The Orientation Maze

Gathering for Gardner V
April 2002, Atlanta

The Orientation maze is a new type of multi-state arrow maze where your current orientation plays a key role. This maze works especially well as a full-size walk-on maze (I find post-it notes stuck to the carpet perfectly adequate) however it can also work on paper, as illustrated here. Simply use a finger to mark your current position and rotate the paper under your finger to change orientation.

Your aim is to move from the start dot (in the south) to the end dot (in the north). You must enter the maze facing north, but can finish in any orientation. See full size diagram at bottom of page.

Each move is either a single step to an adjacent square or else a quarter turn. At each move your possible choices are indicated by the column of symbols you can see straight ahead of you (note, you cannot use the symbol under your feet). This means initially you have four options, but once into the maze the maximum is three. You will see in Figure1 that the four options at the start are (from the top) step left, step forward, rotate left or step back, however, since you must stay on grid at all times the only meaningful first move is step-forward. The choices at the second move are then step left, step forward or rotate left (see Figure 2). For move two you could thus chose to rotate left a quarter turn, and the result of this move is illustrated in Figure 3. Note that the circle of arrows indicates the direction you rotate (the paper rotates in the opposite direction). So, from Figure 3, what’s your next possible move? Well you have only one square in front of you with an arrow facing to your (now) right, so that’s a forced move, one step right.

Fig. 1: Options at
move 1

Fig. 2: Options at
move 2

Fig. 3: Options at
move 3 (example)


Note, if you find yourself at the edge of the maze facing out, or being forced off the grid, then you have found a dead-end and must start again. That’s all there is to it. Remember at all times you can only move according to the arrows you can see in the column straight ahead of you. Only rotate if you see a rotate symbol, and make sure you rotate in the right direction.


The Orientation Maze
print and play

The Orientation Maze – © Andrea Gilbert 2002