Sunday, 6 March 2022

I'm on a Plastic Roll!

When Mine offers, I say yes!
Mineyuki Uyematsu (Mine) has moved with the times and instead of selling his creations/productions exclusively face to face, he has taken to showing off upcoming puzzle runs on his Puzzle of Mine Facebook group. When he has finished displaying what is coming, he creates a Google form for prospective buyers to fill in and he later gets back to people with a request for some PayPal and the waiting begins. He must have a tremendous memory because I had asked about the Wave 5, Wave 7 and Ice 9 puzzles (designed by Yuu Asaka) quite a long time ago and this time he had managed to get them in stock. As a complete surprise to me, the invoice he sent included these puzzles. It would have been churlish to say no after such a prodigious feat of memory and despite my fear of retribution from Mrs S I quickly sent off a few 1000 Japanese Yen. Mrs S has only a vague idea of what else might be on the way, how much that will have cost and how much space it will take up. Whack! Ouch!

My main purchase, however, had been the Turning Quarter Hole which I hope to have time to play with later this week. This beauty is designed by Hajime Katsumoto and I just seem to be unable to resist these ones from Mine (I have still not managed to solve the Chiral 2+2 which I bought last year and which one a prize in the IPP design competition last year.

Mine uses Yamato for postage abroad which seems to be the Japanese version of UPS. This is fabulous! Delivery to the UK is amazingly fast (less than a week) and I am on first name terms with our local UPS driver who now knows all about my puzzle addiction and seems to be on my side despite telling Mrs S that he might dispose of some deliveries for her. He knows that I am almost single handedly keeping him employed and hence will always support me in my collecting habit. The box arrived on Friday and I was allowed to unpack it yesterday if I promised to do some garden work first. Sigh! The leaves from the huge Maples outside our house were duly cleared and I had earned my chance to play - yay! I guess she is doing OK for a first wife!

Wave 5 - should be nice and easy!
First up, I thought I would take on the "easiest" of them - the Wave 5 (PuzzleMaster has this for sale on their site if you are in North america). Just like most of Yuu Asaka's puzzles, there is a nice acrylic tray and some beautifully cut acrylic pieces to fit inside the tray. As the name implies, only 5 of them - a piece of p%$$. Except, I am not terribly bright. The blurb on the box gives it a 3½ difficulty out of 5 (PuzzleMaster has an 8 in their 5-10 scale) so it should not have been so hard. The designer estimates a 50 minute solution time for it and he is wrong - it took me nearly 2 hours! The pieces fir together in numerous ways and some pieces end up with squared off ends and sometimes not. Is this helpful? I thought so but not in the right way.

It is apparent early on that they cannot all fit vertically in the frame - it looks like some will need to be horizontal (but how many? and which ones? There are quite a lot of variations on how you can attempt to place 5 pieces in various orientations. As an ever so slightly dim puzzler, I really struggled to keep track of what I had attempted and probably did the same thing over and over again. Eventually I gave up at this in disgust and decided to have an Allard Think© - Man! That hurt me but it was a success. The solution approach appeared to me like a fever dream and a little while later my packing was complete. Yuu-san is a very devious man - there is always something unexpected going on in his puzzles (I really did enjoy the way his Oleo 10 was solved). Of course, I am not going to show the solution here - you should get a copy yourself and have a play - all of the Asaka puzzles are available here.

Wave 7 - How hard can it be?
Having had my first success and being still allowed a little more puzzling time, I immediately moved on to trying the Wave 7 - it's obviously the next puzzle in the series (available here). This time there are 7 wave pieces to fit in the acrylic frame. There is something wonderfully tactile about these...they are beautifully cut and the precision is wonderful as the pieces all fit together nicely. Except they don't! Yet again, at first glance, it looks like they should all fit into the frame vertically except that the cutouts never quite line up properly to allow the 7th one to fit. Then, after yet more think©ing, it becomes obvious that there are some pieces that can only be edges (I will leave you to work out why that must be the case) and shortly after that I realised that there are 3 of these long edges. Now that was going to be a problem. Maybe the same trick as Wave 5 would be successful? There were, after all, some nice cutouts on the corners. Nope! Of course Yuu-san wouldn't use the same trick twice! 

My head was hurting from all this think©ing - I really don't know how Allard manages it. The puzzle is rated as 4/5 by Yuu and 9 (out of 10) by PuzzleMaster with the statement that it should take an hour. I reckon that this estimate is about right. My initial ideas were promising but not quite correct and I spent a fair amount of time trying lots of variants of the same trick over and over again (this seems to be a bas habit of mine). As I came up to that hour mark, I had an epiphany - something just revealed itself to me and I placed the final piece. Very clever! 

I also have the Ice 9 puzzle which is a 5/5 (10/10) difficulty level. It frightens me a bit as it's quite obvious that nothing I have learned from any of his previous designs will help me. Wish me luck! In fact wish me luck fending of the violence that Mrs S will commit upon me when she sees what arrives next!

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