Sunday, 16 September 2018

Allard Bites Off More Than I Can Chew!

Allard's Exchange Puzzle - The B. Dorstrum Puzzle
At the last MPP just after shaking hands with all the guys who I have not seen for a while, Allard sidled up to me and magnanimously handed me a very nice presentation box. Inside was a beautifully displayed new old puzzle which he had given away to 70 or so other puzzlers in San Diego last month. I say that it is a "new old" puzzle because it actually dates back to 1908 and has been rediscovered by the highly talented Michel van Ipenburg who seems to be making a habit of resurrecting old designs. Michel had worked with the equally talented Robrecht Louage to bring the B. Dorstrum puzzle back to reality.

Rather than just pack it up in a little ziplock bag, Allard has made a really lovely presentation box complete with a sealed leaflet:

Top face
Back/Other face
Notice that on one side Allard has his inscription and on the other is the RL of Robrecht and MVI for Michel.

Yep! DON'T open the Patent application!
Having spent a few days side-tracked by Shane's latest toys, I had completely forgotten about Allard's treat. After I got stuck completely on Haleslock #5 (and I'm still stuck!) I decided to move on to the B Dorstrum puzzle.

It is beautifully manufactured from Trespa which appears to be a high-pressure laminate suitable for cladding buildings in as well as making surfaces of various kinds for interior use. Robrecht has used this stuff for years and years now and all his creations are fabulous to play with. It consists of a rectangular ring held captive by 3 layers of asterisks (* shapes) which, initially at least seem to rotate around a central pin. The aim is to remove the ring and (of course) then to put it back again. Again, my early idle viewing revealed the obvious notches cut into the arms of the asterisk and I thought that this would be a nice little maze puzzle. Lord! Was I wrong about that!

Within just a minute of actually playing with the puzzle, I had a realisation that the notches I could see did not lead anywhere and maze! What the hell is this? I pushed and pulled at the ring and all of a sudden one of the layers moved and moved in a VERY unexpected way! And then both of the other layers moved in a similar fashion - OMG! This was completely unique and I suspected was not going to be easy! I set to last Monday evening and proceeded to explore where the movements went and what they allowed me to do. I very quickly moved to a position that I could not backtrack out of back to the start position - this is always a bad sign for me! Ten minutes after starting I had a huge Aha! moment:

Solved it! Hell NO! I am nowhere near solving it!
Yes, the ring was off and I felt sort of great. Only sort of? Yep! Only sort of! I could hear Allard and Michel whispering with glee in my ears:
"Now put it back...we dare you!"
These voices I keep hearing are becoming a cause for concern - it's bad enough hearing Mrs S chattering at me (Whack! Ouch!) but Allard and Michel too? Now I'm totally crackers!
With the ring removed, I was able to explore the movements of the plates a bit more and was able to reveal this - don't worry about seeing the photo below - it doesn't help you solve it and if you've played with the puzzle for more than a few seconds then you have discovered the nasty little secret:

There's a whole lotta movement possible!
Having listened to those nasty little voices - Whack! Ouch! Not you dear, I meant THEM, I set to the reassembly. Of course, I had absolutely no idea what I had done before and have spent most of the week alternating between this and the Haleslock #5. It is actually pretty easy to get the ring back on and interlocked at the correct place on the asterisks but something tells me that I have gone wrong somewhere:

Lord help me! I keep getting to this point but it's just not right - the central disk is offset.
Today after 6 days at it I cut the seal on the leaflet hoping for a little clue and was greeted by a copy of the original patent diagrams which were horrifically complex and impossible to understand - I'm impressed that Michel and Robrecht could interpret them. Inside that page was a big warning from Allard - a whole page showing this:

Very off-putting!
This put me off for another hour or so and then in abject failure, I opened the leaflet completely. My Jaw dropped! He's an absolute swine! Inside is the text of the patent which (at least to my feeble mind) is of no help whatsoever! My B. Dorstrum puzzle remains like this...probably forevermore!

