Doppelschicht, can you pronounce it? Don’t worry, me neither. That’s how Jean Claude Constantin names his puzzles, and I reckon it’s kind of cool. The German language certainly has many interesting words, and this particular one is literally translated as “Double Layer”, which is a perfect description for the puzzle you see here.
If you’re used to solving 2D pentomino-type puzzles you’ll feel right at home with the Doppelschicht… Well, almost. The puzzle consists of five distinct pieces, but in reality each piece is attached to another one by a metal peg and they can be rotated in 360º when out of the frame. Most of the pieces are pentominoes, except for two, a tetromino and a hexomino.
This interesting two-layer mechanism makes the puzzle a 2-in-1, as you try to work out how to place each piece on both sides at the same time. To better distinguish between the two puzzles each layer has a different wood color, so all you just need to do is to find a way to slide all the pieces into the frame. The size of the puzzle is quite decent, measuring 11.2cm in diameter (about 4.4″).
The pieces slide through three channels that go about half way through the acrylic window. The middle channel actually goes a bit further down, and pretty soon after you try and solve it you’ll find out why. To get started all you need to do is take out all the pieces from the frame. They slide out through the top which opens and closes sort of like a clapperboard.
Getting the pieces inside the frame again is a challenge though, and requires a bit of dexterity. Placing the pieces one by one on the frame is not a good idea since you need to make adjustments as you go. My advice is to try and solve the puzzle outside the frame and then slipping the pieces in when you’re about done. The hard part is to visualize the solved puzzle, because the edges are not flat but instead in a seesaw pattern.
The Doppelschicht is rated as a 7/10 difficulty level, but I’m not sure if I totally agree, because of the reasons pointed above. I had to constantly check each piece to see if they fit well in the frame, but after a couple of successful tries it got a bit easier. Good thing the puzzle has only five pieces, otherwise it would’ve been much harder.
I quite liked the Doppelschicht puzzle. It’s a very original design with a new and interesting mechanism, visually stunning, but that’s not a new thing for Constantin. He has already accustomed us with so many fascinating puzzles I seldom feel disappointed. Is it a must-have for a Constantin fan? Absolutely!
Availability: Doppelschicht is available at PuzzleMaster for $28 CAD. You can also browse many more interesting designs from Constantin.