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Folding puzzles are a type of spatial puzzle in which solvers must fold a piece (or multiple pieces) of paper in a particular way in order to solve it. While some folding puzzles deal entirely with the folding process, others may simply involve a prominent folding step or generally require printing out a puzzle and physically manipulating it.
Background[edit | edit source]
While not itself a puzzle, the art of origami is similar to many folding puzzles, and may be referenced by name in solutions or instructions.
Puzzle Application[edit | edit source]
Folding puzzles involve taking a piece of paper (usually one provided by the hunt itself, but it can also be blank paper), and manipulating it via folding and cutting in order to form a particular shape. This shape may resemble a particular thing, it may interlock with other shapes, or help to obscure/highlight particular information within the puzzle, but the key part is the folding that occurs, regardless of the exact purpose or result.
Folding puzzles primarily vary in two different factors: the amount of instructions provided to solvers, and the percentage of the puzzle that the folding takes up.
Instruction-wise, it's rare for a folding puzzle to have absolutely nothing to guide solvers. The closest to this that they tend to get is by having symbolic instructions that indicate the types of folds being used and whether cutting is necessary. For example, some puzzles may use solid lines to indicate folds, and dotted lines to indicate cuts. Alternatively, puzzles with more of focus on using the results properly than finding the right process may provide step-by step instructions for folding particular shapes. This is also common in puzzles where multiple of the same folded shape need to be created.
Folding may also take up the entirety of a puzzle, where the goal ends up being figuring out the folding process and interpreting the result visually. More commonly, though, there are other aspects of the puzzle that need to be utilized, such as text on the paper being folded. Folding may also be a final extraction step for an otherwise fold-free puzzle, such as manipulating a crossword after solving it to reveal a particular string.
Strategy[edit | edit source]
Notable Examples[edit | edit source]
- Folderol (MITMH 2003) (web) - A lovely color-coded origami mess, this puzzle actually contained 8-step instructions for folding the twelve letter-covered pieces of paper into identical shapes. Not only that, but it also tells solvers the next step: connecting them to form a solid with 14 corners, without having identical colored pieces touch.
- Wolf in the Fold (MITMH 2018) (web) - A similar puzzle about constructing a 3D structure via folding, but with significantly fewer instructions. Instead, it has dotted and dashed lines to indicate valley and mountain folds, respectively. When folded properly, they can be combined to form a large cube!
- Mountains and Valleys (MITMH 2019) (web) - Rather than having a lot of extra content on the paper or extraneous instructions to follow, this puzzle gets right down to business and asks solvers to simply fold, fold, and fold again. If done correctly, they should end up with five 3D letters that spell out their final answer.
- Bear (MITMH 2020) (web) - Visually, the folding in this puzzle is very similar to that in Folderol, including having 12 of the same shape, but the work needed to be done beyond the folding goes in a very different direction. While Folderol deals heavily with words, Bear lands squarely in the math side of puzzling.