SOMA Crystal
SOMA News 28 May 2000

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Jump to: News from Isidor, Feb 2003

There are other Cube puzzles!

When looking for CUBE puzzles, The SOMA addicts will tell you long stories about SOMA. BUT SOMA is not the only cube puzzle, that has been invented throughout the years.
Isidor Bressler Email: (Contact me, Thorleif, for the address if you need it) the oldest SOMA player I know (85 Years) has investigated a series of cube puzzles.
This newsletter shows you a few of Isidor's discoveries both in solving these cubes, as well as some artistic figures using these other types of puzzles.

By the way, Isidor is very active in the puzzle world, and in Jan 2002 he also produced a nice set of puzzle and solution cards, to be used with the SOMA pieces.

Get Isidor's SOMA Cards in a PDF file here: Isidor SOMA Cards.
Note that the text is in Hebrew, but I'm sure the drawings will please you.
(Ps. Card nr. 21 never existed)

Isidor This story is by Isidor Bresler:
Since 1980 a pensioned engineer in electromachine construction. Born in Warsaw 1915, lived in Russia 1939-1945, and back in Poland 1945-1957, and then in Israel from 1957.
Isidor writes:
My interest in Cubes started in 1995. And my first contact with computers was in 1995 - as I got one to my 80'th birthday...
Interesting - am I the oldest member of the "Cube Addicts"?
By the way, in my opinion, the main potential of "Cube users" may be found in the old people's home, prisons, hospitals etc.
It may be, that the 'Brain Gymnastics' - during the game - has a good influenze in braking or delaying the Alzheimer desease.
The conditions for using this potential, requires an active part from the younger people, as instructors during the start period.
Children and young people currently prefer computer games, and the implementation of cubes and puzzles in Kindergardens and schools is only possible through active initiatives by the guides and the teachers.

It may be that all these are not new to you, but it would please me to hear if my thoughts can be of use to other "Cube addicts".

<--- Isidor Bresler

3.01.1997 Design of symmetric puzzles using the "Symmetric Combination" Method

My puzzles conform to two guidelines:

1. The forms must be symmetric (i.e. there must exist a plane which divides the form into two mirror images).
2. The forms must be stable (i.e. a puzzle should be able to stand Without support).

Construction of puzzles by trial and error is slow, and turnout is relatively poor.
The method I have developed, is based on the possibility of combining symmetric forms to create a new, compound, symmetric puzzle.
In addition it turns out that a few of the pieces can be used to create "Mini-Puzzles" which are partial symmetric combinations, consisting of a subset of the pieces of one cube (usually two or three pieces).

Using combinations of the mini- puzzles, a large number of full size shapes, containing all pieces of a cube, can be easily created. It is possible to come up with many variations, of which the more "elegant" can be used to create complete puzzles.

At the moment I have 12 different types of 3x3x3 cubes in my posession

I have the pleasure also to present the solutions to the "Five pieces Coffin Cube" (Z)
According to Trevor Wood only one solution is possible, that is the reason it is so hard to find.

S = Soma
T = Steinhaus
F = Fisher
X = Half Hour Puzzle (Unknown inventor)

For these four cubes, we need 25 puzzle pieces, BUT in case we dont work with the puzzles simultaneously, then we only need 15 pieces

B = The 5 pieces Coffin Cube
C, D, Z = are cubes that appear among the extensive works of Coffin.

(S) 311 566 556 317 377 256 344 447 222
(F) 322 455 445 362 332 145 666 312 111
(T) 331 311 221 544 322 621 554 354 666
(X) 144 245 222 134 115 625 133 335 666
(B) 332 444 411 322 314 514 322 555 515
(C) 411 213 113 444 223 122 434 433 112
(D) 446 546 446 336 556 226 336 555 211
(Z) 553 522 552 453 413 442 433 111 142
(A) 722 823 993 771 884 963 511 554 664
(E) 533 522 922 533 581 661 447 441 661
(H) 716 724 755 116 224 554 166 233 334
(I) 344 334 534 224 316 556 266 216 511

Some months ago I found some wonderfull plastic cubes 20x20x20 mm at a shop, They are delivered in 10 colours
These cubes can be obtained from many sources, Among wich are:
Israel Palda Ltd. 8 Rakefet St. Hagor. POBox 3496, code 45870, Keriat Aria.

