I have been interested in puzzles of all kinds since a youth, over 60 years ago. I have hundreds of puzzles and over 600 books of puzzles and Mathematical Recreations. I just obtained The Big, Big, Big Book of Brainteasers a couple of weeks ago, and even though I haven’t done all the puzzles–yet; I have no hesitation in saying that it is one of the best I’ve ever seen.
What makes a puzzle book stand out above the plethora of those that have been published is that it should have a wide variety of puzzles, and there should be puzzles of varying difficulty, so that it entertains and challenges those who are novices as well as experts. This book does that “In Spades”!
This book impresses me so much; I hardly know where to start with my comments, but here goes…
First of all is the quality of construction, excellence in paper, binding, printing color rendition, and ease of use. It is a large book and lies open quite well for its size. The price of this book is amazingly low when you consider the cost that must go into manufacturing a book like this, let alone its content. Just think about it, two cheap magazines will cost you as much as this excellent volume. The publishers are to be congratulated. A book as well made as this will often cost over twice as much, and still be worth every penny.
As to the puzzles themselves; that is where this book really shines. The puzzles cover a wide variety, are very clearly described, with great illustrations, and detailed solutions given for every puzzle, again, as well detailed and illustrated as I have ever seen.
There are 567 puzzles, and they are presented in such a way that as you finish one page or puzzle, you look forward to seeing “what’s next”. It is quite possible that some types of puzzles will be more to your liking than others, but that is no problem, you can simply pass on some and/ or come back to them later. You will find some puzzles will require more time and creativity to solve, while others are real “Quickies”. I’d also like to comment on some types of puzzles you’ll find.
I have always enjoyed Tangrams, one of the world’s oldest and favorite puzzles, and The Grabarchuk’s have presented Tangrams with a different twist. They give us a mosaic made up of many tangram shaped pieces of several colors. The challenge here is to find a Tangram figure “hidden” in the mosaic. This is a very novel approach with a very old and favorite puzzle. The Grabarchuck’s have also taken another one of my favorite puzzle types, Matchstick Puzzles”; and given several interesting challenges, some simple and some very imaginative. If you are familiar with sliding block puzzles such as “The 15 Puzzle “or “Rush Hour” and many others, wait till you see what is in store for you. Again, some of these are very challenging. Another favorite puzzle has been given some new twists. These are geometric figures where the challenge is to trace the figure without taking your pencil off the paper or passing over any section of the outline twice. There is a secret to find here. When you discover that secret, you can quickly tell if it is possible or not; and even where to start and finish. This little secret is yours to discover, and not disclosed in the solutions. There are also quite a few dissection and pantomime types of puzzles, again with the Grabarchuk’s putting a different twist on them. Then there is a type of puzzles that I’ve not seen before which are best described as “Totem Pole” puzzles (253 or 428) where a stack of shaped objects of two colors age given and the challenge is to determine which color has the greater volume; again very original. This is by no means a complete description of all the types of puzzles, but just a brief description of a few. Well, I hope this gives you an idea of the great variety of puzzles and puzzle types in the book, some are somewhat familiar, others not, but all fun and challenging.
A couple of other comments. Because many of the puzzles require moving and/or folding pieces, there are 26 pages at the back of the book where the necessary pieces can be cut out. If you are inclined to make up physical puzzles with wood, plastic or other materials; you will find many that you can make,25,115,110 or other tile pyzzles,186,231,309,453,359,etc.
In summary, this puzzle book is as good as they get, will entertain novices as well as long time puzzle enthusiasts for many hours. I might also add, that books like this are real “labors of love” by creators of puzzles, and often disappear from the market quite quickly and can be difficult to find later on, and many don’t get reprinted again; and those that get them tend to hold on to them, like I do. So, if you like puzzles don’t pass this one up.