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Pattern - Matching Puzzle

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Background Of The Invention
(text excerpt from the original  patent page

This invention relates to a puzzle game and more particularly a pattern - matching puzzle.
For centuries people have amused, and sometimes frustrated, themselves by devising puzzles .   Many of these required only imagination or at best paper, pencil, and a logical or mathematical turn of mind .   Cannibals and missionaries have been crossing rivers for generations;   engines of trains have been reversing their directions on a siding for decades .   Whole books of such puzzles are available .

Other puzzles require manipulation of physical objects, sometimes with a certain amount of dexterity but usually only with an appreciation of the underlying mathematical principles .   Triple rings that can be assembled, in a unique way, into a single ring are of this type .   So are wooden objects, such as balls or squares, made up of interlocking parts that must be assembled in a certain order .

One drawback of these puzzles is that they represent only a single puzzle each and thus only a single solution .   Once the puzzle is made, its interrelations are set and cannot be changed .   Having once accomplished the puzzle, the owner gets little satisfaction out of repeating the solution himself, though he may get considerable satisfaction out of observing others being unable to find the solution .

It is accordingly an object of this invention to provide a puzzle whose key interrelationships can be varied, thereby affording the user a variety of different solutions .

It is another object of this invention to provide a pattern - matching puzzle in which various elements must conform to set patterns as the puzzle is solved .   More specifically it is an object of certain embodiments of this invention to provide such a puzzle in which the patterns can be varied between solutions .


       
pic #1: removable sliding cradle with pivoting teeter bars
pic #2: pattern bar assembly (blocking keys) set to 'ones' only
pic #3: pattern bar assembly (blocking keys) reset to 1 0 1 0
Notice the removable locking pin . . . this pin is temporarily removed from the assembly to make a specific pattern of 'ones' and 'zeros', then replaced to lock the assembly while a solution is being manipulated.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

These and other objects of this invention are attained in one specific illustrative embodiment in which a plurality of teeter bars are provided together with a lesser plurality of pattern bars .   The teeter bars are mounted on a slide positioned in a bed or frame between two side rails .   The higher side rail has two characteristics .   First, there is a groove extending along the length of the bed so that one end of the teeter bars can be positioned in it;   the groove does not extend to the end of the bed, however, so that the slide cannot move off the bed unless all of the teeter bars are positioned so that their one ends rest on top of that higher side rail .   The second characteristic of the side rail is that it has an opening substantially midway in the side rail, the opening being as wide as a teeter bar so as to provide a path through which the teeter bar may be pivotally moved to shift the position of its one end between the groove and the top of the side rail or between the top of the side rail and the groove .

A gate element, however, is positioned in this opening .   In its normal position it appears merely as a part of the side rail and thus forming a part of the frame .   Accordingly a teeter bar end can pass along its top or along the rail groove at the gate element .   The gate element is physically connected to a spring loaded support or rack positioned adjacent the lower side rail .   The player of the game by pressing the support member against this slight spring bias can move the support member up to the lower side rail .   This simultaneously pushes the gate element out of the opening in the other rail, to allow a change in the position of a teeter bar .

There is, of course, a catch to this simple operation .   The support member carries a number of pattern bars .   These are advantageously removeably supported, as by a pin, so that their pattern can be altered at will, thereby varying the solution to the puzzle .   The pattern bars are shaped so that each presents one of two patterns to the teeter bars .   Either a pattern bar requires that a teeter bar directly adjacent it be resting on the higher side rail, in which case the pattern bar will pass over its other end, or the pattern bar requires that the teeter bar adjacent it be in the groove, in which case the pattern bar will pass under the other end of the teeter bar .   If a teeter bar adjacent a pattern bar does not conform to the pattern of that pattern bar, the support member is blocked and cannot move adjacent the lower side rail .   More importantly, when this happens the gate element cannot move out of the opening to allow a change in position of the teeter bar which is adjacent the gate element at that moment .

Advantageously, there are more teeter bars than pattern bars .   In the embodiment described herein there are eight teeter bars and four pattern bars .   Since each pattern bar may present one of two patterns, these four pattern bars represent 16 different game solutions .   The four pattern bars therefore appear at test locations for up to four teeter bars that may be located between the gate and the stop in the groove .

In the initial position of the puzzle, the slide is at the end of the base away from the stop or closed end of the groove .   All of the teeter bars have their one ends below the upper surface of the higher side rail and in the groove .   The object of the puzzle is to manipulate the slide and the gate element to allow the slide to be removed from the other end of the base .   Since the groove at that end is blocked by the stop, this requires that all of the teeter bars be moved so that their one ends rest on top of the higher side rail .

As noted above, a teeter bar can only be pivoted when it is at the gate and the gate element may be moved .   This in turn can only occur if the teeter bars adjacent the pattern bars, which may mean up to four teeter bars, match their positions against the patterns of the pattern bars .   If one or more of the pattern bars in the test spaces do not match the teeter bars, the pattern bars strike the teeter bars and the gate cannot be opened .   What is required therefore is a series of moves of the slide backwards and forwards, with teeter bars being pivoted at the gate position so that those teeter bars (from 0 to 4) at the test positions adjacent pattern bars match the patterns of the pattern bars .

As noted above, each of the possible combinations of patterns represents a different puzzle requiring a different sequence of movements of the teeter bars for its solutions and, with four pattern bars, there are sixteen different puzzles .   The simplest pattern (all pattern bars up) is trivial and requires only the eight moves needed to pivot the eight teeter bars individually through the gate position .   The longest of the 16 puzzles however takes 170 moves .   Some patterns requiring an intermediate number of moves are actually more difficult, however, since the sequence of moves is more complex .