Sunday, 5 June 2011

I actually won something!!!

Over at the Revomaze forums the word zooms out when there is another puzzle auction from one of the main sites:
Now, as a rule I absolutely HATE auctions, I find that you can get swept up in the excitement of it too easily and end up spending far more than you really wanted to or can even afford! Or you find that some puzzles rapidly rack up to astronomical prices, being bought by wealthy collectors. Then I find that I feel rather down about the whole process (and I am a pretty decent earner!) I prefer it when there is a "buy it now" button even if the amount is high - at least you know whether or not you will be able to afford it straight away.

At the last BaxterWeb auction there were quite a few items I was interested in. Some, as usual, rapidly headed into orbit and I got a bit depressed, some ended up going for more than the price that you would pay if you bought it brand new!!! BUT I actually won an item, it went for a pretty low amount, in fact it went for less than the predicted value - so I feel quite pleased with myself about an auction for once!

Dovetail Burr
My prize was the Dovetail Burr. It was based on a 6 piece board burr originally designed by Junichi Yananose. Frans de Vreugd added a twist to the design by putting dovetail joints at each end of the pieces (it was his IPP20 exchange gift). This has the result of reducing the number of possible moves. The burr was made by the very talented Bernard Schweitzer.

I have said before that I love burr puzzles (in fact, I love all interlocking type puzzles), but I have never tried a board burr before so I was absolutely delighted to be able to try this special one. It is 10cm in each direction and made of two different woods, one light and one dark, but I don't know what they are. The wood does not appear polished in any way so lacks the shine of the Vinco puzzles but is still very attractive and the finish is very smooth. My only worry is that one piece does not seem to be glued very well and flexes rather alarmingly - if it breaks I may have to get some wood glue of my own.

I requested that it be sent assembled because I have absolutely no idea how to go about solving a burr without having opened it first (if anyone knows an approach then please contact me). I have had food poisoning the last few days and have really been quite ill - it arrived yesterday morning and when my wife showed me the package I couldn't get the strength to open it! She opened it for me and commented on the unusual design and that it looked "nice". Later that evening I felt strong enough to have a go.

Board burrs seem to be rather awkward to solve because things must be very well lined up to allow parts to move. The presence of the dovetail joints does limit the movements but this doesn't really make the puzzle any easier - in fact, it means that the solution has to be done in a very precise set of movements. I managed to find the first 4 moves reasonably quickly but the 5th move eluded me for about 10 minutes when suddenly I did it without paying attention and the 6th move just dropped a piece out! In a small panic, I put it back and tried to recreate the move - I couldn't!!! It took me another 10 minutes before I worked out exactly what that key 5th move is. From this point it comes apart pretty easily.

Dovetail Burr Pieces
I kept the pieces in pairs and even had them orientated the right way to facilitate reassembly. "No problem", I thought, "I know what I did". Oh the humiliation!!! I could not put it back together again and in fiddling with it I think I got some pieces orientated wrong. Normally at this point I would resort to Burrtools and create my own solution file - but I was in a lot of pain and could not face it at all! So I sat with my wife watching TV, intermittently groaning with pain and groaning with frustration (What a pretty picture I'm painting for you!!!).

After about 45 minutes I had it back together and decided that was it for the night. After another bad night I decided that the muscle aches were too bad to lie in bed all day again so I got up today and tried to redo it. Disassembly is easy and despite paying close attention I still struggled to reassemble it (my excuse is that I have eaten nothing at all for nearly 72 hours and my brain doesn't work too well just now!) I have discovered that to get the penultimate piece in correctly, the previous two MUST be arranged in a set way that is not at all intuitive - it has taken me another 45 minutes to work this out!

All in all for a $37 auction win this has given me a lot of pleasure and something very attractive for the shelf. If only more auctions ended this way!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kevin

    you found very nice words about that burr I made for Frans de Vreugd; I can imagine that you are very surprised about the limited moves which are only possible and it is always not so easy to open the burr;

    happy puzzling
    Bernhard

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