Sunday 4 June 2023

Tough For Me - A Real Strugg L

Strugg L by Junichi Yananose
This one was an interesting one for me and I have to say that I went through much the same experience as the extremely talented designer/craftsman/solver, Ken Irvine. This means that it is a GOOD puzzle and just the right difficulty level despite having a relatively high level.

Juno has watched the huge increase in complex packing puzzles with varying shaped pieces which have been made more interesting by the use of limited openings as well as a stipulation that the openings need to finish up being covered by the pieces (Alexander Magyarics and Osanori Yamamoto are masters of this sort of design and I have absolutely loved them. Juno always wants to add something new to a puzzle genre and has been doing that in the burr space with the amazing Grooved Board Burrs which have been released over the last few years. So, how could he change the design of packing puzzles? He didn't want to make standard blocks to fit into a box and didn't want to add yet another limited opening packing puzzle. Juno's fresh take on the subject is the use of grooves and pins in the pieces and the box sides. This has the added benefit of allowing the packed puzzle to be completely full. To make it interesting, he also created it using only L-shaped triominoes. This was quite a feat! It sold out in just 5 minutes after going on sale! Amazing for a packing puzzle.

Just 2 moves!
It is rather attractive made from Fijian Mahogany, American Rock Maple and Bamboo and is 88 x 88 x 58mm in size. I was expecting it to be sent out as pieces (I don't think that was ever stated but I suspect that I expected that to be the case because it was supposed to be a packing puzzle). After it arrived, I had a quick fiddle and realised that this was going to be fairly complex to disassemble. In a way I am rather pleased it was sent out assembled.

After my photos and my quick fiddle to see how it moved, I set to properly and really worked on a disassembly. There is only one real pathway through with only a few small blind endings. After about 15 moves there was a move sequence that surprised me a lot - it opened up a lot of other pieces and also seemed to render the puzzle unstable. But despite that key piece rotating all over the place it did not release anything early for me. The dexterity level went up a bit as I had to hold onto several pieces at once to keep them aligned. At that point I found myself going around and around in a loop and could not find the next moves to release the first piece. I inadvertently ended up back at the beginning. Aargh! I am not very good at these! Finally, after about an hour, I had a breakthrough and released the first piece. 

Even after the first piece had been taken out, the others could not just be easily removed. It required another decent sequence for the second and then even the third. This was using linear moves. It would have been possible to cheat with a rotation here but I was disciplined and stuck to the linear moves - those pins and grooves hold the pieces well until all of them have been removed.

6 L's - the holes in the bottom are purely for finger access
I was pleased to have disassembled it and was really not sure that I could put them back inside without Burrtools or my memory of the route but I decided to give it a go. I jumbled them up into a pile and left it for a day before trying to pack them all back in. I was very relieved to read that Ken had managed the assembly but he is a MUCH better solver than I am and that only meant that I had a chance but it was not certain.

After that day and the jumbling, I realised that I did remember the starting position of 2 of the pieces and what the first move was during the disassembly. Maybe if I had waited for a few weeks then it would have been more like starting from scratch but I had a blog post to write! Luckily those were the ONLY moves and positions that I remembered. Assembling the shape after this, outside the box was fun and actually not too difficult. Once I had my 4x4x2 cuboid assembled it was time to try and recreate the disassembly outside so that I could reverse it and put it back inside. I got stuck at this point for a few hours. 

In the end even the assembly was not too difficult. Had I received it in pieces, I suspect that it would have been beyond me but with just the couple of piece clue that I had, this was a very fun challenge. It has sold out now but I am sure that it will come up at auction before long. Well worth adding to your collection!

Keep an eye out very soon for Juno's latest Sequential Discovery Puzzle, the Dial Case

Do you love heavy metal or even some complex plastic? Yes me too. It is with great pleasure that I can let you know that Ali and Steve have just released some new toys on their Two Brass Monkeys store:

The Burrly Legal Cylindrical 18 piece burr

A stunning 18 piece burr which took years to develop

Ali's Bolt

The Rhombic Maze Burr

This is a MUST HAVE puzzle - designed by Derek Bosch, the Brass boys have added to the original with an extra maze plate a new design for the pins and a new booklet with 100 challenges to try your hand at. I had a play with this at the recent Midlands puzzle party and it is stunning. My original review of this puzzle was here


  1. Great puzzle and I hadn't a single doubt that you would make quick work of reassembling it! As for myself, I hope to someday live up to your kind description of my competencies.

    1. Not sure why my comment was posted from Anonymous instead of Ken Irvine. Maybe the blogs AI read the comment and thought is was in my best interest (or yours) to disassociate my name from the comment.

    2. I’m glad the blog has artificial intelligence - there is certainly no real intelligence here!

  2. Kevin, I've been greatly enjoying your blog since getting into more interesting puzzles last summer after finding a bunch of Hanayama Cast Metals in a random card and puzzle shop in Italy while on holiday.

    Got hold of a Rhombic Maze Burr yesterday and it definitely deserves the praise you've lavished on it! I was curious though about the computer analysis software you mentioned in your original review - do you have any more details about it, or any pointers to where I could find out more?

    Many thanks and keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Ed,
      I’m so glad that you enjoy my little bit of internet! It’s a labour of love.
      The software used for analysis is a one off application that is written by Derek to analyse these puzzles. The analyses are very processor intensive and take many many hours or even days. It is text based and has no GUI. It’s something only available to him I’m afraid.