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The Pros and Cons of Handheld Puzzles

Handheld puzzles are meant and designed for you to hold in your hand(s) whilst being played with meaning they very often are a size that will fit in the palms of your hands and are a puzzle that has to be manipulated using your hands and fingers in order to solve it. These come in a wide variety of forms and could be a disentangle challenge, an assembly/disassembly challenge, a speed cube, a sliding puzzle, an electronic puzzle, a codebreaking challenge like the mini Cryptex, a maze, etc. They can also be a puzzle that has been scaled down in size to miniature form for example miniature speedcubes which makes them lighter in weight and easier to carry with you. The impressive aspect of those that are miniature form is that they can be so small and tiny yet they are still usable and function properly. Handheld puzzles being small doesn't mean they are not complex with some of the most difficult physical brain teaser puzzles out there also being some of the very smallest. It can also take a long time to solve them despite their size as there can be many stages to go through in order to complete them for even some of the smallest of these puzzles. The tiniest in size can be found in unique places due to their size such as in Christmas Crackers as a surprise present as they make good additions to family parties.

Handheld puzzles are popular because for many you only need a pair of hands to solve them and sometimes a stable flat surface to place them on and can start playing with them right away. The ability to just pick up and play them straight away gives them an advantage over many other physical puzzles such as a board game that often needs time to set it up and pack away due to the many pieces it contains which can all be a hassle and therefore off-putting. Another plus point is that they can be done by just one person and that you will not need to find other players in order to play it properly which is a plus point because some people like to play with puzzles alone and there are not always other people available to play with you. The fun for some of these handheld puzzles can be the novelty of trying something that is normally large in size but is now in miniature form and this may even make it trickier and more challenging as it could require more skilled hands with greater precision with the fingers to perform the moves. They can also have another advantage in that they are easier to conceal and play with without anybody noticing so you might be able to get away with playing with them at work without your boss noticing.

Handheld puzzles can test the dexterity and also the speed of your fingers and with regular practice, it is possible to improve these qualities significantly, especially for beginners. To improve the speed at which you solve them it would be beneficial to time yourself as this will give you a clear indication of how much you are improving and give you a target to break every time you set a new personal best time. Handheld puzzles can also have challenges that test the steadiness of your hands as they may require pieces to be aligned in a very specific way for them to connect/separate or the challenge may require moving one piece through another which in both cases can mean holding one or more pieces very still while you perform the manoeuvre. It can be a challenge in itself to figure out how to best operate them due to their shape and size when doing the moves to solve them for example how to best hold one to get a secure grip of it or which way round to hold it to get the best view of it and to perform the moves required. After having used a smaller version of a handheld puzzle such as a miniature speed cube it could be when you go to a larger-sized version of it that this will have helped you to do this larger version even quicker than you could or would have done before using the smaller version of it. Often to solve a handheld puzzle you need to be able to spot details because these details can often be the clues that help solve it or indicate the next move and with smaller in size handheld puzzles, it is going to be even more difficult to spot them but if you can do this with these small in size ones then it will make it much easier when it comes to doing this with the larger ones.

Being able to solve handheld puzzles and manipulate them well could have benefits and be useful outside the puzzle realm and in the real world such as jobs that require skilled hands like an artist or a mechanic in which you need steady and dexterous hands to perform precise manoeuvres just like handheld puzzles can require these. It could be another hobby that benefits from these handheld puzzle skills, for example, knitting also requires skilled and steady hands to thread the needle and vice versa is also true as knitting can help you with your handheld puzzle solving as well. This may also be true of some musical instruments that could benefit your ability to operate a handheld puzzle as well as the other way round in which a symbiotic relationship could be created between the two activities.

Handheld puzzles are usually very easy to store away or to exhibit due to their small size especially compared to many other types of puzzles that can be much larger in size such as jigsaws so they can be put in places where there is limited space available like a mantelpiece. The design of them in terms of the shape of them and their parts and in terms of the colour(s) of them can vary a lot which can make some of them ideal for exhibiting or displaying as they can look ornamental, especially those made of wood or metal. An issue could be if a handheld puzzle that comprises multiple separable pieces comes apart quite easily if a small amount of force is applied to it or them and when this is the case then you will want to put it somewhere that the pieces of it will stay together if the puzzle does come apart like in a container or drawer and therefore mitigate the risk of the pieces disappearing or being damaged. Handheld puzzles such as the metal Hanayama disentangle ones are small in size and very collectable and as they are small in size it means having a large collection of them would be manageable in terms of the storage space they take up or the space they would consume to display them. They are also in most cases easy to carry on you due to their small size so you could bring more than one with you on your travels as they each will fit in the palm of your hand and therefore are likely going to fit in your pant or jacket pockets as well although some of them do have sharp points to them that may make them feel uncomfortable when put in your pocket. Some of them could even be placed on a keyring or necklace as not only are they small in size, flat and light in weight making them suitable for these purposes as they will be easy to carry on you or to wear but also have a part of them that is shaped in a way that allows them to fairly easily connect to a necklace or keyring and then stay connected. Handheld puzzles are only really suitable to be played on the go if there are only a couple of separable pieces to them or they are just one single piece as any more and having only two hands will not be enough to hold all the pieces and solve it at the same time.

Naturally, there are also challenges and difficulties that can come with handheld puzzles such as being able to manipulate and operate them which can be due to their small size or tiny parts they have, due to the shape or material of them or their parts and/or due to the fact they demand moves that are complex/fiddly/tricky to perform. Another issue is being able to see small details on them that could be crucial to solving it and you may have to get a magnifying glass out to see these minute details or use your glasses if you are long-sighted. Breaking handheld puzzles can be an issue as some are very delicate which can't always be determined just by looking at them and if you are not careful whilst using them could snap or break but they will or at least should have been designed to easily take the strain of the moves needed to solve them. You should before you start any handheld puzzle evaluate the likelihood of it breaking and the ways in which you could do this are by looking at it, gently stress testing it and/or by researching online what other people have said on this matter about it via review articles or youtube video comments and then use the findings from this evaluation to work out the right way to use it that will minimise the chances of it breaking. A handheld puzzle that is small in size can be easy to lose and small separable parts can be extremely easy to lose when a handheld puzzle has them especially if you take it with you outdoors to play with, in which case, you should try to keep it on you at all times and be extra attentive if it has separable parts as this will mean keeping track of all these pieces. If it has tiny separable pieces it is not going to be suitable for children due to the choking hazard potential so should not be left lying around where it could easily be got a hold of by a child.

In conclusion, handheld puzzles have many plus points going for them with one of the biggest being how varied and different they can be in appearance from each other in terms of the material they are made of, the number of separable parts they contain and the shape of them or their parts. This means naturally they can also vary from each other significantly in terms of the challenge on offer to the person playing them which is another big plus point as is the fact that some can offer a unique challenge that will not be found in any other type of puzzle. The other main positives of a handheld puzzle are that it poses a challenge to the person playing it that will test this player both physically and mentally and that it often needs in order to play it very little to no set up so can often be just taken directly out of the packaging/container it came in and then immediately a person can start playing with it and solving it. The main negatives of handheld puzzles are they can sometimes be very irritating and frustrating to physically perform correctly when they are small in size or parts of them are small in size and/or when the hand manoeuvres they require are technically very demanding. Another negative can be that the challenge they pose can feel for a number of them quite similar, especially for certain types of them such as wire or rope puzzles which can make the experience of them repetitive and thus boring to play. Overall though the positives of handheld puzzles far outweigh any negatives that can be encountered with them and therefore for anybody who has never tried one and is curious about them then they are definitely worth a try.



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