Sunday 5 March 2017

More Stupendous Pelikan Success

Involute Ball
I would appear to have been extremely successful in my reviewing process! As I write, all the puzzles apart from one on the Pelikan puzzle website are sold out apart from the Trirods ball (also well worth purchasing). After my last review all the rest went very quickly - well done to Jakub and Jaroslav for such a tremendous success. I have been asked for my thoughts on the last few that I bought from their recent batch and have just now managed to find time.

Involute ball and Brian Menold's wonderful cube version
Convolution ball
Starting with the Involute ball, Stewart Coffin designed the involute cube as an improvement of the original convolution cube and it became another of my favourite puzzle designs. Of course Pelikan made a delightful spherical version of Convolution cube which I adore and keep on show in my living room – I even have permission from Mrs S because it is so beautiful. When Jakub gave me a copy of the involute ball as a Christmas gift I was absolutely delighted! The woods are beautiful and the wood turning is perfect. The disassembly is just like the original cube and a wonderful sequence which can prove to be quite a challenge if you are new to interlocking wooden puzzles due to the combined coordinate motion and rotational move that is required (I have had some correspondence from a relative newcomer who got stuck which required me to make a video to help him).

Involute ball pieces - they are still recognisable from the original cube pieces.
The video below is the one I made to help my friend and shows the full solution - don't watch it if you don't want to see any spoilers.

The real challenge is the reassembly after scrambling. All in all this puzzle is a wonderful twist on one of the classic designs and is a delight to play with. It makes a perfect addition to any collection. It is also on display in my living room - Mrs S is complaining about my balls now!

What do you think about my balls? Too large........a collection?

Next is the Two Tone Zero - another brilliant idea by the incredibly prolific and talented Osanori Yamamoto.

Two Tone Zero
Two tone zero is a classic by Osanori Yamamoto beautifully made in Wenge and Maple. When I first began exploring the puzzle it seemed quite loose but the reason for this coma clear a bit later. Like many other puzzles that he's designed before, it requires both linear movements and rotations to separate all the pieces. Lots of movements are possible from the beginning and I searched for a position where a rotation might be possible. I went round and round in circles with my linear moves and I couldn't find a suitable position for any rotational moves at all until by accident I found a new position without knowing how I got there. I then searched for the rotations that would allow extraction of any of the pieces but couldn't seem to find them proving yet again that I am not very bright (in fact if you watched the video above then you would see a fine example of me not being very bright!)

After a morning of play it hit me – I was looking for the wrong type of rotation - there was no way I was going to get that to work. The Aha! moment was a joy! Once I had realised what I was doing wrong, I made 2 very clever rotational moves with some linear moves to follow and I had thes beautifully made pieces:

Notice how they are mirrored in colour?
This is a really clever puzzle and an absolute joy to explore - I love it. Even having solved it several times, I still struggle to find the correct linear sequence to get everything positioned for the rotational moves and also have to stop and think before I can actually make those moves - a triumph of design and craftsmanship!

Grilladin is another incredible design by Stéphane Chomine. It is "just a simple" 4 board burr arranged into a # shape. The version made by Jakub looks absolutely fabulous with boards made of Acacia and Maple with wonderful reinforcing pegs as highlights.

It is just a simple 4 board burr so how hard can it be? Well, with a level of 32.2.5 I have to report that it is really hard! There are lots of movements and they all seem to lead to blind endings or round in circles. I've spent several weeks on it so far and have gotten nowhere at all - I am obviously missing a critical move which I may have to find by making a Burrtools file using the photo of the pieces on the Pelikan site. It's a delight to explore and obviously has something hidden in plain sight which I hope to find soon. Probably best for serious burr freaks like me! Unless of course I am just not being terribly bright again.

Links D
Links D is my first puzzle that was designed by the incredibly prolific Lucie Pauwels - her page on Ishino's site is pretty sparse but if you follow her on Facebook then you will see that she seems to produce amazing new designs for complex interlocking shapes on almost a daily basis. Her designs are very different to almost everything that I have played with before and are almost a different category of puzzles. They are not burrs but are interlocking solids in various shapes that fit together rather like a 3D jigsaw but with serial moves that must be done in the correct order. This particular puzzle made from Wenge and Maple is a pair of cubes filling 2 interlocked links. It is stunningly made by Pelikan and is a really nice challenge to find which pieces move to disassemble - each time either one or two pieces will slide before allowing a removal. The 3rd and 5th moves took me quite some time to discover because the dark woods do not reveal which pieces are glued and which are free to slide. Having finally taken it apart I had this:

It's a 3D jigsaw!
I scrambled the pieces and left them for a while and for a while wished that I hadn't! I had forgotten the orientation of several of the pieces and struggled for a good 15 minutes before I had my Aha! moment. The assembly definitely is possible from scratch and makes for a fun challenge. I hope that Pelikan go on to make a few more of Lucie's designs in the future.

I did this and am now wishing that I hadn't done it!

Crazy Comet
What have I done?
I bought the Crazy comet (designed by Oskar van Deventer) from my friend Marty's puzzle store and thought that it wouldn't be too tough as it was just like a Bermuda megaminx but with all diamond centers. I scrambled it initially using only 180º turns and after half a day managed to solve it but that type of scramble doesn't jumble it and doesn't split all the pieces apart. On Thursday I decided to do a full jumbling scramble and am seriously struggling! I have managed all the bottom ⅔ but now can't seem to manage any further due to lack of space to manoeuvre. I have heard that it is effectively a shape mod of the Curvy Copter which is one of my all time favourite twisty puzzles (if you don't have one then you MUST buy one right now - it is absolutely fabulous - get it here from Marty or here from PuzzleMaster). So far I am not solving it by thinking of the Curvy copter and maybe that is why I am struggling? I have a bit of a backlog so really must get a move on!


  1. Another great post Kevin. I absolutely love the look and idea of the Links D and the involute ball is simply stunning.

    1. Thanks Paul! Try and stay strong - stick to your chosen specialties and stay away from wood. It starts to get really expensive if you do wood!

  2. Hi Kevin! On Grilladin the move you are missing may be an "in between" move where the piece (or pieces) move halfway in one direction and must be lined up exactly for a new move to work. This is often very tricky due to the incredibly accurate tolerances (I had this experience with a similar puzzle, "Confluence"). Anyway, best wishes on solving the puzzle before reverting to burrtools!

    1. Ah! Ok - I will need to go back and start again for the beginning! Hopefully I'll get there but I am heading towards Burrtools.

    2. Doing the same moves over and Over and OVER again can get really frustrating at times but the "aha!" moment when you finally find that elusive move is wonderful! Usually, the longer the move takes you to find, the greater the triumph :).

    3. Very true! I had spent over 2 years trying to solve the Mars Bermuda cube using the same technique over and over again! I finally had an epiphany and solved it a couple of weeks ago - the relief was fantastic!

  3. Kevin, the crazy comet is a mod of the curvy copter PLUS, not the curvy copter. That's why it's so much harder. I went out and re-bought a curvy copter plus (after earlier selling it) when I heard this. Anyway, my hint (if you don't watch my video) is to think "reduction".

    1. Ah! That does explain why I have found the reduction so tough! I have been doing it by intuition so far and really struggled with pairing the final composite edges. I've now done that (it took me 3 days) and am struggling with the final solved as I have 3 edges in the wrong orbit. I'm trying to avoid watching any videos until I'm done