Saturday 28 January 2012

The Yak Puzzle - Brian's Nemesis Revisited

The Yak Puzzle
It doesn't look like much does it? I thought so too when I first picked it up but looks can be deceiving can't they? My recent huge Puzzle master hoard included this one and I left it nearly to the last because, having read about it on Brian Pletcher's blog (he actually dedicated two posts to it - Sept 2009 and Jan 2010), I was really frightened of it. I'm sure you are wondering why! Most of you will know by now that I have done quite a lot of disentanglement puzzles over the last year, including almost the entire collection from Livewire puzzles in Canada - all 36 of them! I have also upset one of my local puzzle friends by solving several of his disentanglement puzzles in minutes when he had failed after days or weeks! So after this huge experience of this type of puzzle, why should I be frightened? It is, after all, all wire - no string or anything! So it should be easy, shouldn't it? Oh no its not!!

The Yak puzzle comes in the usual Puzzle Master clamshell plastic container and has the instruction simply to "remove the handle" and then, obviously, to put it back the way you found it. It was designed by the Master wire puzzle designer, Dick Hess. There is no solution provided but it is available for download here - believe it or not, you might actually need it!! It is well made, and actually, if you squint at it, looks vaguely Yak-like! It has good quality wire and two diamond shapes are gold coloured (one of these is not removable). It is also a good size at 13.9 x 11.5 x 5.8cm so is not too fiddly to play with. Puzzle Master rate it as a 10 (Mind Boggling) out of 10 in their difficulty rating! Gulp!!

Saturday 21 January 2012

Quickstep from Microcubology

Quickstep Front
Quickstep Back
Some of my favourites types of puzzle are the interlocking cube type puzzles and for this reason I get quite excited when I have an email from Richard Gain, the man at the helm of Microcubology. I have bought a copy of almost everything he has produced. You can buy from his Shapeways shop or you can buy dyed versions from his Etsy store. He also has been known to sell via John Devost's Puzzle Paradise auction site. I personally am not that keen on the undyed puzzles and tend to order them pre-coloured - they certainly look pretty good on the shelf - as you can see from my fairly extensive collection!

I have to keep them labeled!
Richard announced this new puzzle via his YouTube channel. It was designed by Jeff Namkung, a relative newcomer to the puzzle design scene. he had apparently been influenced by Jos Bergmans. In the few months he has been designing, he has published 10 different cubes, all named after dances! The inspiration for this cube was the Mayer's cube from Pentangle which required 7 moves to extract the first piece. Jeff took this idea and produced a MUCH more complex cube of order! Yes! You read it right - 11 moves to extract the first piece! With a 5 piece puzzle!! Richard got permission to produce this and has done a wonderful job with it.

After it was announced, I immediately started watching for them and jumped at the chance to buy one within an hour of them arriving in stock - I really am quite addicted to them!!! Richard gives you the option of paying a few £££ less to get them in the unassembled state and I took the risk of this. Not to save the money! When you tot up the amount I have spent on puzzles in the last year (shudder!!!) then you will realise that a few 'quid' won't really help my finances very much. I chose it unassembled because of the extra challenge this provides. Three of the smaller cubes had been bought this way and I really loved the extra difficulty.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Tricklock 5

Trick Lock 5
A few weeks ago I reviewed Tricklock 4 and apart from its simplicity I quite liked it for its rather pleasant Aha! moment. I received Tricklock 5 in the same package with it but thought I would save it for a while. They came from Puzzle Master and are the last 2 in a series of 5.

They arrive in the Puzzle Master clam shell package and are a really quite nice looking (and rather large - 6.6 x 10.3 x 2.8cm). This one has some kind of bird on the front - possibly a phoenix and a keyhole below it. This is heavy - I was told in no uncertain terms to take it out of our new kitchen to play with it because she didn't want it falling on our nice new tiled floor and breaking a tile!! You should avoid dropping it on your foot.

It has been reviewed by Brian here and Neil here.

They provide the simple instructions to open and close the lock. They do not include a solution but if you want one then it can be downloaded here - you shouldn't need it. Puzzle Master rate this as 5 out of 10 (Easy) and I agree with that.

Saturday 14 January 2012

More Torture from Wil Strijbos!

