Title:
THREE-DIMENSIONAL LOGICAL PUZZLES
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Semiregular or irregular polyhedron-based puzzles have at least two different types of faces. The dividing method used to create the puzzles requires that bisecting planes parallel to the faces be chosen to exclude at least one type of face. Preferably, the base polyhedron has a Buckyball (soccer ball) shape. Applying this dividing method to a Buckyball polyhedron results in (i) a center element with six axes passing through geometrical centers of pentagonal faces, (ii) twelve pentagonal rotating elements, and (iii) thirty mobile elements of tetrahedral shape. The mobile elements are exchangeable between adjacent groups. In another embodiment, sliding elements are superimposed over the mobile elements to enable sliding motion in addition to shifting/rotating motion. Different indicia patterns can be used to modulate the difficulty level of the puzzle. The same dividing method can be used on a sphere to obtain a completely spherical puzzle.



Inventors:
Paquette, Maxime (Val-des-Monts, CA)
Application Number:
11/738673
Publication Date:
09/25/2008
Filing Date:
04/23/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
273/153S
International Classes:
A63F9/00; A63F9/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MAXIME PAQUETTE (Val-des-Monts, QC, CA)
Claims:
1. A three-dimensional semiregular or irregular polyhedron-based logical puzzle having at least two different types of outer faces, the puzzle created by a dividing method requiring that bisecting planes parallel to the faces be chosen to exclude at least one type of face, thus defining excluded faces, the puzzle comprising at least three types of elements: (a) a center element having at least six non-orthogonal axes passing through the geometrical center of some or all of the outer faces of the polyhedron and passing through the geometrical center of the puzzle, but without passing through the excluded faces; (b) a plurality of rotating elements rotationally connected to the center element, the rotating elements obtained through the bisecting planes used to slice the base polyhedron on every outside face corresponding to the axes; and (c) a plurality of mobile elements obtained through the bisecting planes slicing the excluded faces, the mobile elements interfitting with adjacent rotating elements and/or mobile elements to prevent disassembly of the puzzle and to enable one of the rotating elements and an associated plurality of the mobile elements to rotate in a group around its respective axis, whereby rotation of the group enables a user to interchange mobile elements between adjacent groups.

2. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 1 wherein the polyhedron is a Buckyball-shaped polyhedron having six pairs of opposed rotating elements rotationally connected to the center element about six non-orthogonal axes, the Buckyball polyhedron having thirty-two faces including twelve pentagonal faces and twenty hexagonal faces, wherein the puzzle comprises: (a) one center element with exactly six axes passing through the geometrical center of the puzzle and through the geometrical center of each opposed pentagonal face; (b) twelve rotating elements rotationally connected to the center element, the rotating elements obtained through the bisecting planes used to slice the Buckyball-shaped polyhedron, the bisecting planes being parallel to each of the pentagonal faces; (c) thirty mobile elements obtained through the bisecting planes slicing bisected hexagonal faces, the bisecting planes passing through the geometrical centers of the bisected hexagonal faces, the mobile elements interfitting with adjacent rotating elements to prevent disassembly of the puzzle and to enable one of the rotating elements and five of the mobile elements to rotate as a group around its respective axis, whereby rotation of the group interchanges the mobile element positions.

3. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the center element is an axial rod system having six opposed extensions extending radially outwardly from the center of the polyhedron in alignment with the geometrical centers of each pentagonal face of an invisible regular central dodecahedron, thus providing a total of twelve extensions for rotationally connecting each of the twelve rotating elements to the center element.

4. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the center element is an inner core central element formed by a central regular dodecahedron located at the geometric center of the polyhedron-based puzzle having bores for rotationally connecting each rotating element to the center element.

5. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 4 wherein the inner core center element is formed by snapping together two half dodecahedral elements having protrusions facing inwardly and outwardly for mating the half dodedahedral elements together.

6. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 2 wherein each of the rotating elements is shaped like an angularly extruded pentagon comprising one outward face forming one of the twelve outer pentagonal surfaces of the Buckyball polyhedron, the rotating element further comprising five obliquely angled triangular faces shaped as equilateral triangles, forming part of five of twenty bisected hexagonal faces in the puzzle.

7. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 6 wherein each rotating element comprises a rotational mechanism having a screw, a coil spring, and at least one washer arranged within concentric bores, one external bore being situated at the geometrical center of the pentagonal face and one internal bore situated in a protrusion, the internal bore serving to position the rotating element on the center element concentric with its respective axis, the bores dimensioned to provide a dividing thickness between the bores to locate the rotating element at an exact distance from the geometrical center of the polyhedron.

8. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 6 wherein each rotating element comprises a rotational mechanism having a screw, a coil spring, and at least one washer fixed to an internal bore situated at a geometrical center of a protrusion of each rotating element, the protrusion serving to position the rotating element on the center element concentric with its respective axis, and to locate the rotating element at an exact distance from the geometrical center of the polyhedron.

9. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 6 wherein the rotating element comprises a plurality of concealed faces, each concealed face having an arcuate face that cooperates with another arcuate face to define arcuate guiding taper faces enabling sliding movement relative to a mobile element.

10. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the mobile element is generally shaped like opposed quasi-tetrahedrons having two equilateral triangular outer faces and two generally triangular concealed internal faces coplanar with surfaces of the adjacent rotating elements.

11. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 10 wherein the mobile element comprises a tapered protrusion for interfitting the mobile element to adjacent rotating elements, thereby allowing rotation of the mobile elements with one of the adjacent rotating elements as a group around a rotational axis of the rotating element.

12. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the rotating elements and mobile elements further comprise retaining grooves for enabling superimposed sliding elements to slide relative to the rotating elements and mobile elements.

13. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 12 comprising 120 sliding elements that are slidingly superimposed within grooves formed within 30 concealed mobile elements and 12 rotating elements.

14. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 13 wherein the center element is an axial rod system having six opposed extensions extending radially outwardly from the center of the polyhedron in alignment with the geometrical centers of each pentagonal face of an invisible regular central dodecahedron, thus providing a total of twelve extensions for rotationally connecting each of the twelve rotating elements to the center element.

15. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 13 wherein the center element is an inner core central element formed by a central regular dodecahedron located at the geometric center of the polyhedron-based puzzle having bores for rotationally connecting each rotating element to the center element.

16. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 15 wherein the inner core center element is formed by snapping together two half dodecahedral elements having protrusions facing inwardly and outwardly for mating the half dodedahedral elements together.

17. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 13 wherein each of the rotating elements is shaped like an angularly extruded pentagon comprising one outward face forming one of the twelve outer pentagonal surfaces of the Buckyball polyhedron, the rotating element further comprising five obliquely angled triangular faces shaped as equilateral triangles, forming part of five of twenty bisected hexagonal faces of the puzzle, arcuate retaining grooves being formed in every equilateral triangular outer face of the rotating elements for slidingly receiving superimposed sliding elements, the arcuate retaining grooves being concentric with a base vertex of the equilateral triangular outer face, thus guiding the sliding elements in rotation around the base vertex while securing the sliding elements to the puzzle.

18. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 17 wherein each rotating element comprises a rotational mechanism having a screw, a coil spring, and at least one washer arranged within concentric bores, one external bore being situated at the geometrical center of the pentagonal face and one internal bore situated in a protrusion, the internal bore serving to position the rotating element on the center element concentric with its respective axis, the bores dimensioned to provide a dividing thickness between the bores to locate the rotating element at an exact distance from the geometrical center of the polyhedron.

19. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 17 wherein each rotating element comprises a rotational mechanism having a screw, a coil spring, and at least one washer fixed to an internal bore situated at a geometrical center of a protrusion of each rotating element, the protrusion serving to position the rotating element on the center element concentric with its respective axis, and to locate the rotating element at an exact distance from the geometrical center of the polyhedron.

20. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 17 wherein the rotating element comprises a plurality of concealed faces, each concealed face having an arcuate face that cooperates with another arcuate face to define arcuate guiding taper faces enabling sliding movement relative to a concealed mobile element.

21. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 13 wherein each concealed mobile element comprises opposed quasi-tetrahedrons having two equilateral triangular concealed outer faces and two generally triangular concealed internal faces coplanar with surfaces of the adjacent rotating elements, the triangular concealed outer faces having arcuate semi-circular retaining grooves for sliding of the sliding elements concentrically with a base vertex of the equilateral triangular concealed outer face, thus guiding the sliding elements in rotation around the base vertex while securing the sliding elements to the puzzle.

22. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 21 wherein the concealed mobile element comprises a tapered protrusion for interfitting the concealed mobile element to adjacent rotating elements, thereby allowing rotation of the mobile elements with one of the adjacent rotating elements as a group around a rotational axis of the rotating element.

23. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 13 wherein the concealed mobile elements and the rotating elements comprise arcuate retaining grooves for slidingly receiving superimposed sliding elements shaped as equilateral triangles arranged in clusters of six triangular sliding elements superimposed over each hexagonal face of the puzzle.

24. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 23 wherein the sliding element comprises a protrusion at its base acting as a guiding tongue to engage the sliding elements in respective arcuate retaining grooves of the concealed mobile elements and of the rotating elements, the arcuate retaining grooves of the elements constituting one of the hexagonal faces together forming a circular slideway to slideably connect each sliding element for rotation as a cluster of six sliding elements, each circular slideway being concentric with a respective center vertex of the respective hexagonal face.

25. A spherical puzzle created by cutting a plurality of outer spherical sections from a sphere using cutting planes parallel to each of the faces of a guiding regular polyhedron having at least twelve faces, the puzzle comprising: i) a plurality of rotating elements having a convex outer face defining a portion of a sphere; ii) a plurality of first mobile elements connected to each of the rotating elements; iii) a plurality of second gap elements connected to each of the rotating elements between each of the first mobile elements; whereby the rotating elements, the first mobile elements and the second gap elements together constitute a complete sphere and wherein the rotating elements and their respective groups of first and second elements together define overlapping circles on the sphere to enable interchanging of first and second elements of one group with first and second elements of another adjacent group.

26. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 25 further comprising a center element defining at least 6 axes, wherein the rotating elements are rotationally connected to the center element.

27. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 26 wherein the guiding regular polyhedron is a dodecahedron, thus cutting the sphere into twelve outer spherical sections that partially overlap, the spherical puzzle thus comprising 12 spherical rotating elements rotationally connected in opposed pairs to the center element about 6 axes, wherein the first mobile elements comprise 30 spherical mobile elements adjacent to the spherical rotating elements, and wherein the second gap elements comprise 20 spherical gap elements.

28. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 27 wherein the center element is an axial rod system having six opposed extensions extending radially outwardly from the center of the polyhedron in alignment with the geometrical centers of each pentagonal face of an invisible regular central dodecahedron, thus providing a total of twelve extensions for rotationally connecting each of the twelve rotating elements to the center element.

29. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 27 wherein the center element is an inner core central element formed by a central regular dodecahedron located at the geometric center of the polyhedron-based puzzle having bores for rotationally connecting each rotating element to the center element.

30. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 29 wherein the inner core center element is formed by snapping together two half dodecahedral elements having protrusions facing inwardly and outwardly for mating the half dodedahedral elements together.

31. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 27 wherein each of the twelve outer spherical sections comprise a spherical rotating element rotationally connected to a center element and a group of spherical mobile elements connected to the spherical rotating element for rotation in unison with the spherical rotating element, wherein each spherical rotating element is a convexly curved pentagon.

32. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 31 wherein each spherical rotating element comprises a rotational mechanism having a screw, a coil spring, and at least one washer arranged within concentric bores, one external bore being situated at the geometrical center of the convexly curved pentagonal face and one internal bore situated in a protrusion, the internal bore serving to position the spherical rotating element on the center element concentric with its respective axis, the bores dimensioned to provide a dividing thickness between the bores to locate the spherical rotating element at an exact distance from the geometrical center of the spherical puzzle.

33. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 31 wherein each spherical rotating element comprises a rotational mechanism having a screw, a coil spring, and at least one washer fixed to an internal bore situated at a geometrical center of a protrusion of each spherical rotating element, the protrusion serving to position the spherical rotating element on the center element concentric with its respective axis, and to locate the spherical rotating element at an exact distance from the geometrical center of the spherical puzzle.

34. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 31 wherein the spherical rotating element comprises a plurality of concealed faces, each concealed face having an arcuate face that cooperates with another arcuate face to define arcuate guiding taper faces for interfitting spherical mobile elements and spherical gap elements.

35. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 27 wherein the spherical mobile elements comprise five convexly shaped generally oblong elements having outwardly curved sides whereas the second gap elements comprise five generally spherical triangular elements that occupy the generally triangular gaps between adjacent oblong elements.

36. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 35 wherein each spherical mobile element and each spherical gap element comprises a tapered protrusion for rotational interfitting with adjacent spherical rotating elements, mobile elements and spherical gap elements.

37. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 27 comprising one center element with exactly 6 axes; 12 modified spherical rotating elements modified to have grooves therein; 30 modified spherical mobile elements modified to have grooves therein; 20 modified concealed spherical gap elements modified to rotationally support 20 spherical-gap cap elements; and 60 spherical rotating cap elements and 60 spherical mobile cap elements having protrusions for engaging the grooves for superimposed sliding relative to the modified spherical rotating elements, modified spherical mobile elements and modified concealed spherical gap elements.

38. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 37 wherein the center element is an axial rod system having six opposed extensions extending radially outwardly from the center of the spherical puzzle in alignment with the geometrical centers of each pentagonal face of an invisible regular central dodecahedron, thus providing a total of twelve extensions for rotationally connecting each of the twelve modified spherical rotating elements to the center element.

39. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 37 wherein the center element is an inner core central element formed by a central regular dodecahedron located at the geometric center of the spherical puzzle having bores for rotationally connecting each modified spherical rotating element to the center element.

40. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 39 wherein the inner core center element is formed by snapping together two half dodecahedral elements having protrusions facing inwardly and outwardly for mating the half dodedahedral elements together.

41. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 37 wherein the modified spherical rotating elements are convexly-shaped, generally pentagonal elements comprising arcuate retaining grooves for receiving superimposed spherical sliding elements that slide in the grooves with respect to the modified spherical rotating elements, the arcuate retaining grooves in the convexly-shaped outer faces being concentric with base vertices of the convexly-shaped generally pentagonal outer face, thus guiding the sliding elements in rotation around the base vertices while securing the sliding elements to the puzzle.

42. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 41 wherein each modified spherical rotating element comprises a rotational mechanism having a screw, a coil spring, and at least one washer arranged within concentric bores, one external bore being situated at the geometrical center of the pentagonal face and one internal bore situated in a protrusion, the internal bore serving to position the modified spherical rotating element on the center element concentric with its respective axis, the bores dimensioned to provide a dividing thickness between the bores to locate the modified spherical rotating element at an exact distance from the geometrical center of the spherical puzzle.

43. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 41 wherein each modified spherical rotating element comprises a rotational mechanism having a screw, a coil spring, and at least one washer fixed to an internal bore situated at a geometrical center of a protrusion of each modified spherical rotating element, the protrusion serving to position the modified spherical rotating element on the center element concentric with its respective axis, and to locate the modified spherical rotating element at an exact distance from the geometrical center of the spherical puzzle.

44. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 41 wherein the modified spherical rotating element comprises a plurality of concealed faces, each concealed face having an arcuate face that cooperates with another arcuate face to define arcuate guiding taper faces enabling interfitting with, and sliding movement relative to, the modified spherical mobile elements and modified concealed spherical gap elements.

45. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 37 wherein the modified spherical mobile elements are convexly-shaped generally oblong elements having outwardly curved sides comprising arcuate retaining groove for receiving superimposed spherical sliding elements that slide in the grooves with respect to the modified spherical mobile elements.

46. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 45 wherein each modified spherical mobile element comprises a tapered protrusion for slidingly interfitting the modified spherical mobile element with adjacent elements.

47. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 37 wherein each modified concealed spherical gap element is convexly-shaped generally triangular, and wherein each modified concealed spherical gap element rotationally supports a superimposed spherical gap-cap element about which a cluster of superimposed spherical sliding elements may be rotated.

48. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 47 wherein each modified concealed spherical gap element comprises a tapered protrusion for slidingly interfitting the modified concealed spherical gap element with adjacent elements.

49. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 37 wherein each spherical gap-cap element is convexly-shaped generally triangular.

50. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 49 wherein each spherical gap-cap element comprises a tapered protrusion for being rotationally mounted to a respective underlying modified concealed spherical gap element.

51. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 37 wherein each spherical rotating cap element is convexly-shaped generally triangular having one curved side defining a circular arc.

52. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 51 wherein each spherical rotating cap element comprises a tapered protrusion for sliding engagement within a circular slideway defined by the grooves of underlying elements.

53. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 37 wherein each spherical mobile cap element is convexly-shaped generally oblong having one curved side defining a circular arc.

54. The spherical puzzle as claimed in claim 53 wherein each spherical mobile cap element comprises a tapered protrusion for sliding engagement within a circular slideway defined by the grooves of underlying elements.

55. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 12 comprising a visual indicia pattern displayed on the outer surface of the elements of the puzzle wherein the pattern has seven indicia locations L1-L7 situated on exposed faces of the puzzle representing seven different visual indicia S1-S7 and wherein the indicia pattern for the puzzle is generated based on a layout shaped like a six-pointed inner hexagon star formed by one inner hexagonal face, three uniformly distributed pentagonal star points being part of three adjacent pentagonal faces and three uniformly distributed hexagonal star points being part of adjacent hexagonal faces, each trapezoidal side face of the sliding elements situated at the circumferential boundary of the inner hexagonal face being assigned a boundary indicia location symbol number from L2 to L7 starting with L2 being assigned to a first trapezoidal side face located at the circumferential boundary of the inner hexagonal face and one of the three adjacent pentagonal faces, the remaining trapezoidal side faces being assigned boundary indicia location symbol numbers from L3 to L7, every other face included in the inner hexagonal faces being identified by an inner indicia location symbol number L1, the indicia pattern being further generated by adding cross references identified by the boundary indicia location symbol number L1 for all three of the pentagonal star points at locations closest to the circumferential boundary of the inner hexagonal face and three other L1 references on all trapezoidal side faces of the sliding elements contiguous with the circumferential boundary of the inner hexagonal face and situated on all three of the adjacent hexagonal faces, the indicia pattern being completed by repeating every boundary indicia location symbol number from L2 to L7 at the tip of every respective pentagonal and hexagonal star points, the indicia pattern being repeated for all or a subset of the twenty hexagonal faces of the puzzle using all or a subset of the seven indicia location symbol numbers L1 to L7 representing all or a subset of the thirty-two visual indicia S1 to S32 to be displayed on the puzzle.

56. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 55 comprising a visual indicia pattern wherein each cluster of six triangular elements on each hexagonal face has a specific visual indicium common to each of the six triangular elements.

57. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 55 wherein the visual indicia pattern further comprises visual indicia displayed on the pentagonal faces, thereby challenging a user of the puzzle to attempt to position the reassembled cluster adjacent a side of the pentagonal face having the visual indicium corresponding to the visual indicium displayed on the elements of the cluster.

58. The logical puzzle as claimed in claim 55 wherein the visual indicia pattern comprises one of up to twenty different visual indicia S1 to S20 for each cluster of six sliding elements associated with each of the twenty hexagonal faces of the puzzle, and further comprises twelve additional visual indicia S21 to S32 for identifying the pentagonal faces of the Buckyball polyhedron.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/896,511 filed on Mar. 23, 2007.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to three-dimensional logical puzzles and, in particular, to puzzles having either a spherical shape or a shape based on a semiregular or irregular polyhedron.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Since the introduction of the Rubik's Cube, numerous types of shifting-movement polyhedron-shaped three-dimensional puzzles have been disclosed. These various puzzles can be classified as regular, semiregular or irregular polyhedron-shaped puzzles, a classification based on Leonhard Euler's findings that all polyhedron patterns can be broken down into three elements: (i) two-dimensional faces; (ii) one-dimensional edges; and (iii) zero-dimensional vertices.

For a polyhedron to be regular, the faces of the polyhedron must be identical and the same number of faces must meet at each vertex (called the “valence”). Polyhedrons with only one kind of vertex (congruent vertex) but two different kinds of faces are called semiregular. The remaining polyhedrons are classified as irregular. However, even irregular polyhedreons follow Euler's law that the number of vertices plus the number of faces in every polyhedron must equal the number of edges plus two.

The regular polyhedron family is surprisingly limited to only five, the tetrahedron (four triangular faces, six edges, and four tri-valent vertices), the cube (six cubic faces, twelve edges, and eight tri-valent vertices), the octahedron (eight triangular faces, twelve edges, and six quadri-valent vertices), the dodecahedron (twelve pentagonal faces, thirty edges, twenty tri-valent vertices), and the icosahedron (twenty triangular faces, thirty edges, and twelve quintus-valent vertices).

The prior art of shifting-movement puzzles includes regular, semiregular and irregular polyhedrons. Aside from ubiquitous cubic puzzles, such as the Rubik's Cube, there are numerous other types of polyhedron-based puzzles known in the art such as, for example, those based on a regular tetrahedron (e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 4,558,866 to Alford), a regular octahedron (e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 4,451,039 to Hewlett, U.S. Pat. No. 4,478,418 to Sherman, U.S. Pat. No. 4,496,155 to Goldfarb, U.S. Pat. No. 4,557,484 to Sherman-Francis, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,593,907 and 4,706,956 to Abu-Shumays and U.S. Pat. No. 4,593,908 to Ibrahim).

Furthermore, puzzles based on a regular dodecahedron are also known in the art (e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 4,416,453 to Sasso, U.S. Pat. No. 4,506,891 to Alexander-Piaget, U.S. Pat. No. 4,558,866 to Alford, U.S. Pat. No. 4,600,199 to Krell, and U.S. Pat. No. 4,674,750 to Abu-Shumays).

Puzzles based on a regular icosahedron are described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,473,228 to Hart, U.S. Pat. No. 4,474,376 to Gustafson, U.S. Pat. No. 4,529,201 to Nadel, U.S. Pat. No. 4,575,088 to Peek, and U.S. Pat. No. 4,706,956 to Abu-Shumays.

Semiregular cuboctahedron and icosidodecahedron puzzles are described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,478,418 to Sherman and in U.S. Pat. No. 4,557,484 to Sherman-Francis.

Irregular rhombicosidodecahedron and irregular rhombic dodecahedron puzzles are described, respectively, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,529,201 to Nadel and U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,593,907 and 4,674,750 to Abu-Shumays. Furthermore, puzzles based on an irregular prism, cross, diamond, and truncated cube are described by Abu-Shumays in U.S. Pat. No. 4,593,907.

Furthermore, there exist a number of other irregular-polyhedron-type puzzles based on an irregular heptahedron (e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 4,836,549 to Flake), an irregular (so-called) hexagram (e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 5,199,711 to Pataki et al.), an irregular mix of octahedron and tetrahedron (e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 5,386,993 to Apsan), an irregular stellated icosahedron (e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 4,529,201 to Nadel), as well as other irregular polyhedrons (e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 4,500,090 to Nieto, U.S. Pat. No. 4,522,402 to Henry, U.S. Pat. No. 4,593,908 to Ibrahim, U.S. Pat. No. 4,600,199 to Krell, U.S. Pat. No. 5,722,657 to Cabrera, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,644,665 to Brooks.)

Also of interest in the prior art is U.S. Pat. No. 4,453,715 to Halpern which teaches an oblique twistable three-dimensional puzzle that uses, for example, a dodecahedron as the guiding polyhedron.

Also known in the art are three-dimensional sliding puzzles, such as the quasi Buckyball shaped sliding puzzle disclosed by Blazek and al. in U.S. Pat. No. 6,994,343.

Cubic puzzles having a combination of both sliding and shifting elements is described by Kuchimanchi in U.S. Pat. No. 4,872,682 and Pop in U.S. Pat. No. 5,116,502.

Also known in the art are ball-shaped or spherical puzzles such as the one disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,108,263 to Cabeza et al. The Cabeza puzzle is a sphere dissected by three vertical planes and three horizontal planes. These orthogonal dissections of the sphere create two orthogonal pairs of hemispheres which are further subdivided to create six outer spherical sections. The hemispheres and outer spherical sections (and the layers defined therebetween) can be rotated in two orthogonal directions to enable both shifting and sliding movements.

Also known in the art are three-dimensional labyrinth puzzles, such as the one taught by Fang et al. in U.S. Pat. No. 7,165,768. In the Fang puzzle, a sphere is divided by two vertical planes and two horizontal planes to enable rotation of the resulting elements. The elements have bores formed therein, defining tunnels to enable a small ball to travel within the tunnels from an entrance to an exit.

Despite the plethora of polydredon-based puzzles and spherical puzzles that are now known in the art, to the best of Applicant's knowledge, none of the semiregular or irregular polyhedron-based puzzles known in the art enable both rotating/shifting movement in combination with sliding movement about one specific type of face. Therefore, a semiregular or irregular polyhedron-based puzzle enabling shifting (and optionally also sliding movement) would provide a highly challenging, entertaining and aesthetically-pleasing three-dimensional puzzle.

As regards spherical puzzles, to the best of Applicant's knowledge, none of the spherical puzzles known in the art are created by dividing a sphere based on a guiding polyhedron, i.e. by defining outer spherical sections by dividing the sphere parallel to a guiding polyhedron to create overlapping spherical sections on the sphere. A spherical puzzle created by this technique would be challenging, entertaining and aesthetically-pleasing.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of the present invention is to provide a challenging, entertaining and aesthetically pleasing semiregular or irregular polyhedron-based puzzle having elements that can be shifted (i.e. twisted or rotated) to enable a user of the puzzle to rearrange the movable elements of the puzzle to attempt to restore color patterns, or the like, displayed upon outer faces of the movable elements.

The present invention thus provides a three-dimensional puzzle having either a semiregular polyhedron shape or an irregular polyhedron shape, defining at least two different types of faces (or “pieces” or “elements”). For example, in a semiregular polyhedron, there would be two different types of faces, a first set of faces and a second set of faces. The first set of faces is rotationally connected to a core or center element to define a plurality of rotating elements while the second set of faces are mobile elements grouped around each rotating element, as will be elaborated below.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the semiregular or irregular polyhedron-shaped puzzle can further include superimposed sliding elements that slide in grooves in the underlying faces so as to provide a combination of sliding and shifting (“twisting” or rotational) movements, as a further challenge.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a challenging, entertaining and aesthetically-pleasing spherical puzzle.

