Sunday 27 March 2022

Getting Ziggy With It

This has been written ahead of time and set to publish at my routine time. Having had some time off work, I have to pay the price by working two weekends in a row! Sob!

Whilst I am here, can I ask that you all think about the awful atrocities that are going on in Ukraine. One of our fellow puzzlers, Peter Grabarchuk, has asked that I highlight to you what is happening and request that you consider doing anything you can to help out. Either give to a charity that is helping in Ukraine or that is helping support refugees. Anything you can do will help out and ease a terrible situation. 

Back to the puzzling…
My friend Eitan has been rather busy with work and having a family over the last few years and seemed to have almost withdrawn from Puzzle design and manufacture. My other puzzles of his were the incredible Eitan's star (one of the most difficult and marvellous twisty puzzles ever mass produced) and the Master Curvy Copter which he designed and used Shapeways to 3D print for me. With some considerable surprise I saw him offer up a new design called Ziggurat, which he was 3D printing himself. The Ziggurat is a massive Mesopotamian pyramid-like structure usually with 2 to 7 stories. Eitan was going even more massive with EIGHT! How could I resist? I jumped on the offer and sent off some electronic money (not actually a lot) and got some feedback from him that the colours that I had chosen were great. I waited for the US and UK postal services to get their acts together and finally took delivery.

In the meantime, Michel van Ipenburg had written about it in his newsletter as well as pronounced on Facebook that it was a very nice fun design which was a great relief. Michel is the foremost connoiseur of the N-ary puzzle group and if he approves then it is definitely worth purchasing. 

Eitan had thoughtfully sent the puzzles out with 6 of the plates already assembled into a stack connected to a display stand and another 2 extra plates were loose in the box ready to be added to the stack. Initially, I did wonder why he had started the puzzle off for me and possibly gone halfway but then I realised that he had actually been very clever and thoughtful. The stack of 6 was definitely not ready to just start adding the other 2 to. The stack had to be completely dismantled before the reassembly with 8 was going to be possible. Having 6 ready assembled allows the puzzler to explore the sequences and understand the puzzle before embarking on the main odyssey. Once apart, the clever design of the plates and how they interact with each other across 3 layers is apparent and I was further impressed with Eitan's skills. The 2 colours have plates that are mirror images of each other.

I spent a couple of evenings on my chair watching TV working out how it worked and got ready for the full assembly - there were going to be a LOT of moves that had to be done in the right order and in the right direction.

Hidden by the spoiler button is the initial stage for the first assembly - having to do that was completely unexpected and very nice to realise. Once I thought I had it begun, it was time to begin the arduous process of working my way through the many many moves to stack the plates tidily. Everything moves very freely and easily despite the 3D printing. I initially just worked my way through but on 3 occasions realised that at some point I had turned myself around and was heading the wrong way. In fact, the first time this happened, I only realised that I had done this when I returned to the start position...DOH! Having inadvertently back-tracked 3 times, I decided to take notes to prevent further errors and to also allow me to take a break and obey Mrs S' commands with work to do around the house. I hate to think how many extra moves that I actually ended up performing but I got there in the end:

All 8 plates locked together
Stacked! As Eitan intended
I love it! The sliding mechanism places no strain at all on the very delicate thin tongues of plastic and it is a fun puzzle to explore. It will not be something that you solve multiple times but the experimentation and assembly was a pleasant diversion and even getting lost in the path multiple times only added to the enjoyment. It is ready now to go on display in my N-ary section.

Thank you Eitan, I look forward to future designs from you now that you are back designing again.

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