Jean Claude Constantin is best known for his original designs and concepts, having made hundreds of different puzzles, but he can also take on a classic and give it his personal touch. That’s exactly what he did to one of the best known binary puzzles of all time, the Tower of Hanoi or Turm von Hanoi in German.
The Tower of Hanoi originated over 130 years ago by the hand of Édouard Lucas and since then there have been so many variations it’s almost impossible to count them all. I’ve always been fascinated by the sheer brilliance of this puzzle, so whenever I see a cool version I have this urge to add it to my collection. The Constantin version is now my third.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it’s very simple: You have a base with three rods and a specific number of disks (the number of disks varies and with it so its difficulty); The starting position can be any of the three rods. The goal is to move all disks to one of the other two rods by obeying a simple set of rules: You may only move one disk at a time; You can’t place a disk on top of a smaller one. The concept is straightforward and very easy to solve if you start with just a few disks, but for each additional disk the difficulty level rises exponentially. To calculate the number of moves you just have to apply a simple formula – 2n – 1, where n is the number of disks. Since this Constantin version has 8 disks, the minimum number of moves is 255, which is already quite challenging but still not the hardest one around.
What made me get this particular version was the colorful appearance of the puzzle itself. Constantin always excels at this with his puzzles, using many different wood tones creating a beautiful palette. The Turm von Hanoi has four different colors alternating in two groups. Also, each disk is carefully cut in the shape of an octagon – It’s an eight-themed puzzle. The top of the pyramid is decorated with an hexagon to keep the disks in place. The size is average, measuring about 22cm x 7cm (8.7″ x 2.8″).
From the three versions I have, one has seven disks and the other two eight, including this one. Applying the above formula for the first it gives a total number of 127 moves. I’d say its difficulty level is about 6/10. The Turm von Hanoi, on the other hand, has twice the moves to be solved. While I don’t consider this an extreme challenge, as classified by PuzzleMaster (level 10/10), It’s still not a walk in the park. I’d put it at a level 8/10. With nine disks I might agree with a level 10.
The key to solve it is pure concentration. The solving process is the same whether you’re solving a three-disk tower or an eight-disk one. You just need much more concentration so you don’t lose your train of thought, which I did for a couple of times. Solving time was about 15 minutes, but with training you should be able to cut it down by half or even less. It’s a very fun puzzle to solve anytime.
Liking a particular puzzle is dangerous, especially when you own a large collection. If you stick to unique concepts you’ll be fine, but if you’re like me, every time you see a cool new version of a puzzle you’ll understand the feeling of “I must have it!”. The Turm von Hanoi by Constantin is definitely a must-have.
Availability: You can get a copy of the Turm von Hanoi at PuzzleMaster for $26 CAD. For other puzzles from Constantin, click here.