Sunday, 23 October 2016

A Cause For Celebration!

Or Shane Does it Again!
Or.... He finally solves a puzzle! Almost!!!

Haleslock number 2
Last week, totally out of the blue I received a box which I wasn't expecting! It took some time to convince Mrs S that I hadn't placed a big order for yet more new toys. This box came from Canada and was not labeled as from Puzzle Master. It appeared to be a gift from a friend, a VERY generous friend! How did I know it was a gift? Well the outside had some very specific instructions on it:

Oooh! The temptation!!

A 43 piece burr!
What happens on 30th October? Ahem! It seems that it might be my birthday on that date. This year it's one of those birthdays that is a bit special....yes it has a zero on the end! I'm going to be 20.....AGAIN! I have been asked what I plan to do for this particular birthday and my standard reply is to "curl up in a ball and hope it goes away". Yes, it's a moderately large number! The gift came from a very generous puzzle making genius called Yvon Pelletier (SPELLING) who has given me a gift before (He gave me one of the very few copies of C2-1 made by Stephan Baumegger which is one of the most complex burr puzzles ever designed and made with 43 pieces). So it would seem that as well as having a big birthday to celebrate, I also have some great puzzling friends and that alone is a cause for celebration! I have so far managed to obey the instructions and the box is sitting in my dining room desperately calling out to me. I know that there will be one or two absolutely fabulously well made burr puzzles inside. I have watched in awe as Yvon has set out on a journey in which he takes many of the designs published on Ishino's site and crafts them out of beautiful woods. He is just an amateur but his skills have just gotten better and better. He still buys them but new ones seem to be made almost every few days - have a look at an amazing picture I stole from his FB page:

Jealous? Yep! me too!
Having returned from visiting the Outlaws in Edinburgh where I received a couple of very nice bottles of gin for my birthday, I opened the door to postie to yet another surprise package. This one came from Shane Hales and contained a card, a rather lovely bottle of gin for my birthday as well as a newly designed and produced puzzle:

More temptation!
Signed like all his previous puzzles
Now there were no restrictions written on the outside of the box, so I tore into it and found the Haleslock 2 which I promptly went to work on (the gin was not started straight away as it was only 11am and even I cannot justify gin at that time of day!) I am sure that my Box and Booze loving friend Steve can give me some fine suggestions for ways to drink the special gin. I am sure that it is frowned upon to drink it straight from the bottle?

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Going round the twist

The Vapors
Just a quick post today as I am out and about visiting the out-laws (Whack! Ouch!) and haven't really had much time for puzzling or blogging. I thought I would mention a couple of puzzles I have been working on over the last couple of weeks that I have had varying success with. Both are the brainchild of the combined genius of Derek Bosch and Steve Nicholls. They have been working together on these helical variants of burr puzzles for quite some time now and I have managed to acquire a full set so far. Steve went to the Kyoto IPP this year and had printed about 100 copies of one of Derek's designs as his exchange puzzle. Luckily for me (and a few others) there were significantly less participants than that in the exchange and hence some were left over.

When I was chatting to Steve on Facebook, he mentioned that he had some new helical puzzles to show off and of course I said that I would buy them when I saw him next. At the last MPP a few weeks ago, big Steve was there with a good few new plastic toys and he promptly handed me his exchange as a gift - he is SUCH a gentleman!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Is it a box? Nope! It's an N-ary puzzle!

Some time ago Eric Fuller updated his Cubic Dissection site with some new puzzles and there were a few that I had been looking for having had temptation thrust at me in advance on Facebook. The Bebox was a burr and an N-ary puzzle all rolled into one and (ahem!) maybe one could think of it as a box too. I really wanted one of these because as you well know, I lurve N-ary puzzles and burrs even if I don't (blush) collect boxes. I had been on-call at the hospital the night before Eric went live and his update didn't start until just before midnight UK time. I tried and tried and tried to stay awake for the update but alas, I faded and was unconscious long before the new toys were available!

