Sunday 29 September 2013

The Silent E

The Silent E
Hi everyone! This blog post may well be a little less than my usual coherent standard. This is for 3 reasons: Firstly, I have been working my arse off (for you US citizens that would be ass!) and have spent all day at the hospital today and got home really quite late having worked for over 11 hours without any kind of break at all (My goodness, I needed the loo when I finished!) Secondly, one of my cats has just had a steroid injection and is now quite whizzy! He spent most of last night howling around the house keeping me awake with his zooming! At one point he ran across the pillows during the night and ran into my open mouth - yes I was on my back snoring my head off! I could swear that he had just been in the litter tray!!! Blech! But to really ensure that I am not coherent, the present Mrs S has served me an extremely strong Margarita when I got home and I am pissed as a fart as I write this. Luckily for you, some of the puzzling details have been jotted down in advance! So I do apologise!

Tonight I am going to review the Silent E puzzle from Puzzle Master's Wire puzzle collection. This is one of the few of their collection remaining that is a reasonable difficulty level and does not have string. It is a level 8 (Demanding) on their 5 - 10 scale. I initially thought that this rating was a little high but having watched others try it, I suspect it is correct. It arrived in the usual very nice clamshell packaging with the card insert saying just that the aim is to remove the brass ring from the puzzle. The actual description says:
"Are you going to spin or show some spine and solve this puzzle? Use the "E" to get it done. Easy for some; not for others. Where do you fit?"
his, as usual, is not in the least bit helpful! The picture says it all - remove the brass ring!! This is a pretty decent size of puzzle - 17.1 x 8 x 5.1 cm depending on which way you arrange the pieces. It is well anodised and very nicely made. All of these seem to have the same problem that the brass ring gets quite discoloured but that doesn't interfere with the puzzling. Gabriel enjoyed it, having reviewed it here. No solution is provided and if you need one it can be downloaded from here.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Ball in Cylinder II

Ball in Cylinder II
A few weeks ago I informed the world that Jerry had a new version of his Ball in Cylinder puzzle. Very imaginatively he named it the Ball in Cylinder II! I have known that it was coming for quite a few months; in fact I had been told that he had a new design in his head shortly after I communicated with him about having solved the first one.

This dummy thought
the stick was part of it!
To save on postage, Jerry gave a little bundle of these delightful little puzzles to Allard to bring back from the IPP in Japan and a few days after Allard returned, I received my copy and quickly told the world.

My initial pictures posted included the little stick which came with it. It was so beautifully finished that I could only imagine that it was to be part of the solution! It was made of bamboo and even had a nice clear rubber cap on the end. Allard suggested that it may have only been for transport purposes and this was confirmed by email from Jerry! Yes I'm a dope! But it just looked so perfectly made! The whole thing is just superbly made - these puzzles are designed by Jerry and he then takes the design to a local metalworker who hand fabricates them for him. The hand-made quality just shines through everywhere. To mark it out as BIC II there are 2 grooves around the top and bottom as opposed to the 1 on BIC I. The finish is stunning, really nicely polished aluminium with all edges smoothed so as to have a slight chamfer and nothing sharp to catch yourself on. This attention to detail is the mark of a fine craftsman and a fine designer. In fact I would say that the quality is as good as the puzzles I have collected over the years from Wil Strijbos. Unlike the puzzles from Wil, the BIC II is also available in copper for a slightly higher price. I have to say the copper looks stunning BUT really gets tarnished quickly with the handling required to solve it - You will need to make up your mind which you prefer and maybe choose to solve it whilst wearing gloves or polish it regulalry! Thanks to Shane for the photo of a copper version.

Stunning in copper!

Found a ball? It won't come out!
Like the last one, no instructions are provided but it is obvious that the aim is to remove the ball bearing from within the cylinder AND understand the process well enough to be able to do it repeatedly. I had mentioned last time that looking in the hole in the top there is a nice shiny and rather large ball bearing which slides back and forth in a track. It is far too large to come out the hole. Huh? If it won't come out of the hole then how are you supposed to remove it? Dope again! Holding the large ball still with the bamboo stick whilst inverting and swirling the puzzle reveals quite a bit of noise - more than I would have expected for just one bearing in a track. Now the rather dense penny drops! There is a second bearing inside (at least one - can there be more still?) so I had to assume that it was the aim to remove the other one that was hidden deeper inside the puzzle. Then, having been told it was not needed, I discarded the stick - I was on my own with no tools!

