Top 10 Challenging 3-piece Puzzles

Top 10 Challenging 3-piece Puzzles

How a set of three pieces can create an intrigue when this intrigue is wrapped in a clever puzzle? The time proves such puzzles existed decades or even centuries ago and the practice shows they are invented nowadays on quite a regular frequency. We took a look at the most intriguing ones and selected our Top-10 to provide you with the insight what a challenge such creations of human ingenuity can present. Several preconditions had been considered while selecting the puzzles for this review. 1. A selected puzzle must not be trivial. 2. The pieces can be complex, provided that if such a piece is broken into at least two smaller pieces the idea of the puzzle is totally broken. 3. If there is a whole generic group of the similar 3-piece puzzles, then only one candidate from the group is selected for this review. Good luck and Happy Puzzling!

Segerblom Knot

by Wilhelm Segerblom


Jim Storer

Opening of the list is a 3-piece burr/knot puzzle. Usually the burr puzzles start with at least 6 pieces. The category with 3 pieces is not that big. The puzzles are relatively moderate in difficulty. The one selected from the entire group is the burr/knot published for the first time in Scientific American in 1899. The dexterity of the puzzle is rooted in the fact all three pieces should be manipulated simultaneously to solve it.


HORSE Hanayama

author unknown

This is a wonderful replica of a very old puzzle with two horseshoes and a ring. Hanayama made it more stylish converting the ring into the third horseshoe. The goal is simple: remove that horseshoe from other two ones. Not the hardest puzzle on the list. Only one special twist leads to the winning route.


Saddle the Horses

by Sam Loyd


This puzzle is mostly produced on the paper or cardboard. Its goal is simple: arrange the three cards in such a way that the two riders ride their respective horses.<br/><br/>

Sam Loyd invented "Saddle the Horse" in 1872. Loyd sold the concept to P.T. Barnum (of Barnum and Bailey circus fame), who handed out millions of them to circus-goers under the name "P.T. Barnum’s Trick Mules." The variations of the puzzle included such combinations as clowns on donkeys or witches on black cats.


AMOUR Hanayama

by Akio Yamamoto

Nob Yoshigahara: “A masterpiece by metal smith Akio Yamamoto, the key word for this puzzle is “love”. The two separate, linked loops make this puzzle extremely challenging. The objective is to remove the masterfully united “Adam” and “Eve” loops from the metal plate crafted in the shape of the “Forbidden Fruit”… and, if you succeed in putting them back together again, your love may just come to fruition.”

Buy at: ~$9.97

CHAIN Hanayama

by Oskar van Deventer

In 2002 Nob Yoshigahara wrote about this puzzle: “There’s a whole of wisdom wrapped up in this masterpiece. The three pieces can be separated and then joined again in their original form. What’s special about this puzzle is that it can be solved three different ways, depending on which of the three pieces is chosen as the middle piece. Solving this puzzle requires an especially subtle kind of working of the pieces, the kind that often leaves the victim struggling in frustration. Keeping in mind its chainlike behavior and using your feeling to your advantage is the best way to attack this. The key word is 'chain.'"


Bucolic Puzzle

by Yasuhiro Hashimoto

Assemble the three identical pieces into a 3×3×3 cube. The puzzle was an official participant in Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition 2013. It looks deceptively misleading compared to its actual difficulty. Can take hours of trials and errors before finding the desired combination.


COASTER Hanayama

by Serhiy Grabarchuk

One of the two puzzles on our list which constantly keeps its parts together. In this case both tasks make sense - take the pieces apart (an easier one) and then out them back together (the real challenge) create a stylish coaster. The puzzle is one of its kind in the entire Cast Puzzles series from Hanayama company.

Buy at: ~$8.99


by Vesa Timonen


Puzzle Master

Invented by the Finnish prolific puzzle designer and presented on the International Puzzle Party in London in 2014. One more hard puzzle on the list. Every piece has a dark and a light part. Goal: make two identical shapes of the 3 pieces - one dark and one light. All pieces must lay flat with no overlaps. You’ll probably discover along the process the two shapes are most likely the mirrored ones and have gaps between their respective parts. The intrigue is heated more with the fact there are two known solutions to the puzzle.


The “E” Puzzle

by Angus Lavery


Puzzle Master

Place the three pieces in such a way that to make the capital letter E to appear. The image with three pieces put together is not the actual solution. This is one of those Aha! puzzles when the effect of achieving the solution is really visible. It is recommended to solve the puzzle on a plain surface.


All Uphill

author unknown

The puzzle is known for many decades. The replica from Thinkfun, Inc. is one of the recent versions of it. Though the puzzle is not the hardest among the rest on the list, the facts it a) keeps all its pieces always together and b) to solve it one should employ a special natural force, made it to the top of our list. Goal is simple: put each of the two balls at the opposite ends of the cradle. The out-of-the-box thinking and a clean smooth surface will help.

keyboard_arrow_left Prev
Next keyboard_arrow_right