The snake cube puzzle lessons

Snake cube puzzle

The conscious mind can be so dumb sometimes and our intuition so powerful.

This puzzle was handed to me by my son, unravelled and without instructions. I attempted to reform the cube but after many hours of trial and error it defeated me.

Humbled, I Googled the puzzle and found the solution. The solution is unique, only one particular sequence of moves will work. I demonstrated this knowledge to the rest of the family then forgot about the puzzle.

Some months later, it came to my attention again when I found it unravelled. Confidently I attempted to reform the cube. My confidence quickly crumbled as I realised I had forgotten the sequence. It must be one of those stupid pride switches in the brain that made me resolve to reform the cube without any assistance from the internet. Rationally, I should have just repeated the Google search but stubbornness made me take the hard route.

An hour later I had learned a couple of valuable lessons.

Lesson one.
I was certain how the puzzle had to be started, so my first position was always the same but no matter how many times I tried to form the cube I got one of several incorrect results. I simply repeated the same mistakes thinking I might spot where I was going wrong. Humans are pretty dumb sometimes. Eventually I became so frustrated I unthinkingly tore at the puzzle.

Lesson two.
After I had had my little tantrum I noticed the snake was in a configuration I wasn’t used to seeing. Another few moves and the snake was snugly coiled back into the cube form. Working backwards I tried to see where I had been going wrong. To my amazement, the error was in my very first position, the one I had been so sure about and which I never questioned. That massive assumption cost me an hour of frustration. But the real lesson was this, by giving up on the conscious attempt to solve the puzzle my subconscious side took over which clearly remembered the correct sequence. Here was a dramatic reminder that some folklore, such as sleep on the problem, holds good.

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