Jackpot! As in, this puzzle box comes up all “7”’s. Actually, that’s a slot machine reference, so not exactly right for this particular puzzle, at least not in the traditional sense. In this case we would need to literally “hit” the jackpot with our little metal ball as it bounces its way down the game. I’m talking about pachinko, of course, the national amusement of Japan. Like pinball, with many tiny metal balls cascading their way down the playing field, pachinko is part arcade game, part casino game, and wildly popular in Japan.
|Pachinko Box by William Strijbos|
William Strijbos, that globetrotting designer of devious delights, has been developing his “Pachinko” Box for the past few years. He describes having been fascinated by the game and wanting to incorporate the idea of launching a metal ball into one of his puzzle box designs. He has succeeded in creating an incredible puzzle which really does hit the jackpot. The Pachinko box is a shiny solid metal box with a distinctive feature in the form of a plunger sticking out of the end. This is revealed to be holding a metal ball in place, inside the box, via a clear window on one side. There are bolts and a hole in the bottom, and what appear to be two doors on the other side, both securely locked in place. On top is another window through which you see a coin. Opening the box will require you to first release that coin, somehow, and once you have opened the box completely (both doors), there is a second coin to be discovered inside, although you can’t seem to get it out.
|Two doors locked tight and an irresistible plunger ...|
So these are your challenges: free the first coin, open the box completely, and free the second coin. In order to do this you will need to embrace the concept of pachinko (you didn’t think it was all for show, did you?), but since this is a Strijbos puzzle, that will only get you so far. If you do get that far, you will feel immensely relieved, only to quickly realize there are many more challenges still to overcome. This puzzle box delivers on so many levels. Each of the challenges requires two or three separate steps to deduce and then implement. In classic Strijbos style, he sets things up so that even once you think you have figured out what needs to be accomplished, in order to move on to the next step, it is by no means easy to enact. He lays clues and gives you glimpses of things to keep you going. Mentally this gives you the motivation you need to keep trying. It’s all so well designed and everything you see has a purpose toward the final goal. This puzzle challenges you on many levels, keeps you guessing, has just the right amount of difficulty, provides hints when you need them, and is incredibly satisfying. In other words, it’s so much FUN!
|This box pays you back ...|
I seem to be on a Strijbos roll, having recently featured his “First Box” as well. I created a little “puzzle pairing” for that one, keeping the connection between the puzzle box and the cocktail a secret to be deduced by any interested readers with nothing better to do. It seems like a Strijbos thing to do, so here’s another, admittedly rather simple, puzzle pairing. This cocktail comes by way of Fred’s Club in Soho, London, where famed bartender Dick Bradsell created it in the mid 1980’s. It’s not as old as the many historical cocktails I seem to be fond of featuring, but it is a modern classic and very well known. This is likely due to its simplicity, delicious-ness and perfect name: the Bramble.
|The "Ramble" adapted from Dick Bradsell|
Bradsell was a cocktail hero of his time, so that probably didn’t hurt either. Simply combine gin, lemon, and sugar over crushed ice, then drizzle blackberry liqueur over it all and garnish with more blackberries. Yum! Of course, I’m at the beach right now, and only had crème de cassis on hand rather than the technically required crème de mure, so this isn’t quit a Bramble – more of a ramble, I’d say. Nevermind, it’s just as delicious. Now, back to this perfect puzzle box. Cheers!
|As Wil Strijbos likes to say, "Take your time". Cheers!|
The “Ramble”: (for a true Bramble use crème de mure)
1.5 oz gin
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
¾ oz crème de cassis
Shake the first three ingredients with ice or just add them to a glass of crushed ice and stir. Pour the berry liqueur over the top. Garnish with lemon and berries.
For prior puzzles by Wil Strijbos, please see: