Sunday 30 December 2018

Interlocking Wonders

Six Face
Still not solved!
There have been a few recent updates from those pesky craftsmen! They try to intercept my finances when I am supposed to be buying Christmas presents for Mrs S! "Luckily" for me, I had saved up and already spent a fortune on Mrs S and then I still had some money left over for some new treasures from the "Published professor of wood", Brian Menold and I missed out on Eric's update due to work - sob! I still had a couple of his packing puzzles from the previous release which I have gotten absolutely nowhere with and so this time I focussed on just the interlocking puzzles that he had produced. At the very top of his New puzzles page, he had the Six face puzzle which was designed by a new designer (and craftsman), Andrew Crowell whom I had admired in this post in October 2017. If Brian says that something is good then I always listen to him as his taste is impeccable.

I chose the version made with East Indian Rosewood, Ebiara (aka Red Zebrawood) and Koa. and it is truly lovely. This puzzle is a Turning interlocking cube without actually being a cube - there are a total of 31 moves to fully dismantle it with a level of which rather underplays the difficulty of the puzzle. Removal of the first piece is not too tough but reveals a very interesting construction and then there are quite a few possible moves which all seem to end in blind alleys. I got stuck for a couple of evenings after just one piece had been removed. To get to the next move requires a really good look at the shape of what you have (you get just enough of a view inside) and then try to plan the next couple of moves. The puzzle has been deliberately made quite tight to prevent unintentional moves and this certainly did make finding the correct moves difficult. Having found a new path, I was very impressed with what it allowed me to do and suddenly another piece came loose - very satisfying! Yet again I got stuck! Quite a few moves are possible and they lead to an "almost there but not quite right" situation. With so much space opened out, I was then able to try something really rather unexpected. At first sight, it didn't help much but with a little thought it is possible to create and move the maze pathways around and an unexpected piece comes out in an unexpected way. The final 2 pieces are large and very intertwined - there are actually 2 ways to dismantle the final construction - one is the intended solution which is very elegant and the other is sneaky requiring very precise movement. Finally, after 3 evenings of work I could take my photo:

I lurve TIC's and this is a VERY good example!
Not only is this beautiful but it is also very very clever! A great puzzle from the best!

Summer - who can resist a puzzle with that name at this dreary time of year?
Summer was irresistible to me! It is designed by one of my very favourite designers (and friends) Klaas Jan Damstra who always produces puzzles with something elegant and interesting to them...they are not always terribly difficult or high level but they are ALWAYS very satisfying to solve. On top of that, the copy I bought was made with an East Indian Rosewood and Acacia frame with Olivewood pieces - it is truly gorgeous and I am a sucker for Olivewood (my Die Doolhof from Johan was made of Olivewood and I frequently play with it and admire the lovely markings). I was won over by Brian's description that it was just a simple frame and 3 simple pieces - some of the very best puzzles ever have been very simple in idea as well as piece number and construction - for example from this year, Chris Lohe's Trenta was amazing as was Osanori Yamamoto's Lucida.

Trenta - an amazing assembly puzzle 
Lucida - equally incredible!
The Summer puzzle is lovely to play with due to the smoothness and warmth of the wood and has a very enjoyable sequence of 14 moves for the extraction of the first piece. If you have the puzzle orientated nicely then it can almost be solved one-handed with some very satisfying clunking noises as the pieces move. It took me an hour to dismantle it and due to the small number of pieces, I decided to scramble them and leave them for a while.

Summer in pieces
This definitely could have been sent out as an assembly puzzle and would have been almost as much of a challenge as the pair above. I am definitely not a puzzler of the calibre of my friend, the late Laurie Brokenshire, who had his wife Ethel dismantle everything first so he always had an assembly challenge but the Summer puzzle would have made a really good challenge like that. Even having disassembled it a couple of hours beforehand, the reassembly took me another good hour! But then, you all know that I am not very bright! Thank you, Brian, for a beautiful set of puzzles and some amazing challenges this year. I look forward to more in 2019.

Talking of 2019 - it is that time of year again! Come back on New Year's Day for my Top 10 puzzles of the year!


  1. I'm also totally loving Six Faces (as well as the Crowell pieces from Brian's last update) - I'm currently stuck on that third piece, but I did something (don't know what) and a piece fell out (not the 2nd piece, which fell off unexpectedly as well). I managed to get it back in, but now can't do it again....fascinating and lots of fun.

    I haven't really attacked Summer in earnest yet, but it looks great!

    Lucida is a favorite, but I missed out on Trenta - would love to find a copy somewhere. I'm also quite partial to the simple designs that seem impossible (currently struggling with Yamamoto's triad as well).

    Thanks and Happy New Year!

    1. Keep at it! It’s truly brilliant! You will get there I’m sure. Maybe Trenta might come up at auction someday?