Accordingly, another aspect of the present invention is a spherical puzzle having a sphere dissected into twelve overlapping outer spherical sections that are created by “slicing” (i.e. sectioning or dividing) the sphere using cutting planes that are parallel to each one of the twelve pentagonal faces of a dodecahedron. In general, this spherical puzzle includes an optional central core, such as a dodecahedron, a plurality of rotating elements rotationally connected to the optional central core, each rotating element having a convex outer face defining a portion of a sphere, a plurality of first mobile elements connected to each of the rotating elements, a plurality of second mobile elements connected to each of the rotating elements between each of the first mobile elements, whereby the rotating elements, the first mobile elements and the second mobile elements together constitute a complete sphere and wherein the rotating elements and their respective groups of first and second mobile elements together define overlapping circles on the sphere to enable interchanging of first and second mobile elements of one group with first and second mobile elements of another adjacent group.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the invention, the spherical puzzle can further include superimposed sliding elements for sliding in grooves formed in the underlying rotating and mobile elements to thus enable sliding movement in addition to shifting movement. The convexly shaped superimposed sliding elements are clustered in non-overlapping circles on the sphere to enable exchanging of sliding elements when the clusters are rotated.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a three-dimensional Buckyball or spherical puzzle that serves as an advertising medium, particularly in the realm of sports where the puzzles can be made to resemble or mimic sports balls. The outer surfaces of these puzzles can be used to display logos such as, for example, corporate logos of sponsors or sports team logos.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to the appended drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a semiregular Buckyball-shaped polyhedron puzzle in accordance with a first preferred embodiment, showing one group partially rotated;

FIG. 2 illustrates the six axes of the center element oriented as a regular dodecahedron polyhedron;

FIG. 3 is an isometric detailed view of a rotating element shaped like an angularly extruded pentagon;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the rotating element taken along line b-b of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is an isometric view of an opposed quasi-tetrahedron-shaped mobile element;

FIG. 6 shows an isometric view of the puzzle in accordance with a first preferred embodiment in which every rotating element is assembled on the center element, and also showing a cross section of one group constituted by one rotating element and a plurality of mobile elements;

FIG. 7 illustrates the dividing method used to cut out the rotating and mobile elements;

FIG. 8 illustrates the method used for interfitting rotating and mobile elements;

FIG. 9 is an isometric partial cross-sectional view of a rotating element in accordance with a second preferred embodiment that incorporates a retaining groove;

FIG. 10 is an isometric view of a concealed mobile element in accordance with the second preferred embodiment;

FIG. 11 shows a sliding element mainly shaped as an angularly extruded equilateral triangle with a guiding tongue used in the second preferred embodiment;

FIG. 12 illustrates a view of the second preferred embodiment with an exploded view of a hexagonal cluster constituted of sliding elements;

FIG. 13 is an isometric view of the second preferred embodiment with an augmented group containing five half-clusters rotated;

FIG. 14 shows possible physical locations of indicia patterns for the second preferred embodiment used to modulate the difficulty level of the puzzle;

FIG. 15 illustrates an example of indicia patterns for the second preferred embodiment of a novice-level puzzle;

FIG. 16 illustrates an example of indicia patterns for the second preferred embodiment of an intermediate-level puzzle;

FIG. 17 illustrates an example of indicia patterns for the second preferred embodiment of an expert-level puzzle.

FIG. 18 is an isometric view of a spherical rotating element of the third preferred embodiment shaped like a convex pentagon;

FIG. 19 is an isometric view of a spherical mobile element of the third preferred embodiment;

FIG. 20 shows an isometric view of a spherical gap element of the third preferred embodiment;

FIG. 21 shows an isometric view of the third preferred embodiment with an exploded view of a spherical group containing one spherical rotating element, five spherical mobile elements and five spherical gap elements;

FIG. 22 shows an isometric view of the fourth preferred embodiment illustrating an augmented spherical group and an augmented spherical cluster;

FIG. 23 is an isometric view of a split hollow polyhedron center element assembled from a snapping action of two half center core elements partially shown; and

FIG. 24 shows a half center core element and another connecting means for mounting any of the rotating elements of the four preferred embodiments.

These drawings are not necessarily to scale, and therefore component proportions should not be inferred therefrom.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

By way of introduction, four preferred embodiments will be presented in the present disclosure.

A first embodiment entails a Buckyball-shaped polyhedron having twelve pentagonal rotating elements and twenty hexagonal faces, each hexagonal face being subdivided into six triangular faces, three of these six triangular faces being part of three mobile elements while the other three of these six triangular faces being part of three rotating elements. The quasi-tetrahedron shaped mobile elements are grouped around each of the rotating elements in shifting sections of the Buckyball to thus provide a soccer-ball shaped shifting puzzle whereby mobile elements of one group can be interchanged with mobile elements of other groups.

A second embodiment also entails a Buckyball-shaped polyhedron but further includes, on each of the hexagonal faces, superimposed permutable sliding members that slide in grooves in the underlying hexagonal faces to provide both shifting and sliding movements.

A third embodiment is a shifting spherical puzzle created by dissecting a sphere with cutting planes that are parallel to each of the twelve faces of a guiding dodecahedron to generate twelve partially overlapping outer spherical sections, each centered about a respective spherical rotating element. The resulting spherical puzzle thus has twelve convexly curved pentagonal rotating elements each having five inwardly curved sides for engaging five oblong mobile elements, each having outwardly curved sides. Between each adjacent pair of the oblong mobile elements are disposed one of five triangular spherical gap elements. The five oblong mobile elements and the interspersed spherical gap elements together constitute a group of mobile elements that orbits together in unison when their respective rotating element is rotated. With the rotating element, the five oblong mobile elements and the five spherical gap elements together constitute an outer spherical section of the sphere (i.e. a convexly shaped outer portion of the sphere having a circular base plane) that overlaps with each of the five adjacent outer spherical sections associated with each of the five adjacent rotating elements. Since the mobile elements of one group are shared with adjacent groups, rotation of one group can cause mobile elements to be interchanged with mobile elements of adjacent groups.

By analogy with the first and second embodiments, the fourth embodiment builds upon the third embodiment by adding sliding movement to the pre-existing shifting movement to further complicate the puzzle. In the fourth embodiment, in addition to the shifting of each group of spherical mobile elements, the spherical rotating elements, the spherical mobile elements and the spherical gap elements are provided with grooves to enable superimposed sliding elements to slide relative to the underlying shifting spherical gap elements. The superimposed sliding elements include three quasi-oblong elements with outwardly curved sides, three quasi-triangular gap elements and a central triangular cap element that together constitute a rotatable circular cluster.

Embodiment 1: The Shifting Buckyball Puzzle

The first preferred embodiment is shown in FIG. 1 to FIG. 8.

Reference is now made to FIG. 1. The guiding polyhedron used to create this three-dimensional logical puzzle is a semiregular Buckyball polyhedron having twelve pentagonal and twenty hexagonal faces. Bisecting planes such as a1-b1-c1-d1-e1 that are parallel to each pentagonal face are used to divide the polyhedron. Each hexagonal face such as aa-bb-dd-ee-ff-gg with geometrical center cc is bisected. This dividing method results in three types of elements: (i) a concealed center element, (ii) twelve rotating elements 20, (iii) thirty mobile elements 30. Each mobile element 30 is connected to the puzzle by a retaining means, i.e. a fastener, fastener subassembly, retainer or other retaining mechanism that enables elements to be interchanged from one group to another group by “shifting” (i.e. twisting or rotating) one group relative to the other groups. For the purposes of nomenclature, a “group” in this embodiment is constituted of one rotating element 20 and five mobile elements 30. Each rotating element 20 has five outer faces 202 shaped like equilateral triangles such as face aa-cc-gg which forms part of one of the bisected hexagonal faces. Each rotating element includes means for retaining the pieces in an interfitting relationship to thus enable rotational movement parallel to the bisecting planes along rotating axes like axis a. Every mobile element 30 is effectively shared among its adjacent groups. Each mobile element 30 has two outer faces 301 and 302 which are also part of the adjacent bisected faces. Vertices c1 and d1 are coincident with vertices bb and ff when the group is in its initial non-rotated position, and non-coincident when partially rotated as illustrated in FIG. 1.

The center, rotating and mobile elements will now be described individually. The center element, located inside of the polyhedron puzzle, can be either (a) an inner sphere, or (b) an internal concentric regular polyhedron, or (c) an axial rod (pivot) system, the latter being illustrated in FIG. 2.