Never to be solved?
I will keep at it...probably for years like many of my other toys! I know better than to ask Allard for help! In the meantime, I will carry on with the Haleslock #5 in the hope that it will not also be more than I can chew! Thanks, Allard, Michel.......and Shane! 😱😱😜

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Just Meandering About

Meanders Box
Yukari sends out an email to subscribers of the Pluredro blog when new stuff has been made. As well as puzzle stuff she includes her random thoughts on the blog just to hone her English language skills (which are pretty good by the way). At the beginning of August, I learned about the release of 2 versions of the Meanders box - a lovely design with 4 different setups to allow 4 different solutions. There was one version (348 moves) which Juno and Yukari both considered too difficult/arduous to be any puzzler's primary choice and another (172 moves) which they thought would be perfect for almost everyone. I had recently spent my pocket money and decided to wait a while before placing an order and promptly forgot about it. Puzzlers, of course, are a contrary bunch and they immediately homed in on the most difficult one and the puzzle stock promptly began to fall. Luckily for me, I chat with Matt Dawson fairly frequently and he noticed that when he bought his copy they were down to just one left. He notified me and I immediately (within a few minutes) jumped on the last one...PHEW!

This gorgeous puzzle arrived a couple of weeks later from Oz and I have been working on it intermittently since it arrived. Yes, yes! I know it's labelled as a box but it really isn't a box! Firstly there was no bread in it and bread could not possibly fit inside! If this comment mystifies you then read my review of the Heart case from Juno here. I will buy some puzzles that have cavities if there is something else special about them - this puzzle is partially N-ary and partially maze puzzle so perfectly allowable for my collection.

Its' dimensions are 95 x 85 x 84mm and it is made from Burmese Teak, Rose Alder, Silver Ash (citrus family tree) and some metal pieces inside. Juno seems to be developing a certain look - his recent puzzles are instantly recognizable as his workmanship and that is no bad thing.

The aim is (as you would expect) to open the box by following the maze...except the maze that you can see is not the maze you are following. The real maze and pins inside it are inside and invisible so it needs to be done by deduction and feel. This sounds really simple (the mazes are not as complex as a Revomaze) but the difficulty comes from the fact that the movement of the pins needs to be made stepwise due to the plates having small steps cut out of the ends where they interact with each other. The effect of this is that I found I lost track of which direction I was travelling in and also missed a number of choices of direction to travel. The first time I attempted it I got to here and thought I had solved it:

Cavity visible - is it solved? Nope!
Reading on the product page I saw that the aim is to completely remove the maze lid from the box. and I was stuck. Several times I reached this position and tried to continue along the path only to find myself back at the beginning. Finally, after several hours (Yukari wasn't joking when she said that the high-level one was arduous), I found a hidden passage and took that. Finally, I managed to remove the lid:

Solved the first challenge!
To prove that I really understood it, I then reassembled it back to the beginning which strangely was much easier. I tried opening it again and struggled yet again but not quite so much as the first time. I was not able to count the number of moves but I suspect that the puzzle arrived in the easiest set-up with 260 moves. Time to try another one - each maze can be placed in the puzzle in 2 orientations giving a total of 4 challenges (260, 263, 337 and 348 steps to fully open the puzzle box). The only difference with the "simpler" puzzle is that the steps are bigger and there are less of them per side giving a solution level choice of 130, 134, 161 and 172 steps to fully open the puzzle.

I personally preferred to solve this as an "opening" puzzle and therefore chose to use Juno's beautifully implemented reset mechanism - there are screws underneath:

Such a simple reset mechanism
Here you can see the steps on the side faces.
Unscrewing those screws allows you to left the top frame away and place all the pieces back in the closed position and with the maze in whichever orientation you choose:

The quick reset method revealed - clever idea.
Pick the assembly you prefer.
Here are the 2 mazes for you to examine - believe me when I say that having seen them, you are no closer to solving the puzzle - this one has to be solved by feel rather than by sight. Derek has provided me with a Burrtools file for the puzzle but I have refrained from using it so far.

2 mazes each of which can be oriented in 2 ways in the puzzle

So far I have done 2 of the solutions and have still to do the remaining 2. It is quite arduous and I now agree with Yukari and Juno - this puzzle is still perfectly fun with the lower level construction - luckily for you, there are still plenty of these available on their store. It will look fabulous on display with my other Yananose puzzles. I am eagerly awaiting more toys from Oz! Thank you, Juno and Yukari.

