This is adapted from my Amazing Mazes column in the November, 1999 Mensa Bulletin.

Tilt Mazes

There’s someone new creating “mazes-with-rules,” a type of puzzle that has been the topic of several of my columns. She’s Andrea Gilbert, a Software Engineer living in Barton-Le-Clay, England. She has created a series of  “tilt mazes,” in which you are to imagine that a marble (shown here as a yellow circle) is on a board that you can tilt only to the north, south, east, or west. (You can’t do anything tricky like tilt it southeast.) Once you tilt the board, the marble will roll (horizontally or vertically) until it hits a barrier. There’s no way you can stop the marble in the middle of its roll. The object is to roll the marble onto or over every star in the maze. (Mazes 1 through 3 have only one star each. Maze 4 is the only one with multiple stars.)

Maze 1

Click here for the Java version of Maze 1

  Here’s an example: Suppose the first move you make in Maze 1 is to tilt the west edge of the board down. The marble will now roll all the way to the west side of the board. Then on the next move, suppose you tilt the south end down. The marble will roll south until it hits a barrier. Then suppose you tilt the east end down. The marble will now roll east all the way across the board until it hits the east side. And so on.

Andrea created these mazes as Java programs for her web site. I saw that the mazes would also work on the printed page. Usually mazes work better as interactive computer programs. But when you play one of these programs, you’re apt to just try one thing after another, and without much thought. You might solve the maze, but you may not understand what’s going on. When a maze is on a printed page [or when it’s in a non-interactive form as shown here], you’re more likely to calmly analyze how it works. So, for any of these four mazes, I’d suggest that you first try solving the version shown here. Then when you think you have the solution, click on the link under the maze to go to Andrea’s Java program for that maze (then click on the box marked Restart to begin the maze). Trying the Java program will let you see if you actually have the solution.

Click here for Andrea’s home page. She currently has about 20 tilt mazes and has mazes of many other types.

Maze 2

Click here for the Java version of Maze 2
Maze 3

Click here for the Java version of Maze 3

Maze 4

Click here for the Java version of Maze 4

A Recent Development — July, 2001:

In addition to the Tilt Mazes shown on this page and the interactive versions on Andrea’s site, we now have an ultimate implementation: a Tilt Maze you can actually walk through! Andrea drew the maze for the American Maze Company, and they built it next to their cornfield mazes at Cherry Crest Farm, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and at Long Acre Farms, near Rochester, New York.

The picture below shows the maze at Cherry Crest Farm (and that’s my wife Ann in the maze). They called it the “Straight Ahead Maze” (you must keep going straight ahead until you reach a wall). “Tilt Maze” didn’t work as a title here, because, well, you can’t really tilt the ground.

This maze lasted only through the summer of 2001, but it will probably appear next to other cornfield mazes during the summer of 2002 and later.

The Walk-Through Tilt Maze at Cherry Crest Farm

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