Sunday, 22 October 2017

When Ali Says Don't put Your Finger In It.....

Just DON'T!!!!!

The Louvre from Brian Young
I stuck my finger in here too!
I have had this puzzle for a few months now and have been stuck for a rather embarrassingly long time. The reason for being stuck? I didn't do what Ali told me! I have already learned that occasionally sticking my finger in a puzzle can cause pain - I still vividly recall what happened when I tried to solve the Viper puzzle made by the amazing Shane Hales. With the Viper it caused physical pain and really made me jump (embarrassingly many times). With Brian Young's latest sequential discovery masterpiece, putting your finger in it will cause mental anguish instead. My advice is to BUY IT! Then follow Ali's advice and stick no digits inside—only stick your brain in it....figuratively. Who is Ali? and why should you take his advice? I have known Ali since the beginning of my puzzling fetish, he was one of the revomaze support forum torturers who kept me going on the revomazes and provided just enough encouragement to get me through them. He's a big bloke (although not as big as BIG Steve) who runs a team of guys undertaking major building works in London. Generally people do what he says because he knows his stuff and if they don't they usually come to regret it. He is also one of the best puzzlers in the world - very few puzzles stump him for long! So with those words said you can imagine how sorry for myself I have been feeling having not taken his sage advice!

I bought The Louvre puzzle at the MPP before heading off to Paris for the IPP in August. I cannot resist sequential discovery puzzles and no matter how much they have cost, I have never baulked at the price and never regretted it. At AU$130 ($102 US) this puzzle is a bargain. The story is that you need to find and use tools to allow the lost Mona Lisa to be found and the French flag raised to full mast.

Instructions - no "undue" force but hitting is allowed.
It is made from Papua New Guinean Rosewood with lovely honey brown tones and inside there are many machined brass parts and some small magnets. It is a nice size and weight—145 x 45 x 65mm in size. With the laser engraved front face really does look like the front façade of the Louvre:

The Louvre looks just like the puzzle! Amazing!
Photo courtesy of Jean-Pierre Dalbéra on Wikimedia
I did not get much time to play until after returning from IPP. I do distinctly recall Ali telling me that putting a finger in the puzzle was a distinctly bad idea but in my stupidity I ignored his advice. There are several locks here which need to be opened. Initially there is only a single mm of play in the sliding door in the base and it is locked very tight with absolutely nothing happening as I do all the usual tapping, spinning, blowing and submerging in gin. Eventually after about a ½ hour the first lock succumbed and I had a whole cm visible inside. AHA!!! The flag was there but no way to get to it. I opened and closed and locked and unlocked that cm several times without really understanding how (that will come back to haunt me later). Rule number one with Brian's puzzles are to use your eyes and rule two is to use your is where I have problems! Eventually I remembered to use my eyes and noticing something through a little hole I was able to open the door further and retrieve the first tool. This also gave me the flag but only after another 10 minutes before I remembered to use my eyes again.

At this point quite a lot of the mechanism inside is visible but this does not make it obvious what to do. The next step, to my shame, took me several more days to work out and I had made my next discovery. Here is where it all went horribly wrong. You see it's all so inviting inside! There are several thingummyjigs that you want to play with and see what they will do. In my excitement I forgot Ali's excellent advice and I put my finger in! It didn't help me at all! Nothing would move or happen and here I remained......for 2 months! Sob! I am not terribly bright! Downright dim according to "She who frightens the Bejeeezus out of me".

When I finally recalled the words "don't put your finger inside" and realised that I had committed a cardinal sin, I took a proper look inside.....with decent light.....and my reading glasses on! Yes not only am I rather stupid but I am also getting old and my close up vision is rapidly worsening. I need reading glasses for the fine work I do in the hospital (I had noticed that putting in cannulae and threading arterial and central lines over wires was getting harder as I needed longer and longer arms). Having donned my reading glasses I noticed something absolutely critical inside and could not utilise my finding at all. NOTHING would work - I even resorted to poking with things other than my finger but nope! Nada! After a panicked email to Brian and Sue, I had to wait a bit because they were still travelling around Europe. After a month (ish) I was able to communicate properly and receive their wise advice.

YES! By not following Ali's instructions I had completely buggered my chance of solving it in the normal accepted fashion. I actually did more or less understand what was required (although not why it was) but physically couldn't do it. I actually worried that it would need to go back to Oz. Luckily, Brian sent me a photo of a tool I could make to overcome the stupidity. A large hospital paperclip was duly unfurled and bent to a nice shape and with just a little bit of manipulation in the appropriate direction I had undone the finger damage. Just 15 minutes later I was the hero of France:

Flag unfurled and a rather large Mona Lisa recovered
Of course that is not the whole puzzle. Having saved a major work of art it was important to put her (and everything else) back inside. Most of this I was able to do having finally understood the last locking mechanism properly. BUT remember that I had not really understood the initial lock? Yet again I was stumped for a bit. I knew where everything went but having placed the pieces, the sliding door wouldn't close completely. I am ashamed to admit that it took me another ½ hour before I remembered to put my blasted reading glasses on and peer inside. Another AHA! At last I understood the whole puzzle and it was all set back to the beginning. I can now do the whole thing from beginning to end in just a few minutes but that first time must have taken me many many hours!

It's a genius piece of work by Brian and with all those steps, it is well worth your investment. Just remember to ALWAYS pay attention to Ali:



  1. Wise words to live by in general Kevin!

    1. I do try not to stick my fingers in things too much! But with my occupation.....
      At least I don’t have your occupation! I prefer my end of the patient!



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