Sunday 19 August 2018

He has a Sick Sick Mind!

Magnetic Madness aka Burrnova 3D
Yes, Jerry McFarland has done it again! You may recall that last year at the IPP he won a prize in the design competition with a fantastic burr puzzle that bamboozled us all due to it's automatically solving section. I wrote about it in this blog post and it reached the number 6 spot in my Top 10 of 2017. In Paris whilst he was showing off his Burrnova 2D puzzle, he also showed the admiring masses a very bare prototype mechanism of his 3D version which we all encouraged him to continue working on. Let's just say that he did that and did it VERY well!

Jerry and I discuss puzzle designs fairly frequently - for some reason, he seems to think that I know something about puzzles (I have no idea what makes him think such a silly thing but I love chatting to him). He had seen the fantastic Angel box design by Wil Strijbos and was really quite tickled by the idea of the figurine inside a puzzle to be released. He worked on it a while and showed me a few pictures in the process and I, of course, encouraged him in his madness! Then earlier this year he asked if I would like to buy a nearly finished prototype of his latest puzzle - he gave me a few $$ of the end price because I would be giving input into the final design and mine may be different to the end puzzle. Who would say no in my position? I obviously couldn't resist and I have had my copy of Burrnova 3D which he renamed to Magnetic madness for the design competition. The aim of the puzzle is, first of all, to remove the key piece and then rescue the princess trapped inside.

I was supposed to keep it quiet and not reveal it to the world and I did a great job up until a few weeks ago when I inadvertently revealed the puzzle to eagle-eyed puzzlers when I showed off my new cabinets:

Can you see it?
Right in the middle of the display of McFarland puzzles, there was a classic interlocking puzzle from Jerry and someone peaking out! Someone did actually spot it and contacted Jerry to ask about getting a copy! I do apologise for letting the cat out of the bag!

The puzzle is absolutely unmistakeable as a McFarland puzzle! There is something completely characteristic about what he makes and it is instantly recognisable! The only new aspect to this one is that it is clear that his mind has slipped a bit:

What has he done?
Jerry has drilled a hole in a burr piece and there appears to be a pretty young lady trapped inside! There is something rather twisted about this but in a humorous way, of course! I laughed out loud when I opened my package to see this.

Having solved the first puzzle in the series I had an idea of how to go about the beginning of this one and was delighted when after finding the first move, I pushed one of the dark sticks for the lovely "Thhraaaap" of 8 sticks at 90º to each other in a lattice went through a really rather lovely automatic solving process. I distinctly remember that Nick Baxter said "who cannot love a puzzle that solves itself?" when he announced that Burrnova 2D had won a prize in Paris. This new version does the same thing only MORE! It is fabulous! I have done it again and again since then and love it. At the moment my copy is a bit sticky with the heat and humidity in the UK but it should improve come the autumn. Between me and Jerry, he made some changes to the ones in the design competition. The magnets are MUCH stronger and now having carried out the first move all it takes is a tiny movement or even picking the puzzle up and it immediately does its' "Thhraaaap" thing again often frightening the poor unsuspecting sap/puzzler in the process! He really has a sick mind!

After the automatic section
After the automatic section, there are sticks poking out but the next move is quite well hidden. If you have solved the 2D version then you can do it but if not it takes a fair bit of searching to find it and then the key piece can finally be removed. With the stickiness of mine, it took me about 20 minutes to get it to work today!

Key piece out but she's still trapped!
Next comes the fun and very challenging process of disassembly. Jerry has really made this tough! The removal of the next pieces is hard to find because he has used STRONG magnets to hold things in place! It takes a fair bit of self-confidence to do the necessary moves to get this thing to come apart:

This must be the hard bit done! Think again!
At one point during the dismantling of this beast, you run into a wall...nothing moves at all. There is a bit of wiggle room in the automatic lattice but that will only come apart with a bit of force and a partial rotation. You know this is not right...Jerry never does that! He's a very sneaky man! He has put a second lock into this one and fastened it with some more VERY strong magnets. It took me hours and hours to find the method to open the lock and then actually doing it requires some serious courage and dexterity, strong fingers...about 14 of them! Eventually, the stage is passed and you can stop muttering under your breath about the evil genius of Jerry!

Now the magnetic lattice can be worked on...for a while anyway!
At this point, I hit a wall!
The disassembly proceeds and the workmanship (with both wood and metal) is revealed. There are some seriously clever pieces here. I got stuck again as only two of the magnetic pieces come out at first.

Not even nearly finished!
After the second lock is passed and further disassembly becomes possible, I try to keep pieces sort of arranged so that I will have some chance to put it all back together again. At this point, one discovers the disadvantage of all the magnets...they attract and repel each other and my carefully placed pieces start to move spontaneously around on the work surface and don't stay pointing the right direction. At one point I took the magnetic lattice structure out and arranged them very carefully but as soon as I let go of them a whole bunch of rotations occurred and I lost the orientation I had carefully preserved.

Finally, after a few hours and a fair bit of swearing, I released a piece and almost dropped the puzzle in shock! An arm fell out! A few moves later, I realised why someone at the IPP had said he has a "Sick sick mind"! Yes, he has dismembered the princess before putting her in her little magnetic wooden dungeon!

This is a little disturbing!!!!
Eventually, I was left with a LOT of pieces spread around the work surface!

The workmanship is incredible - but yes, he is a very sick man!
Of course, the puzzle is not solved until the princess has been properly rescued:

I must be a prince...I have rescued a princess!
Errm wait! She appears to be a mermaid!
What a fantastic odyssey! I can only say that Jerry is a genius, a master craftsman, and a lovely lovely man! He may have a very sick sick mind but I can forgive him for that!

Later, when I came to put it back together, I jiggled a piece with the partially constructed base and my magnetic pieces all went "thhraaaap" again and clung together in a big pile much to my horror! The reassembly was a huge undertaking as he only included a very basic diagram of the magnetic lattice in the paperwork he gave out.

I LURVE THIS PUZZLE! Thank you so much, Jerry!

If you get a chance to buy one then don't even think or hesitate! Just say yes! It will not be cheap - there is a lot of work in these and they take him quite some time but it is one of my most treasured puzzles (hence the prominent position in my new display cabinets).

You might also want to go and have a look at my new additions page to see what else I have been up to recently and to get a heads up on puzzles shortly to be released by Jakub and Jaroslav at Pelikan puzzles.

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