Sunday 16 June 2024

Pelikan Summer Bonanza Part 2

Upcoming release from Pelikan puzzles
Yes, it's time for my reviews of the remaining part of the upcoming Pelikan puzzle release. Having an extra week was just what I needed to solve 3 rather challenging puzzles. 

Lapsus 2

Lapsus 2 by Alfons Eyckmans
No release from Pelikan is really complete without an amazing design by Alfons. He is incredibly prolific and designs burrs with something special about them. Of course, he can (and does) design straightforward 18 piece (and other size) simple burrs but he also spends a lot of time working on designs with different shapes, numbers of pieces and even hidden pieces. Lapsus 2 is unusual in being a 12 piece burr with the burr sticks being formed as board allowing a very different conformation to the standard type of burr. 

Despite this, it functions as a typical burr but allows a wider range of moves to standard sticks. Pelikan have created this with beautifully contrasting woods (I think it is Mahogany and Maple) and arranged into a 3D checkerboard shape. It is a really very attractive puzzle.

Initial exploration revealed that there are several possible starting moves but only one really goes any further and once the second and third moves have been tried then there are suddenly a whole lot of possibilities. It requires a bit of concentration to keep track of what you have been trying, especially as I always try to keep going to and fro so as not to get lost and unable to return to the beginning. Some of the moves are quite large and give hope that the piece involved is very near to release but don't get your hopes up to quickly. This puzzle has a nice level of 37 (22.4.1.2.1.1.1.2) and it requires a fair bit of back and forth with the moving pieces to find the critical position that will allow the removal of the first piece. Having got the first piece out, I actually couldn't immediately work out how to remove the next. I thought that it would be a simple progression of the position I was in but in reality it took me a few hours of think©ing and looking to find the next piece to come out. Having taken the first two pieces out, the remainder is a nice logical sequence. It remains very stable right through to the end which is very impressive for a burr of the type.

Looks like simple burr sticks but they are not.
Putting this back together will require me to use Burrtools but I dare say that a few of you geniuses out there will be able to do this from scratch or memory. This is a lovely burr with an unusual conformation and moves which has just the right difficulty level for most puzzlers.

Petit Sucrier

Petit Sucrier by Dr Volker Latussek
The far end of the box has a full height hole
This is an absolutely cracking design from the twisted mind of Volker Latussek! I just don't know how he consistently comes up with such incredible puzzles. It has been beautifully made by Pelikan from Wenge and Beech. As with all of Volker's puzzles it is shipped in a specific conformation to both hide the intended solution and to give an idea from the beginning that the puzzler is in for a rather huge challenge.

The first thing I noticed here is that one of the holes was in an odd position - it was not in line with the 3x3x2 grid that the puzzle pieces would be aligned in. Usually sometime before a release Volker emails me with a little explanation of his rationale which I invariably pass on to you. This time the explanation was quite enlightening:
"A great challenge for any puzzle designer is to investigate the originality of his own ideas. It hurts when that research shows significant similarities to an existing puzzle. In my research, I have often stumbled across the name Frederic Boucher. I have also stumbled because I found I had to discard some ideas from the outset. When I discovered his perforated boxes, I was initially disappointed because I thought that whenever Frederic needed an opening in his packaging puzzles, he simply allowed it. But the euphoric reviews of these puzzles made me curious and I treated myself to his BONBON from Eric Fuller's workshop. This is very unusual for me because I very rarely play with others' designs. While playing with BONBON, I understood the enthusiasm for this type of packaging puzzle and set out to try and imitate Frederic myself. 
I had two ideas: I wanted to develop KAMELLE, a packing puzzle that would play with the BONBON box and the same pieces and, at first glance, look like another edition of this very educational puzzle, this time from Pelikan's art workshop. I asked Frederic to select the types of wood. 
A second idea PETIT SUCRIER follows my work on FRITZ-FLOP. A completely filled 3x3x2 box should have as many openings as possible in the style of BONBON.
The result is a somewhat dubious KAMELLE, but PETIT SUCRIER has become an inconspicuous little puzzle that fascinates me very much. I have solved it many times and have always been pleased that Frederic has given me this puzzle. Thank you very much for that!"

This explains the similar look to the boxes in the next two puzzles and also explains why they are simply joyous puzzles to play with and solve with absolutely delightful Aha! moments. I have a bunch of Frederic's puzzles and there is just something special about the designs - he certainly never just produces shapes from Burrtools (just like Volker) and they require a good amount of thinking both inside and outside of the box(es).

