Sunday 18 June 2017

Falling behind

Is it just me? Have those wonderful (and pesky) craftsmen suddenly increased their puzzle production rate recently? Just when I have quite a lot of expense at home with builders in doing "stuff" around the house (NO! She won't let me build a puzzle room extension!),  the craftsmen suddenly hit me with a whole lot of new toys which are "essential" to purchase. In order to pay for all this stuff I seem to be working far too much and hence I am falling behind in my solving. I now have a huge backlog of unsolved puzzles, most of which I have not even had time to look at let alone attempt a solve. I have even failed to take photos of a few solved puzzles.

It doesn't help that a certain Chinese designer whose puzzles I showed off last week has made some N-ary puzzles which require an ENORMOUS number of moves - I have been working on the easiest of the Chinese ring variants, Corn on the cob I for a few evenings and have managed to get just over half way.....this has required several hundred (if not over a thousand) moves without counting the getting lost and having to backtrack a few times! I think Goetz who is the Streetwise puzzles official Logarithmic analyser might actually know the correct number of moves - I cannot work it out because I am too dim for that sort of thing and I cannot count past 20!

Looks so close but I think this is just over half way!
Luckily, I do have something up my sleeve to write about. The puzzle pictured at the top of the post is the Rift puzzle designed by Tim Alkema who seems to specialise in simple looking burrs with some very interesting design features.

This rather lovely 2.5" cube is "just a simple 3 piece burr in a frame. which the Doctor of wood, Eric Fuller, has made from Granadillo and Ash. Here's how Eric described the puzzle:

"Rift is such a simple design it's elegant. Three burr pieces and a two piece cage that dances around the assembly. The moves are so unconventional that the level 8 solution is tougher than you would expect. Disassembly has a trick to it as well. This is an excellent puzzle, I'm glad I made it, and I'm looking forward to its big brother "Schism" in the next update."
Many of you seem to think (quite incorrectly) that I am super skilled at solving burrs. I definitely am not - for skill you need to look at Goetz (is there anything that he cannot do?), Aaron or even my friend Richard Evans, who are all machines! If you don't believe me just take a look at this picture which rich posted a while back:

Eric commented "Holy shit!"
Yes Rich had "solved" quite a lot of burrs and interlocking puzzles and rather than just reassemble them after dismantling he created what Mrs S what refer to as a nice pile of kindling! So confident was he that he could reassemble them that he just mixed all the pieces up.

The Rift puzzle starts off with a few possible moves of the centre burr pieces and not much more. It took a bit of fiddling before I realised that the frame splits and then that opens up some new sequences. It only takes a total of 8 moves before the first piece comes out and each move in the sequence is really quite interesting - I have quite a few burrs with frames but very few of them require the frame to be part of the solution like this. It was, as eric described, not terribly hard but was very enjoyable.

Simple burr sticks and a very unusual frame
I thought I had memorised the disassembly with my usual "to and fro" solving process so I took my photo and left the pieces for a while. I then went back to the puzzle an hour or so later to put it back together. Ahem! I had completely forgotten the sequence and so had to try and work it out from scratch. To show how dim I am (compared to Rich) I have to admit that it took me a couple of days to reassemble it! I was still quite chuffed that I did manage it. It is not necessary to have high level burrs to challenge yourself - even something fairly simple can be fun when the pieces and their interaction are so unique like with the Rift.

Eric has sold out of these now but the big brother, Schism, is available for sale just now. This one is a 6 piece burr in a similarly split frame and should be a much tougher challenge. Of course, I couldn't resist getting the next in the series and it is currently on its' way across the pond to me as I type.

I have a week off work now which was supposed to be for relaxation, puzzling and unfortunately for garden/household chores. Unfortunately the chore list keeps on being added to by she who must be obeyed and the builders need babysitting. Mrs S is fed up doing it so that will be my task too whilst she buggers off around town. This will mean that I may not get much puzzling done just as I have received some more gorgeousness from the "published professor of wood", Brian Menold.

Have a nice week everyone and think of me trying to puzzle whilst the chores pile up!

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