Sunday 21 April 2013

The Eagle

The Eagle
I apologise that this is a day later than expected but yesterday was the 10th Midlands puzzle party and I was far too busy solving stuff that I can't afford to write a new blog post - but today I am almost recovered and ready to review something new from Puzzle Master.

After my last success with the Cupid's dart puzzle, I thought I would continue my sojourn through Puzzle Master's Wire puzzle collection and take it up a level! I love wire puzzles and seem to have gotten a reputation for being quite good at them, so I thought it was time for another hard one. This one is The Eagle - it is a level 10/10 (Mind Boggling) AND it has string! So can it be time for a failure? But, I'm on a roll, so maybe it can't be as bad as I think it might be!

As usual it is well packaged in a plastic clamshell - I must have filled a landfill site with these by now as I never keep my boxes. I just don't have the storage space for the boxes. The instructions say just to remove the string. It is well anodised and is a fairly complex continuous loop of wire with dimensions 11.2 x 9.8 x 3cm and the loop of orange string is just big enough to fit over the "head and legs" of the eagle. I chose it because it has a fair similarity to the Destroyer puzzle which I enjoyed too and having only a short loop of string, I thought that knotting up was not going to be too much of an issue. None of my fellow bloggers have reviewed this one as yet but the single review on the Puzzle Master page said that the owner really enjoyed it and it took him several months to solve. I was hoping I would not take quite that long! The other big advantage to it was that there are no moving metal parts so no jingling and so no terrible pain in the back of my head from her! No solution is provided but if you want one the n download it from here.

So my initial thought about similarity to the Destroyer was incorrect, it is totally different but I was correct in that is difficult to knot irrevocably. You quite clearly have to do some fairly complex winding to get the loop off and my worry about tangling proved unfounded. I did manage to make a small tangle but because of the length, after a short tangle it becomes hard to make any further moves and so undoing your mess never reaches the "I've got to cut it" stage. Having said that I have had a fair few breathless moments where I frantically try to back-track and then breathe a sigh of relief.

After about 1/2 an hour of fiddling and examination I thought I had worked out where the exit point had to be but had little idea what was required to do to reach it. I don't know whether anyone can look at these and make a plan of attack but I look to find an exit and then it's back to fiddling and fiddling and fiddling! A further 10 minutes later and I had my loop in a over the large part loop which would be both the wings of the eagle and nicely, this is still a few further steps to do. Of course I had absolutely no idea what step I had done to reach that home stretch! Maybe I should concentrate more and not do these whilst watching TV!!! Having failed to immediately backtrack, I continued forward and removed the loop through the exit. This is a really clever set of moves and not immediately obvious.

The Eagle - no longer ensnared in string
As you all know, by my definition I had not yet solved the puzzle! I proceeded to try and reassemble the puzzle and here I really struggled! I had no clue what I had done to remove it and all I could do with any ease was put the loop back on to the initial section. For the life of me, I could not manage to move it back to the start point. After and hour of "effing and blinding" with associated dirty looks from "Madame" I stopped and actually had a look at it. Was there anything peculiar about the design? Well yes there was something that could not be a coincidence! What if I just put this.....? Bingo! After a little thought it was back on! I reckon that phase of the solution took a total of 2 hours and earned me a severe burn from the laser stare.

BUT I had been hoping to watch the reassembly and from that discover what the critical extraction move had been so that I would be able to reverse it. But again, it had happened too quickly. So whilst it has been done and undone I could not consider it solved because I couldn't repeat it. Another hour and it was off again. No! All of this was over several days! Aaargh, I still couldn't tell what I had done but at least the key reassembly move was known to me and after a 2nd attempt at putting it back together, I knew what the secret of the eagle was. Phew!! I can now do it in just a minute or so.

This was actually quite an epic and very enjoyable puzzle for me. It is not so complex that you have a huge sequence to work through; you actually have to analyse a small but complex structure properly and can do so without fear of a mess developing as you explore it. The other very special aspect is that the key move(s) is different for assembly and disassembly.

Should you buy it? I would say so! It is definitely a good one for anyone's' collection because of the need to work out how to disassemble and assemble it separately and it's inability to get too knotted up. It is a bargain at $12. I intend to carry this around with me for a while to torture my friends and colleagues with.

I took this to the Midlands puzzle party yesterday and let people play. I was not watching to see whether many attempted it but I was pleased to see that a new attendee, Taus, who had previously done all of the Livewire puzzle set in a single week, did not manage to solve it whilst there which did make me feel much better! I'm shallow that way!


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  2. After playing with the Saturn and both your's and Allard's Nails at MPP, I've been looking into getting some wire puzzles for myself. Quite a coincidence you posting this today then!! This one looks good, as well as the Cupid's Dart you also reviewed. I found the Saturn on Sloyd. I'd also like to get those Nails that I played with. What were your's and Allard's called again and where could I get one of each?? Although I got your one relatively easily I still thought it was great.

    May have to wait till I get more money though, still pretty hard up!! XD

    1. Hi Jamie, great to see you at the MPP. The nail puzzles I had were bought on eBay direct from Dick Hess when he had a sale. Allard's nail came from Wil Strijbos (I think)

      I'll try and bring some more for you to try at the next one.

    2. It was great to see you too Kevin, you never fail to amuse!! =P I only played with that one nail puzzle of yours that you handed me. So I won't be able to get any of them then? I found the Allard's one on Sloyd as well.

    3. It might be worth while contacting Dick Hess himself but I am not sure whether he has any left. Drop me an email and I'll put you in touch.