Magazine article USA TODAY

Stave Puzzles: Let the Tortuous Fun Begin

Magazine article USA TODAY

Stave Puzzles: Let the Tortuous Fun Begin

Article excerpt

Jigsaw puzzle aficionados take note: You haven't mastered the skill until you've conquered a Stave puzzle. Equal parts excitement and frustration, each hand-cut, wooden design is intended to confound you. We got an inkling of what was in store when we learned that the president of Stave Puzzles, Steve Richardson, is also known as the "Chief Tormentor."

Make no mistake about it, these are not ordinary puzzles. The first thing you'll notice is the deceptively small box, hand-lettered and personalized with your name, but there's no picture of the contents. The pieces are designed to confuse--what looks like a corner actually will fit in the middle, side pieces are thoroughly disguised and, often, there are no straight edges. They have Teaser puzzles with confusing colors, repeating shapes, irregular edges, and empty spaces into which nothing fits. Tougher still are the Trick puzzles, with pieces that fit in more than one place. They come with clues in the form of a little block of wood to explain what you are trying to accomplish.

If you think you can use the wood grain to help you, forget about it. It's inconsistent in the correct solution. …

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