Sunday 15 September 2013

Parallel Dimensions

Parallel Dimensions
Another disentangle net puzzle from Puzzle Master! Yes I am totally addicted to all puzzles but even going back to the beginnings of this hugely expensive adventure, I loved the challenge (and the price) of the wire disentanglements - although that very first batch of Livewire puzzles really did cost a fortune up front and then I also had to pay the customs officers. In fact, to this day, Mrs S STILL doesn't know what that set cost me/us!

Last week's review was a relatively straightforward wire puzzle from Puzzle Master's own range and I am gradually working my way through as many as I can get my hands on! This time, I can finally write a review of a puzzle that I have been carrying around with me more or less everywhere for over a month! This one is the Parallel dimensions, rated as 10 (Mind Boggling) on their 5 to 10 point scale and like the review on the product page, I can whole heartedly agree with that rating. It arrives in Puzzle Master's usual plastic clamshell packaging and simply has the pictorial instructions to remove the yellow coloured metal ring. It is a good quality anodised wire and the string and wooden ball and cube are nicely painted. My only criticism is that the large brass ring seems to get tarnished quite quickly. It is 9.5 x 7.9 x 1.9 cm in size. No solution is provided with it but it can be downloaded from here - you may actually need it.

For those of you with wives (or even husbands) with laser stares this is not a good one for you!! I now have 2nd degree burns (i.e. partial thickness) over the whole of the right side of my body after playing with it and jangling away for over a month!!

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Panic Attack

Panic Attack
Now I was going to review one of the latest Hanayama cast puzzles, the Cast Delta, but Gabriel got to it before me at the end of last week so I have put that one on hold for a while and thought I would delve back into the wire puzzles again. Today I am going to review the Panic Attack - one of Puzzle Master's own series of disentanglements.

I ordered this one because I wanted something a little easier than the level 10s that I had been trying previously. In fact I have been carrying one of them around with me (the Parallel Dimensions) for over a month now and have made no headway at all with it! I also wanted to try it because it bore a resemblance to the level 10 Eagle puzzle which I reviewed here and enjoyed immensely. I wanted to see how it differed and why it was considered easier. Panic Attack is a level 8 (Demanding) on the Puzzle Master 5 to 10 point scale. It measures 10.5 x 9.2 x 4.8 cm and is very high quality with the wire nicely anodised and the loop of orange twine nicely heat sealed. As with all of Puzzle Master's own range of wire disentanglement puzzles, it arrives in a clamshell package with pictorial instructions to remove the loop of string and the worded but not in the least bit helpful instructions:
"When having a panic attack, a person has to try to figure out the clues as to why this is happening.  You will also have to search for clues to solve the Panic Attack brain teaser"
Whilst you do need to think why it won't just pull off - this has nothing to do with panic! I actually prefer the original name (and description) for this puzzle given by it's designer, Kirill Grebnev, who also designed the gorgeous puzzle recently marketed by Hanayama, the Cast Harmony, which I reviewed here. It should not surprise anyone to find out that Kirill also was the original designer of the Eagle Puzzle which he called "Step in future". Kirill's original name for the Panic Attack was "Clear Heart", a much less macho name but definitely more evocative of the shape. It was designed in 2006 for submission to the IPP design competition and named because the aim was to remove something from the heart (sin? vice? string?) leaving one with a clear heart! Kirril's own rating is 3?s out of 5 which is the same as that given by the guys at Puzzle Master. At just $10 this is a nice easily affordable puzzle.

Gabriel reviewed it here and agreed completely with the rating. It took him several attempts before he solved it and was only able to solve it after returning afresh. He described it as a "perfect puzzle even if you are not crazy about wire puzzles". Beware his page has a photo and description of the solution. No solution is provided with the puzzle but it can be downloaded directly from Puzzle Master here.