[next] [prev] [up] Date: Wed, 24 Dec 86 11:38:00 -0500 (EST)
[next] [prev] [up] From: Peter Beck <beck@clstr1.decnet >
~~~ ~~~ [up] Subject: magic review article

I have written a review of MAGIC for the "World Game Review", edited and
published by Michael Keller, 3367-I north Chatam Road, Ellicott City, MD 21043,
$8 for 4 issues. It as you can tell is based on the CUBE-LOVERS list dialog.
If anybody would like to comment or make recomMend any additions or deletions
please forward your suggestions to me ,<BECK@ARDEC-LCSS>.

BY Peter Beck, Dec 24, 1986

The Hungarian Government two years ago approved Rubik's plans for a private
business, Rubik Studio, to develop designs for what Mr. Rubik hopes will be a
wide range of items including puzzles. Rubik's Magic is its first commercial
venture. It is being manufactured and marketed by Matchbox and is generally
available at prices ranging from $9-$15, $7 on sale. Matchbox's deal with
Rubik was based on a three-to-five year plan that includes the development and
marketing of more advanced versions of Magic.

Like the cube, MAGIC is good for playing with and relieving the fidgets. It is
palm-sized and made up of eight 2"x1/4" squares ,of impact-resistant transparent
plastic, folding up into a 1"x2"x4" block which easily fits into a shirt or
jacket pocket. Unlike the cube it can be maneuvered into a plethora of
different geometrical shapes which makes it more fun and pleasureful to
manipulate than the cube. Any of the various geometrical variations look
good on the coffee table and your guests can make magical discoveries as they
play with it.

The object of the puzzle is to manipulate the squares from their original
pattern (henceforth known as pattern #1) to pattern #2. In pattern #1 the
squares form two equal rows (i.e., 2x4 arrangement) and spread across one side
is a depiction of three unconnected rainbow-colored rings printed on a black
background. By folding, flipping, flopping and flapping the squares, which are
linked by an ingenious hinge, we arrive at pattern #2 which is three
intersecting rings on the reverse side.

Even though Magic has many interesting 3-dimensional geometric shapes, e.g.,
cube, A-frame house, 1x2 box with lid, both named patterns occur when the puzzle
is in its planar or flat state. To go from pattern #1 to #2 there are two
operators necessary in the 2x4 arrangement to position the squares for the
operator that transforms the puzzle into the 3x3 minus a corner arrangement that
displays the three intersecting rings pattern. When the puzzle is in the 2x4
arrangement with pattern #1 correct, the squares can be rearranged by either
folding it on the long axis to make a loop which can be rotated or by flipping
the 2 ends towards the center and then by un-flipping the puzzle on the opposite
side in a perpendicular direction to the flipping. In order to display the
solved puzzle it is now necessary to flip and flap and flop the puzzle (6 moves)
into the 3x3 minus a corner arrangement. It should be noted that it is possible
to be in a 2x4 arrangement where you cannot get to pattern #1 with only the two
2x4 operators of above. You will either need to use the operator that changes
the puzzle to the 3x3 or develop another operator.

For those of you who would like to take it apart and then put it back together
here are some hints. Tools required: a paper clip. Each loop of string is
twisted around three squares in a path like this:

 ---- ---- ----            ---- ----  ----
|/ \  |  / \ | / \  |           |  / \ |/  \  |  / \ |
|\  \ | /   /|\   \ |   or     | /   /|\   \ | /   /|
| \  \|/   / | \   \|           |/   / | \   \|/   / |
|  \ /|\  /  |  \  /|           |\  /  |  \  /|\  /  |
 ---- ---- ----            ---- ----  ----

16 loops of string (actually nylon fishline) are used to make the hinges that
hold the squares together. The loops of string are all the same length.and are
not tangled in any way. For each string, there is another string that lies in
the same channels. When stringing a loop through the channels, there is a
choice at the points where the string passes from one square to the next: Which
string is closer to the center of the square? That question is answered
differently for the two strings running throught the same channels. Strings
don't lie in crossing channels on the same side of a square. (That describes how
the two pairs of loops go on the same triple and how two triples interact on
their common end square.)

Now that you have decomposed the puzzle into its component parts why don't you
customize it before reassembly. (The squares each decompose into two clear
plastic covers and a piece of paper with the design printed on it which are held
together by the strings and not glue.). So what about some original designs,
maybe even Penrose tiling? How about adding additional squares?

For the more mathematically inclined it has been noted that the sameness of the
string length is what restricts the arrangements of the squares. Can you prove
that the Donut, 3x3 with center missing, is impossible? Can you invent a
nomenclature and metric for counting moves?

The future exists, first in the imagination, then in the will and fianlly in

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: The above was written with the passive participation of with
CUBE-LOVERS computer bulletin board at MIT; MILNET ADDRESS
<CUBE-LOVERS@MIT-AI>. Thanks to all who participated in the MAGIC dialog to


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