Sunday 14 November 2021

Mrs S has Really Good Taste

and Kelly Makes A Fool Out of Me!

Mrs S bought me a wonderful birthday present
A few weeks ago I showed off the lovely gift that was given to me by the present wife - she's doing OK for a first wife after over 27 years! I can't afford a divorce and the patio is nicely done so I cannot put her under there - I guess that whilst she continues to put up with my $hit then she'll be a keeper. I was delighted to get the next 2 in Juno's grooved 6 piece board burr series - #5 (right) and #6 (left) as well as a new one, Bubinburr, in the centre.

Stunning series
I have to say that as a set, they are simply gorgeous. Plus, as a series of puzzles they are also a brilliant and fun challenge. I am not a particular fan of board burrs in general (they tend to be very prone to rotational shortcuts) and tend to only be interested if there is something else really special about them. The grooved board burr series definitely have that something special...not only are they made from Juno's own beautiful home made plywood but the addition of the dowels and grooves turn these into a real challenge. At times during the solutions these really look like they will become very unstable and cheating rotations may become possible but the clever designs prevent this from occurring and we get a fabulous tough but not impossible challenge. My reviews of the others are here: #1, #2, #3 and #4 - every single one has been a special challenge in it's own right and I was only too pleased to see that Juno has continued the series. Don't just take my word for it - Mike at Puzzlepusher has been working on these recently and seems to also have loved them. The recent 2 are still in stock at for the moment. 

The puzzle is made out of their original plywood. American Rock Maple is used for the outer layer and the darker timber used for the inner layer is Amora. The grain on the Maple is understated but still lovely and the contrast between the two wood colours is lovely. These are nice chunky puzzles, very satisfying to hold and play with (even if this means storing them is harder) - they are 8.2cm in each dimension (apart from time).

According to Juno and Yukari, "the fifth version of the series has a configuration very similar to the first version. Also, the number of moves needed to disassemble the first piece is the same as #1, 22 but #5 has a tricky feature. That was the reason why Juno thought he should produce this version."
I have to agree - I cannot remember the details of solving #1 but this new version led me in the wrong direction for quite a while.

"The grooves are set to have a symmetrical orientation when assembled to give unification, but not to spoil the unique solution. A few grooves are added or extended more than necessary. Thus, not all the grooves are used during the solving process." This definitely was part of my struggle during the solution process - the temptation during all the moving about of the pieces is that when they slide within a groove to always slide to the end of a groove because the thinking is that why would he make the groove longer than it needs to be? To answer that...he would make it longer because it either a) makes a fool out of me or b) looks nicer/symmetrical.

In my usual fashion, I started work on this in the evenings in front of the TV with Mrs S (she got to see me playing with her birthday present and appreciated that for once I wasn't making a lot of noise whilst she wanted to watch television). Unfortunately these puzzles really need decent concentration and I struggle to uni-task let alone multi-task! I got nowhere the first evening. I can't really remember but I must have done the same sequence of moves 20 or 30 times without realising it. The 10pm news was full of doom, gloom and death and I used that as an opportunity to actually concentrate on the puzzle. I finally found a new configuration that I had not expected - it was a little side branch off the path that I had taken several times. I stopped there and back-tracked to the beginning ready for trying again the next day.

The following evening I couldn't find the new move again and went around and around in circles for a while before finding it again almost by accident. From here, I needed to find the next move(s) and was delighted and very surprised to see something totally unexpected happen and the first piece came out in my hand. Brilliant and very unusual release method. I spent a few minutes admiring that and decided to put it back and head back to the beginning...except I couldn't find the pathway. Aaargh, not again! Mrs S was less amused when I started to swear like a navvy - it took me another 20 minutes or so to reset the puzzle. Phew! Time to continue having learned that reset sequence. I removed the piece again and expected that the next pieces would be easily removable...they weren't! Even with a piece missing, this board burr remains pretty stable and there is quite a decent pathway to remove the next 2 pieces. This design is absolutely superb! Finally, after 3 evenings I have managed to take it apart:

Well, that took me an unexpectedly long time!
As you can see, the pieces are beautifully constructed. Initially, I was able to reassemble and disassemble this puzzle several times from memory. Today, however, in disassembling it for the blog photos, I discovered that I could barely remember the sequence and having dismantled it with a struggle and taken my photo, there is absolutely no way that it will be going back together again without help. Burrtools will be coming to my aid - luckily the making of the BT files is all part of the fun for me - no burr is complete until I have modeled it. 

I am looking forward to solving #6 but this is proving (blush) a little, ahem...awkward! The bloody thing won't come apart for a simpleton like me! I'll keep you all posted. Go buy these, you won't be disappointed.

Kel's Spend me not box
One Handed Box remains unsolved
My friend Kelly Snache makes beautiful boxes. At least one of these boxes has scared the bejeezus out of me when I solved it at an MPP a few years ago. I don't own many of his puzzles because, as you all know, I don't collect boxes. I do own a few because they either have something extra to them, or they are Stickman boxes (I still have the latest one designed by Asher Simon sitting right next to me in pieces on my desk after I pulled the pin from the grenade...) or they are simply beautiful.

Kel showed off his latest production run on Facebook and it looked gorgeous to me - I couldn't resist the Zebrano,Wenge and Purpleheart combination and also there is a butterfly inside. It was the butterfly shooting out of the box at the MPP that scared me. The lovely little box has been sitting next to me in the evenings for a few weeks and I have been completely unable to find anything at all to move and open it. Then earlier this week, I noticed something and and wondered how it could be used. I knew that it had to be significant but I got no further until I had a little think© and noticed something in the interior. With a smile I then quickly opened the box (it only took me 3 weeks) and took my photo today.

Pretty isn't it?
Having taken my photo, I suddenly realised that Kel has had the last laugh...I closed it up for the photo with the butterfly outside and now cannot open it again to put the butterfly back! Doh!!! Now I really need to think© and now you can see why I shouldn't collect boxes! Thank you mate - it's a delight.

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