Follow up with the Hales puzzles

Silver lock exchange puzzle is open!
Shane's recent puzzles have been kicking my butt! All excited at my success with the Hokey Cokey lock last week (they are still available for sale on Paradise if you are interested), I set to on Shane's locks and after a week of working on them on and off, I have managed to solve just the Silver lock exchange puzzle. The Goldilock and the amazing Haleslock 5 are as they were when I bought them. The Goldilock has one obvious first step and I am stuck, the Haleslock 5 doesn't even have that! I have a key which won't go in the keyway and a lock which rattles a lot more than one would expect for such a solid lock - something tells me it has been "doctored"!

How could I forget Allard?

Allard's exchange puzzle - the B Dorstrum Puzzle
Last week, when I wrote my blog after the MPP, I had not had time to unpack my box of goodies that I took with me and which also contained this lovely and historical challenge given by Allard. My friend Michel van Ipenburg seems to have a knack of finding the patents and descriptions of fabulous historic puzzles and then reconstructing them with the help of Robrecht Louage. The B Dorstrum puzzle is the latest of these. I have been fiddling with this for a day or so now and made some interesting discoveries but not got very far yet - it is telling that the genius that is Goetz Schwandtner has also not got very far either!

I will keep you informed when and more likely, if, I get anywhere with it. Thanks, Allard!

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Big Steve and Ali Make Me Dance

and Joe makes me grub around on the floor!

The Hokey Cokey Lock
I have been chatting with Derek on-line in the past few weeks before and after the IPP and he had mentioned that Big Steve Nicholl's exchange puzzle this year was a new design by Ali Morris and that it was absolutely superb. He didn't tell me anything more than that other than that it was a lock. I was a little surprised because I know Ali pretty well and was aware that he was a master carpenter and very good with burrs and boxes but did not know that he also could design puzzle locks. Obviously a master of all trades! Then I heard that it was called the Hokey Cokey lock and was even more mystified.

Derek had volunteered to be Steve's exchange assistant and there were rumours of much dancing going on during the exchange which mystified me even more! What did a lock have to do with dancing? and if you know Big Steve then you will also know that he is not really built to be light on his feet and nimble! At the end of the exchange day, a video came out on Facebook showing both Steve and Derek (and at least one exchange recipient) actually doing the Hokey Cokey (differently named in the US according to our puzzle box loving alcoholic surgeon friend). This must have been quite a sight to see and apparently almost everyone joined in and received their Hokey Cokey locks with the song written large in their memories.

At yesterday's Midlands Puzzle Party I had an opportunity to purchase a copy myself. If you want one for your own collection then Steve has been posting them up on Puzzle Paradise for a very reasonable price. How could I resist? I put my acquisitions away for the rest of the day and enjoyed the fun at the MPP. Then, when I got home, Mrs S was treated to the delights of me also dancing the Hokey Cokey! Why would I do that? Surely there's no reason for me to dance to solve a puzzle lock? Well, I thought so first! The lock is a standard long shackle padlock which has been "got at". There is no visible evidence of it being got at but someone obviously has. It comes with 2 keys that fit the keyway...2 totally different keys! You know it won't work but you have to try. Of course, neither keys will turn! After this, last night, whilst sitting with Mrs S, I was FORCED to do the dance! I put the right key in...nope! I put the left key in...nope! In...nope! Out...nope! In...nope! Out...nope! Shake it all about...nope! Shake it about with the left key in...nope! Shake it all about with the right key in...nope! Rinse and repeat ALL those steps with the keys ¾ in...nope! and again with them ½ in...nope! and, in desperation, about ¼ in...yep! you guessed it...nope! Hmmm! Maybe I did it wrong somewhere in those steps and yes, much to Mrs S' disgust, I did the whole lot again! I have been fully Hokey cokey'd!

A very innocuous comment from my friend Otis on Facebook made me think - ©. I stared at the lock for another 30minutes and an idea popped into my head. This is quite a feat because my head is pretty dense but it definitely popped in. A few minutes later I was the proud owner of an open lock!

I actually showed the mechanism to Mrs S and even she was impressed which as far as I can remember has never happened before! Well done Ali for a tremendous design and well done Steve for making me, and a large number of other puzzlers (including Derek) look very foolish indeed - that takes great skill! Buy one on paradise whilst they are still available.

