Sunday 8 March 2020

Packed with Difficulty

Upcoming beauties from Jakub and Jaroslav's Pelikan Puzzles
In a very short time, Jakub will be updating the Pelikan puzzles site to allow you to buy another bunch of very interesting and fun puzzles. As usual, I was given the opportunity to get them a little early to review them prior to their going on sale. This time we have 3 new beauties from the incredible Osanori Yamamoto (yes I know I have 2 copies of one of them) and a couple from Alexander Magyarics, a relative newcomer who seems to have some very interesting designs published. Jakub sold me these with the request that I try and solve the Osanori puzzles first because those are the ones he needs a blurb for on the store...the pressure is on! These puzzles always look relatively easy but are a significant challenge which I sometimes struggle to complete in a reasonable timeline. These arrived just over a week ago and I set to under pressure straight away.

Triangle Ring 3
Here it is in Mahogany & Wenge (L) and Mahogany & Maple (R)
Osanori is incredibly prolific with 256 designs on Puzzlewillbeplayed. He has an unbelievable mind - many of his puzzles follow a particular theme and look similar but all are very different in solution and challenge level. I never get bored with these puzzles! They are also absolutely brilliant to give to non-puzzlers due to the fact that they look so deceptively simple but show both newbie and experienced puzzler that a simple-looking shape and idea can indeed be VERY difficult.

I started with the Triangle Ring 3 because it looked like it might be the easiest of them with so much space to play with:

There are 2 gigantic holes to manipulate the pieces through
Jakub has now automatically been assembling the pieces in the frames in a very nice tight arrangement and I got a rather progressive surprise that it took significant work to remove all of them. I had not realised until that moment that there were so many pieces and so little free space inside - maybe this was not going to be quite so easy? When I had all the pieces out, it is my usual first task to assemble the cube shape (or cuboid in some of the earlier puzzles) outside the frame and see how many options there might be. I was only able to assemble 2 different cubes (and have subsequently confirmed with Burrtools that this is all there is) so then set to trying to put one of them inside the frame.

If you count the cubies, you will see that there are 26 and hence only one spare cubie to allow movement of the pieces in the frame - is this going to be really tough? There appears to be a really obvious logical way to go about this - start with an assembly outside the frame and perform a sequence that will disassemble it using the restrictions the frame provides. This is rather tricky with an exceptionally affectionate cat on my lap who kept rubbing his chops on the pieces and ruining my orientation. Once he had settled down to sleep I realised that the solution to this is a beautiful and extremely logical progression. It is going to require a little bit of thought and not my usual random movements. I managed the assembly in about an hour and felt very pleased with my puzzling prowess afterwards (maybe I should have learned from my previous experiences?) The level is for the disassembly so not terribly difficult but requiring lots of thought. This was my favourite of the bunch.

A brilliant and logical solution
Flushed with success I moved on to the Triple 3 puzzle which looked alarmingly like some of the previous Osanori puzzles that I had played with. This one had been made from Cherry and Jatoba.

Triple 3
Removing the pieces showed that they were pretty simple and there would be quite a bit of manipulation room inside to play with:

Triple 3 - note that very unusual central piece
As usual, try and make a cube shape - oh boy there are quite a lot of them (11 in fact!) but this is reduced by the need to have a 2x2 cube at one corner and a filled-in cubie at the diagonally opposite one - my subsequent Burrtools use reveals that there are 8 assemblies that fulfil this requirement but at the time it felt like more. It became obvious very soon that this puzzle would need a completely different approach to the first. Attempted assembly outside the frame was not the way to go (for me, at least) and I would need to work on a combined approach - look for positions of certain pieces that would fill the holes in the frame and then try and insert the other piece(s) around that. The single cubie hole in the bottom would be there for a reason and that was what showed me the solution in the end.

Solved it! Brilliant! It took me 3 days!
There were several hours of swearing under my breath over several evenings of toil and included a comment to Mrs S that I might not solve this one before Covid-19 got me! Be systematic is my advice for this one. Again, it is really quite logical but still very hard to find the correct assembly (which is level 10.2.5). My shout of success dislodged the sleeping cat off my lap and nearly ended up with a scratch where I really didn't want one! Time for the final one:

I had left Pavillion to last because I had thought that it might be a bit of light relief from the struggle of Triple 3 - the way it was packed for delivery seemed to show that there was loads and loads of space inside and this might make the solution relatively straightforward - Lord! How stupid am I? I never seem to learn! Removing the 3 pieces showed that there really wasn't much to them:

Only 16 cubies to fit in the 27 cubie space - easy peasy? OMG no!
There are quite a few ways that these pieces can fit together into a 3x3x3 cube and thinking of that was not terribly helpful at first (there are 247 3x3x3 cubes!). OK - try limiting the assemblies to those that would close the windows in the frame - oh dear, there are an awful lot of those too (40 in fact) Having found a few nice assemblies, I realised that the shape of one of the pieces severely restricted the way it could be inserted into the frame and the precision of the manufacture meant that rotations were not possible (at least in any useful direction). Having decreased the possible assemblies by quite a bit with one single piece, I tried adding the other large piece to fill the holes in the frame and again found some severe restrictions in what was possible. BUT my brain was beginning to hurt - I was struggling to remember what I had done before and dismissed. My big Aha! moment came when I played with just 2 pieces alone and realised something very interesting. What if I did...hmmm!

OMG! I really struggled with this one
This puzzle seemed to have several phases to the solution. First work outside the frame, then restrict the orientation and then restrict it further whilst thinking of how pieces can get placed into the frame and then finally work back inside the frame to establish the exact sequence. Some rotations are physically possible and you will need nimble fingers to stop them from happening and ruining your positioning - once inside it is quite hard to see what is going on and you need to work with your mind's eye. This one took me 5 days - it is a bit of a beast (with a disassembly level of 11.7.3) despite looking so simple! It may have been that it was just my very simple brain that impaired me - I look forward to hearing whether you also struggled.

Also coming are 2 puzzles from Alexander Magyarics - I have not yet had time to solve these but they look very interesting:

Insert these 3 pieces into the frame through a T shaped slot
Just removing the pieces from the delivered puzzle shows that this is going to be a huge challenge. My copy is made from Cherry and Ovangkol and looks lovely. I suspect this might take me a little while!

Wishing Well
Quite a mobile restriction to entry
The Wishing well is stunning! Made from Mahogany, Maple and Wenge, the aim is to place all three pieces inside the wishing well so that the only one cubie sticks up outside the well itself. I am actually struggling to see how I could even construct this in Burrtools - this one might just end up never assembled!

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