Even though the name Rubik is immediately associated with the classic 3×3 twisty puzzle, there are, however, some other products that share the Rubik’s title. Usually, the most notable product is the Rubik’s Click, a WCA-official speed solving puzzle. The ultimate goal of the puzzle is to turn its cogwheels until all the 18 clock faces on the puzzle move upwards towards 12 o’clock.
However, there is yet another puzzle invented by Rubik that is not a puzzle per-se, but a toy quite similar to NeoCubes. There is no single solution to such a puzzle, but there are a lot of shapes that you can create. This puzzle is known as Rubik’s Snake, the Snake Puzzle or Rubik’s Twist. To view the variants of the Snake Puzzle, visit https://www.cubelelo.com/
This puzzle was invented by Ernő Rubik and was launched for the first time in 1981 when the Rubik’s cube had reached the peak of its popularity. Similar to the Rubik’s Cube, the Rubik’s Snake had a different name prior to its mass-production. It was originally called the Hungarian Snake.
The original puzzle was marketed as a game that helps in understanding the basic three-dimensional geometrical connection. This is quite notable as it is similar to the goal of Rubik’s most famous invention – to educate. In the words of Rubik, “The snake is not a problem to be solved; it offers infinite possibilities of combination. It is also a tool to test out ideas of shape in space.”
The mechanism of the Snake puzzle
The puzzle has an interesting yet relatively simple mechanism. The puzzle has around 24 3D right-angled triangles. These triangles can be turned 360 degrees around the face of its adjacent triangle. This creates around 23 individual turning points with four separate positions. Therefore theoretically, the number of combinations that a Snake puzzle can have is around 70 quadrillion.
However, when you start playing and experimenting around with the Snake puzzle, you would notice that not all of these combinations are reachable. This is because some turns are physically blocked from moving due to the location of other pieces.
2 Ways to Solve the Snake Puzzle
1. Notation Method
James Straughan and Johannes Laire had created a notation for the Snake Puzzle back in 2006. The pieces of the puzzle can easily be turned 90 degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise and 180 degrees in either direction. For the notation, each piece from left to right is given a number from 1 to 24. A plus (+) sign after a number means that the number piece needs to be turned clockwise. Similarly, a minus (-) sign means that the number piece needs to be turned counter-clockwise. An ‘x’ sign means that the piece needs to be turned 180 degrees. Suppose there is a sequence of numbers in order. In that case, the numbers after the first in the sequence can be omitted and only the ‘+’, ‘-‘, and ‘x’ modifiers are written. Here is a speed solution for performing the ball shape from James Straughan –
2. Twisting Method
One common way to solve this puzzle is by twisting it into a straight bar with alternating upper and lower triangles. Also, with rectangular faces facing up and down and the triangular faces facing towards the player. The 12 lower triangles are number 1 to 12 starting from left. The last of the upper prisms are on the right, so the L face of the prism one does not have any adjacent triangle.
The four possible positions of the adjacent triangles on each L and R sloping face are numbered 0,1,2 and 3. The numbering is always based on twisting the adjacent prism, so it swings towards the player.
Position 1 turns the adjacent block towards the player; position 2 makes a 90-degree turn, and position 3 turns the adjacent block away from the layer. Position 0 is the starting position.
With these, a twist can easily be described as –
- Number of the downward-facing prism from the left: 1 to 12
- Left side of the prisms are L or R
- Positions of the twist: 1, 2 or 3
Here are a few figures that you can create with these numbers and twists
With such twists and turns, you can create many other design patterns.
The Snake Puzzle is just one of the many series of exciting puzzles designed to challenge your mind and capture your imagination. With movements of colours and pieces, each puzzle offers an intricate challenge. Here are a few hints that we leave you with to create more advanced patterns –
- To make shaping easier, twist the Snake puzzle’s unshaped end out of the way as you work.
- Stop twisting if you feel resistance from the puzzle. Turing the triangles in the opposite direction may work easily.
- Do not force any twist or you might break the connection between the triangles.
- Do not pull any triangles away from each other.