Sunday 13 October 2019

A Board Burr With a Difference

3 Grooved Board Burrs and an Interloper
A few weeks ago, Juno put his third sequential discovery puzzle the SDBBB (Sequential Discovery Board Burred Box) up for sale and sent out his emails at 4am on a Saturday morning (UK time). The whole world had been waiting for it but unfortunately half of the world (the civilised bit!) was fast asleep in its' beds! Consequently, those pesky Yanks bought almost all 40 that Juno had managed to produce within just 3 or 4 hours and when the Europeans logged on they were all gone and much wailing could be heard.

So you could ask how I got one? Indeed, I should have been fast asleep in my bed but...wait for it! Time for a physiology lesson now! I suffer from severe insomnia (have done for decades). I fall asleep instantly as soon as my head hits the pillow but am usually awake and suffering at 3 or 4 am. Now an interesting phenomenon occurs to us humans at night...we secrete ADH (AntiDiuretic Hormone i.e. anti-weewee)) from our pituitary gland at the base of the brain mostly at night to suppress urine production overnight when we should be sleeping. When one wakes up the secretion of ADH slows and we start producing urine. So what we have here is a middle-aged man who already has a micro-bladder, who has woken up in the middle of the night. As a result, at about 4am I need to disturb the sleeping cats who are across my belly and thighs (compressing the rapidly filling bladder) and get up to go, as we Brits delicately put it, to the loo. I occasionally pick up my phone which is on my bedside table and check my emails. That night I shouted AHA!!!! Actually, I darent make any noise at all for fear of disturbing "she who sounds like a drowning hippo" at night Whack! Ouch! There might have been a puzzle purchased and Mrs S knew nothing about it. At 4:15 I am one of the few Europeans who got one just because of insomnia, a hormone and a cat sleeping across my lower abdomen. Lucky me!!! Lord! I wish I could sleep!

In the picture at the top of the post we have Juno's 3 grooved board burrs and in the middle at the back is the much larger (112mm cubed) gorgeous sequential discovery puzzle (yes, I know AND it's a box) disguised as a board burr. It is quite solid and surprisingly heavy made of American Rock Maple, Utile and some "metal parts". It arrived after a rather prolonged stay with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs before they decided to send me a ransom demand for its' release. Viewing it next to the original Sequential Discovery Burred Box, you cannot tell that either of them is not what they seem to be at first sight:

Is it a burr? Is it a Box? No, it's a Sequential Discovery puzzle!  Both of them.
After a visit to the gym to try and achieve a body beautiful (or maybe slightly less horrific), I fetched it from the post office after paying my fees and forced Mrs S to admit that it was lovely and that it was well worth the money (of course, I didn't tell her how much it actually cost! I'm sleep deprived and stupid but not suicidal! Whack! Ouch!). Breakfast consumed with Mrs S and I was allowed to play with my new toy. I'd had a particularly tough week of major surgery and she took pity on me for once and let me relax rather than do chores or electrocute myself doing DIY...again!

At first, I can find only one sliding movement (see, it's a burr) and nothing else. Then I find another few sliding movements and a piece falls off onto the sleeping cat (they never leave me sitting for long) and I discover my first metal piece. Before going any further, I have a look to see what I actually did. It's a rather nice little sequence. The metal piece is stuck inside until I find another one which happens to be magnetic (Juno has used lots of clever ideas). Here I am stuck for a few minutes until I discover a rather unintuitive move and then another. The cat is getting fed up with the rain of wooden stuff on his head!

A few steps later I have a tool and an obvious place to use it. The tool is duly used and I tuck it away from the cat who always runs off with stuff like that and I REALLY don't want it under our fridge along with hundreds of missing cat toys and half-eaten spiders! At this point, quite a lot of stuff happens and I think I'm almost there. The construction of these pieces is superb! Luckily I didn't lose the tool as it needed to be used again. Yet another odd shaped piece arrives and I think I'm almost there.

Nope! Not yet - I have 2 pieces firmly locked together and am not entirely sure what is holding them that way. There are "tool"-shaped holes but nothing in them so that won't work. Time to borrow Allard's brain and Think©. I notice a piece with something that seems superfluous and wonder whether it has any further uses. Aha! Suddenly, I have somewhere to use the tool but it doesn't seem to do anything. Ouch, my brain hurts. After a few more minutes of doing the same thing over and over again, I have one of my rather infrequent thoughts and suddenly I shout aloud...YESSSS!

