The Tangram has been around for so long that it is believed to have originated over 4000 years ago in ancient China. While that may be an exaggeration due to folklore, it is no doubt one of the first puzzles ever to be invented. The puzzle has inspired so many variants over the centuries that it’s impossible to name all of them. In this review I will show you a cool and simple puzzle made by the Siebenstein-Spiele’s main designer, Jürgen Reiche, the T-Puzzle.
What mainly differentiates the T-Puzzle from the original Tangram, besides the shapes themselves, is the number of pieces. The T-Puzzle only has 4 pieces, as opposed to the 7 pieces of the Tangram. Does that make it harder or easier, you may ask? I believe it’s neither. The difficulty level is about the same between the two puzzles, simply because the goal is the same: to solve one of the many different shapes you can only count on the silhouette of the shape, since you can’t see the outlines of individual pieces. That’s what makes the puzzles so challenging.
The T-Puzzle comes in a nice arrow-shaped tray – another difference from the square-shaped tray that Tangram is usually presented in. Actually, it’s not even possible to make a square out of those four pieces. The pieces are surprisingly thick (8mm, or .3″), because they feature a different color on each side. The material used is the usual laser-cut wood which, even though is not very good in quality, makes it very easy to work with and it’s quite affordable to produce. The presentation of the puzzle, like many other Siebenstein-Spiele designs, is perfect: different wood colors, laser engraved pieces and tray, extra smooth finish…
As expected, like in a Tangram variant, you can build countless shapes with the four pieces provided. The description does mention that the main shape you should try and solve is a T, but it also comes with many other interesting shapes to build. The possibilities don’t end there, since you can also come up with your own shapes. Although most of the shapes are challenging to solve, the difficulty varies slightly from shape to shape. The main challenge, which is to build the letter T, is actually rather easy, but there were others much harder to solve, some even look impossible to create with just those four pieces. The shape that you see in the tray, the arrow, is the easiest to make, simply because you can use the edges of the tray to your advantage. The pieces have two colors, but when you’re trying to solve a particular shape don’t mind the colors, because more often than not the final arrangement of the pieces will be a mixture of both light and dark colors.
The T-Puzzle is an excellent puzzle to keep around, as you can always build something different every time. Like the Tangram, it can create more shapes than you will ever build, and you’ll also be tired of it long before that.