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A Dozen Irritating Sliding Block Puzzles

The puzzles on this page are the result of an obsession of mine to find the hardest puzzles possible that seem simple at first glance. (For another example of puzzles that fit this description, see the Meandering Monk Mazes.)

A recent column on simple sliding block puzzles by Ed Pegg Jr. inspired me to revisit the sliding block genre to see what the PuzzleBeast software could generate. (I will admit that I was also motivated by the fact that Ed bested one of my previous puzzles, Simplicity, by making a trivial change to the layout that converted it from an 18 move puzzle to a 68 move puzzle.)

The result is a collection of twelve puzzles that seem to me to be more effort than they are worth.* They all have basically the same goal: Swap the positions of the red and blue pieces returning the other pieces to their original positions.**

With that introduction, I present A Dozen Irritating Sliding Block Puzzles.

* One might think to ask why I am posting these puzzles if they are irritating and more effort than they are worth. This is a very good question, and one that deserves an answer.
**Interestingly this swap-two-pieces goal was not hard-wired into the puzzle creation software. It turned out that the best puzzles tended to have this feature, even though the software was not limited in the starting or ending positions it could search. The Meandering Monk Mazes have the same characteristic, also naturally arising from the process of searching for tough puzzles

A Dozen Irritating Sliding Block Puzzles

Goal

Swap the positions of the red and blue pieces, returning all other pieces to their original positions. The small inset shows the target position.

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Puzzles and applet copyright 2005 by James W. Stephens
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