Opened the Burr/Sequential discovery puzzle/Box
Now that is a very unexpected final step. I don't think I have seen anything like it before! The construction is simply stunning! For once Juno has stopped teasing me with bread to fit in the boxes, this time we have a glass of wine to celebrate or maybe it is a drink of squash (For you Yanks who don't know what squash is in the UK, look at this). I was so dizzy afterwards that I am convinced that it was wine. No, I am not going to show off all the pieces as it is too much of a spoiler. Maybe I will show it off in a few months once people have managed to solve their copies.

Putting it all back together proved to be a fair bit of a challenge as I had pieces all over the place including some stashed under my legs out of reach of the pesky inquisitive cat. After a couple of false starts in which I forgot to put one piece back in place and also where I discovered that 2 pieces are interchangeable until you actually try to close it completely, I got it back together. I LOVED IT!

This puzzle is considerably easier than the previous 2 SD puzzles from Juno (especially the Slammed car which kept me going for weeks. I am not disappointed in the least - it was great fun and beautifully made. I do know that one idiot decided it was so easy that he wanted to flog it for a HUGE profit. My good friend Ed bought it and despite being blind solved it and enjoyed it immensely. Puzzles really don't have to be impossibly hard to be worth a place in your collection - they need to be enjoyable (being beautiful also helps). I will be taking this to the next MPP to allow the rest of the Brits to experience it.

Grooved Board Burr #3
Having solved the Sequential discovery board burr, I figured I really should solve the third in Juno's Grooved Board Burr. I have been attempting it for months and getting nowhere. There are lots and lots of possible paths and many blind ends as well as complete loops ending up back at the beginning. One of the main reasons I had been failing was that I had been using my usual back and forth approach to keep track of my path so I could always return to the start and hopefully be able to remember enough to reassemble it. A night or two after I solved the SD board burr, I really went for it on the burr and decided to be less scrupulous with my attempts to remember the path. I found something promising...possibly and realised I could not get it back to the beginning. I had a board hanging way off the puzzle but still firmly locked in place and could not get it back on! OMG! Panic set in.

Mrs S was rather upset at all the panting and groaning and muttering noises I was making whilst we were watching TV. I was getting increasingly lost in an extremely complex path as pieces moved almost off and onto the puzzle. Finally, after 4 months and many hours of attempts, I removed my first piece. Phew! It should come apart easily now. WRONG! The puzzle remains incredibly stable even after 3 of the pieces have been removed. It took me quite a while to work out how to get the second piece off and even the third. Just before it was time to go to bed (no wonder I am sometimes insomniac!), I finally had 6 boards to examine.

They look so innocuous! That was damned difficult!
Close up I could see the wood choices and construction of the pieces was spot on. It has been made of New Guinea Walnut (Anacardiaceae family tree), European Beech and Silver Ash (Citrus family tree) formed into Juno's characteristic plywood and the grooves and pins are just perfect - the puzzle is 86mm cubed. As all of Juno's puzzle, there is his home-made brand on one of the pieces:

Stunning detail
I had absolutely no way to put it back together from memory and my skills do not lie in the assembly path. I still have Brian Young's craftsman version of the Mega-six burr next to me which I have failed to assemble in 2 years of attempts so there is no way on earth I can assemble this board burr. I went to the amazing Burrtools for help and realised that this was so complex in construction that I would need an 18x18x18 grid to construct it. The solution is an amazing level 34-9-9-6-2. No wonder it took me so long. The Grooved board burr #3 is still available from Juno's store here. I am sure that Yukari will be only too delighted to post one out to you straight away. You will not be disappointed in the challenge.

What should I try next? I have received a couple of new puzzles from good friends this week. From Johan Heyns in South Africa, I bought the Septenary cube which requires 4813 moves for full disassembly:

Septenary cube.
Acrylic and wood - a nice relaxing challenge!
Also, I took delivery of a wonderful puzzle made by the incredible Stephan Baumegger from Austria. I couldn't resist the Pandora burr when he showed it off on his Facebook page! At level 33-24-10 it will be a hugely tough challenge...much less than the 4813 for Septenary burr.

How gorgeous is that? Pandora.

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