Each cube has 5 openings and one connection bud So that the making or demounting of the cubelets only take a few minutes.
For each puzzle piece I have removed the connection bud from one of the cubelets, this ensures a fine stability.

8.03.1997 I decided to exploit the possibility of building a multitude of different forms from the puzzle pieces.

My innovations/extensions/improvements can be as follows:

  • Assignment of color codes and code numbers to pieces. Each piece is assigned a different color and number (see figures above )
  • Presentations of the puzzles in three levels of difficulty:

    Level 1. Drawings in isometric perspective with colors of the pieces shown in accordance with the color-code (instead of the hints or solutions by exploded view).

    Level 2. Top and either a front or side view with colors shown.

    Leve 3. Isometric perspective drawing, with no colors


  • I believe that the presentation in level 1 is far superior to "exploded views".
  • Level 2, which involves construction of the puzzles from two views, exercises three-dimensional visualization.
    In addition to being a useful mental exercise in its own right, it can be considered good preparation for interpreting technical machine drawings.
  • Levels 1 and 2 can also be combined as a simpler variation.

    The multi-level game.

    Level 1. One of the possibilities is a multi-level game, beginning with the easier stage, and becoming increasingly harder with each level.

    Level 1: Puzzles assembled from the five pieces of the Coffin (Z) Cube
    It is suggested to begin the game with level 1, which are generally easy, and can be solved by 7-8 year old children (althougt some puzzles are more difficult, because not all the pieces can be seen in the perspective drawing).

    It is best to repeat the solution until it is memorized. before going on the next level.

    Level 2. Older children and grown ups can then move on to the second levels of difficulty, assembling the pieces acc. to the colored front or side and top projections.

    This level requires more activity of the spatial memory and visualization.

    Level 2: Puzzles assembled from the five pieces of the Coffin (Z) Cube
    The puzzles shown from the Z-cube pieces are only an example, and it is possible to build a lot of puzzles from almost all the forms of 3x3x3 cubes. The SOMA (S) will undoubtedly break all records.

    Level 3. The third hardest level contains the uncolored perspective drawings.
    Whoever has difficulty, can try first solving the same puzzle using the drawings from level 1, 2 or both levels at the same time, and only attempting the level 3 puzzles.

    Level 3: Puzzles assembled from the five pieces of the Coffin (Z) Cube For extra challenge, it is suggested to start immediately at level 3,
    Additionally try to develop new shapes (puzzles ).

    The numeric presentation of SOMA (and others) "Puzzles" by Thorleif Bundgaard. (Described here)
    The large benefit of the presentation is, that it covers all elements of the Cube or Puzzle.

    In spite of these benefits, is it not easy (especially for untrained people) to put together a puzzle according to the Numeric presentation... I have finally developed a simpler method, that significantly eases the procedure:

    1. In addition to the 7 original Soma pieces, I have prepared cubes with colors and code numbers on all 6 sides, these are then combined exactly as the original pieces.

    2. Now the puzzle can easily be assembled according to the Numeric presentation, (each level independantly) starting by the lower level. And continuing with the next levels.

    3. Then build the puzzle with the original pieces, identical to the numbered, or carefully exchange the numbered pieces with the original ones.

    4. Then draw the isometric presentation of the puzzle on a sheet of paper.

    Also the reverse task of Numerical presentation of a new puzzle is easy.

    After having build a puzzle using the numerical pieces, You note the numbered layers level by level, exactly according to the Bundgaard method.
    After having written one level. Remove the pieces, to continue with the next level.

    I have tested the method with succes.

    Isidor Bresler.

    I am indebted to Mr. Thorleif Bundgaard who not only offered to host me in his website, but also invested a lot of work in adapting the material I have sent him. Moreover, he contributed to enlarge the list of the 3x3x3 cubes that I added to the range of my activities. I owe him also my introduction to the website of "Johan Myrberger's List of 3x3x3 cube puzzles", from which I borrowed a few interesting cubes.
    Thanks to Thorleif, I managed also to get in touch with Mr. Trewor from UK, who supplied me with a solution for a 5-piece cube (with which I struggled without success for many a day...)
    I found this cube in the rich work of Coffin published in the internet.
    My thanks to all of these "cube masters"!
    Isidor Bresler.

