A Hamleys advertisement from about 1920 and the same puzzles in the Puzzle Museum Collection.
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Click "Main Class" below for examples in Puzzles of Month, or Click picture for more information.


DEXTERITY PUZZLES (DEX) require the use of manual dexterity or other physical skills in their solution


DEX-UNCA Uncased Dexterities Cup & Ball, "Le Pendu", "Theo der Turnier", Tomy's "Crazy Maze", Puzzles using Tops
DEX-BALL Dexterity. Plain Balls into holes Pentangle "Roly-Poly" puzzles
DEX-OBST Dexterity with sundry obstacles &/or objects Ramps - bridges - jumping beans - etc.
DEX-LQOB Liquid objects Mercury manipulation
DEX-INLQ Dexterity in Liquid Water-filled puzzles
DEX-MIRR Indirect viewing by mirror Kohner's "Nervous Breakdown"
DEX-MECH Mechanised Tomy's "Pocketeers"
DEX-TOOL Using tools & magnetic tools Reiss "Magnetic Puzzle-Ups"
DEX-RTFL Route following Dexterity Farmer's "Silver Bullet", Tomy's"Supermazes", Binary Arts "Back-Flip"
DEX-HIDD Objects concealed from view Four Generations "Ball in Block", Engel's "Black Box"
DEX-ELEC Electrical & Electronic Dexterities Nintendo's "Game & Watch" series.
DEX-PINB Pinball related dexterities Bagatelle
DEX-OTH Other Dexterities Pneumatic operation

ROUTEFINDING PUZZLES (RTF) require the solver to find either any path, or a specific path as defined by certain rules

RTF-CPLX Routefinding with Changing Path &/or Complex Traveller "Frying Pan"(changing), "Yankee"(complex), "Tandem Maze"(complex), "Bootlegger"(complex)
RTF-STEP Routefinding Step Mazes Ring & Hole mazes, "Pike's Peak"
RTF-UNIC Unicursal Routefinding Icosian Game, Konigsburg Bridges
RTF-SHOR Shortest Route -
RTF-ANY Route Mazes (any path) Most Hedge mazes, Mazes on surface of a cube, Ball in 4x4x4 cube of cubelets
RTF-OTH Complex Route Mazes with special objectives "Worried Woodworm", Colour Mazes, Number totalling mazes, avoiding objects, visiting places en route

TANGLEMENT PUZZLES (TNG) have parts that must be linked or unlinked. The linked parts, which may be flexible, have significant freedom of movement in relation to each other, unlike the parts of an interlocking puzzle

TNG-RIGI Tanglement of Rigid & Semi Rigid Parts Wire PUZZLES, Cast "ABC", Chinese Rings
TNG-R&F Tanglement of Rigid & Flexible Parts Hess Wire puzzles, Dalgety's "Devil's Halo"
TNG-FLEX All Flexible Parts Leather tanglement puzzles
TNG-RING Puzzle Finger Rings Puzzle Rings, Puzzle Bracelets

OPENING PUZZLES (OPN) are puzzles in which the principle object is to open it, close it, undo it, remove something from it, or otherwise get it to work. They usually comprise a single object or associated parts such as a box with its lid, a padlock and its hasp, or a nut & bolt. The mechanism of the puzzle is not usually apparent, nor do they involve general assembly or disassembly of parts that interlock in 3D.

OPN-BOX Opening Containers Boxes, Purses
OPN-LOCK Opening Locks Padlocks
OPN-HIDD Opening/finding Hidden Compartments not originally designed as puzzles Chippendale Tea-Chests, Poison Rings.
OPN-OTH Opening other objects Nut & Bolt, Knives, Pens, Cutlery, Oskar's Keys, Oskar's "Dovetail", "Hazelgrove Box"

INTERLOCKING PUZZLES (INT) interlock in three dimensions, i.e. one or more pieces hold the rest together, or the pieces are mutually self-sustaining. Many clip-together puzzles are "non-interlocking"

INT-BOX Boxes that disassemble Strijbos Aluminium Burr Box
INT-CART Cartesian (Internal Parts along 3 mutually perpendicular axes) Burrs, Cutler's Burr in a glass, most plastic keychains, JWIP, "Nine of Swords"
INT-POLY Interlocking Polyhedral & other non-cartesian geometric shapes Coffin's "Saturn", Squashed burrs
INT-OTH Other Interlocking Shapes "Tak-it-Apart", "Plato's Plight"

JIGSAW PUZZLES (JIG) are made as if cut or stamped into pieces from a single complete object, and the principle objective is to restore them to their unique original form.

