Disentanglement Puzzles

Disentanglement puzzles, also called topological puzzles, are a type of physical, spatial puzzle in which an object (or set of objects) must be manipulated in order to free a central object or separate the pieces. Since they're often relatively compact and (depending on the quality) cheap to manufacture, they've become a common gift for children interested in physical puzzles.

Background[edit | edit source]

To do TO DO

A prominent manufacturer of disentanglement puzzles is Hanayama Toys, who specialize in metal structures with hidden methods for disassembling them. While usually not topological in nature like other disentanglement puzzles, Hanayama puzzles still contain the 'disassembly' aspect found in many disentanglement puzzles.

Puzzle Application[edit | edit source]

A ring-and-string disentanglement puzzle. The goal is to free the wooden ring.

As the name suggests, these types of puzzles involve untangling, disassembling, or separating pieces that have been put together in some arrangement. Common element include rings, strings, and metal wires bent into particular forms. By combining these elements, constructors can easily create structures that can only be solved in one way, due to being the only way to release a string, or the only way that two pieces of wire can pass one another without getting wedged, etc.

Disentanglement puzzles are not overly common in puzzle hunts, but may occasionally show up as part of larger events, or in rounds with many physical puzzles.

Strategy[edit | edit source]

To do TO DO

Examples[edit | edit source]

  • Sculptural Disassembly (MITMH 2016) (web) - While this puzzle didn't require solvers to actively solve any disentanglement puzzles, it did deal heavily with Hanayama puzzles and their individual pieces.
  • Goliath's Goof (MITMH 2020) (web) - This puzzle presents a reassembly puzzle in the form of a Unity game.

See Also[edit | edit source]