Next up, we have a delightful new design by Joe Turner - the Free Me version 6:

Free Me 6
Last year, in Paris, Joe had entered the Free Me 5 into the IPP design competition where it won a well-deserved Jury honourable mention prize.  I recall playing with it in the competition room and really enjoying a well made sequential discovery puzzle which involved wood, ball bearings, steel rods and a fair bit of courage as one had to decide whether to do something decidedly dangerous (at least it was in the eyes of most puzzlers) before eventually releasing the half dollar coin. I loved it!

I missed out on purchasing the version 5 last year but this year, my friend Matt Dawson, informed me when the Free Me 6 came up for sale and I quickly sent off an email and some PayPal.

The new version seemed slightly smaller and for the first few minutes of play, nothing would happen. After a little thought (which hurt considerably!) I managed the first move and released some pieces. It all works very smoothly. I could see another tool but could not reach it so tried closing it and a few other things but that did not help. There are a number of holes around and after a while, one has to resort to poking things in those I have said above a fair bit...nope! Time to examine the puzzle and in doing so I gave my cat a Whack! Ouch! as a ball bearing dropped on his head from a decent height! It does say in the instructions that one should NOT play where parts can roll away or get lost but I am not very bright and who reads instructions anyway?

I now have 4 tools/things and no idea what to do next. The following day, over an hour or so, I do a fun little dance (yes! again!) with a ball bearing! At the end of the BB dance, I have even more pieces - this is SUCH fun! Time to put it down again as it's bedtime. I cannot resist taking it to work the following day as I have a huge long case to do (a 9 level spinal curvature (scoliosis) correction with spinal cord monitoring) - there will be a couple of hours of setting up to do which will give me time to play before the surgery actually starts.

My workstation goes from far left, right across to the right
Once in the operating theatre (OR to the yanks out there) and the spinal monitoring boys are doing their thing, I get the Free Me 6 out and just hold it, contemplating...and they stimulate the patient's spinal cord - they twitch violently about on the table which scares the bejeezus out of me and the BB goes flying! I end up grubbing around underneath everything to find it.

During the ½ hour or so of getting everything ready, I have a brainwave (maybe it was their machinery?) and I try other things with the BB. There are some VERY strong springs in this puzzle and a number of times the BB shoots off across the room and I go grubbing around on the floor again! and again! and again! and again! My surgeon is watching me as if I am completely crackers - which, of course, I am! Then, everyone is delighted when I have my Aha! moment in front of the whole crowd and I free the coin...just in time for us to do an operation! Phew!

The coin is free at last! Awesome puzzle!

Shane has been at it again!

The Haleslock 5 is about to be released! 
Shane Hales is a sucker for punishment! Not only is he trying to run a new business as a Master Locksmith, but he continues to work as a Master builder in his local area too. On top of all of that (whilst bringing up 2 kids and an expensive wife - I know that feeling! Whack! Ouch!) he continues to design and manufacture his own puzzles. I bought some new keys for the amazing Ultion locks from him and also purchased the 5th in the series of Haleslocks - it is very robust and beautifully made! They will be coming up for sale from the usual puzzle lock purchasing outlets quite soon.

Not only has he made his own new lock but he has also made not one but 2 more lock puzzles for others to give as their exchange puzzles at the San Diego IPP. So only another couple of hundred lock puzzles to be made with a short deadline! Yes! He definitely is a sucker for punishment!

Silver Lock Exchange #1
So far I have got absolutely nowhere with either of these 3 puzzles but I will keep at it and will let you know in a future blog post! It may be a while because I am RUBBISH at locks!

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Some Pelikan Beauties

Trap R2
Last week I showed off the recent delivery of puzzles from my friend Jakub, one of the co-owners of the New Pelikan Workshop. He lets me purchase them in advance and as a service for him I solve them as quickly as I can and write a paragraph about some of them for him to put up on the description page for each puzzle when they go up for sale (it depends whether the designer can speak English and feels capable of writing something themselves). The last few times I have been aware that me being so busy has caused a delay in the puzzles going on sale. This time I ignored everything I was supposed to do around the house to ensure that I did not delay the posting of the puzzles for sale and I had my spiel written in just a few days. I try to put my reviews up on my site to help you decide what to buy too.

The first puzzle for me to review is the Trap R2 by Osanori Yamamoto. My copy is made with Purpleheart but it will also be available in an equally beautiful version with Wenge. When you think of puzzles by Osanori Yamamoto you instantly think "rotations". With Trap R2 you won't be disappointed but this puzzle is very different to any other puzzle I have seen. Initially, it looks like a couple of solid boards joined at the corners with a small wide cylinder between them. The cylinder can move about fairly freely with some interesting limitations but that is it. With a little curious fiddling, you will find an unexpected move or two which opens up other possibilities. These unexpected moves can be in several directions and will lead to blind ends. It is extremely unlikely that random moves will end up with this one coming apart. I have to say that this puzzle needs a good bit of careful exploration to get a complete mental image of the shapes involved and then proper planning to arrange them so that disassembly is possible. It almost needs a full mental understanding of the shapes inside to be able to solve it. The first part has to be done blind which makes it a fun challenge. The Trap R2 is an absolutely marvellous puzzle -  it is totally unlike anything I've seen before and a lovely challenge - for me it has made a great worry bead for the last week. As always with a puzzle from Jakub and Jaroslav, the fit and finish of the puzzle is simply perfect - you cannot see any seams at all in the assembled puzzle and they appear to come out of nowhere when things are pressed in the right places.

The pieces are hidden behind the show/hide button - if you are thinking of purchasing one then DON'T look until you have solved it:

Square Target

Square Target
Square Target is another puzzle by the amazingly prolific Osanori Yamamoto, which will, of course, require rotations. There are 4 pieces in a frame and the hole is shaped such that they can only be extricated after turning them to the correct orientation. Having said that, the main challenge of this puzzle is actually to find the correct linear moves to make space for the rotations to occur and working out which order to remove the pieces. This puzzle has a fairly complex set of moves to make enough room to let the rotations/removal occur. The reassembly is also a challenge...especially if, like me, you don't pay attention to all the moves you made in the dismantling process. It is very clever and beautifully made by Pelikan. This is a perfect choice for someone just starting out with puzzles that require rotations.

With this one, I can show the pieces as that will not give too much away:

Pieces of Square Target


The third puzzle by Osanori Yamamoto could easily be called the "Hashtag" - 4 very simple shapes are assembled on a frame in a # shape and need to be removed after arranging them into the correct orientation and position. As one would expect from Osanori, rotations are required...quite a LOT of them! This is trickier than one would expect as the sliding movement and rotation of the pieces is very blocked and requires quite a bit of planning. This one took me the longest time of the three new puzzles. Eventually, I succeeded in my disassembly only to spill the carefully arranged pieces off my sleeping cat! Needless to say, the reassembly from scratch is a huge challenge and involved a good amount of swearing and the odd Whack! Ouch! It is, however, perfectly solvable with thought - the reassembly took me a good hour. A great idea and a worthy challenge to any puzzler.

Pieces of Shield


Alfons Eyckmans designs puzzles ranging from fairly simple to massively complex and Pelikan has chosen just the right level with this one - only a very small number of puzzlers want to work on burrs with 40+ moves to take out the first piece (I personally really struggle when the 1st level goes above 30). Wourie is perfect for the puzzler who is either a beginner to burrs or an enthusiast. It looks stunning in the four different woods and the mix of boards and sticks are interlocked with a fun but challenging sequence which has a blind end or two - it actually took me a good 20 minutes to find the first move. Having found the first move, the remainder of the disassembly is not too hard but then the reassembly becomes a real challenge if you scramble the pieces and leave them a while. It is definitely solvable as an assembly puzzle but maybe that part should be left to experts. The fit and finish of the puzzle is wonderful with moves that are silky smooth - it is perfect to display in any puzzler's collection.

Pieces of Wourie - looks easy? Think again!


Rotacube by Lucie Pauwels
Bernhard's version
Rotacube is another delightful challenge by the very talented and extremely prolific Lucie Pauwels (pwbp shows only a tiny fraction of her designs). I originally had the Rotacube drawn to my attention by the King of the Turning Interlocking Cubes (TIC), Bernhard Schweitzer who contacts me occasionally when he has discovered and made a new TIC and offers one for me to play with. Quite a few months ago Bernhard sent me a copy of Rotacube which I played with, enjoyed and forgot about after a month or so. I remembered about it when Jakub had his Pelikan version for sale. I was interested to see how Bernhard's version, I'm not terribly bright, and had forgotten the solution completely! I think that it does benefit from the several types of wood used by Jakub but I do prefer Bernhard's rotated top cubie as a handle.