JIG-STD Standard Jigsaws Can include double sided puzzles, & jigsaws with holes & gaps
JIG-IDEN Jigsaws with identical pieces "Shmuzzles", Ceramic hexagons, Picture Cubes & Blocks
JIG-SLOP Jigsaws with non perpendicular/sloping cuts "Broken Heart", Japanese "Sabre Tooth Tiger"
JIG-LAYR Multiple layer Jigsaws Transparent Escher jigsaw
JIG-OTH Other jigsaws Stave variable picture, "Toyznet", Bilhourd's incomplete surfaces

ASSEMBLY PUZZLES (NON‑INTERLOCKING) (ASS) require the arrangement of separate pieces to make specific shapes without regard to the sequence of that placing, they may clip together but do not interlock in 3D. Some have a container and are posed as packing problems.

ASS-CART Assembly of Cartesian Parts Pentominoes, Checkerboards, Polycubes, Soma, "Hoffman" cube, "Managon", "Even Steven", Squashed Soma, Laker Cube
ASS-STRA Straight Edge/Face Non-cartesian Tangram, T-puzzle, Triangular & Hexagonal polyominoes, 9-piece ivory cube
ASS-POLY Assembly Polyhedra & Spheres Ball Pyramids
ASS-OTH Assembly of other shapes Pack the Plums, Apple & Worms, "Phoney Baloney", Gears

PATTERN PUZZLES (PAT) require the placing or arrangement of separate pieces of a similar nature to complete surface patterns according to defined rules. The pattern required may be the matching of edges of squares, faces of cubes, etc. The pattern may be colour, texture, shape, etc. Where the pattern is due to differences in shape they must be sufficiently minor not to obscure the similarity of the pieces

PAT-EDGE Matching Edges &/or Corners patterns Heads & Tails, "Dodeca", Macmahon squares
PAT-STIX Patterns of sticks Match Puzzles, Jensen's "Tricky Laberint"
PAT-NUMB Arrangements of Number Patterns Magic Squares, Number Puzzles
PAT-SIMI Pattern arrangements of similar, points, pegs, or pieces according to predetermined rules Queens on Chess Board, Josephus, Waddington's "Black Box", "Instant Insanity", "Dodeca", Macmahon cubes, Bognar's "Planets"
PAT-DISS Arrangement of dissimilar pieces to make pattern according to predetermined rules "Testa", Skor Mor's "Instant Indecision", Chinese Balls in Ball, Waddington's "Kolor Kraze"
PAT-STAK Stacking, Overlapping & Weaving Patterns Stacking Transparent Layers, "Lapin", Loyd's Donkeys, Weaving puzzles
PAT-OTH Other Pattern puzzles Oskar's "Solar System"

FOLDING & HINGED PUZZLES (FOL) have parts that are joined together and usually do not come apart. They are solved by hinging, flexing, or folding

FOL-SPRI Folding Springy wire and strips "Why Knots", Mobius Strips
FOL-HGOP Folding Hinged parts in Open chain Rubik's "Snake", Strung Cubes, Clinch Cube
FOL-HGCL Hinged Parts in Closed chain Flexagons, Rubik's "Magic", "Flexicube"
FOL-SHEE Folding sheets & strips Map Folding, "Jail Nixon", strip polyhedra

SEQUENTIAL MOVEMENT PUZZLES (SEQ) are those that can be solved only by moves which can be seen to be dependant on previously made moves.

SEQ-PLAC Sequential Placement "Psychic Puzzle", "Fit Puzzle"
SEQ-RIVR Sequential River Crossing "Wolf,Sheep & Cabbage"
SEQ-HOPP Sequential Hopping & Jumping. Solitaire, Tower of Hanoi, Counter & Peg moving puzzles
SEQ-SIMP Sequential Simple Sliding & Shunting (No group moves needed) 15s puzzle, Tit-Bit's "Teasers", "Inversions"
SEQ-GRP Sliding & Shunting with Mechanical or Rotating parts (some Group moves NEEDED) "Tower of Babel", "Missing Link", "Backspin", "Turntable Train", Tomy's "Great Gears", Raba's "Rotascope", "Rubik's" Cube, "Orbit"
SEQ-ROLL Sequential Rolling Rolling 8 Cubes
SEQ-OTH Sequential Miscellaneous Mechanical "The Brain", "Hexadecimal", "Spin Out"

JUGS & VESSELS (JUG) have a mechanical puzzle or trick in their construction that affects the filling, pouring or drinking therefrom.

JUG-STD Puzzle Vessels standard (built-in tubes to suck) -
JUG-CPLX Complex Vessels requiring special manipulation Gemma Patent 2006, Combination JUG-STD/JUG-BASE
JUG-BASE Vessels that pour from Base "Jolly Jugs", Thrift Cups
JUG-NLID Lidless Vessels (fill from base) Cadogan Teapots, Chinese winepots
JUG-OTH Other vessels Royale's "Self-Pouring" Patent, Spoutless winepots (hydraulic seal)

OTHER TYPES OF MECHANICAL PUZZLES & OBJECTS. (OTH) This group is for puzzle objects that do not easily fall into the above categories and cannot be categorised into sufficiently large groups to warrant their own major class. Included in this group are Balancing, Measuring, Cutting, Math, Logic, Trick, Mystery, & Theoretical puzzles . Also provision is made for puzzles pending classification.

