Sunday 30 October 2022

Stealthily Lined Up by Alexander

Stealth by Alexander Magyarics (made by Brian Menold)
It's my birthday today (no I am not saying how old but it's an embarrassingly high number) and I am not using it as an excuse not to post on the site. I would have hoped to have something written in advance but I didn't manage to solve anything until yesterday because I am rubbish at puzzles and these were a bit of a challenge for an ageing puzzler like me.

I haven't bought anything from Brian for a while. Mostly that is because he has been living a real life and enjoying himself which has meant less puzzles produced and also because the few that he has been making recently were already in my collection. However, a couple of weeks ago he showed off a few new ones that were released and rapidly snapped up by me and lots of other delighted puzzlers. This sneaked across the pond very quickly and through the customs without raising an eyebrow or a bill and even managed to get into chez Sadler despite frequent Royal mail postal strikes.

The first one (pictured above) was another fabulous packing puzzle by the incredibly talented Alexander Magyarics (someone I am lucky to chat with on a regular basis and consider a friend). When Alexander produces yet another of these packing puzzles I almost always jump at the chance. They invariably have only a few pieces to place but the requirement to leave no visible holes and the interesting piece shapes makes for a really fun challenge. I am less keen on the packing puzzles with lots of pieces because of the random trial and error nature of the puzzling. When there are so few pieces and with complex shapes and other constraints, this forces the puzzler to use thought© and logic to solve them. I was not let down with this one at all.

It is absolutely gorgeous made with a Wenge and Bocote box and having beautiful bright white Holly pieces. It is chunky at 3" in each direction and surprisingly heavy. This was the one I started with because it looks the most solvable by me whilst tired and not good at puzzles. The disassembly level is 11.2.2 meaning that the final insertion was going to be fairly tough to find. As usual, I worked outside the box and found several shapes that would meet the assembly criteria but mot of them could be quickly excluded as requiring rotations to get them past the limited opening of the box. I settle on one that looked good and proceeded with logic and thought and ignored Mrs S laughing at my muttering. She finds it funny that I can't think without muttering to myself! I got stuck for a while as I could not find the correct move and when I thought I had found the removal sequence, I could not remember it for long enough to reverse it! Eventually, I learned the sequence in reverse and managed to place all the pieces. I hate to think about what other facts I have pushed out of my feeble brain in learning something new!

Everything in place
I admired it like this for a while and left it overnight and then couldn't remember the disassembly. Taking it apart required me to visualise what was happening inside and was also fun. This could be an assembly puzzle for some and for less experienced puzzlers, just as good as a disassembly puzzle.

Line Up
How gorgeous is that? This boxed burr puzzle is also designed by Alexander and made by Brian. I chose the Mansonia box with the Chakta Vita and Holly pieces. I particularly loved the checkerboard top and bottom face as well as the lovely curved corners of the box. This is another relatively "simple" design with just 4 pieces to remove and replace from the square tube box. The level ( is getting up quite high but because there are only 4 pieces, it is perfectly doable for an average puzzler and very much an enjoyable exploration.

I started work on it during the week and found a lovely little starting sequence with only a few blind pathways off the main one. Unfortunately, I struggled to advance more than about 10 or 12 moves before finding myself back at the beginning or stuck with nowhere to go. I was missing a turning somewhere. I played every evening this week whilst watching TV with Mrs S and kept going around and around in circles. What was I missing? During the disassembly the pieces get very well separated but still linked together and it is easily possible to see inside. Despite this, I just could not spot the required pathway. Finally yesterday, I spotted something and tried a new move which opened up a new set of pathways. From this point on the solution is logical but still a bit of a surprise in the direction that the pieces come out. I had my 4 pieces for the photo:

Line up with pieces lined up
I was almost certain that I would need Burrtools to reassemble the puzzle after that (especially as I had scrambled the pieces up for the photo) so I just left it for a couple of hours until a suitable time to get to my computer. It kept calling to me, though and I couldn't resist picking it up and trying to assemble it from scratch with only a very hazy memory of the solution. I wondered whether the checkerboard might help but, surprisingly, it is of no significance at all. The pieces cannot be assemble incorrectly and the placement of them within the box is very logical indeed. I tried a few alternatives and it was immediately apparent that it is impossible to place them incorrectly. Having worked out the placements, the actually assembly was quite fun and did not take me much more than 30 minutes. The cat was unimpressed when I shouted and showed him what I had done and Mrs S just rolled her eyes.
If you get a chance to play with these then go for it, they are beautiful, tactile and designed at just the right level for a puzzler to solve in a reasonable period of time. Even I solved one in an evening! Thank you Alexander and Brian.

One of my friends (Ross) on Facebook asked about buying some of my Jerry McFarland puzzles from me. I haven't yet ever sold a puzzle (I cannot stand the thought really) but it did make me think about how many I had accumulated from the master. I brought them down yesterday and took a photo. It was so impressive that I thought I would share it with you:

Now that is something to be proud of!
and lets not forget the rather special Caramel case that he produced as well in very limited numbers:

I cannot resist a burrset! This is the 42 piece burrset
Now those definitely take pride of place in my collection!


  1. Happy Birthday! Every year you’re becoming more perfect.

    1. Thank you! Perfect? Mrs S says definitely not - Whack! Ouch!