I have received quite a few fabulous metal puzzles from Wil Strijbos over the last year and have mostly just mentioned their arrival but not really reviewed them properly. So I will start to make amends by reviewing 2 more of his puzzles:

Aluminium Washer Cylinder
First is the Aluminium Washer Cylinder. This is an absolute classic - almost all serious puzzler have one or are actively trying to get one. I reviewed the original Aluminium cylinder here. I said then and still believe that this is one of my favourite puzzles of all time. It took me 8-10 hours to solve and I regularly hand this to other puzzle friends to play with - several have managed it in a more reasonable amount of time and some have wanted to use a hammer or chisel!!

So far only Oli has reviewed this puzzle on his blog here and Allard has just reviewed it here.

Thursday 12 January 2012

Hanayama Cast Enigma

Cast Enigma
This review is the last of the current batch of Hanayama cast puzzles from Puzzle Master. This is the Cast Enigma - I chose it for its combination of swirling metal good looks and its difficulty. This is not a puzzle to be taken lightly! Hanayama rate it as a 6 out of 6 in difficulty and Puzzle Master rate it as 10 out of 10 ("Mind Boggling"). In fact, on the web site they state:
"This is without a doubt among the most difficult of all puzzles."
I have to say that this is absolutely one of my favourite cast puzzles - it is great to hold and shaped in such a way that you can see and plan each move. On top of this you can actually hold it in such a way that you remember what you have done if you need to back-track. Unlike the Cast Vortex, you don't solve it with no real idea of how it works. Every single review on its Puzzle Master page has given it a 5 star rating! Brian reviewed it here.

It is packaged nicely in the usual Hanayama black box and the pieces are made of a lovely antique bronzed metal. Dimensions are 13.9 x 5 x 3.7 cm when unsolved (but the individual pieces are quite flat). Being metal and a decent size it has a good weight and feels great in the hands. It was designed in the early 1970s by Eldon Vaughn and slightly modified for the Hanayama version to improve the solvability. The aim, obviously, is to take it apart and then reassemble it. The solution is, as usual, not supplied with the puzzle but if you need it (you might!!!) it can be downloaded from Puzzle Master at here.

Saturday 7 January 2012

Rattle Box - Eric Fuller and Tom Jolly

Rattle Cube
I do apologise for missing my usual midweek post. Back to work after the holidays and very busy!! I will try to keep my usual pace. This morning I decided to have a go at the Rattle box. I have spent most of the last week playing with the orange revomaze and am completely stuck - I cannot seem to get passed an early part (others seem to have stumbled through fairly easily without understanding what they had done). Unfortunately the stumbling through isn't happening for me! I have also looked at the gold revomaze but it requires one to solve an "algorithm" or series of verbal clues. I am completely useless at riddles and the clues mean absolutely nothing to me whatsoever, so after discovering a little about the rather complex internals of the gold, I have put it down too.

This left me needing another puzzle to review for you, so I picked up one that I had "kept for later". The Rattlebox was designed by Tom Jolly and the craftsman who made it was one of my favourites, Eric Fuller. Eric placed a few goodies up for sale on his site on Dec 11th and sent out his customary email notification. These emails always reach me in the middle of the night and by the time I wake up and see them, a lot of the stuff has gone. Luckily this time the batches of puzzles were quite large and there was a fair bit left. I ordered 2 pieces and they arrived on 23rd December (A Christmas present from me to me!!!)

Sunday 1 January 2012

Happy New Year Everyone!

My Main Shelves!!!!
Nothing new to be posted today, I'm afraid!! I thought that just for a break in the routine I would show you all some "swag"! As you can see - In just over a year, I have done pretty well!

Much to the disgust of the present Mrs S, this little hobby of mine has become quite a bad habit and has led to me accumulating rather a large collection. They may not be quite as valuable her shoe and handbag collection - but to me they are just as beautiful. So today, I thought I would just post some pictures from my study where they are stored (I am not allowed to leave them anywhere else in the house!!!).

I cleared my CD collection (digitised everything) which gave me quite a lot of perfectly shaped shelves. Don't forget that I also have at least 1 drawer full of wire disentanglement puzzles!!!! Oops! Blush!!