Sunday 14 April 2024

Spring With Pelikan (part 2)

Pelikan spring release - coming 17th April 2pm CEST
I do apologise to all of you and especially to Jakub and team about spreading the reviews over 2 weekends! I was just too busy to work on all 6 in one week and have any chance at all of solving and understanding them. It did not change Jakub's intended release date but has inconvenienced him by being late getting my reviews for him.

Today I finish off the final 3 and they are something else in terms of complexity and difficulty. They are also very beautiful!

Euklid for Bernhard

Euklid for Bernhard - simply gorgeous
This fabulous addition to the Euklid series (I have still not managed to solve the Euklid for Nick!) is a tribute from Dr Volker Latussek to the amazing puzzler, collector and friend, Bernhard Schweitzer. Volker wrote the following about the design of this puzzle:
"When Bernhard Schweitzer told me that he was winding up his puzzle collection, I remembered our first meeting at Bernhard's house. Back then, I had designed my first puzzle, which I wanted to enter in the Nob Yoshigahara International Puzzle Design Competition in 2011 after doing some web research. I didn't know that the IPP was being held in Berlin at the time, and Bernhard hadn't told me, but he encouraged me to send in my two copies. WAY is still the most important puzzle for me today. I called it the Puzzle Construction Set because it could be used to formulate very different challenges. I didn't win a prize at the IPP, but the puzzle was published by Popular Playthings under the name ROUNDABOUT. Unfortunately somewhat modified. But back to Bernhard.

Bernhard showed me his collection at the time. I had never seen anything like it before. He told me stories and anecdotes about some of the puzzles from the community, a world that was completely unknown to me. I still remember the HASELGROVE BOX by Jenifer Haselgrove: it was probably my personal key experience that gave me time to think about what I should, and hopefully will, come up with over the years.

With EUKLID FOR BERNHARD, I want to say thank you for the encouraging comments on my ideas and the time we spent together at the puzzle parties at Bernhard's home in Glattbach.

It has become a EUKLID with an addition. When the six blocks are packed into the box, give the puzzle a good shake and then open your ears for a short walk with Jenifer Haselgrove to empty the box again.

Thank you, Bernhard."
Volker tends to stipulate not only the delivery packing as well as the dimensions of his puzzles but also the wood choices as well. His decision this time was absolutely inspired as it is an absolutely gorgeous combination of Purpleheart for the box and Downy Birch for the pieces. Interestingly the pieces are all very similar in size - 21mm deep with 3 pieces 47x25mm, 1 of 47x47mm, another 47x30mm and the other 52x25mm. There are only a few combinations of sizes that will fit within the walls of the box.

Now I had not read this tribute when I received and worked on my copy of this puzzle and had no idea that it might have a common feature with the Hazelgrove box. That would not have helped me much because I don't own and have never played with one of those famous puzzles. I set to in the usual way that I do with this sort of puzzle - I look at all the pieces and try to see which dimensions are combinable inside the confines of the box. 

I found several ways that all the pieces would fit inside but the restricted opening meant that I was unable to achieve the vast majority of them. I played for a couple of days with it and failed every time until I had a sudden Aha! moment and all 6 pieces were inside. I was very pleased with myself and took my obligatory photo. Only when I received the introduction from Volker did I begin to question myself. My solution did not have any fancy locking mechanism and seemed a lot simpler than most of the previous Euklid puzzles. I looked at the solution that was provided by Jakub and my solution was different. You have 2 challenges here - an easier one (mine) and a REALLY fancy one that was the one intended by the designer. The intended solution requires thought and dexterity - it is very impressive (rather like Bernhard!)


Stefka-Flop by Dr Volker Latussek

This is another (and to me, unexpected) entry in the Flop series of packing puzzles. I have said on several occasions that this Flop series of puzzles by Dr Latussek are an incredible feat of puzzle design and when coupled with Pelikan's magnificent craftsmanship and wood choices, they are some of the highlights of my packing puzzle collection. This one was stipulated to be made with a glorious Purpleheart box and Acacia soma pieces. Volker wrote the following about this puzzle:
"Since 1987, the 1996 Bulgarian Olympic champion, Stefka Kostadinova, has held women's high jump the world record with a height of 2.09 meters - providing a fitting conclusion to my little series of packaging puzzles with the STEFKA-FLOP. As previously announced, LITTLE TETRA-FLOP will come as an encore, however, I would still like to pursue the principle further and use the term FLOP here and there, e.g. perhaps for a COFFIN-FLOP.

STEFKA-FLOP with seven pieces follows DICK-FLOP with its six Tetra cubes and FRITZ-FLOP with only five pieces. The boxes are completely filled, and the opening is so large that some pieces have to tumble out of the box. STEFKA-FLOP has a very unusual, and very beautiful, new turning movement in before a flop.

Oskar van Deventer has previously published STEFKA-FLOP under the name UNFOLDED-FLOP. The seven pieces corresponds to the SOMA CUBE with an unfolded v (I). That was a consolation, because at first, I couldn't find a SOMA-FLOP with all seven pieces of the SOMA-CUBE."
They are not just packing puzzles with restricted openings...they are also variants on the Soma cube, using entirely Soma shaped (or a subset of them) and also are TICs as well with the very important requirement that a few of the pieces cannot fit through the entryway without rotation and then often need rotation into place inside the box which adds a special requirement for the correct order.

The Soma cube has 240 3x3x3 assemblies and I am still ashamed to say that it takes me quite some time to find even one of them! And that is without the restriction of doing it within a box and also without further hindrance of restricted entry and rotational moves! This is going to be a hell of a challenge for any puzzler. I spent 3 days attempting this amazing feat of puzzle design and had to peek at the solution to find the last 3 pieces to be inserted. Having restricted the number of pieces I needed to experiment with, I finally managed to find a bunch of cubes that assembled that way and then still could not get them into the box. With a deadline looming I looked at the cube assembly that was required and spent another happy hour or so working out how to put it inside the box. Even with a huge clue, it is still a decent challenge. I am sure that the rest of you with more time to play will manage this without help.

This is a fantastic addition to the series and I cannot wait to see the others that Volker intends (I am sort of hoping they won't be quite so tough).


SISU by Benjamin Heidt
The word Sisu is a Finnish word - it is not easily translatable into English but it roughly means:
Strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. Sisu is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain that courage. 
Does this mean that it requires enormous strength of will to solve it? I also noticed that there is a hole in the box which goes all the way through and remembered the scene from the recent movie where the hero stabbed a Nazi in the head through and through with his knife. I've added the image below - it's not suitable for people of a nervous disposition or children - You have been warned! Don't look unless you really want to know what the Finnish war hero, Sisu did.

It has been beautifully made by Jakub and team from Mahogany, Ash, some magnets and a steel ball bearing. It is a restricted entry packing puzzle as we have seen many times before and also has pieces that are based on the Soma puzzle. Making this one very different from the others we have seen before, the pieces have some beautifully drilled holes in them. Some of these holes are blind ending and others are part of a channel through the piece and out another hole. The aim seems to be to assemble the pieces in the box and close the lid on top and then to roll the ball bearing through the maze that has been created until it comes out the other side. This means that the assembly requires the formation of a maze that goes entirely through the puzzle. This significantly adds to the challenge!

Now this is an interesting puzzle to write about! I have so far not come even close to solving the full thing. Just before starting to write this review, I have finally managed to assemble the pieces into a cube shape - I am ashamed to say that this has taken me a whole day! I then went to BT and discovered that there is only one possible assembly for these pieces into a cube. I will then need to see how to get them into the box through the H-shaped entry - I assume that only one of the 6 possible orientations of the cube will be possible to assemble in the box and probably not without some fancy sequential moves. The pieces that have rotational symmetry will need to be oriented correctly to form the complete maze - whilst the piece shape might be symmetrical, the holes and channels are not. After this I will have a blind maze to negotiate with the ball bearing.

I love a puzzle with multiple challenges and this will require some significant "Sisu" to achieve it! Despite not having completed the challenge yet, I know that this will be an essential purchase for you all. Hopefully Mrs S will not get upset with my muttering and stab me through the head later tonight!

Thank you Jakub, Jaroslav and team for the wonderful challenges and also to the amazing designers - you are all brilliant. 

Get there at 2pm CEST on 17th April to get your pick of these puzzles.

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