Maze burr
Eric had made 88 copies in total with at least half had been held back for people who had paid to reserve a copy of one of his boxes (which had been abandoned). By the time I regained consciousness the following morning I was horrified to see that the 2 puzzles I really wanted (this plus the Slant cube) had been totally sold out. I understand that the whole lot of available Beboxes went in under an hour! Luckily when I contacted Eric to see if he might have any left over, he said that if some of the reserved boxes aren't taken then they will be made available within a few weeks. In due course an email arrived offering me one of them and some PayPal flew across the pond. It took quite a while for the UK postal service to deliver but eventually the gorgeousness was mine. The Bebox is gorgeously made from Maple and Walnut and looks rather stunning - it is similar in appearance (if not mechanism) to the incredible MazeBurr.

I had received a few wire puzzles (blogged here and here) at about the same time and was working through them so only had a quick look at the Bebox. By the way if you are interested in those wire puzzles mentioned in the blog posts then they are available just now from Wil Strijbos and it would seem that most are unique to him and will not be available through other stores - so go get them now!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

A Constantin Wire Extravaganza

At the end of July, I wrote a little article highliting the most recent wire disentanglements from Jean Claude Constantin. The ones I focussed on were the easiest 3 from that series. I bought my copies from my the wonderful Puzzle Pusher, Wil Strijbos but some of them should be available from PuzzleMaster soon and I am sure that Hendrik will be getting them in stock too. These puzzles are absolutely amazing and relatively cheap so well worth buying even if they may cost you a bruise or two from the inevitable Whack! Ouch! that you spouses may impart. I know that for a while I was covered in bruises and had a mild concussion when she started to hit me with kitchen implements (blunt ones luckily)!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Euro Falle 5 - A Public Service Announcement

The Euro Falle family - 05 at the bottom.
Hi guys, I've had a rather busy weekend at the end of a week of annual leave. My week has been full of household chores (leaving me rather stiff and sore) and then finished off with a special Midlands Puzzle Party in the home town of Dr Simon Nightingale, who has received more IPP design competition trophies than anyone else in history. We had a great time and lots of recent IPP puzzles were shown off and even a magic show was delivered. This has left me with very little time for a blog post so I am delighted that the Mike Desilets, the PuzzleMad roving reporter, has stepped up to the mark and delivered a public service announcement for you.

Aloha Kākou gentle readers,

It’s a rather sad occasion for me as I find myself the bearer of less-than-happy news about a new puzzle that has just hit the market. I actually had some other work underway for Puzzlemad, but a catastrophic puzzling experience this past week has stimulated me to produce this rush job of an article. I’ve rushed it to press because I suspect that there are folks out there with a finger hovering over the “buy” button for this particular puzzle and I wanted to get this information out quickly to facilitate informed decision making. Informed spending, I should say.

Euro Falle 05 - a Siebenstein Spiele production.
The puzzle of which I speak is the very recently released Euro Falle 05, the fourth in a series that seems to have started, oddly, at 02. You can find my review of the earlier Euro Falles here and here if you are new to the blog. With some slight reservations, I have been a fan of the series and was happy to have purchased and played with them. My misgivings were due largely to construction problems. I experienced more of these issues subsequent to the blog reviews, but did not see fit to make an issue of it. However, having plunked down yet more good money for the new Euro Falle 05 and given it a play, I feel I will now have to terminate my relationship with them, effective immediately (Ed - very strong stuff!). Unfortunately, I cannot divulge the exact nature of the deficiency without completely spoiling the puzzle. What I can say is that in the course of two solves of Euro Falle 05 (solved correctly, as designed, I assure you) the puzzle has become completely unusable. As you may know, damaged goods always find their way to me for some reason. I have come to terms with that fact and learned to take it in stride. However, I believe the issue with this puzzle is no fluke. I don’t think I simply got the bad one in the lot. The problem seems to be directly related to the engineering and construction of the puzzle. I could be wrong (I sure hope I am), but I think this is going to be the norm with this puzzle, and I want you to be aware of, at the very least, the potential to have completely wasted your money. Well, I guess you will get to play with it at least once, so not a complete waste, but nearly so.