There are a couple of simple but unusual moves to remove the first 4 pieces and with the Pelikan version the fit is so perfect that it feels like one is held in by suction! Once the 4 simple pieces are removed then one is left with a cubic frame made from 2 identical pieces which require multiple rotations to be separated. It is a lovely sequence and not too tough. Even after scrambling and leaving the pieces the reassembly is not impossibly challenging and even suitable for beginners to TICs. This is a very nice puzzle and well worth adding to your collection.

Very clever pieces

The remainder of the Pelikan puzzles are yet to be solved. Keylock has been produced for PuzzleMaster in the past and I am not sure whether this production will also be sold by Pelikan direct. It is a very tough burr (level designed by one of the IPP design competition winners, Stephan Baumegger.

The Droid is another fascinating puzzle with a mixture of boards and sticks by Stephan with a level of which also was made for PuzzleMaster and I am not sure whether it is being made available from Pelikan this time. My copy below came direct from Stephan - it took me 5 months to dismantle it!

The 3D Onat Contrast is yet another complex burr by Stephan constructed from some very simple burr sticks into a beautiful cubic design - it has a moderately difficult level of which makes it less suitable for beginners but probably still do-able with some perseverance. It is stunning and I couldn't resist buying a copy myself:

This should be fun!
Excaliburr (available from PuzzleMaster) is another fantastic puzzle designed by Stephan and is definitely not for beginners! At level, it is aimed at real burr enthusiasts or people who are seriously addicted to everything related to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I own an original from Stephan and as yet have never solved it! I might have a bit of a problem though!

Swords in puzzles!

Keep an eye on the Pelikan site as well as look at PuzzleMaster to see when these new toys come up for sale. There is something for everyone here - beginners and burr experts alike will enjoy these puzzles which are, as always, stunningly made!

Sunday, 19 August 2018

He has a Sick Sick Mind!

Magnetic Madness aka Burrnova 3D
Yes, Jerry McFarland has done it again! You may recall that last year at the IPP he won a prize in the design competition with a fantastic burr puzzle that bamboozled us all due to it's automatically solving section. I wrote about it in this blog post and it reached the number 6 spot in my Top 10 of 2017. In Paris whilst he was showing off his Burrnova 2D puzzle, he also showed the admiring masses a very bare prototype mechanism of his 3D version which we all encouraged him to continue working on. Let's just say that he did that and did it VERY well!

Jerry and I discuss puzzle designs fairly frequently - for some reason, he seems to think that I know something about puzzles (I have no idea what makes him think such a silly thing but I love chatting to him). He had seen the fantastic Angel box design by Wil Strijbos and was really quite tickled by the idea of the figurine inside a puzzle to be released. He worked on it a while and showed me a few pictures in the process and I, of course, encouraged him in his madness! Then earlier this year he asked if I would like to buy a nearly finished prototype of his latest puzzle - he gave me a few $$ of the end price because I would be giving input into the final design and mine may be different to the end puzzle. Who would say no in my position? I obviously couldn't resist and I have had my copy of Burrnova 3D which he renamed to Magnetic madness for the design competition. The aim of the puzzle is, first of all, to remove the key piece and then rescue the princess trapped inside.

I was supposed to keep it quiet and not reveal it to the world and I did a great job up until a few weeks ago when I inadvertently revealed the puzzle to eagle-eyed puzzlers when I showed off my new cabinets:

Can you see it?
Right in the middle of the display of McFarland puzzles, there was a classic interlocking puzzle from Jerry and someone peaking out! Someone did actually spot it and contacted Jerry to ask about getting a copy! I do apologise for letting the cat out of the bag!

The puzzle is absolutely unmistakeable as a McFarland puzzle! There is something completely characteristic about what he makes and it is instantly recognisable! The only new aspect to this one is that it is clear that his mind has slipped a bit:

What has he done?
Jerry has drilled a hole in a burr piece and there appears to be a pretty young lady trapped inside! There is something rather twisted about this but in a humorous way, of course! I laughed out loud when I opened my package to see this.