Reference is now made to FIG. 2 showing the center element 10. This center element 10 includes opposed extensions 11 and 12 extending radially from the center of the polyhedron and aligned on axis a which is one of the six non-orthogonal axes of the center element 10 disposed as in a regular dodecahedron for a total of twelve extensions. Each extension has faces like face 101 parallel with every bisecting plane. At the tip or end of each extension is a bore or other mounting means 13 for pivotally securing each respective rotating element 20. Again, while the center element is illustrated as a dodecahedronal axial rod system, it should be apparent that the center element could be constructed from a central polyhedron or a sphere without having an axial rod system. Center elements constructed in this fashion are within the scope of the present invention. Depending on the guiding polyhedron and the selected dividing planes, the center element may or may not have exposed faces.

Reference is now made to FIG. 3. The illustrated rotating element 20 is shaped like an angularly extruded pentagon with a protrusion 21. This protrusion 21 is used to place the rotating element 20 at an exact distance from the geometrical center of the polyhedron. Each outward face (or outer surface) 201 corresponds with one of the twelve pentagonal faces of the Buckyball polyhedron. Each surface 201 is provided with a bore or other such holding means 22 for pivotally holding the rotating element 20 on the center element 10. This bore or other holding means 22 is situated at the geometrical center of surface 201, and is thus concentric and coincident with a respective axis of rotation of the rotating element relative to the center element 10. The five outward faces 202 associated with each respective rotating element 20 are shaped as equilateral triangles similar to aa-cc-gg and are part of five of the twenty bisected hexagonal faces forming the remaining faces of the Buckyball polyhedron. An underside surface 205 is coplanar and coincident with the bisecting plane associated with the surface 201. Faces 203 of rotating element 20 are obtained from adjacent bisecting planes slicing through the polyhedron. Arcuate faces 204 are provided to hold or retain the mobile elements 30.

Reference is now made to FIG. 4 which depicts a cross section of a rotating element 20 taken along line b-b of FIG. 3. This cross section provides a better view of the underside surface 205, while illustrating a mounting means for pivotally mounting each rotating element 20 on one of the center element axial extensions. This mounting means is integrated in each rotating element 20 by two countersunk bores 22 and 24 terminated respectively by faces 23 and 207, each having a common center hole passing therethrough. Face 207 is intended to rotate freely over face 101. Bore 24 centers rotating element 20 on one of the six axes of the center element 10. Face 206 is only used to illustrate the cross-sectional view along line b-b and for some further references.

Reference is now made to FIG. 5. This figure depicts that mobile elements 30 are shaped like opposed quasi-tetrahedrons with outward equilateral triangular faces 301 and 302 (which are similar to triangle aa-bb-cc) which are exposed and part of one of the bisected hexagonal faces. The mobile element 30 is provided with a protrusion 31. This protrusion 31 is a simple holding means for holding the mobile elements 30 in an interfitting relationship with each respective rotating element 20. Faces 305 and 306 are concentric with faces 204 of the two adjacent rotating elements 20. Protrusion 31 is terminated by face 307 and is tapered to positively lock the mobile elements 30 to the adjacent rotating elements 20, thus securing the mobile elements 30 to the puzzle and enabling rotation and exchange of mobile elements 30 from a group associated with one rotating element 20 to another group associated with a different rotating element. Faces 303 and 304 are obtained by dividing the base polyhedron with adjacent bisecting planes.

Reference is now made to FIG. 6 showing rotating elements 20 assembled on center element 10 plus a cross-section of a group constituted of a single rotating element 20 and five mobile elements 30 with only half being shown in the cross section. The cross section of this group is represented by a cross section of the rotating element 20 referenced by face 206 as in FIG. 4, two visible mobile elements 30 and one sectioned mobile element 30 along line aa-bb of FIG. 5 referenced by face 308. In this cross-sectional view, two mobile elements 30 are removed from the group to show one connecting means. This connecting means, which is used for pivotally interconnecting the protrusion 21 of each respective rotating element 20 on center element 10, preferably includes a screw 50, two washers 60 and a coil spring 70. The recessed bores of the rotating elements 20 enable insertion of screws 50 from outside the puzzle through the common hole to fasten the rotating elements 20 to the center element 10. These interconnecting means advantageously allow the rotating elements 20 to rotate about their respective axis. The coil spring 70 located between the screw head 50 and the bottom of the recessed bore in between two optional washers 60 reduces friction generated between adjoining surfaces and provides easily movable elements that are not prone to jamming, catching or getting hung up. It should be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that the interconnecting means could be replaced by snapping-action parts, which would also fall within the scope of the present invention. FIG. 6 also illustrates how the mobile elements 30 are taper locked onto respective adjacent rotating elements 20 through faces 204. These interconnections of the mobile elements 30 with the rotating elements 20 provide rotation about the non-orthogonal axes and interfitting of elements 20 and 30 for enabling the interchanging of mobile elements 30 among different adjoining groups. Also illustrated in FIG. 6 is the relation between bisecting planes like a1-b1-c1-d1-e1 and faces 203 and 205.

Reference is now made to FIG. 7. This figure illustrates the dividing method for obtaining the rotating elements 20 and mobile elements 30. As mentioned previously, first divisions of the polyhedron are made with bisecting planes parallel to every pentagonal face of the Buckyball. By doing so, the Buckyball is sliced or cut along twelve planes equivalent to a1-b1-c1-d1-e1 producing twelve rotating elements 20 and also thirty mobile elements 30. This result is obtained if planes like a1-b1-c1-d1-e1 are coincident with their respective vertices situated at the junction of every two of the bisected hexagonal faces and every pentagonal face. Different positions of the bisecting planes would result in different types, forms and numbers of elements, all within the scope of the present invention. Faces 201, 202 and 205 in this first preferred embodiment are fully determined by these first divisions through bisecting planes. Faces 203 and 204 are completed through second divisions by cutting a cylindrically shaped bore as shown. The radius R of these cylinders is selected so that the circles described by radius R at the intersections with hidden pentagonal faces like a1-b1-c1-d1-e1 are fully inscribed within those pentagons. Provision is made with respect to the radial dimension R for a wall thickness along line cc-cl. These second divisions enable interfitting of mobile elements 30 with rotating elements 20 through arcuate guiding taper faces that enable the mobile elements to be slidingly engaged with the rotating elements. These interfittings securely hold mobile elements 30 to the puzzle while enabling selective rotation of mobile elements 30 and respective rotating elements 20 in groups along the inscribed circles, thus enabling a user of the puzzle to exchange or interchange mobile elements 30 from group to group.

Reference is now made to FIG. 8. This figure further illustrates the interfitting of one mobile element 30 with two adjacent rotating elements 20 mounted on a center element 10. As shown, two adjacent bisecting planes divide part of the polyhedron, thus resulting in two faces 203 and one mobile element 30 having a visible triangular face 301 corresponding to equilateral triangle aa-bb-cc and a hidden triangular face 302. Faces 303 and 304 of mobile element 30 are coplanar and contiguous with the two faces 203. Faces 305 and 306 of the protrusion 31 are concentric and contiguous with adjacent arcuate faces 204. The angle formed by faces 203 and 204 is such that mobile element 30 cannot slide out of its fitted position, thus preventing disassembly. Rotation of rotating element 20 around axis a will move mobile element 30 freely in circles, thus displacing mobile element 30 into an adjacent group. Other interfittings, mechanisms or locking means are possible to allow for interfitting and rotational movement between rotating elements 20 and mobile elements 30. For example, locking means could include a tongue and a groove mechanism, all within the scope of the present invention.

Embodiment 2: Shifting and Sliding Buckyball Puzzle

FIG. 9 to FIG. 13 illustrate a second preferred embodiment of the invention, which is a three-dimensional logical puzzle also based on a Buckyball polyhedron. In addition to the rotational “shifting” movement described with regard to the first embodiment (i.e. rotation of rotating elements with their associated groups of mobile elements), this second embodiment also provides for rotational “sliding” movement (i.e. rotation of clusters of superimposed elements that slide in grooves formed in the underlying mobile elements and rotating elements of the puzzle).

Reference is now made to FIG. 9 showing a partial cross-sectional view of a rotating element 20′ that is similar to the rotating element 20 but further incorporating an arcuate groove 25 on each triangular aa-cc-gg face 202 centered on every vertex cc. In this preferred embodiment the groove is dovetail-shaped 26. It is understood that this groove could be male (protrusion) or female (cavity), and of other shapes like L-shaped or T-shaped or of any shape that provides a retaining means allowing rotation about an axis perpendicular to face 202 and passing through vertex cc. Vertex cc is the geometrical center of the bisected hexagonal face.

Reference is now made to FIG. 10 showing a concealed (i.e. hidden or “invisible”) mobile element 30′ similar to the mobile element 30 but further incorporating two arcuate retaining grooves 32, one on each of its outer faces 301 and 302. These arcuate retaining grooves 32 are concentric to their respective base vertices cc (each vertex cc being the geometrical center of its respective bisected hexagonal face). In this preferred embodiment, the grooves 32 are also dovetail-shaped 33 like the dovetail-shape 26 of the groove 25 in the rotating element 20′. Different groove shapes can be substituted (e.g. T-shaped, L-shaped, etc.) as was the case with the groove of the rotating element 20′.

