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My puzzle could be cracked by an OAP or bored child.

INVENTOR Christopher Monckton claims his puzzle is "cheat-proof".

He says it as likely to be solved by an autistic child with highly developed spatial awareness as by a bored teenager or bed- ridden pensioner.

He said: "This cannot be solved by computer geniuses and mathematicians using complex formulae, which is the beauty of it.

"It is simply a question of sitting down and doing it. You might find that you fit together 205 pieces and then the last four won't fit and you have to start all over again.

"I'm fascinated to see if the person who eventually solves it does so by following their nose or by working it out logically."

We asked a mathematician, two computer game-daft teenagers and a pensioner to try their hand at the puzzle.

They worked as a group and, after two hours, had completed two tiny clusters of it.

Dr Claire Gilson, an applied mathematician who lectures at Glasgow University, said: "I love puzzles and jigsaws.

"I've worked out there are 43million million possible combinations and it would take a computer a year to try all variations.

"I would like to take it away and spend ages sorting out the pieces by their shapes. It would take years and years to complete this puzzle, but it is highly addictive and great fun."

Pensioner Mary Steven, 70, of Barmulloch, Glasgow, said: "This is not my kind of puzzle at all. I prefer a nice picture which helps you put the pieces together.

"This is so hard, I found it quite intimidating. I didn't even know where to start and, after a couple of tries, I gave up altogether.

"I wouldn't have the time or the patience to try to work it out."

Martin Ritchie and Chris Tager, both 17, from Shawlands, also Glasgow, are keen on cracking puzzles on their computers.

Martin said: "It doesn't look very hard because there aren't that many pieces. But because they are all the same colour and quite similar shapes it's really difficult.

"I did enjoy trying to solve it as it's such a huge challenge. I'm definitely going in for the competition.

"However, the cash prize takes away the fun of just trying to solve it for the fun of the challenge.

"I think whoever wins the prize would have to have no social life for the next year or so."

Chris said: "I think it is possible to solve the puzzle, but it would take at least two years of concentrating hard.

"I'm afraid I'm already addicted to it and will have to try it at home.

"It's intriguing and you could spend hours working away at it without noticing the time pass."
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Oxley, Ken
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 3, 1999
Words:447
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