Having solved the first puzzle in the series I had an idea of how to go about the beginning of this one and was delighted when after finding the first move, I pushed one of the dark sticks for the lovely "Thhraaaap" of 8 sticks at 90º to each other in a lattice went through a really rather lovely automatic solving process. I distinctly remember that Nick Baxter said "who cannot love a puzzle that solves itself?" when he announced that Burrnova 2D had won a prize in Paris. This new version does the same thing only MORE! It is fabulous! I have done it again and again since then and love it. At the moment my copy is a bit sticky with the heat and humidity in the UK but it should improve come the autumn. Between me and Jerry, he made some changes to the ones in the design competition. The magnets are MUCH stronger and now having carried out the first move all it takes is a tiny movement or even picking the puzzle up and it immediately does its' "Thhraaaap" thing again often frightening the poor unsuspecting sap/puzzler in the process! He really has a sick mind!

After the automatic section
After the automatic section, there are sticks poking out but the next move is quite well hidden. If you have solved the 2D version then you can do it but if not it takes a fair bit of searching to find it and then the key piece can finally be removed. With the stickiness of mine, it took me about 20 minutes to get it to work today!

Key piece out but she's still trapped!
Next comes the fun and very challenging process of disassembly. Jerry has really made this tough! The removal of the next pieces is hard to find because he has used STRONG magnets to hold things in place! It takes a fair bit of self-confidence to do the necessary moves to get this thing to come apart:

This must be the hard bit done! Think again!
At one point during the dismantling of this beast, you run into a wall...nothing moves at all. There is a bit of wiggle room in the automatic lattice but that will only come apart with a bit of force and a partial rotation. You know this is not right...Jerry never does that! He's a very sneaky man! He has put a second lock into this one and fastened it with some more VERY strong magnets. It took me hours and hours to find the method to open the lock and then actually doing it requires some serious courage and dexterity, strong fingers...about 14 of them! Eventually, the stage is passed and you can stop muttering under your breath about the evil genius of Jerry!

Now the magnetic lattice can be worked on...for a while anyway!
At this point, I hit a wall!
The disassembly proceeds and the workmanship (with both wood and metal) is revealed. There are some seriously clever pieces here. I got stuck again as only two of the magnetic pieces come out at first.

Not even nearly finished!
After the second lock is passed and further disassembly becomes possible, I try to keep pieces sort of arranged so that I will have some chance to put it all back together again. At this point, one discovers the disadvantage of all the magnets...they attract and repel each other and my carefully placed pieces start to move spontaneously around on the work surface and don't stay pointing the right direction. At one point I took the magnetic lattice structure out and arranged them very carefully but as soon as I let go of them a whole bunch of rotations occurred and I lost the orientation I had carefully preserved.

Finally, after a few hours and a fair bit of swearing, I released a piece and almost dropped the puzzle in shock! An arm fell out! A few moves later, I realised why someone at the IPP had said he has a "Sick sick mind"! Yes, he has dismembered the princess before putting her in her little magnetic wooden dungeon!

This is a little disturbing!!!!
Eventually, I was left with a LOT of pieces spread around the work surface!

The workmanship is incredible - but yes, he is a very sick man!
Of course, the puzzle is not solved until the princess has been properly rescued:

I must be a prince...I have rescued a princess!
Errm wait! She appears to be a mermaid!
What a fantastic odyssey! I can only say that Jerry is a genius, a master craftsman, and a lovely lovely man! He may have a very sick sick mind but I can forgive him for that!

Later, when I came to put it back together, I jiggled a piece with the partially constructed base and my magnetic pieces all went "thhraaaap" again and clung together in a big pile much to my horror! The reassembly was a huge undertaking as he only included a very basic diagram of the magnetic lattice in the paperwork he gave out.

I LURVE THIS PUZZLE! Thank you so much, Jerry!

If you get a chance to buy one then don't even think or hesitate! Just say yes! It will not be cheap - there is a lot of work in these and they take him quite some time but it is one of my most treasured puzzles (hence the prominent position in my new display cabinets).

You might also want to go and have a look at my new additions page to see what else I have been up to recently and to get a heads up on puzzles shortly to be released by Jakub and Jaroslav at Pelikan puzzles.


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