SOMA Crystal
SOMA News 14 Aug 2000

Is there a SOMA+plus ?

When you have played the SOMA puzzle for a while, many players come up with the next logical question.
"Is there anything beyond SOMA" ? And indeed there is.
But the alternatives are not always to our liking.

Now these puzzles seem like expansions of SOMA, but they all lack the inherent simplicity we so love in SOMA. And most of them will take almost forever to solve just the simplest constellations.

Well - Not that a puzzle should be easy. BUT if a puzzle takes too long to solve, it clutters your mind, you cannot let it go. And inevitably it will lead to a lesser selfesteem.
On the other hand, our beloved SOMA, is both complex, but also simple enough to enable most of us "Normal people" to have SUCCESS in solving many of its puzzle questions. And having fun with all the pretty figures we can build.

Could we think of something between SOMA and Pentominoes, that still leaves both the beauty and the logic of SOMA.?

Until last month, I would have answered NO.
But then a German SOMA player pointed me in a totally new (and extremely logic) direction. !!

Volker Pöschel, teacher in comprehensiv-school. Email: showed me the "Herzberger Quader" discovered by Mr. Gerhard Schulze (Germany)

Lets first go back to the original idea of soma. As it is described in Newsletter 99-03-08 .

Polyominoes are a special set of figures, that may be made, by joining squares at their edges. If these squares are cubes, we can make 3 dimensional shapes.

Let us now examine all the possible combinations of 1,2,3 and 4 squares. Allowing them to bend into 3 dimensions, we get:

THIS is where SOMA is defined.!!!!
If we now select all the irregular figures, (ie. not straight connections) we get the 7 SOMA pieces.

Let us INSTEAD select ALL figures (Except the singular cube) Then we get the 'Herzberger set' which I choose to call;


With these 11 puzzle pieces we still retain the original 7 SOMA pieces V,L,T,Z,A,B,P and additionally gain 4 new pieces D,I,Q,S. In total:

(V) Shape 'V' (L) Shape 'L' (T) Shape 'T' (Z) Shape 'Z'
(A) Left Hand Turn (B) Right Hand Turn (P) Shape 'Pyramid'
(D) Duo (I) shape 'I' (Q) Quad stick (S) Square 'S'
( It is 'I' because the 'T' for Trio was already in use. )

This SOMA+plus set give us a whole range of new puzzling tasks.

(More SOMA+plus figures are found in the figure collection. SP Figures .)

     SOMAplus 001
     The 2,4,5 Base

     SOMAplus 002
     The dual towers.

Now - if YOU make any nice figures with SOMA+plus, then please send their description to me.
Initially, I suggest that the figures should use ALL 11 pieces.

Written by Thorleif Bundgaard.

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