Young puzzle solvers can win $500

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An Okotoks Junior High School student has taken a first step in figuring out the puzzle of paying for a post-secondary education.

Samuel Moore won $500 earlier this fall when he completed a complex puzzle in just 9.63 seconds to finish second at the Larry Berg Skill Award at the High River Library.

“It was really fun because I like to do puzzles,” said Moore, a Grade 8 student. “I did a lot of practicing. It was a fun-brain exercise. It gave me a chance to test my strengths.

“I like puzzles where you can hold the thing. It’s not 3-D you can’t feel it… I like the reality of actually doing it rather than on a computer.”

Young students have a chance to give the Berg Skill challenge a go — the second competition is on Dec. 16 at the High River Library.

Its namesake, a former teacher in Okotoks who taught Sam’s dad Barry Moore, would love to see more young people competing.

“I’m trying to give kids the chance to work with both their hands and minds,” said Berg, who taught high school when Grade 10-12 was at the current OJHS as well as at the Comp when it opened.”Maybe give them a chance to put down their cellphones and get away from the computer.”

The senior citizen Berg not only knows how to solve a puzzle, he can create them.

The four-ring, chain-like puzzle was invented by Berg, who has been dabbling in making puzzles for approximately 20 years.

The proceeds from the sale of his puzzle are being used to finance the Berg Skill Awards.

Although some of the participants can complete the puzzle in less time than Usain Bolt can run 100metres, it takes some work to get to that speed.

Berg said there are 16 steps – eight to remove the four rings and eight to restore the puzzle to its original state. The starting position has a wand going through four rings. The rings themselves run inside four steel eyelets mounted on a wood board.

“The kids need some perseverance and hand-eye co-ordination to do it,” he said.

The winner of the first Berg Skill Award was High River’s Cade Baldwin, who finished in 8.06 seconds, more than a second ahead of Moore. He also won $500. Neither Baldwin nor Moore can compete in the Dec. 16 competition because they won in the spring.

Prospective participants can check out the Berg puzzle at the High River library in order to practice for the competition. For more information about the Berg Skills Awards, call Berg at 403-652-7710.

Hints for solving the Berg four-ring puzzle:

* Take a photograph of the puzzle in the original position so that you know what it should look like when you get it back to the start point* In the beginning do the step slowly, so that your eyes, hands and brain will work together* Master the steps to remove the wand (eight steps) * Proceed to master the steps to replace the wand

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