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2x2x2 by Oyler

Posted by shirleycurran on 8 June 2012

For once the less numerical numpty is not complaining. There was plenty to do once the mathematical part of Oyler’s 2x2x2 was completed. The numerical one had established values for the down clues within half an hour and this looked like being one of the easiest numerical Listeners yet. A couple of arithmetic errors delayed progress with the across clues but a couple of hours’ work with pencil and paper produced a full grid.

We immediately noticed how cleverly Oyler had delineated the area that our eight dice nets were to use, by leaving only 7s, 8s and 9s in the remaining area. We are wondering in what order he created this puzzle (and hope we get a setter’s blog!) Did he begin with little paper cubes, dismantle them to form shapes then fit those into a grid and do the maths, or was it the other way round or …?

There were three obvious dice shapes at the foot of the grid and these were almost incontestable, but the remainder of the grid proved unyielding and the less mathematical numpty was brought in – with gloomy results.

Clearly we had to find a method of jigsawing these shapes into the grid. Google provided a set of the eleven possible nets for a cube and these were laboriously traced onto a plastic sheet with the cells the dimension of the grid cells, and delineated and cut. (Don’t these Listener puzzles prove to be a learning experience? Well for me, at least, they do – I had no idea that a cube could produce eleven nets!)

More jigsaw head scratching until the eureka moment when the pattern (rather reminiscent of those tedious Christmas puzzles that we used to receive in our stockings) fell out as it should. With glee, we moved onto the final stage of the challenge.

Attempting to visualize these outlines as mini cubes was fruitless. I wonder whether any solver managed to complete this puzzle without constructing a set of eight mini cubes. (Well nine for the numpties as we naively fitted them onto our Google sheet, which inverted one of them and completely threw the end result. Who would have thought that one mirrored cube would make the final task impossible? Well it did!)

I wonder whether there was a method, other than trial and error, for the stacking of the cubes. I understand that it is possible to write a progamme for most things, but this? I simply worked on the principle of putting one side after another at the bottom and rotating cubes until a fit appeared, but this was a most un-numerical procedure (if quite fun!) and I imagine the people who  usually romp through the three-monthly Listener were having a moan at this stage.

No moan from me. This is the second time we have been spared that endless slog (and bad temper) with sheets of calculations and not much joy. There was a decisive result with a rewarding stack of cubes made out of old, solved crosswords and an amusing set of words to comment on in the clues. No, I noticed that Oyler didn’t share the habitual Listener compiler’s tendency to incorporate a tipple in his work of art. He stuck with cocoa and a nacho but it was entertaining to see how many words (CONCH, COMMON MAN, CANNON etc.) he made with those six letters especially that gloating HOHO – HO – HO- H-A towards the end. That was maybe because he knew that some of us would forget the highlighting. I almost did!

Thank you, Oyler – great fun (No, I can’t seriously be saying that about a numerical!)

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3 Responses to “2x2x2 by Oyler”

  1. Alastair Cuthbertson ( Oyler ) said

    Glad you liked it! I’ll convert the numerophobes yet! Blog has been sent in.

  2. shirley curran said

    And even more fearsome – I have devoted three days this week to your Magpie C AND FINISHED IT and SUBMITTED IT!

  3. M J Whitaker said

    It’s perhaps surprising that so many solvers struggled with the final stage of this one. There are 15 possibilities for opposite faces of any cube, and because adjacent internal faces had to match, the opposite faces of the large cube could not bear the same pair of digits as any of the opposite faces of the smaller cubes. This immediately ruled out 12 of the possible 15 combinations, so the opposite faces of the large cube had to be 1-5, 2-6 and 3-4, the only three combinations not present in any of the smaller cubes. This meant that the central row of the large cube’s net was 5-2-1-6, and it only remained to decide whether the 3 or 4 went on top. Further inspection of the eight nets revealed that none made a cube with the 4 on top, and two made cubes with the 3 on top (the upper two yellow nets in the diagram above), which presumably accounted for the two arrangements referred to.

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