That’s really the most I can say about it on the front page of Puzzlemad. However, if you already have this puzzle and have solved it (I saw a shot of it on Allard’s blog, amidst his IPP haul, so I assume there are quite a few out there already), or if you don’t intend to buy it anyway, or you do but you don’t care about the solving experience, then click the spoiler button below. Behind that button I show the innards and explain the nature of the problem in excruciating detail, as well as discuss repair options. Again, this will be a complete spoiler, so think it over before you click. Along those same lines, I may spoil other puzzles for you behind that magic button if I feel the need to make comparison with other puzzles and mechanisms. That section is really meant for the serious collector, designer, and/or puzzler who doesn’t mind an unbarred discussion. You’ve been warned!

One other piece of information I think puzzlers should know regarding Euro Falle 05 is that the solution is the same as for another very recently released, and very attractive, puzzle from Siebenstein Spiele. Exactly the same. If you are like me, you don’t really need to have two similar forms of the same puzzle. Or at least when you do, you make the decision consciously, due to some aesthetic or collectability factor. Personally, I was more than a bit disappointed when I discovered these two were functionally the same. And then, to add insult to injury, one of them self-destructed! Know, however, that the ‘other’ puzzle, although having the exact same mechanism, has functioned just fine so far and I am very pleased with it in all respects.

If you have had a different experience with Euro Falle 05, please do register your opinion in the comments below. If for some reason I received the only bad one in the batch, it would be good for everyone to know that and downgrade my dire warnings accordingly. If you are the adventurous type and just have to experience it for yourself, Euro Falle 05 is now up on the shelf at and, of course, Puzzlemaster.

Well, I am very sorry to write such a bummer of a post. Kevin works hard to keep Puzzlemad upbeat and positive. That’s pretty easy to do with the top-notch (burr pun) puzzles he reviews. But this, too, is part of the puzzling experience. Sometimes stuff doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. I’m just thankful I have a place to vent about it (Ed - I welcome all types of review and whilst I do try to keep positive, sometimes it is necessary to provide real world experience that may not be as we would wish). But I promise you that my next contribution will be wildly positive (Ed - thank Gawd for that!). In fact, let me say one positive thing right now: the Euro Falle 05, conceptually, is a great puzzle. That’s small comfort if it doesn’t work more than once. But the fact remains, it’s a great idea and it really stumped me for quite a while (I actually solved the ‘other’ puzzle first, so that was where the stumping occurred, but as mentioned, same solution). It is quite tricky and fun, and therefore all the more tragic to write about. There I go again. Ok, I think Kevin should take over from here....
Ed - I guess that is my cue to put one of those javascript hide and reveal buttons just about now....

It's not all bad....
But let’s end this post on a high note! Puzzle Box 001, also brand new from Siebenstein Spiele, is absolutely fantastic! It is quite a beautiful puzzle and functions perfectly. I very highly recommend Puzzle Box 001. It shows the heights that Siebenstein Spiele can reach when they are on their game.

Puzzle Box 001 front
Puzzle Box 001 rear
Pictures copied from PuzzleMaster

Ed - Thank you Mike for such a detailed exposition about the failings of a very popular puzzle in a great series. I personally do not own any of these puzzles and am very grateful for the warning. It has been said that I very seldom, if ever, post a bad review and this may make you feel that I am in the pocket of the designers and producers. Maybe I have been very lucky or maybe I just choose well but I have very rarely had a problem with any of my purchases. I do tend to not review something if it is less than good but if there is a systematic problem then I will not shy away from informing people of it.

If any other puzzlers feel the urge to post a review as a PuzzleMad roving reporter (good or bad) then please feel free to drop me a line via my Contact page. If English is not your first language then that's not a problem - I edit everything (even Mike's wonderful prose.


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