Alfons Eyckmans Puzzle beginnings
This area of TheMetagrobologist is devoted to puzzle enthusiasts that wish to read more about creating their own mechanical puzzles. The DIY mechanical puzzles area will feature free downloads, step by step guides and small interviews with some of the world’s best puzzle designers and craftsmen on the creation of some of their individual puzzles along with links to purchasing them. Interested in the creation of a Robert Yarger mechanical puzzle box? Wanting to read how Eric Fuller created that latest puzzle? Fascinated by the Turning Interlocking Cube of William Hu? Want to know how Stephan Baumegger made that Burr? This area is for you!
Do you enjoy interlocking Burrs? How about those by Alfons Eyckmans? Alfons Eyckmans is a retired Belgium mechanic who is widely regarded as one of the current masters of complex burr design. In this feature, we are delighted to present the thoughts of Alfons on how he started puzzle creating. Enjoy!
From a very young age, I was always interested in puzzles, however, the only puzzle that time for sale, were jigsaw puzzles. In 1980, I bought a book of puzzles at a flea market and in the book was an article about the 18-piece puzzle by Van der Poel known as “The Grandfather” that was a 6 × 6 × 6 Cross. In the book were numerous illustrations so that I could see how the pieces looked and were constructed.
Using the book as a guide I then attempted to try and create the puzzle. It took me a whole two months (after my working hours) to get the puzzle together. I placed the puzzle on a shelf of my bookcase, where it remained alone for many years.
In 2007 whilst now retired I one day took the puzzle down from the shelf out of boredom and disassembled it, it wasn’t overly difficult. Unfortunately afterwards, I could not put the puzzle back together.
Out of frustration, I went onto the internet to search the Internet for a solution and found the solution on the site puzzlewillbeplayed.com.
The site was a real eye-opener, as I was very surprised by the sheer amount of puzzles on the site. From exploring the site, I was most surprised to discover the numerous 18 piece puzzles, of which many more were even tougher, including the “Burrserk” by Jack Krijnen and Goh Pit Khiam. There and then I thought, I can do that.
The wick had been lit. I started designing my first puzzle “Mariage” without the use of a computer and the popular Burrtools. It took me about a month (I think) before the puzzle was ready and had only one solution (or so I thought).
I sent the puzzle “Mariage” to Ishino and was disappointed when I was informed that the puzzle had more than one solution. In our correspondence, he advised me to use burrtools.
With Burrtools, I discovered a fantastic piece of software and tools to design puzzles. The software has been a brilliant resource but the most important tool to designing puzzles is the mind and your imagination.
The goal of this area is to provide puzzle enthusiasts with an additional resource for the background and creation of individual mechanical puzzles. If you are a designer and would like to contribute to the area, please e-mail us if you have anything to add.