Sunday 21 August 2016

A Pelikan Extravaganza!

How gorgeous are these?
At the end of July I showed off on my New additions page a big bunch of puzzles that I had bought from Jakub prior to them being made available for general sale. I have been just soooo busy at work and at home that I have barely had any time to puzzle at all and I am eternally grateful to Mike Desilets for writing a guest blog post for me when I had nothing to write about. I didn't realise that Jakub was holding off putting these puzzles up for sale until I had written a little review for him and you. This is one of the reasons that I get advanced access (I do still pay for them) - he likes me to try them and write something to help you all decide which ones you want in your own collections.

Well this week, Mrs S was off up to Edinburgh to visit the "outlaws" and I was hoping for a little time to play whilst all by myself. This would give me a chance to solve some of these beauties and write something for Jakub too. Despite "she who must be flinched from" being away, I still had little time! She had given me strict instructions and a rather large list of chores to do!! She even left a passing comment that I must not indulge too much in the unhealthy grub that I love and must continue to go to the gym because "if you get fat....then you're out". Gulp! You will be pleased to know that as she is driving back just now, I have done all the chores, tidied the house, cleaned the cat litter tray (Yuk!) and ticked off all items on her list. I have even been to the gym twice to achieve a body "less horrific" because, let's face it, I'll never have a body beautiful!

I now can write reviews of all 7 puzzles - that should shortly be up for sale on Pelikan puzzles' site. To make up for some relatively short blogs recently, this one is rather large...I hope you enjoy it.


The Egg
I started on the egg the evening that I received the puzzles because I just couldn't resist it. I wanted to put it on display in the living room (Mrs S actually tends to allow the nicely turned puzzles on display outside of my study) and so I needed to solve it first. Beautifully made with it's own stand, it is a wonderfully tactile thing to hold and caress. Like a few of the other coordinate motion puzzles (the egg is NOT coordinate motion), when it comes to solving, the puzzle is not particularly difficult - it is just a matter of finding the correct places to put your fingers to hold it and and push/pull in the right directions. If you have it just right then you are rewarded with a beautiful sliding motion as it smoothly separates. After a few minutes you have 4 pieces which look nearly identical and which will only fit back together in one way. I've hidden the pieces behind a 'show/hide' button because some of you will see where to push/pull to solve:

All in all the Egg is a lovely satisfying puzzle suitable for beginners and will be appreciated by all puzzlers who adore fine craftsmanship and beautiful wood.

Trirods Ball Extra

Even Mrs S exclaimed how gorgeous this was when it came out of the box
Even the stand is gorgeous!
The Trirods ball was available in two versions, standard and extra. The difference wasn't explained to me but I couldn't resist choosing the "extra" could be more puzzling (which is good) or it could be more beautiful wood (which is equally good). The puzzle I received is just stunning! Even the stand is beautiful - it has the Pelikan logo in brass inside. Trirods ball is a lovely perfect sphere with a gorgeous patterns of different woods. The joins between the pieces can barely be seen and the whole thing is a joy to hold. Just like the egg, the solution is not particularly difficult - it is just a matter of finding the correct places to put your fingers to hold it and and push/pull in the right directions. If you have it just right then you are rewarded with a beautiful sliding motion as it smoothly separates. After a few minutes you have 4 pieces which look nearly identical and which will only fit back together in one way. The solution is actually the same as the egg but harder to discern where to place your fingers. Again I have hidden the pieces behind a 'show/hide' button to avoid spoiling things for you:


Pontoon - looks simple? It took your 'not very bright' puzzle quite a while!
Pontoon is an unusual mixture of a rectangular plate with 2 very simple H shaped plates at 90º to it and held in place by another 2 more simple burr pieces. There is a lot of possible sliding to be done
and at first I couldn't solve it without using rotations of the burr pieces. This is rather uncharacteristic of Pelikan's work and I suspected I had cheated... a quick look at the Burrtools file revealed that the puzzle was solvable using linear moves only and they are very well hidden. I tried again (I had only used the BT file to confirm that it was possible without rotations) and after a fascinating dance of 22 moves I had the first piece out. This is a great puzzle to be solved both with rotations and with just linear moves, well worth space in your collection and on your shelf. I do think that the ability to solve it both with rotations and without has actually added to the puzzling pleasure for me. Neither are particularly easy to find and there's a great sense of achievement when it's done. I The dance in the linear solution is particularly special and I have been playing with this one whilst watching TV for the last few evenings.

