This article appeared in Cubism For Fun, issue 88, 2012 (possibly with minor editing)
also has a subtle asymmetry, which Oskar likes. The traditional puzzle ring is proba-bly the absolute best design for four-banded puzzle ring.The
(see Figure 7) is another four-banded design. In it, unfortunately,each band is connected to the ones next to it, but they are each linked to two others,and the orientations property holds for all bands. What's unique is that none of thebands individually hinge or swivel, but the puzzle as a whole can scramble in one bigholistic move for a very subtle reason, hence the name.When you get tomore than fourbands there's anadditional designrequirement tolook out for. If youdesign thingswrong, the bandscan get stuck around a linkage be-tween two other bands; see Figure 8.There is a tendency for the bands tobe able to pass through each otherand get out of this state, but that has atendency to feel like it was accidentalor cheating, and isn't very aesthetic.Ideally the bands passing througheach other should be either clearly al-lowed or disallowed. If you make thebands thick enough the passing through can be clearly disallowed, but that has atendency to make the puzzle's motion feel very restricted. If the puzzle were madesufficiently elliptical as a bracelet instead of a ring then it would be very easy to passbands through each other and one could go the opposite direction of designing apuzzle where that phenomenon was forced to happen as much as possible, but thathas not yet been explored.The
design (Figure 9) has the property that each band is linked toexactly two others, no band is linked to either of the ones next to it, and theorientations property holds for all but the middle band. Because there are an oddnumber of bands, it was impossible to achieve the orientations property for all ofthem. It has a subtle asymmetry. The outer two bands hinge out, and the rest of thepuzzle then scrambles easily. It also has none of the bands passing through eachother phenomenon. It is much harder to solve than the traditional design.The
(Figure 5) is a gener-alization of the tradi-tional design. In ret-rospect it is surpris-ing that no onefound it before, al-though it was discov-
Figure 8. Bands passing through eachother; middle band stuck (left), bottomband stuck (right)Figure 9.