Reference is now made to FIG. 11. This figure introduces an optional fourth “sliding” element 40 shaped as an angularly extruded equilateral triangle having four outer faces 401, 402, 403 and 404. A protrusion 41 having a dovetail shape 407 similar to groove shapes 26 and 33 is provided to engage grooves 25 and 32. The shapes of the protrusion and grooves can be varied (L-shaped, T-shaped, etc.) as was the case for the rotating element 20′ and the concealed mobile element 30′. In this preferred embodiment, the protrusion 41 extends underneath plane aa-bb-cc and acts as a guiding tongue. Both faces 405 and 406 are concentric with vertex cc and slideably retain in the grooves 25 and 32 the sliding element 40 with either the rotating element 20′ and/or the concealed mobile element 30′. This mechanism enables sliding element 40 to slide in the grooves in a curved (circular) path, to thus enable a cluster of such elements 40 to effectively rotate about the geometrical center of the cluster. In other words, each superimposed sliding element 40 slides in a curved track (the adjoining grooves) over the outer faces of the rotating elements 20′ and of the concealed mobile elements 30′ along a circular slideway groove formed by adjacent grooves 25 and 32. In other words, this tongue-and-groove locking mechanism enables sliding element 40, rotating element 20′ and mobile element 30′ to interfit in sliding engagement with each other to enable curved “sliding” movement by which a cluster of such sliding elements 40 can be rotated by sliding around the circular slideway. Thus, by adding sliding elements 40 in this second embodiment, a puzzle of increased complexity is created that combines both shifting and sliding movements in a single polyhedral puzzle. Although the foregoing represents best mode of implementing the second embodiment of this puzzle, it should be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that other locking and sliding mechanisms can be utilized or substituted in order to achieve similar results, all of which lie within the scope of this invention.

Reference is now made to FIG. 12 to better illustrate the sliding actions added to the shifting puzzle in this second embodiment of the invention. This figure illustrates a partially assembled puzzle in accordance with the second preferred embodiment, depicting an exploded view of a cluster of sliding elements 40. A “cluster” is constituted of six equilateral triangular sliding elements 40 entirely or partially covering all or a subset of the bisected hexagonal faces aa-bb-dd-ee-ff-gg of the Buckyball puzzle. This cluster can be pivoted around the geometrical center point cc, thus interchanging sliding elements 40 from one “augmented” group to another augmented group, thereby greatly increasing the difficulty level of the puzzle. An “augmented group” is constituted of a rotating element and a group of mobile elements upon which are superimposed or carried half clusters of sliding elements 40. Therefore, a complete Buckyball puzzle has twenty clusters for a total of one hundred and twenty (120) sliding elements 40. FIG. 12 shows that grooves 25 and 32 form a smooth circular slideway for sliding rotational movements of the cluster of sliding elements 40 to thus enable a user of the puzzle to interchange sliding elements from one augmented group to another. The dovetail-shaped grooves prohibit sliding elements 40 from becoming disconnected from the puzzle. Faces 401, 402 and 403 are cut to be coplanar with their respective resting positions adjacent pentagonal faces and their respective adjacent bisecting planes. This prevents interference between elements when augmented groups are rotated.

Reference is now made to FIG. 13, which is an isometric view of the Buckyball puzzle in accordance with the second preferred embodiment of the present invention wherein one of the augmented groups has been partially rotated to a position between resting positions. This augmented group is positioned outwardly of pentagonal face a1-b1-c1-d1-e1 as would be a (non-augmented) group in the first preferred embodiment. In addition to the five concealed mobile elements 30′, however, the augmented group also displaces fifteen sliding elements 40. The entire Buckyball puzzle of the second preferred embodiment is thus covered by one hundred and twenty sliding elements 40. Sliding elements 40 can now be exchanged from augmented group to augmented group (in pure shifting movement) and also permuted within each cluster of sliding elements (in superimposed sliding movement). These two types of movement combine to produce a potentially enormous number of permutations for the puzzle.

Reference is now made to FIG. 14 which shows possible physical locations of visual indicia patterns (e.g. colors, logos, emblems, symbols, etc.) used to modulate the difficulty level of the puzzle. There are seven indicia locations identified from L1 to L7 gathered inside a six-pointed inner hexagon star layout pattern. This layout pattern can be repeated for all or a subset of every hexagonal face of the puzzle, thus requiring a total of thirty-two different indicia to make use of the full potential of the puzzle. It is to be understood that the number of visual indicia used can be other than thirty two. These indicia could be made of distinctive colors, textures, visible legends (numbers, letters, symbols, images, or a combination) or a combination of the above applied on the visible portions of the puzzle. Indicia patterns are used to impose challenges to the user of the puzzle in reconstituting a predetermined pattern and others. Proper selection of patterns and number of indicia modulates the difficulty level of the puzzle from novice to expert without any other modification to any of the constituting elements. All the indicia pattern principles introduced here can be applied to the first preferred embodiment of this invention with proper adjustments. For a basic level puzzle each hexagonal face in the first preferred embodiment could simply be attributed a specific color (or other visual indicium).

Reference is now made to FIG. 15, illustrating an example of a visual indicia pattern for a novice-level puzzle in accordance with the second preferred embodiment. The visual indicia pattern for this novice-level puzzle is equivalent to the basic puzzle of the first preferred embodiment with the exception that there are one hundred and twenty sliding elements 40 instead of merely thirty mobile elements 30 to be repositioned. In the pattern of this novice-level puzzle, a cluster is constituted of six sliding elements 40 identified by one visual indicium, e.g. a single color, emblem, logo or symbol. In order to solve a shuffled novice-level puzzle, each cluster must be reassembled, but without any regard to the relative positioning among the clusters. The added number of sliding elements increases the difficulty level of the novice puzzle compared to a basic level puzzle. In this novice pattern no specific position is imposed on any sliding element 40 within a cluster.

Reference is now made to FIG. 16 which depicts an example of a visual indicia pattern for an intermediate level puzzle in accordance with the second preferred embodiment. By adding unique positioning indicia on the pentagonal faces 201, the challenge becomes not only to reassemble each one of the clusters (by reuniting the six sliding elements of like color or indicium) but also to orient the cluster to concord with one of the unique positioning indicia depicted on the side of the pentagonal rotating element, as shown in FIG. 16. Thus, the difficulty level is now much greater. However, any sliding element 40, being a member of a cluster, can be positioned anywhere in the cluster.

Reference is now made to FIG. 17. This figure depicts an example of a visual indicia pattern for an expert level puzzle in accordance with the second preferred embodiment. Only one possible solution exists for this expert puzzle because visual indicia are displayed on both the pentagonal faces 201 of the rotating element 20′ and the faces 403 of the sliding elements 40. Thus, the one hundred and twenty (120) sliding elements 40 must be returned to a unique position in order to solve a shuffled puzzle. As will be appreciated, the number of permutations is astronomically large, thus providing a potentially very difficult puzzle to solve. However, a simplified, yet still challenging version of the puzzle, can be made by modulating the visual indicia pattern so that the puzzle can be solved by puzzle enthusiasts within a reasonable time.

By way of partial summary thus far, and without limiting the foregoing discussion, the first and second embodiments of the present invention are based on the Buckyball-shaped polyhedron, i.e. a polyhedron that is shaped approximately like a soccer ball in which there are twelve pentagons and twenty hexagons (each hexagon being divided into six triangles).

The Buckyball polyhedron used in the first and second preferred embodiments is defined as a semiregular polyhedron, with thirty two faces, twelve pentagons and twenty hexagons, ninety edges and sixty vertices, exactly three edges emanating from each vertex (tri-valent), and all edges being of equal length.

The resulting Buckyball puzzle includes:

(i) A center element (or core) having six axes passing through the center of the puzzle and the geometrical center of every pair of opposite pentagonal faces of an imaginary, or real, central regular dodecahedron polyhedron;

(ii) Twelve rotating elements shaped generally like an angularly extruded pentagon rotationally mounted on the center element to provide a plane of rotation for these elements parallel to their pentagonal outer faces;

(iii) Thirty mobile elements shaped like opposed quasi-tetrahedrons attached to the puzzle in groups of five around each rotating element with proper guiding surfaces enabling the mobile elements to change from one group to another when the rotating elements are rotated; and

(iv) Optionally, one hundred and twenty sliding elements shaped generally like angularly extruded equilateral triangles guided and secured in coincident semi-circular retaining groves provided in both rotating and mobile elements, thus constituting hexagonal clusters of six permutable sliding elements superimposed on every hexagonal face of the puzzle.

Accordingly, the puzzle provides a plurality of rotating elements and a plurality of shiftable elements which rotate in groups and which optionally (in the second embodiment) combine superimposed sliding elements. The objective of these puzzles is to exchange or interchange mobile or sliding elements from group to group, or cluster to cluster, in order to restore the surfaces to their original pattern. The difficulty level of a single puzzle can be modulated by varying the indicia patterns situated on exposed faces of the polyhedron.

