Sunday 4 February 2024

Mike Makes Me Feel Foolish and Happy!

The 234 Puzzle Cube in its' presentation box with sealed certificate
I actually solved something this week! Hallelujah! Back in November last year, I received an email from a lovely friend who offered me the opportunity of being able to try out one of his new designs as a Christmas present. That wonderful friend is also one of the best puzzle craftsmen in the world. Yes it is the Greek wonder, Mike Toulouzas. I have been lusting after quite a few of his puzzles for many years (I do own a few from him but not enough). I am still hoping that he will make some more of his Illusion puzzle which I reserved from him way back in 2014 and he has still not managed to make any! This fabulous offer was sent to a handful of his puzzle friends and I am so grateful that I am considered significant enough to be included in that very select group.

Mike gave no details away apart from a promise that a puzzle was coming and when it arrived in January, I was blown away by the sheer beauty of it. If you look at his website, you will quickly realise that he never does anything quickly or without precision. Everything is gorgeous and perfect. The box contained a lovely display box and an envelope with a puzzle maker's stamp on it.

Inside the envelope was a certificate with a wax seal. The attention to detail is amazing - the certificate is good heavy card and the edges have been cut with pinking scissors. I almost didn't want to break the seal but had to see what was inside:

All puzzles should have one of these!
It states the woods and I think that this is the first puzzle I own that has Lemon tree wood in it. The box is gorgeous and noteworthy because even the hinge is made of wood with a polished brass dowel. Opening the box lid requires a little pull and because of the design of the legs interacting with the lid, it opens (and closes) with a satisfying click. Inside, the box is packed with beautifully chamfered puzzle pieces:

Just look at that!
The instructions are to make a cube with the pieces and looking inside I did a quick count/calculation. 2x2x7 is 28 which is 1 cubie too many. I tipped them out and saw why. The pieces are stunning and more complex than expected. Mike has signed one of them:

Just 6 pieces - how hard can it be?
Before it arrived, Mike emailed to ask that all the recipients:
  1. Time your self when you decide to play. 
  2. Record three times the time (cause might be false conclusion from the first ones.
  3. Send me the results....and a few words as a feedback would be appreciated.
Having taken my photos and marvelled at Mike's skills, I set to. I should have been doing chores but Mrs S realised that I had something special and I reassured her that at only 6 pieces and "only" having to make a simple cube, it wouldn't take me that long - probably just 2 or 3 minutes.


I set a timer on my phone and off I went. There are 2 fairly large and complex pieces and this seemed an obvious place to start. I tried to be logical and systematic which is a bit of a stretch for my very simple brain. I have very few neurons and most of them have been thoroughly gassed at work! Everything I tried was not working - this was very odd. In the end I solved it with the following times:
1st attempt was 7min 57sec.
2nd attempt was 1min 15sec. (maybe because I had remembered the first?)
3rd attempt was 5min 59sec.

For something so apparently simple, there was definitely something startlingly difficult. Mike has designed this deliberately to lead the puzzler astray. Your first thoughts about how to solve this are very much led in the wrong direction. The third time, I knew that the conventional approach was wrong but I just couldn't seem to work out the correct one until I had exhausted several obvious failures. When I pointed this out to Mike, he agreed that this was a deliberate feature and almost everyone has the same problem. He had noticed it with "normal" people (adults and kids) and wanted to see whether us "abnormal" people do the same thing.

I am sort of delighted to know that I am at least slightly normal but judging from comments received from work colleagues, they do not think of me as very normal at all. 😱😳🤣
AT the moment, Mike is not planning on making these for sale but may do in the future. If you do see an opportunity to buy any Puzzlevision creations then you should jump at the chance.Thank you Mike for such a wonderful opportunity and a fabulous puzzle for display!

Previous Toulouzas creations (either alone or in collaboration with another creator):

Puzzle splines
Doors and Drawers

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