My first hint that that this was going to be fun came when I tried to remove the pieces from the transport positions first. A 3 of the pieces come out after a little manipulation to create space in the right positions. I then had two pieces left inside in portions that required rotations to get them out and I realised quite quickly that I had a bit of a wooden disentanglement puzzle on my hands! It took me over an hour to work out how to rotate the pieces into an appropriate position. OMG! If this is what it took to remove the pieces, I have no idea how hard it will be to pack them all inside! Having taken my photo, I tried to put them back into the box to carry them to work with me. I quickly realised that was not going to happen! I had no recollection of the start position and also couldn't repeat those rotations.

As with a lot of this type of puzzle, the critical thing is to start outside the box and work out possible assemblies that will allow free placement of the last 1 or 2 pieces inside with only minimal linear movement. There are 9 possible assemblies of these pieces into a 3x3x2 grid and only one of these will be possible. I found quite a few quite quickly and was able to dismiss almost all because there was no way to get any of them out of a box with the openings provided. After about a day I found one that looked quite promising as it allowed easy removal of 2 pieces with simple linear moves and then a third could come out after a little sliding sequence. This left me to try and find a way to get those remaining 2 pieces inside and oriented properly. Oh boy! What a challenge. I was able to get one in and oriented but then the other would not go. Trying them in a different order taught me how critical the positioning of this holes were (including the one that was in the wrong place on the grid). At one point I had 2 pieces in the box in an odd conformation (not the right one) and couldn't remove either of them from the box! Aargh! slight panic ensues fro a while until I managed to take them out. I spent a god 3 or 4 hours trying to get them in the correct place and did finally manage it but then could not for the life of me insert the third piece. What was I doing wrong? The rotations that you can do inside the box require very perfect positioning and are all only possible in one direction - this is ingenious.

It took another hour before I realised that this could be solved with the layers in either order and I had spent the best part of two days focussing on the wrong one! Silly me - another example of being not terribly bright! Time to do it again - Aha!

OMG! That was difficult...but huge fun!
This puzzle is nothing short of brilliant - it's the work of a mastermind! Buy it!

Kamelle

Kamelle - also by Dr Latussek

You can see the similarity to the design from Frederic.

I have to sheepishly admit that BonBon remains on my pile of puzzles to be caught up with - this release from Pelikan will force me to go back and start to play with it again.


The Kamelle looks very similar to the Petit Sucrier but has only tetrominoes and with the box being 4x3x2 having 24 voxels of space, there will be empty spaces inside. Burrtools retrospectively has told me that there are 584 ways to place the pieces in a 4x3x2 space and no way to get them in the box linearly. This was also going to take a good bit of think©ing! My head was hurting from the previous puzzle - I was going to struggle.

As before there is a 1x2 hole in the box which can be the only entry for all but one of the pieces. I initially tried randomly trying assemblies and quickly realised that its possible to get 3 in easily and a 4th with a bit of fiddling but the 5th was proving impossible. There are quite a few rotations possible early on with just one or two pieces in there but none of them seemed to require that oddly placed hole in the box top. Rather than waste my time on my random assemblies, I moved to looking at what the fancy hole allowed me to do that was special. For a while I couldn't seem to find anything until my "what if I try this?" moment and suddenly I had a rather a big grin on my face and was muttering about him being rather evil!

Having found a very special possible move it was time to work out how it could be used. I found a few assemblies that required the piece to be in the orientation that was now possible and worked on linear moves after that. Almost but not quite. Another couple of days of work and my Aha! moment was complete:

Upside down so as not to give anything away.
This is another absolutely amazing puzzle! I suspect that my solving it was partly luck but nevertheless, the special move is incredible and unique. Again, if you like packing puzzles then this is something really special! 

What should you buy from this summer release? Probably all of them! There are some very different puzzles to usual in this batch. All are challenging and fun. My favourites have to be Petit Sucrier (essential!!!), Kamelle and Commotion.

I am told that the release from Pelikan will be set to go live on Thursday 20th June at 14:00 CET (Central European Time). I am sure that they will go quite quickly.





6 comments:

  1. Can I ask, is Kamille a apparent cube goal? Or is it just to pack in the pieces?

    Thanks for the writeup!

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    Replies
    1. Just pack in the pieces into the 2x3x4. It doesn’t even cover all the holes.

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  2. For kamelle, are there any voxels glued inside the box?

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  3. Solved with virtual Burtools. The last step is very difficult: 5 rotations on two planes.

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  4. Sorry I was talking about Petit Sucrier of course!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now you see why I think it is so so good!

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