Sunday 14 July 2024

I Think I Cheated...

Did I?

Rippl by DDK
I had hoped to be able to review a different type of puzzle for you today but despite weeks and weeks of trying, I have still not managed to finish the Free Me 9 puzzle from Joe Turner. I had been stuck on the second coin up until early in the week when a good puzzle friend and I started a combined attempt at solving it. Dominic gave me a little teeny hint and I suddenly found what I needed to free the second coin and now the two of us are stuck on the third - we are both noticing the same things, trying the same things and despite two of us doing the same thing over and over and over again, nothing seems to be changing for us...sigh!

In desperation and in the many many moments when I put down the Free me in disgust, I started playing with the Rippl puzzle from Aaron and managed to get very confused very quickly. The rings are threaded such that they straddle two "lanes" of the spirals and the shuttle is through all 8 of them. I thought that this would be a simple N-ary puzzle and with "only" 8 rings should not be too arduous. After all, it's ONLY a level 9 puzzle which must make it relatively simple?

Oh boy! I got a shock! Yet again! I explored this over the last week or so every time I put down the Free me puzzle. Mrs S was most displeased with me because this one really jingles a lot.

The shuttle comes off the first ring and the second very easily but then the third ring is completely blocked. I figured it was N-ary and went back to the first ring and replaced it hoping to get access where I needed it. Nope! That didn't work. I am sure that you noticed that the shuttle can be threaded through the rings both forward and reversed and after an embarrassingly long time, I also noticed that and after trying it with both the first and second rings, I found the one that worked. I had my access to the third ring and the shuttle was off of that one. 

And here I remained for over a week! I tried every combination of forward and back with the shuttle, through the rings forwards, through them in reverse and every single time I was blocked from releasing the shuttle from the fourth ring. What on earth was going on? I just could not get any further! What sort of puzzle blogger am I? A bloody useless one, I think - I should be ashamed of myself! There was a significant chance that there would be no blog post for you today! I have only ever missed one due to illness or death and really didn't want to do it again with no adequate excuse. Is being rubbish at puzzles an excuse?

Finally after 5 or 6 days I found a move. It had the desired effect of getting me access to the next ring but I wasn't happy with it. I kept putting the puzzle back to the beginning because that move I found did not seem right. It required me to slightly flex the spiral to allow the shuttle to be pulled through, I don't think any of DDK or Aaron's puzzles have ever needed even that tiny amount of force. So I kept returning to the beginning and trying afresh. Finally, this morning I bit the bullet and continued with that move and it opened up a whole new section of the puzzle which got very interesting very quickly. It also got really quite confusing but I was determined and carried on. Finally, just minutes before starting this post, I had a solved puzzle:

I have taken it apart but...
have I actually solved it?
Once I had taken my picture, I felt that I had better put it back together and check with Aaron whether I had cheated (I am pretty sure that I did on that one step). 

Erm...putting it back together was a whole extra challenge! I had, as usual, not really paid enough attention to how it came out and then got mightily confused when it would not go back in and when I did get it started on the return journey, I found that I could not seem to get the second ring on the shuttle. Wow! Despite being "only" a level 9, this was a really really tough challenge. Eventually I got to the mid point and tried the final moves to return to the start. Unfortunately one of the rings had unwound itself and was only held on one of the arms of the spiral and I hadn't noticed it. Another 30 minutes of swearing at it when I couldn't get it back to the start and then another 30 minutes swearing at my own stupidity when I noticed the problem. Finally it is back at the beginning and I am hoping to find out whether I had done something wrong at that crucial early step.

Yet again, an absolutely amazing and incredibly difficult puzzle from Aaron and DDK. It shows that disentanglement puzzles with wire only really can be incredibly tough and confusing - it has N-ary elements to it but only a couple of parts are - the challenge is navigating between them. Great value and a hugely bamboozling challenge. My head hurts now and I think I need to lie down for a while.

Sunday 7 July 2024

I Thought That I was On a Roll

But then...

Xmas Tree gift from Aaron
Every time I order a little batch of puzzles from Aaron, he includes a little (or even not so small in this case) extra puzzle in the package. This time it was this adorable little Xmas tree with a couple of baubles on it (attached in different ways to interfere with the slider movement and, of course, the obligatory piece to be removed. This puzzle has been absolutely beautifully made and almost reminds me of something that would have been produced by the wonderful and sadly missed LiveWire puzzles guys.

Having been successful last week with the Ball and chain puzzle that isn't, I couldn't resist playing with this one for a little light relief. Any of you who are better than an absolute beginner at disentanglement puzzles can look at this and immediately see where the exit point is but will also see how it is blocked by the baubles. The challenge here is to get past that part of the blocked path. I am absolutely delighted that with my huge experience of wire puzzles and (BLUSH!) embarassingly enormous collection (I have 6 plastic cases of them in my garage), I managed to solve this clever little challenge in about 10 minutes:

Delightful and not too tough
The sequence is absolutely delightful and fun to do repeatedly. It does show that a puzzle doesn't need to be impossibly difficult to still be fun. This is a nice one that I will be taking in to work with me as we approach the holiday season to bamboozle and hopefully delight my colleagues. I am due to work on Xmas day this year and it will be taken in with me.


Pipe by the incredibly talented DDK was next on my list to try mostly because it looks quite a lot less fearsome than most of the others I received. This was partially true.

It is obvious where the name comes from and the aim is also obviously to remove the long shuttle. 

I always take a photo of the instruction sheet giving the setup position to aid my memory and also because it has the "idealised" position of the various components (the picture I took does look slightly different to the printed sheet). 

Having been encouraged with my early success with Pocket watch and Xmas tree, I immediately thought that this would actually be a nice (maybe arduous) N-ary puzzle and would be fun but easy. I genuinely thought I was being very clever doing this puzzle next and that there would be an easy blog post for me. I was wrong about the easy bit - maybe I should have paid attention to the Level 10+?

Initially, I thought that the left side of the puzzle (bowl of the pipe) must be the exit and started moving the shuttle through the centre of the puzzle towards it. I quickly found that this led to a dead end - I could work my way out that end but immediately any further moves are blocked by the rings. Like an eejit, I tried this same thing multiple times before coming to the correct conclusion and abandoning that approach. I went back to the picture and with the idealised positioning, I think that most of you should be able to see what looks like an obvious exit point for the shuttle. This should lead to you being able to formulate an initial plan to begin manoeuvring towards that exit. Unfortunately, within a few minutes I made the horrible realisation that the shuttle is actually inside the centre of this new exit point and it was definitely not going to be an easy task to get there. I was stuck for a while. As the week went by, I got a bit desperate and even brought it into the living room during our evening TV watching. Mrs S gave me a telling off again but she must be mellowing a bit because she did it with a smile. Not even a mention of a Whack! Ouch!

I was stuck at this point for a couple of days as I struggled to see how I could aim for that exit point without the shuttle being caught in the middle of it. It is important to notice that several of the rings are large and several are too small to pass the shuttle through. his is an important feature which helps but also confuses. I tried something completely new and suddenly I had made progress - I was not sure whether it was correct but I carried on. At one point I performed multiple moves and.... I was back at the beginning! How the?? I had no idea how I managed to undo things without realising it and took a deep breath before starting again and this time I got a bit further (I thought so, but it is quite difficult to remember every position that you have been in). I continued along what seemed like a promising path and occasionally reached a blockage which needed a little thought©. After a few days, the shuttle came out with me having only a slight idea of how I had achieved it:

That was fun and much tougher than expected
I left it like this for a day or so and then bit the bullet and started the reassembly. Oh boy! This really made it clear that I had not fully understood my sequence. I was able to get the process started but, as I progressed, my hopes kept getting dashed when suddenly and unexpectedly, the shuttle came back out again. This happened several times! Time to think© properly!

Here I realised that I needed to look at the diagram and work out a specific approach to traveling a particularly problematic ring which kept turning me around back to the exit. Having thunk© and arranged my puzzle like the picture, I tried again and finally after a whole week of play on this one I had my success.

The Pipe is a genius design which looks much easier than it actually is. It has some N-ary portions to the sequence but is not truly an N-ary puzzle. I would liken it more to the tree puzzle that I reviewed at the early on in this PuzzleMad odyssey but a lot more confusing.

Thank you DDK, for the challenge and thank you Aaron, for the opportunity.