Sunday 8 November 2020

Am I Playing A Dirty Trick On You?

Dirty Dozen by Jerry Loo

Just got a little time for a quick review today. As the second wave takes hold I am finding less and less time to play - there is a lot of work to be done as we try to get the urgent cases done (trauma, limb or mobility threatening surgery and cancer surgery) alongside the increasing burden of Covid work. During the first wave the NHS' response was to empty the hospitals of nearly everything except the most sick, urgent or infected but now we are desperately trying to keep other stuff going at the same time - I know that my hospitals are absolutely full with over 1500 beds being used at 105% capacity. Things are made all the harder with up to 10% of our workforce either off sick or isolating forcing the remainder to try and fill in the gaps. This is meaning unexpected changes of duties/days of work and often very long days. Morale is surprisingly good, considering but fatigue is definitely setting in. Please please stay safe, stay home, stay in your home/family bubbles and try to slow the spread to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed - plus the added bonus for you of not getting sick.

After that diatribe, back to the puzzle - I can read your minds...I know that you are thinking "I'm sure he's written about this puzzle before" and you are completely wrong...alright partially wrong. I personally have never written about this puzzle but it has appeared on this blog in the form of a
guest post by the incredibly talented and prolific PuzzleMad foreign correspondent, Mike Desilets. I had bought the original stainless steel version direct from Jerry and had been very happy with it and solved it with difficulty way back in July 2018. For some reason I never got around to writing about it and then Mike managed a full analysis in his great article. Way back in May, I couldn't resist buying a whole bunch of PuzzleMaster's new range of anodised metal puzzles and a nice bunch of them arrived just as I had to go back onto the on call rota. This meant that I never got around to solving or writing about any after the first one, the Chiasma by Yavuz Demirrhan. So, in desperation this morning, I went to my pile of unsolved puzzles and couldn't resist this - it is VERY shiny and VERY gorgeous! This new series from PuzzleMaster is extremely high quality and extremely well presented:

Nice box!
Very well held in foam
The puzzle is an extremely bright orange and the anodisation is stunning - it is a very tactile thing that is wonderful to fiddle with. It deforms a lot as you play but will not fall apart. 
A LOT of movement in it
Ordinarily a board burr with this number of pieces would be a truly fearsome thing to attempt to dismantle but in a way it is not a normal burr. I spent a while playing with it before realising that this was not a simple sequence of moves that would allow disassembly. It was more like a lock where a particular configuration needed to be found before pieces could be removed. In fact, I managed the disassembly in a similar manner to picking a lock - moving pieces into certain shapes with tension (provided by gravity) until something clicked and a piece had engaged partially and then doing it again in another direction until it happened again. 

When picking a lock, it can take quite a few movements before the pins sequentially are all released and sometimes they need to be restarted and done in a different order. A very similar approach is required with this puzzle. I needed quite a few attempts before a piece was removed. Repeating this process in multiple directions and orientations allowed me, over a period of about a ½ hour, to sequentially create a pile of bright orange metal:
Yay! It's not actually that tough once you have worked out a technique!
Having done that, the challenge is obviously to leave a pile of metal with instructions to the wife to put it back together again and put it back in the box........ Whack! Ouch! No, of course she was not going to go along with that plan and she was not going to allow me to leave the pieces lying around for days/weeks/months until I could reassemble them. She has begun to threaten throwing things away if they are not placed out of the way tidily. Oh the stress! Now, when I disassembled the puzzle, I did it in a very haphazard way without really learning the order, orientation or position of each of the pieces as they were removed. I did sort of try to do my usual "back and forth" technique as I do with most other burrs but, as I have mentioned before, this didn't really solve as a burr and I have an appalling memory. I was going to have to solve this by logic or (more likely) luck! 

In my favour, this should be solvable as a logic problem - all the pieces are identical and there is a partial symmetry to them as you can see here:
12 identical pieces
It should be logical. It should be possible with thought©. So far I have not managed it. I might have to go back to Mike's blog post for a clue using his very in depth analysis because thought© is not one of my strong points. Listen out around the world and you might just hear my shout of success - or, more likely, my swearing about my abject failure. Looking closely at the pieces, I think it can be entered into Burrtools which will also be a fun challenge. Wish me luck!

Should you buy this? I have to say yes - it is very pretty and will look lovely on display, it's a fun challenge in both directions and decidedly different from your standard burr puzzle, plus it's very affordable at $25 CAD which in this day of ever increasing puzzle prices is a real bonus.

Stay safe everyone.

Quick edit - after writing the post and setting it to publish after about 30 minutes - I borrowed some of Allard's brain - it's amazing! He is capable of thinking© really quite hard! When I used his brain, it took me about 30 minutes of analysis and I had the puzzle reassembled. I was not sure that I was going to give his brain back to him but then I wandered around in there and you wouldn't believe what goes on in his head! I have decided that I don't want that around here for any length of time so back it heads to Birmingham - I really don't know how Gill puts up with it! Shudder! 🤣🤣

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