The optimists have spoken in my puzzle ring poll, so I took up the challenge and attempted the puzzle ring. The results: I’ve still got it. Take that, younger self! (Details below, if you want the solution.) Sorry to disappoint the 25% of you who were rooting for my cognitive decline.
I also did some digging about the puzzle ring’s history (no, I didn’t look for the solution online). There are various theories about the puzzle ring’s origins, but they appear in a lot of cultures, dating back centuries. They were often used as wedding rings; they were meant to ensure that the couple stayed together, because the wearer couldn’t take the ring off without it falling apart, or they symbolised the effort required to keep a relationship together, depending on who you read. One widely circulated (and rather cynical) tale says that a Turkish nobleman gave one to his betrothed to ensure she didn’t stray, because she’d have to take the ring off to cheat, and he hadn’t given her the solution to the puzzle.
All three of my rings, while different in style, are based on the same basic 4-ring puzzle. You can get them in 6- , 7- and even 12-ring puzzles. If your ring looks vaguely like mine, here’s a step-by-step guide to assembling it:
Step 1: Remove the mummified tape that’s been holding it together since the first incarnation of Starsky & Hutch:
Step 2: Drop it on the table so there’s no hope of cheating. It will now look like this:
Step 3: Locate the two rings that are roughly the same shape. They’ll be sort-of “V” shaped, but one will be slightly smaller than the other. These rings will be opposite one another if you spread out the four rings. Align the two “V”s so that the smaller one nestles in the larger one, with the other two rings hanging between them:
Step 4: Try to hold them as above without dropping them and having to start all over.
Step 5: Of the two remaining rings, locate the one with the bumps (the other remaining one will be smooth). Turn the bumpy one sideways so it aligns with and encloses the V’s:
You may have to experiment to find out whether to twist it clockwise or counter-clockwise – that will depend on the next step.
Step 6: Twist the last ring so it fits into the groove in the previous ring. They should fit together neatly. If they don’t, try twisting the third ring in the opposite direction. You should get them looking like an “X”, like this:
Step 7: Drop the outside rings down. They should slide into place easily. If they don’t, you probably have to reverse the alignments of rings 3 and 4, as in Steps 5 and 6 (or even rings 1 and 2, in Step 3. Confused yet?) If you’ve done it correctly, you’ll see the completed ring appear: