ExclusivesPuzzle Making

All about Book Puzzles by Peter Gal

This area of TheMetagrobologist is devoted to puzzling 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 Book Puzzles? How about those by Péter Gál


Péter Gál is a software engineer from Hungary who produced the puzzle book Tanglement Puzzles, Pentominoes and Others as well as a great little range of puzzle books. In this feature, we are delighted to present the thoughts of Péter on how he started puzzle creating. Enjoy!

All about Book Puzzles by Péter Gál

My main hobby is ‘puzzling’: designing, making, solving, and collecting puzzles. My secondary hobby is bookbinding. It came naturally to join the two activities by creating book puzzles.

At my first attempt, the books and the trays were made of paper and only the pieces were made of wood. Some puzzles worked fine this way, but for those that need high precision or a rigid frame, this technology wasn’t appropriate. Recently, I have been using laser-cut wooden trays and only the covers (and the challenge cards) are made of paper. The spines are made of leatherette or canvas. A textile-enhanced rubber band is used to keep the books closed.

My first internationally visible puzzle book was my exchange and design competition puzzle at the 31st IPP in Berlin (2011). It was named TriPenTile:


Due to the unusual shapes of the pieces, the TriPenTile puzzle is extremely difficult, even the challenges that require fewer pieces. It is based on equilateral and symmetrical pentagons that can tile the plane. The 16 pieces of this puzzle are all the possible adjacent triplets of this tiling. Today I believe that 16 pieces are too many.

For the Berlin IPP, I made ten different types of smaller book puzzles hoping that I could exchange or sell some of them. Here is a photo of my table at the Puzzle Party:

IPP in Berlin

I was very happy to see that puzzle enthusiast from around the world liked my booklets. Only a few pieces had to travel back home with me.

At the 34th IPP in London, I had more types of book puzzles. As shown in the picture, every puzzle has a unique coloured cover:


Despite the somewhat restricting format, I aim to make a variety of different kinds of puzzles. Most of them are type “1. Put-Together Puzzle” by the Slocum Classification, but in my mind I use the following subcategories:
a) Classic puzzles: e.g. Tangram, Tetrahex
b) Evolution of classic puzzles: e.g. Diagonal Tangrams
c) Fit to tray puzzles: e.g. 2×4 T, Coffin’s 177-A, Five Easy Pieces, Few Tiles
d) Shape forming puzzles: e.g. Penrose’s Polyiamond, Five+1 Tiles
e) Dissection puzzles: e.g. a2+b2+c2=d2, Square to Triangle, Cross to Triangle
Let me share a few thoughts on my most recent puzzles, which are always the favourites.

The Triple-Triple Play is an extension of Jerry Loo’s IPP 34 exchange puzzle: Triple Play. The idea of this puzzle comes from Goh Pit Khiam. He designed a fit to tray puzzle with only three pieces and a deficient square as the tray. I carried out the full analysis of the pieces, the results of which are the other two challenges. These three puzzles are in the same booklet.

Triple-Triple Play

The idea of Geomagic Squares comes from Lee Sallows. He created a lot of fascinating squares using very interesting shapes. I also created many Geomagic Squares involving hexominoes. I think it is a very hard and interesting puzzle, to which I gave the creative name: Geomagic Hexominoes. This book contains other puzzles too: tray filling challenges, symmetry finding challenges, and identical shape finding challenges.

Geomagic Squares

The F and U Compatibility book is another example of identical shape finding challenges. It is possible to create interesting puzzles using only two types of pentominoes. This multi-challenge book contains (not so) easy and very hard puzzles with some F and U pentominoes.

F and U Compatibility

As of now, I have only one book puzzle that does not type 1. This is the Classic Sliding Block Puzzles, which is type: “5. Sequential Movement Puzzles” by the Slocum Classification. It contains a number of old, as well as some new challenges ranging from beginner to expert level.

Classic Sliding Block Puzzles

Currently, I am planning to design some new book puzzles of different classes. As I am fascinated with string disentanglement puzzles, it would be great to combine books with strings, rings, and spheres. Thinking more broadly, I would like to come up with puzzles, in which the body of the book has not only holder function, but it is also an integral part of the challenge.

Where to obtain the puzzles

You can purchase several of his puzzle books here:
You can find images of the puzzles here: https://goo.gl/photos/iftwjoo6Evfvzocd7

Péter Gál

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