The Belgian maze

A Belgian maze is a maze without any loops or forks. Maze experts call such maze a "labyrinth". Mathematicians call it "unicursal". English probably call it "Irish". Would you think that you never could get lost in a Belgian Maze? Think again! 

This JAVA applet by Oskar van Deventer shows that even Belgian mazes can be hard to solve. The trick is to keep track of what are the forward and backward directions. When you get confused (trust me, you will) you may inadvertently start moving backward until you discover your error, or until you get confused again.

This program requires a Java-enabled browser.


Aim
Move from the blue start to the red goal. At every green "confusion point" you will be spun around a multiple of 180 degrees. The number of 180 degree rotations is deterministic (nothing random in this puzzle), but you do not know whether it is an even number or an odd number. And the number is different for every "confusion point".

Controls
Use Start button to start with the easiest challenge.
Use Previous button to go to an easier challenge.
Use Next button to go to a harder challenge.
Use Reset button to restart the current challenge.
Use Drop-list button to select a challenges (The level is the number of green "confusion points").
Use Slider button to adjust the animation speed.

Movement
Move yourself (the red dot) as follows:
Press the LEFT button to move to the left
Press the RIGHT button to move to the right
Alternatively click the mouse on the left or right half of the maze or use the use the cursor keys.


The Belgian Maze puzzle is related to the mechanical Mysterians puzzle by Oskar van Deventer. Mysterians is a puzzle of three-layers. Each layer has a single curved groove. The three layers interact with each other through two pivots. The object is to take it apart. Even though the problem has no loops or forks, it is quite confusing as the pivots run forward and backward through the grooves. At many points moving forward feels like moving backward, so you are inclined to turn around.

Figure 1: Mysterians, available from Puzzle Palace.


concept & applet - © Oskar van Deventer 2004
Mysterians - ©
Oskar van Deventer 7-12-2002
hosted with permission from Oskar van Deventer