Although the first and second preferred embodiments are based on the Buckyball polyhedron, other semiregular polyhedrons could also be used as the guiding polyhedron and bisected with the same dividing method, all without departing from the scope of the present invention. Likewise, the dividing method could also be applied to irregular polyhedrons to achieve create other interesting and challenging puzzles. Accordingly, the drawings and description are to be regarded as being illustrative, not as restrictive. In other words, these embodiments can be generalized as being polyhedron-based puzzles having at least two different types of faces and to which a dividing method is applied that uses bisecting (also known as dissecting or cutting) planes that are parallel to one of the two faces, thus excluding at least one type of face (the “excluded faces”). The excluded faces are divided by the bisecting planes to generate a plurality of mobile elements while the non-bisected faces provide a plurality of rotating elements.

Different positions of the bisecting planes in respect to the base polyhedron vertices using the same proposed dividing method will result in a different quantity of elements and a different type of elements achieving either simpler or more complex puzzles. These simpler or more complex puzzles are within the scope of the invention presented in this disclosure. Various combinations, changes or modifications are possible giving almost any arbitrary exterior shape if the dividing method is used with other semiregular and irregular polyhedrons.

While the puzzle elements and parts are preferably manufactured from plastic, these puzzles can also be made of wood, metal, or a combination of the aforementioned materials. These elements and parts may be solid or hollow. The motion of the puzzle mechanism can be enhanced by employing springs, bearings, semi-spherical surface knobs, grooves, indentations and recesses, as is well known in the art and are already well described in the prior art of shifting and sliding puzzles. Likewise, “stabilizing” parts can also be inserted in the mechanism to bias the moving elements to the “rest positions”, as is also well known in the art.

Embodiment 3: Shifting Spherical Puzzle

The third preferred embodiment is shown in FIG. 18 to FIG. 21.

Reference is now made to FIG. 18. The illustrated spherical rotating element 120 is obtained with the same dividing method as previously mentioned except that the divided polyhedron is now replaced by a sphere with its radius selected to be coincident with vertex aa and gg of FIG. 3. The spherical rotating element 120 is shaped like a convex pentagon with a protrusion 121 performing the same function as the protrusion 21 of the rotating element 20 shown in FIG. 3. The protrusion 121 is provided with a holding means (not shown) for holding pivotally the rotating element 120 on a half center core element 110. This holding means is situated at the geometrical center of the protrusion 121 and is intended to be pivotally retained from within the puzzle without passing through the outer surface 1201 of the spherical rotating element 120. With suitable modification, the spherical rotating element 120 could be assembled on the center element 10, all within the scope of the present invention. As will be explained below, the center element 10 is optional for the spherical puzzle, i.e. the spherical puzzle can be designed with or without a center element or core. The outward face 1201 is a portion of the puzzle spherical outer shell and corresponds to a combination of face 201 and face 202. Faces 1203 and 1204 are similar to faces 203 and 204 and perform the same functions.

Reference is now made to FIG. 19. This figure depicts a spherical mobile element 130 similar to the mobile element 30 of FIG. 5. The outer face 1301 also constitutes a portion of the puzzle's spherical outer shell. Protrusion 131, faces 1304, 1306 and 1307 are equivalent to the protrusion 31, faces 304, 306 and 307. Faces 1309 and 1310 provide exactly the same functions as, respectively, faces 304 and 306 while furthermore acting to retain a spherical gap element 180, depicted in FIG. 20 and whose structure and function will be described below.

Reference is now made to FIG. 20. This figure shows a spherical gap element 180 shaped like an equilateral spherical triangle. The outer face 1801 also forms part of the puzzle's spherical outer shell. Protrusion 181, faces 1802 and 1803 are functionally equivalent to previously mentioned protrusion 131 and faces 1304, 1306. The spherical gap element 180 is optionally cut along faces 1804 so that the elements do not interfere with each other when moved, i.e. the cutoff faces 1804 ensure that elements of the spherical puzzle do not catch when they are displaced relative to one another.

Reference is now made to FIG. 21 showing a spherical puzzle in accordance with the third preferred embodiment wherein one spherical group is illustrated in an exploded view. This spherical group is similar to the group defined above, including one spherical rotating element 120, five spherical mobile elements 130 (“first elements”) and five spherical gap elements 180 (“second elements”). In all, the spherical puzzle in accordance with the third preferred embodiment is constituted of two half center core elements 110 (shown in FIG. 23 and FIG. 24), twelve spherical rotating elements 120, thirty spherical mobile elements 130 and twenty spherical gap elements 180. The puzzle in accordance with the third preferred embodiment is completely spherical (thus aesthetically pleasing) and is believed to be slightly more complex than the Buckyball puzzle in accordance with the first preferred embodiment. As was the case wit the previous two embodiments, this spherical puzzle is both challenging and entertaining. Furthermore, as described above with regard to the first two embodiments, the difficulty level of this puzzle can be modulated by varying the number of distinct colours, emblems, logos or other visual indicia displayed on the outer surfaces of the elements of the puzzle.

Embodiment 4: Shifting and Sliding Spherical Puzzle

Reference is now made to FIG. 22. This figure illustrates a shifting and sliding spherical puzzle in accordance with a fourth preferred embodiment of the invention. The shifting motion of the puzzle is achieved by enabling augmented spherical group to move around modified spherical rotating elements 120′ while the sliding motion of the puzzle is achieved by enabling spherical clusters to move around spherical-gap cap elements 140. In this particular spherical puzzle, an augmented spherical group includes one modified spherical rotating element 120′, five modified spherical mobile elements 143, ten spherical mobile cap elements 141, five modified concealed spherical gap elements 180′, five spherical-gap cap elements 140 and five spherical rotating cap elements 142. All the previously mentioned modified elements 120′, 143, 180′ incorporate modifications similar to the puzzle of the second preferred embodiment in order to enable sliding of superimposed elements in each spherical cluster. These modifications are analogous to the modifications made to the first embodiment to create the second embodiment, and therefore need not be repeated herein. In the fourth preferred embodiment, a spherical cluster is constituted of one spherical-gap cap element 140, three spherical mobile cap elements 141 and three spherical rotating cap elements 142. A complete puzzle of the fourth embodiment is constituted of two half center core elements 110 (as shown in subsequent figures), twelve modified spherical rotating elements 120′, thirty modified spherical mobile elements 143, twenty modified concealed spherical gap elements 180′, twenty spherical-gap cap elements 140, sixty spherical mobile cap elements 141 and sixty spherical rotating cap elements 142. All these cap elements are exchangeable from one augmented spherical group to another augmented spherical group and within spherical clusters, thus providing a potentially huge number of permutations for the serious puzzle enthusiast seeking an ultimate puzzle challenge.

Reference is now made to FIG. 23. This figure illustrates the interfitting and snapping action of two half center core elements 110. When assembled together these two half center core elements form a hollow center core element shaped as a regular dodecahedron. Similarities between this hollow center core element and the center element 10 are apparent from FIG. 2. Faces 111 and 1101 are equivalent to the extension 11 and face 101. The mounting means (e.g. the bore) 13 is now implemented directly in the spherical rotating element 120 inside its protrusion 121 with a bore or other such mounting means 113 serving as a through hole for assembly. With this hollow center core element there is exactly six non-orthogonal axes as with the center element 10, axis a-a being one of them. As with the previous center elements there are twelve mounting positions provided to receive twelve spherical rotating elements 120 or 120′. This hollow center core element can replace the center elements of the first and second preferred embodiments by making proper modifications to the rotating elements. These modifications lie within the scope of the present invention. In general, depending on the guiding polyhedron and the selected dividing planes, the hollow center core element may or may not have exposed faces. Snapping protrusions facing inside 114 and outside 115 are provided to enable simple and firm assembly of two half center core elements 110 to constitute the hollow center core element.

Reference is now made to FIG. 24. This figure shows a mechanism for internally interconnecting the spherical rotating elements 120 or 120′ to the two half center core elements 110. As depicted in FIG. 24, the spherical rotating elements 120 or 120′ are rotationally connected to the hollow center core element by a screw 50, two (optional) washers 60 and a coil spring 70. Each screw 50 is inserted from inside the puzzle through the bores 113 to fasten the respective spherical rotating element 120 or 120′ to the half center core elements 110. No recessed bores are required on the outside surfaces of the spherical rotating elements 120 or 120′ and thus no capping of elements is required in order to obtain an even and smooth outer surface over the spherical outer shell of the puzzle. This design can also be implemented in the first and second embodiments by also using a hollow center core element. FIG. 21 and FIG. 22 illustrate the even and smooth outer shell of the puzzles in accordance with the third and fourth embodiments. It is understood that the interconnecting mechanism could be replaced by snapping action parts, all within the scope of the present invention.