    News from Isidor, Feb 2003

    Regarding the Designer of the Livecube-3
    Design and Copyright: Min S.Shih & Guan S. Shih (2003)
    Checkout the SUPER homepage at
    Mail to Min Shih at

    Subject: The solution of the 4x4x4 cube.

    1) First I built the 8 pieces from single colored Cubelets (See : , page 3-4. The assembly of the cube-figure was extremely difficult, but had understood that the pieces are interlocking, and you must assemble them in a fixed sequence.

    2) I have then decided, to choose a color for each building piece. I combined 8 cubelets for each piece, using the same color. Among these one Cubelet is without 'finger'.

    Now I layed out the layers, starting from the bottom ,with the colored Cubelets, and at the end I "automatically" came to the 4x4x4 Cube!

    During the (Carefull) demounting, I then learnd the right sequence of the montage. ( The method for SOME is described in the above mentioned text- page 6)

    I admire the highly elegant "discovery" of the 4x4x4 Cube. It has brought me a couble of hours of pleasant headsqueezing...
         ABBB | ABEE | AAGE | GGGE
         ACEB | BBED | FAGG | GAHE
         DCEH | BCDD | FFHG | CAHF
         DDDH | CCDH | CFHH | CFFF

    This is another way to show the assembly, or 4 modules.

    News from Isidor, Oct 2010 a 10 year follow up.

    It has now been 10 years since I first heard from Mr. Isidor, and saw his amazing SOMA figures. During these years Isidor has regularly kept me updated about his works. Especially about the innovative use of the popular PALDA cubes.
    Isidor handles these cubes by removing the connection tabs from a few of them. Thereby allowing the construction of not only the 7 SOMA pieces, but of any other shape.
    I am still wondering why this simple idea has not been implemented by the manufacturers of the PALDA blocks. but apparently they are happy, by just making a single type of blocks, even though Isidor has shown so clearly that there are a lot more possibilities when some cubes have no tabs.
    Anyway - below are a set of very nice photos showing both Isidor, and some of his many cubes.

    Isidor 2010 oct 24
    Isidor is here sitting with his PALDA cubes all lined up nicely

    PALDA cubes
    Here we have some of the finished SOMA cubes
    Notice that both different colored versions and checkered versions are possible.

    PALDA cubes
    And here are some more of Isidor's fine puzzles.

    Since the previous update to this newsletter, Isidor is still going strong. Trainig his brain by making a lot of 3D puzzles.
    SOMA is just one of the many types.!
    Actually Isidor still lives in his own appartment, acquired in 1957, Well he did try an elderhome for some 3 months, but decided to return to his own place where he still resides.
    Even now at the age of 96, he is very active, producing his many pretty puzzles.

    Thank you to Isidor for the permission to bring this update :o)

    News from Isidor, June 2013 Yet one more follow up !

    It is now 3 years later. During the years Isidor has been continuously at work creating a range of good ideas and..
    Once in a while sharing these with me. Even now when the health is deteriorating - he still create new stuff.

    This time the idea is to Solve a SOMA like cube, using different shaped pieces again using his popular PALDA cubes.

         CBB   CCC   AAC
         COB   AAA   BAC
         CCB   BBB   BCC
         DDD   DBB   CCB
         AAD   DOD   CBB
         CAA   CCA   CBA
         BBE   AAE   DAE
         DBE   DDE   DAC
         BBC   BCC   AAC
         AAA   FEA   FBE
         AEE   CEB   CDE
         CCE   CDD   DDE
         CAA   EFF   EEF
         CAG   CGG   BEF
         CDD   DDG   BBB
         BCC   BCC   FFE
         BDD   BGE   HGE
         ADD   AAE   HAA
         BCD   ICD   FCD
         BEG   IEG   FEG
         BAA   AAH   FHH

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