Sunday 6 August 2023

Dial Case Required a Dual Solve

Dial Case from Junichi Yananose
I just cannot resist almost anything produced by Juno! His interlocking puzzles are different from everyone else's, his burrs have something extra that makes them especially fun and, of course, his sequential discovery puzzles are just simply awesome and definitely not simple. I particularly love how Juno has tried to reward his most loyal followers and when his special new puzzles are released, he allows those who have purchased multiple of his creations before to have a priority access to them and place an order early before they go on general sale. He requested a photo of a group of 3 or more of your previous purchases from him as proof for access to the early order. Having made 180 of them, there were still a lot left for the rest of the puzzling fraternity to buy after the initial frenzy. I have an embarrassingly large Yananose collection (I think that I am up to 38 now - please don't tell Mrs S!) I definitely took advantage of the offer to buy early and it arrived in under a week which is pretty impressive for such a huge distance!

On opening the package, I immediately had to laugh out loud because Juno (for was it Yukari?) was trolling me yet again - there is a very long history now of the Yananoses gently teasing me for my collection. I maintain that I don't collect puzzle boxes and if the occasional puzzle has a cavity then I can't help that, can I? When I took the puzzle out of the box there was a piece of paper in the bag with the puzzle that had a dig at me:

Even Mrs S saw the funny side of that even if she despairs at the sheer volume of puzzles in the house!

This gorgeous creation is 155 x 80 x 52 mm in size and made of Silky Oak (top panel), Fijian Mahogany (middle layer), Koto (bottom panel), Jarrah (dark part of the dial and knobs) and a whole bunch of magnets. The description (which I did not read when I read it) said:
"Dial Case is a sequential discovery puzzle that typically requires about 15 moves to open the box, depending on your approach. When you solve the puzzle and open the box, you'll find a message indicating what you should do next."

I, honestly, did not notice the "box" in the blurb when it went on sale! I would have bought it anyway but don't Juno! It was allegedly supposed to be the same sort of difficulty level as his previous sequential discovery puzzles but he is aware that this varies from person to person. In fact Juno said:

"Some people may solve this puzzle quickly, while others may take much longer compared to other puzzles."

He certainly wasn't kidding! This took me nearly 6 weeks to solve and needed a back and forth dual solve with a puzzling friend to get me on my way.  When it arrived, I was all set to have an intense few days and solve it quickly to be the first to publish a review. Who am I kidding? I am clearly not terribly bright as I watched both Steve and Allard solved it and posted their reviews before me! Sob!

I managed the trivial first move of pulling the bottom knob out and realised that it had magnets on it and that the presence of the knob was locking the dial. Once the knob had been removed the dial could turn in either direction and when turned anti-clockwise it would stop at a certain point and could turn no further. I am fairly sure that most of you who find a magnet on a removed piece will then use that magnet on the main body of the puzzle to find the position of either other magnets or at least hidden pieces of metal inside. I certainly found one magnet on that bottom drawer but of course pulling on it did not open it (Juno would never make something so obvious).

I went around and around in circles with this one for weeks. It lived on my puzzling armchair in the living room so that I could pick it up in the evening when we sat down after dinner for a bit of TV. I picked it up every single bloody day for weeks! I did the same thing over and over again. I span it around, I tried manipulating it in various positions, I submerged it in gin (OK no I didn't do that but I did submerge myself in gin to try and free up my thinking© processes). Nothing new could be found.

During this time, my friend Dominic contacted me and asked how I was getting on as he was also stuck at the same early position. Over many years he and I have helped each other out on some of these complex puzzles with little hints here and there. I actually love doing dual solves with someone else - it makes me feel less stupid when I know that someone else is also struggling and also adds to the fun to be in contact with a fellow puzzler. Years ago, Shane and I did quite a few of these on Mr Strijbos' wonderful creations.

When we were both a few weeks into trying, Dominic had managed to find the next move and got stuck after that so recontacted me to see where I was only to be told that I was still right at the beginning. He offered a teeny tiny clue which I took him up on and he wasn't kidding! It was a teeny tiny clue - he didn't tell me any moves, didn't tell me any positions, he just suggested that I use my senses. Hmmm! I admitted that I had used all my senses and the puzzle smells of wood and tastes of nothing much but there is a noise when you do something. I had noticed that noise and thought that I had realised what it was but, as usual, I was wrong! Having been told again that the noise was important I had another think© and tried something that I had been trying many many times before but this time I tried it differently. YeeeeeHaw! I had a new move. I informed Dominic that I was on my way which he was pleased about because he had got stuck after his discovery and wanted me to assist him.

At this point I made lots more discoveries as each one led to another. Amongst the first few it was quite unnerving to dismantle more and more of the puzzle and realise that it might be quite difficult to reassemble it. After another 5 or 6 moves and tools were found, I got a little bit stuck again. After an extra 15 minutes on that step, I discovered that the evil genius was now expecting us to use multiple tools simultaneously for each step. He is a devious man! Time to give Dominic my own teeny tiny clue. Oddly though, my clue didn't make any sense to him whatsoever. It appeared that Dominic had gotten stuck a little earlier than I had thought and needed to complete an earlier step or so in the solve process. After explaining this, he rapidly caught up and was working on the same step as me. I had thought that Juno had reached a pinnacle of deviousness when I had to use two tools simultaneously but no, he took it even further and for the final move it required the use of 3 tools at the same time. Each tool is perfectly designed for it's purpose but it's not immediately clear until you have that "what if I do this?" thought. The end Aha! moment is simply delicious and the drawer opens:

Yessss! Opened it.
Inside the drawer is a message with instructions for what to do next. He has a very warped sense of humour - when I saw the message I laughed out loud again! The instructions are very succinct and not in the least bit helpful. My suggestion to you, if you haven't solved your copy yet is to pay real attention to what you did to open it. 

Dominic's solve followed mine very quickly and we both agreed that it was a fabulous puzzle. If you find one up for sale at auction then don't hesitate - it's well worth adding to your collection. This is another candidate for my top ten of the year.

Not satisfied with having 38 of Juno's toys in my collection, I have recently ordered his latest, which just went on sale this morning. The Scramb L is still in stock for the moment and is a puzzle very like the fantastic Strugg L. It looks like Juno has made it more difficult by ensuring that the grooves in the box are not visible from the outside. If you want a copy then you should grab one soon.

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