Sunday 3 March 2019

Just a 6 Piece Burr?

Heck No!

Grooved 6 Board Burr #1
Just a quick review of Juno's Grooved 6 Board Burr #1 today - I spent all of yesterday looking at a pile of boxes from all over the world whilst not being allowed to open them. Mrs S had chores and DIY for me to do and after she had opened the door to several delivery men on Friday she was firing her laser burning stare rather indiscriminately all over the place! I feared for my life and decided that I should do whatever she wanted me to do for a while. I did not even open the boxes until I had finished a whole day of work around the house - there was no puzzling to be had either! Someone else was very interested.

Sob! Not allowed to touch!
A few weeks ago I finally managed to solve a rather tough puzzle and was going to review it at the time but Allard beat me to it - I solved my copy of this just before he published his very fine review here. I put off my blog post but decided I should still post something as this puzzle is still for sale with just 2 left and maybe I can convince a few of you who ignored him to buy it. It is a magnificent puzzle!

I have a few 6 piece burrs and 3 very beautiful burr sets which allow me to make a hundred or more extras. I also have a few board burrs which I enjoy and find fun to play with. They tend to be only slightly difficult because most of the pieces are based on a simple 1x4x6 orthogonal grid and hence cannot be terribly complex. In fact, when Juno put this puzzle up for sale way back in October last year, I bought the Spade case and the Tangled clip burr but decided not to buy the simple looking board burr.....Stupid boy! A few weeks later I got to play with it at the MPP. It looked like someone had nearly dismantled it and left it like that. I overheard them say that they could not go any further and also could not get it back to the beginning. My interest was piqued and I picked it up - Ah! I see! This is a much more interesting puzzle than I had thought initially - the grooved aspect to it made a HUGE difference. I did manage to return it to the start position and left it like that because I had decided that I really ought to buy my own copy. Yes, it is THAT good!

It arrived in December and I started to play. It is wonderfully tactile and remarkably beautiful to look at. It is 8cm cubed and made of American Cherry, with Jarrah (reinforcement splines) and Bamboo dowel pins. Really stunning. I couldn't resist playing with it straight away and discovered that there are lots of moves possible very quickly after you start. This gives quite a few pathways to try and one or two are really quite long with multiple branches to wander along. This may seem quite frightening but I personally found that retracing my steps was never a problem - I am quite disciplined about maintaining a set orientation all the time whilst I explore and so never lose my place. At least one of the paths is long enough that I was convinced that I was going the right way - it just felt right and was reinforced when I appeared to be just a step or two away from removing one of the boards:

It looks like that left-hand board should come off soon
You know how it is? It all seems to be going so well and you get so close but that final step just never quite happens! I worked on it for a few months without managing to get any closer to removing that first board. Why was it so blasted difficult? Most 6 board burrs are nowhere near this tough and at this point, I realised that with the pins and grooves these boards were not based on that 1x4x6 grid, these were actually based on a 3x12x18 grid which allows a MUCH higher level solution. Even so, the stated level of 22 for the first piece removal of 22 should still have been possible for me without so much difficulty. Nothing I could do would let me get any further. I just couldn't find the final few steps.

You all know me by now! If I can't solve something then I just keep at it until I get it. Sometimes it takes a few days or weeks and sometimes it may take months. Eventually, after 3 months of playing most evenings, I had that highly craved Aha! moment. Juno had completely led me astray! The true pathway was quite an early divergence from that initial path. The correct sequence was really very well hidden and I kicked myself for failing to find it earlier. Even having found the new pathway, it is still not a straightforward sequence to remove the first and subsequent pieces and requires quite a bit of thought and planning. Absolutely genius!

It looks so innocuous!
Having spent so long working on it I had quite a lot of muscle memory for the sequence of moves and the first few times I was able to reassemble it without difficulty. The key factor though is that I always kept the pieces in order and sort of oriented correctly. When it came to lining them up for the photograph, I lost that order and orientation and then was unable to reassemble it. There are 4246 possible assemblies of the pieces but only one is achievable - this might explain the difficulty of reassembly.

Luckily I find the making of a Burrtools file an essential part of my burr enjoyment and had a lovely time entering it in and discovering the level is - a considerable challenge for "just" a 6 board burr.

Hopefully, I have tempted you (along with Allard) to go and buy the last 2 - it is fabulous and you will not be disappointed.

So you may be asking what was in my boxes? After a frenzy of unpacking it appeared that there was a cat in one of my boxes - he certainly approved of Robert Yarger's choice of box:

If I fits, I sits!
The space inside (rapidly filled by cat) was some long-awaited puzzles:

Mrs S is unimpressed by my splurge!
We have a Stickman, some Menolds, another Juno and of course, several Krasnows. This might keep me going for a while. Don't tell Mrs S that I'm expecting 1 or 2 (or 3) more deliveries soon!

Whack! Ouch! 

Sorry dear.

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