a try.
Availability: You can get a copy of the Jam Puzzle – Triangular at PuzzleMaster for about $19 CAD. For your reference, you can also take a look at the Triangular Jams: the Hexangular; the Pentangular and the Rectangular.