Sunday 28 September 2014

Not a box! A sequential discovery puzzle with a cavity!

It's a sequential discovery puzzle!
It is a standing joke amongst the puzzling community (mostly MPP guys but now some of the IPP guys too) that for someone who doesn't collect puzzle boxes, I do seem to have some absolutely stunning examples in my collection! My excuse is that they must always have some other puzzling aspect too and so I can classify them some other way! Why do I do this? It's to save my sanity and my bank account from total annihilation! I really have collected quite hard the last few years and upset Mrs S considerably with the sheer extent of my madness. If I was to completely give in and properly collect puzzle boxes like some others I know, then I might also have to pay for a divorce or, even worse, end up being murdered or buried alive! You and I (and more importantly "SHE") knows that starting a puzzlebox collection would end up with a massive expansion in my collection and I already have no space or money left!

Still not open!
Having said that I don't collect puzzle boxes unless there is another aspect to them, I can categorically say that I have learned from Allard and Neil - that when the Stickman (aka Robert Yarger) offers me something then the answer is an emphatic YES! I bought my first Stickman from a fellow puzzler 3 years ago - he needed cash fast and I had never tried a Stickman box so I resolved both situations without telling the present wife and the Perpetual Hinge entered my custody! It is stunning and sits above me as I write and to this day I have not managed to solve it! I'm pretty crap at puzzle boxes because I don't collect them - I do have the instructions for it but have refused so far to look at them! It remains one of the longest unsolved puzzles in my collection - at least it looks gorgeous sitting on the shelf taunting me! Last year I was offered the Constellation Puzzle Box and immediately said yes. Mine was one of only 2 made from Bloodwood and not only is it stunning but I actually managed to solve it! It only took me a week of hard work and I still don't understand how it actually works!!! I'm definitely not very good at this particular category of puzzle but I do try to practice as many as I can at the MPPs.

Stickman Constellation box in Bloodwood
Neil has taken to reproducing one or 2 of the Stickman puzzles and has adopted the nom de guerre of "Stickboy" - unfortunately at the last MPP, at which Neil was present, I was only able to afford to buy one Stickboy puzzle - I managed to finally obtain a stunning craftsman version of Iwahiro's ODD Puzzle and it is another of the very few puzzles that is allowed to sit in my living room. I look forward to more from him in the future!

The Stickboy's version of the ODD puzzle!
I had a minor heart attack when the latest Stickman was released! They are very limited edition and I heard the other collectors receiving theirs and Allard wrote a review. I assumed that I was not being offered one this time but I did contact Robert and was told that I had been offered one but had not replied yet. Hmmm! I might be getting old and senile but I am sure I would have remembered an offer for one of these! A quick visit to my spam folder and Aaaargh! there it was. Luckily Robert had not released mine to the public yet and a quick email back and an exchange of cash occurred and I was to be the proud owner of the latest Stickman puzzle - "The Pirate's Wallet Sequential Discovery Puzzle Box". Another reason to buy it...... not only is it sequential discovery but it also includes a puzzle lock! All made of wood! Now I DO collect puzzle locks and this is a puzzle in it's own right. In fact several of these went up for sale at the last Cubic Dissection auction and fetched a serious amount of money!

A wooden puzzle lock as a bonus with the puzzle
It had been sold separately
The chest is stunningly beautiful, made of Ambrosia Maple with Redheart straps, Yellowheart hinges and layered feet; the lock is also Redheart. It is an absolutely huge puzzle at 10" x 6" x 5" and should form the centrepiece of anyone's display! For me it won't fit on my shelf at all leaving me with some negotiation to undertake with "she who must be obeyed"!

Robert obviously doesn't want people breaking it during their solving odyssey and one small instruction is provided straight away! Don't try to twist the legs off:

Signed and dated with an instruction. I have number 23 of only 52!
Obviously the instructions should say:
"you're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off"   Go on! Follow the link!!!
On Robert's website it states:
"The lock to this puzzle “is the key”. Not only does this box’s hefty wooden padlock stand as a puzzle all on its own, but once solved, its disassembled mechanical parts must be used as tools and keys to open the remainder of this chest. 
This puzzle is of moderate difficulty to solve and requires a minimum of 33 steps to reach its two hidden chambers."
So my odyssey began with twiddling the front toggles - yes I know that would be too easy but you have to try! The holes in the straps are too small to allow the toggles to pass through! Sneaky man that Stickman! Next how about trying to open the padlock? Again the amateur in me puts the key in an twists and twists and twists - yep! That didn't work either! Time to use Allard's copyrighted thinking method! I'm not too good at that.

Toggles won't pass through the straps! But I have got the padlock off!
The very first step is really well hidden - it required me to notice something during my initial fiddling and then work out why there was a subtle change in the feel. Yes literally it is down to a subtle feel! Something changes during fiddling and there's no obvious reason why. I think I must have spent several hours on this first aspect alone and only by looking VERY closely did I suddenly see something! In retrospect it is obvious but the sleight of mind he used to make me look the wrong way prevented me from finding the path for ages. The padlock was removed but not solved yet! The next step was really easy and lulled me into a false sense of security! I had found something but had no idea how to use it or even access it! At this point it was back to the description from Robert! If you wish you can click the show button below for a minor spoiler.

What do I do with these?

I needed something that would fit in there - but what would go? A little hint of an idea led me to another part of the puzzle and what an odyssey on that small part alone!!! It is epic! After a few more hours I had a tool - specially designed for the purpose and I moved a little further on. I am not going to give any further clues for fear of spoiling it for someone else but let me just say that the next step is an absolute blinder! I have never seen a tool made for that purpose before and amazingly made of wood!

Allard said that he had managed to get into the inner sanctum in about 3 hours! Well my hat is well and truly off to him! He is truly a master puzzler! This puzzle took me days and days to complete! It was with a huge shout and a lot of joy when the lid came off and revealed the cavities within and fantastically all the inner workings are there for you to see and allows the amazed puzzler to see exactly why what he did worked!

Open at last!
After you have looked inside at the mechanism then the odyssey begins in reverse - I thought I understood it completely but it did take me a rather long time before I understood it well enough to close it back up again! I had a minor panic again when I could not get it to lock back up! It took me several attempts and looking at the mechanism before I could do it - Phew!

I really do wonder how Robert will ever manage to top this one - it is absolutely amazing and sits on the sideboard in our dining room to bamboozle any dinner guests who visit! I look forward to next year's box if I am lucky enough to be offered one! Thanks so much Robert - you are the master!


  1. If your puzzle has a cavity then it is time to head to the dentist! Sorry, you have fallen down the slippery slope and are now a puzzle box collector. There's no going back now!

    1. Aaaaaargh! Really? Noooooo!
      You might be right but I'm not going to admit it! At least I'm highly discerning in the ones I collect!

    2. Truth be told, I too have a few puzzle boxes, although I do not collect them either! I have a Japanese puzzle box with Mt. Fuji on the front that I bought in Japan after climbing Mt. Fuji. Also a Kamei Ribbon Box which my kids love. Then two Stickman boxes that Brian Pletcher put on Shapeways, but these two come completely apart and I consider them to be burrs. That's about it, except for a few exchange puzzles I have received. I am in the middle of the slippery slope!