OTH-ELEC Electrical & Electronic (non-dexterity) -
OTH-BAL Balancing (non-dexterity) "Columbus Egg"
OTH-MEAS Measuring & Weighing Puzzles Jugs & Liquids, 12 Golf Balls, Archimedes Gold
OTH-CUT Cutting Puzzles Cork for 3 Holes, Five Squares Puzzle
OTH-WORD Puzzles applied to objects, the puzzle more usually found printed on paper Rebus, Anagrams, Riddles, Crosswords, Etc. (on Plates, Jugs, Loo Paper, etc.)
OTH-RIDD Riddles Riddles (on Plates, Jugs, Loo Paper, etc.)
OTH-GAME Puzzle related games and toys. Pocketeer Bean Bop, Parker's "Orion" "Mind Maze" & "Situation 4", Rubik's Challenge
OTH-MATH Mathematical Puzzles (excluding number pattern arrangements) -
OTH-LOGI Logic Puzzles Cartoon pictures to arrange in order
OTH-TRIK Trick or Catch Puzzles (solution needs subterfuge) "Infernal Bottle", Some magic tricks
OTH-MAGI Magic & Conjuring Puzzles Self-working magic tricks
OTH-MYST Objects whose function or material is a mystery Wotsits, Creteco spacers
OTH-VIRT Puzzles whose existence is only theoretically possible. Such as 4d puzzles, or those which can ONLY be represented on a computer
OTH-SET Sets of Puzzles of Mixed Type Compendiums of mixed type puzzles
OTH-PEND PENDING CLASSIFICATION !! Puzzles awaiting classification

AMBIGUOUS PICTURES & PUZZLING OBJECTS (AMB) in which something appears impossible or ambiguous.

AMB-POBJ Paradoxical Objects (Objects that apparently cannot be made) Arrow through bottle, Impossible Dovetails, Oskar's "Escher Puzzle", Penrose triangles.
AMB-VANI Vanishing Images "Vanishing Leprechauns", Hoopers paradox
AMB-DIST Distortions Anamorphic pictures
AMB-ARCH Archimboldesque Objects Pictures and objects of one subject made up from unrelated images or objects.
AMB-HIDD Hidden Image Pictures (no manipulation required) Devinettes (obscure outlines), "Spot the Difference", Random Dot Stereograms
AMB-HMAN Hidden Image Pictures (Manipulation Required) "Naughty Butterflys", "Find the 5th Pig", Needing coloured overlays, Soot on unglazed part of ashtray
AMB-TURN Pictures that require turning to show different images. Landscape turned to make a portrait, Topsey Turveys, OHOs, Courtship/Matrimony, Monk/donkey vesta
AMB-ILLU Perception Illusions Optical Illusions, Weight Illusions

NON-PUZZLE but related EPHEMERA (EPH) has been included as most puzzle collections include related ephemera which, whilst not strictly puzzles, need to be classified as part of the collection.

EPH-SHAD Shadow effects Hold to light cards producing movements by shadows, Shadowgraphs, Wiggle-Woggle Hold--to-Light cards
EPH-HTL Images revealed by Holding to Light Protean Views, Hold to Light advertisements
EPH-MICR Images & words concealed by extreme smallness Micro printing
EPH-MOIR Effects produced by moire patterns -
EPH-HOLO Holograms Holograms of Puzzles solving themselves
EPH-ANAG Anaglyphs Requiring red & green glasses for either 3D or movement effects
EPH-STRP Strip Pictures (Different views from different angles) Framed strip prints showing 3 different views
EPH-OTH Other puzzle related ephemera Non-rebus heiroglyphics

The Puzzle Classification was completed in 1999 and in the past 7 years it has only been found necessary to add Sub-Class - OTH-GAME for Games that are related to Puzzles.

In 2010 the sub-class -REL was added to ALL main classes to cover the many objects that are found in Puzzle Collections which are related to, but not in themselves, puzzles.

New Subclasses are still under consideration :
a) for puzzles that look like, for example, TNG but are actually an OPN.
Currently OTH-TRIK is for puzzles that require subterfuge in the form of an additional component; or, in other words, for puzzles that are not fully self-contained.

b) for "How does it work" puzzles which cannot be included in AMB-POBJ

Considering for dropping: -
AMB-TURN as they can be included in AMB-HIDD


Puzzle Classification - Introduction & Definitions
Puzzle Classification - Detail Table
Puzzle Classification - Making a Database
Puzzles of Month indexed by Class


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Classification Details