by Edward Hordern
Published in Cubism For Fun (CFF) No. 45, Page 30, February 1998
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Trick locks versus other puzzles
The problem with most trick locks, from the ardent solvers point of view, is that the large majority of them consist of finding just one secret in order to open them. So for most people you can either solve it . . . or you can’t. By contrast, a Soma cube or a set of Pentominoes provide a gradual solving process as well as providing a variety of different puzzles. You can get many hours (days, weeks, even) of enjoyment from the latter, but only minutes from your average puzzle padlock. Unless, of course, you are unable to solve a particular lock and enjoy thinking about how to solve it for hours on end! To a lesser extent the same applies to many puzzle boxes. So it is always with some surprise and joy when I find a padlock that consists of several puzzles and keeps you guessing for some considerable time. I recently found a lock that fits this description exactly. If I had to give away my entire collection of locks – there must be a hundred or two hundred of them – and keep only three, this recent acquisition would be one of them. As the other two are rather nice antique ones, we need not consider them any further here. To my way of thinking, the new lock is easily the best of the modern padlocks and is called “DanLock”.
Most padlocks, once opened, are easy to close: not so the DanLock. In fact it is rather more difficult to get the lock back to the same state as it is delivered to you. Altogether it involves the solving of at least three quite distinct puzzles, which will keep even the ardent enthusiast occupied for some time. Well it kept me occupied . . . DanLock is the creation of Dan Feldman and is not to be confused with three other puzzle padlocks that he produced a year or so ago. It is available from him for US$60 (post paid). Up to now the solution he sends out with the puzzle is incomplete, which has led to unnecessary correspondence, complaints, etc. However, Dan tells me that he is revising the solution, so this won’t happen again. It raises the question as to whether solutions should accompany puzzles or not. My own preference, as stated many times before, is that they should not, but that they should be available on request. I know it involves the manufacturer in more work, but nothing can be perfect.