Saturday 7 May 2011

Decemburr from Mr Puzzle

First of all I must thank a friend, Nigel, for this puzzle. This complex burr puzzle was sold cheaply when a puzzle shop closed down last month. Unfortunately I missed buying it in the clearance sale but Nigel managed to bag one of the last ones. It turned out that this was a duplicate for him so he sold it on to me at cost! It arrived on a Saturday morning at 07:30 much to the disgust of the missus! I was on my way out to work so took it with me so I could have a little fiddle if I got a moment!

Decemburr is an unusual 12 piece burr puzzle designed by master puzzle designer, Goh Pit Khiam, who designed it in 1999 without the aid of a computer! How anyone could possibly do this is completely beyond me! The puzzle was crafted by Brian Young aka Mr Puzzle in Australia. It is available in both standard and craftsman versions from his website. This is the standard version and whilst not as beautifully finished as the craftsman version, it is a really chunky solid puzzle which is a delight to hold. My only criticism of this version is the wood stain that Brian has used - it leaves the wood with a really bright orange colour which looks fairly garish and unnatural. I would have preferred that the wood be left unstained even if it just as a white wood which is varnished with clear varnish. The actual manufacture of the pieces is astonishingly good - the accuracy of the cuts is just spot on with millimetre perfect tolerances. Everything slides beautifully.

Brian has rated this a 9 out of 10 on his difficulty scale, saying that if it was sent out disassembled he would rate it as a 10!!! Whilst I agree about the score of 10 if it was shipped as pieces only, I did not find the puzzle particularly difficult to solve from the completed state and I really consider myself to be an amateur at burr puzzles! I really love burr puzzles and maybe my practicing with them has made this a lot easier for me.

Pieces kept ordered!
It requires 13(!!) distinct moves to remove the first piece and it uses a really pleasant cyclical movement - it only took me about 10 minutes at most to establish how to take the first piece out and it is clear that after that it all just comes part easily. Now, despite not being very bright, I have learned from my previous mistakes!! I made sure over another 20 minutes that I had the removal and reinsertion of that key piece absolutely off pat. I then removed the other pieces but kept them in pairs and noted which side of the burr they came from. Reassembly took me about another ½ hour - mainly made difficult because I had forgotten to note the orientation of the pieces! However, it did not prove too challenging at that point!

"Pile" of pieces
I then tried to quickly learn what the shapes looked like and rapidly mixed everything up in a heap! At this point the present wife insisted that I do some chores! Reluctantly I obeyed and later went back to my pile of pieces - GULP!!!! Luckily, when I returned to it, I still remembered roughly what went where and managed to get it back together with only a small amount of cussing and probably only 5 or 6 attempts! I can now manage it easily in under a minute and it is very satisfying!

Had this puzzle arrived in pieces I would have failed completely! I actually have no idea how you would even go about assembling a burr that you have never taken apart before. If anyone can tell me a general approach to assembling one from just pieces then please let me know.

Overall, I really enjoyed this puzzle and would love to get some more. I have spent several weeks drooling over many things on Brian's site and have a pretty long list of puzzles I really want to order when I have the spare cash (he is a master craftsman and has something for everyone in his store). There are also at least 3 puzzles he has planned for the future which I also really want!!! Now all I need to do is find a buyer for one of my kidneys or even a piece of my liver!!!

Brian, if you read this and have anything going cheap then get in touch!!!? Pretty please!


  1. I think you need a Septemburr, Octoburr and Novemburr to go with this!

  2. I certainly do! We need to petition Mr Puzzle to produce one! Would you start it?

  3. There is already an Octo Burr

  4. Hmm! So many puzzles and so little money to pay for them with! Luckily there doesn't seem to be a purchase link! Are you trying to bankrupt me???

  5. Don't worry, that Octo Burr is no longer made and probably very hard to find.

    But you really need a Grizzly Burr, just because of the name! :-)