Pontoon pieces


The first 3 in this series all share similar features - Aqueduc looks very like the Pontoon puzzle with a mixture of a rectangular plate with 2 very simple H shaped plates (actually U shaped) at 90º to it and held in place by another 2 more simple burr pieces. The difference is that the puzzle is an extra unit wide which makes the disassembly quite a bit more complex. Just like with Pontoon, I solved it the first time using rotations (of the H's and the burr sticks) and only using Burrtools was it revealed that it is possible to solve it with 31 linear moves to remove the first piece followed by another 3 for the second. The stick burrs can only be removed at the end by rotation. Behind the show hide button is the position to get to to allow the U's out:

For me it adds to the puzzling delight that it can be solved with rotations as well as using linear moves. The level 31 seems intimidating but it really is not too difficult as everything can be seen and it is a great exercise in planning what you want to achieve. Pontoon and Aqueduc make a perfect pair for the collection. As with all of the Pelikan puzzles the craftsmanship is second to none - everything moves beautifully!

Aqueduc Pieces


Etrier is a third variant on the idea of Pontoon and Aqueduc with a single rectangular plate and a couple of H shaped plates at 90º to it. This version has the H's held in place in the centre of the puzzle with some beautiful rings made from Zebrawood. The first few moves are quite constrained but after that there are quite a few options some of the options seem to include the possibility of rotating the pieces. This time it clearly does not lead towards a solution and it requires a little discipline to keep trying linear moves (don't be put off by the tendency of the pieces to rotate, it is a wonderful puzzle to solve). Etrier is significantly tougher than Pontoon requiring 30 moves to remove the first piece. Again I have hidden the positions behind the show/hide button:

Once the 2 H shapes are removed then it is obvious that the rings can only be removed after a rotation. Very clever and stunning for the shelf.

Etrier pieces revealed - the BT file is fun to make


Having finished with the plate/H/burr puzzles I moved on to Portillon. It is a lovely mixed plate and stick burr with a nice short sequence of 14 moves to extract the first piece. This makes it nicely suitable to the beginner or non expert burr solver but don't expect it to be easy because the particular moves which lead to the extraction of the first piece are very well disguised and there is a looping sequence of moves that takes the unsuspecting puzzler round and round in circles unable to find the next move on. The piece that does come out first is rather unexpected and great fun. After the first piece comes out it is still non-trivial to remove the next. Reassembly is possible without having to resort to Burrtools. The manufacture and movement is just superb and the name engraved in the top of the puzzle is a beautiful finishing touch.

I love this puzzle - it might be my favourite of the bunch

Wide Portico

Wide Portico - probably the most beautiful of the bunch
Wide Portico looks to be very similar to Portico J with 3 plate burrs and 3 standard stick burrs but has been made with a bigger grid and has more complex shaped pieces. This puzzle is the most beautiful of the plate and burr puzzles and the addition of the reinforcing dowels in contrasting colours is a superb touch. It is just stunning. I really struggled to solve this puzzle - two of the burr sticks seem to move easily but the third seems quite hard to unravel from it's position. Gradually it is possible to see more of the plates and a tactic for extracting a piece starts to appear but the pieces move around and about each other quite a lot which does get hard to follow. Like a couple of other puzzles in this release, it is possible to rotate pieces and shortcut the solution (this is again how I did it the first time). In itself it is quite fun to use rotations but even tougher to dismantle the puzzle with linear moves only. A real challenge at level 31 - not for the faint hearted.

Wide Portico pieces
As part of the Portico series this is well worth owning and the tougher solution is wonderful. I needed to use Burrtools to reassemble it because I am not very bright and have the memory of a goldfish!

Overall, this bunch of puzzles is just fantastic - it was worth the laser burning stare and the grievous bodily harm visited upon my person by Mrs S and I have had a very happy few days puzzling away in the evenings whilst she has been away. As always the workmanship by Jakub and Jaroslav is as close to perfection as is possible. The puzzles all look fabulous and at least 2 are on display outside of my study. The puzzling level is just right. They should be available to buy very soon! There still are copies of Canal House available to buy here - this is stunning and also well worth adding to your collection. The Gravity puzzle is also available - it is a wonderful design I reviewed on the same page here - be sure to pick up a copy whilst you are at Jakub's site.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend guys and feel free to leave a comment below or Contact me with any suggestions or questions.


  1. Hi Kevin
    I can imagine that you are impressed by These pieces, but have in mind,the egg and the ball are designs by Sheriy Grabarchuk now USA and were produced als a few year earlier in the same nice sorts of wood

    1. I must have missed them when they were first released or they were before my puzzling days! It seems strange to remember that I have only been a puzzler for 5 years!

    2. Hi Kevin
      it was Long time ago as Jarda Sveijkovski changed the original Trirods to a ball and an egg, in 2008
      and here and here the original design:

  2. The trirods ball can be opened in one move. It's, thus, not really a co-motion puzzle.

    1. I didn't say that it was coordinate motion - just that it slides apart if you push/pull correctly in the right places. I call it an interlocking puzzle.