As mentioned above, the spherical puzzles of the third and fourth embodiment can also be constructed without a core or center element 10. While it is preferable to utilize a core or center element 10, it is also possible to construct the spherical puzzles of the third and fourth embodiment without any core or center element 10. A coreless spherical puzzle can be constructed by providing the spherical rotating elements 120, spherical mobile elements 130 and spherical gap elements 180 with appropriate protrusions and grooves. These protrusions and grooves cooperate as interfitting male and female connections to slideably and rotatably interlock the various elements to thus hold the elements together to form a complete sphere. Since the spherical rotating elements 120, spherical mobile elements 130 and spherical gap elements 180 are interlocked, there is no longer any need for a center element 10 or core to retain or hold the various elements of the spherical puzzle in place. For example, in one implementation of this coreless spherical puzzle, each spherical rotating element 120 would have grooves (or female connectors) on each of its five inwardly curved sides. To interlock with each spherical rotating element 120, each spherical mobile element 130 would have protrusions (male connectors) on its two outwardly curved sides with grooves (female connectors) on its two inwardly curved sides. To interlock with both the spherical rotating elements 120 and the “female sides” of the spherical mobile elements 130, each of the spherical gap elements 180 would have protrusions (or male connectors) on each of its three sides.

The same techniques for arranging the display of colours, emblems, logos or other visual indicia on the outer surfaces of the puzzles to modulate the difficulty level (as was described with regard to FIGS. 14-17) are also applicable, with minor modifications, to both the third and fourth preferred embodiments. However, with spherical puzzles, the difficulty level for a particular indicia pattern will generally be higher due to the added number of elements involved, particular for the fourth preferred embodiment with its one hundred and eighty-two outer elements. More complex indicia patterns can be developed to impose a unique solution on every outer element. Complex descriptions of evoluted patterns are not included in the present disclosure for the sake of simplicity, but are well within the scope of the technology introduced here and can be easily derived from the principles already disclosed. Generally, though, the indicia patterns are used to modulate the puzzle difficulty level by changing the total number of permutations to make the puzzle reasonably solvable.

The visual indicia could be made of distinctive colours, textures, visible legends (numbers, letters, symbols, images, or a combination) or a combination of the above, or patterns of the above, or corporate and/or team logos, or emblems, or national flags applied on the visible portions of the puzzle. The outer shell of the puzzles can be used to mimic objects such as a soccer ball, basketball, baseball or the like. The outer shell could reproduce cartoons, heads and/or faces, organs, planets and the like. The outer shell could be used for learning purposes, publicity and marketing purposes, artistic purposes and other applications as well.

In a variant, some or all of the hexagonal faces can be made pyramidal, i.e. the geometrical centers of the hexagonal faces can be stellated. The resulting stellated puzzle would have a spiky appearance.

It will be noted that exact dimensions are not provided in the present description since these puzzles can be constructed in a variety of sizes.

The foregoing puzzles are symmetrical, aesthetically-pleasing, entertaining and challenging. Although the theoretical number of permutations is enormous, especially for the second and fourth embodiments, the difficulty level of these puzzles can be easily modulated by reducing the number of different visual indicia (e.g. color schemes or face patterns) that are displayed on the faces. In other words, different versions of the puzzle can be provided for novice, intermediate or expert players, or even for kids.

Three-Dimensional Puzzles Having Outer Element Surfaces Displaying Corporate and/or Team Logos

Another aspect of the present invention is a three-dimensional puzzle that serves as an advertising medium. In other words, this three-dimensional logical puzzle includes a plurality of moving elements having outer surfaces upon which can be displayed one or more logos such as, for example, corporate logos or sports team logos.

The puzzle is preferably either a Buckyball-shaped puzzle or a spherical puzzle, but other shapes could be used for displaying corporate or team logos. For example, since the Buckyball approximately resembles a soccer ball, the Buckyball-shaped puzzle is ideally suited as a promotional item in the world of soccer. For example, since the Buckyball-shaped puzzle has 32 faces (12 pentagons and 20 hexagons), the Buckyball puzzle would be ideally suited to display the national soccer team logo of each of the 32 nations in the FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournament. Of course, the puzzle can be used to display team logos for other tournaments or leagues having fewer than 32 teams (by simply leaving some surfaces blank or by using one or more of these “spare” surfaces to identify the league or authority (e.g. FIFA, UEFA, English Premier League) or to identify the host country, year of the tournament, etc.)

Again by way of example only, the faces of the Buckyball could also display corporate logos of sponsors of a tournament or event. For example, the logos of each of the corporate sponsors (Yahoo®, Coca-Cola®, Mastercard®, etc.) of the FIFA World Cup tournament could be displayed on each of the outer faces of the Buckyball puzzle. Alternatively, the puzzle could display a mix of team and corporate logos. Alternatively, only a subset of the outer faces of the puzzle could display logos, with the other surfaces being blank or solid coloured (i.e. to reduce the difficulty level of the puzzle, e.g. for kids).

As other examples, all or a subset of the faces of the Buckyball puzzle could be used to display team logos for the various teams of national soccer leagues, such as the English Premier Division, the Italian Serie A, the German Bundesliga, etc. As further examples, the Buckyball puzzle could display player jerseys (with player names and/or numbers), player faces, league emblems, etc. In addition to the Buckyball puzzle, the spherical puzzle is also ideally suited for corporate advertising or team logos in the world of soccer due to its close resemblance to a soccer ball.

Using the puzzles for advertising or displaying team or corporate logos can of course be utilized in other sports, including, but not limited to, basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, volleyball, handball, water polo, etc. where the puzzle can be made to mimic the look of the actual ball, for example, by drawing or printing suitable seams, lines, dimples, etc. on the outer surfaces of the puzzle to create a replica of the actual ball. For example, a puzzle made to look like a baseball could have seams drawn over the outer surfaces, with major league team logos or emblems on each of the outer surfaces, or on a subset of the outer surfaces.

Although the spherical puzzle is best suited for producing replica balls for sports having round balls, the same concept can be applied to sports that do not involve balls, or to sports having differently shaped balls (regardless whether the shape of the puzzle matches the shape of the actual ball used) such as, for example, for hockey, football, rugby, boxing, motor sports, etc.

In the foregoing examples, it should be noted that the difficulty-level of the puzzles could be modulated by displaying fewer logos on the puzzle, with some faces being solid colours or blank (white) for example, or by displaying logos that cover more than one of the outer surfaces of the puzzle. A very simple Buckyball or spherical puzzle would thus have two solid coloured hemispheres. By analogy, a logo puzzle having only two large logos, one on each of the hemispheres, would be fairly easy to solve. Alternatively, a single corporate sponsor could advertise exclusively on a spherical puzzle or Buckyball puzzle by having multiple instances of their emblem, for example, interspersed with solid colours (or white surfaces), or alternatively, have a single corporate emblem or logo printed on the entire outer surface such that it is effectively “wrapped around” the entire sphere or Buckyball.

Thus, it should be apparent that the logos need not be confined to each hexagonal or pentagonal surface of the Buckyball, e.g. a logo could be displayed over two or more contiguous outer faces. In the case of the spherical puzzle, the logos or other visual indicia could be printed without discretely confining the displays to each cluster of elements. Thus, for example, one could also produce a spherical puzzle having a map, stylized map or satellite photo of Planet Earth, of the moon, or of another planet, of a head of a person (historical, celebrity, famous or otherwise), or any other pattern of colors, artwork, photo, etc. that would provide an interesting visual puzzle.

In another example, a spherical or Buckyball puzzle could have alternating black and white faces like a traditional soccer ball but upon which a small number of logos would be displayed. Again, the difficulty level of the puzzle can be modulated by changing the number and size of the logos. A replica of the official ball of the FIFA World Cup or of a particular team or league or tournament or event could be created. For example, for fans of the Azzurri, a puzzle replicating a blue soccer ball with the colours and emblems of the Italian national soccer team could be produced, e.g. with the red, white and green Italian flag placed on one or more faces of the ball. For example, for fans of Manchester United, a puzzle replicating a red ball could be produced with the team emblem on one or more faces.

The puzzle with logos would provide not only a useful advertising medium for corporate sponsors, but also serve as entertainment for fans before the game, during half-time, or afterwards. In addition to being a challenging and fun toy, the puzzle displaying team logos, player jerseys, player faces, etc. would also serve as a lasting souvenir or memento of a particular tournament for fans to cherish for many years afterwards, while providing highly valuable, ongoing advertising for corporate sponsors, particularly for those puzzles that display a mix of team and corporate logos, for example, the emblems of the two finalists of a major tournament or league plus the corporate names/logos of the tournament's primary sponsors.

Although the preferred embodiments are the Buckyball puzzle and the spherical puzzle, it should be noted that advertising, corporate logos or team logos could also be placed onto the surfaces of other types of three dimensional puzzles to create promotional vehicles or souvenirs.

It is understood that the above description of the preferred embodiments is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention, which is defined solely by the appended claims.