Sunday 7 December 2014

So 'painful' that my brain 'ruptured'?

It's Painful by Yavuz Demirrhan!
Many of you crazy puzzlers out there will be well aware that there has recently been considerable clamour by the puzzle purveyors to separate us from our hard-earned cash. There have been 3 auctions, Wil willed us to buy something, there was a further outbreak of Cubic dissections and then we all "wondered" how Brian Menold did it. Sorry about the puns! Now, having had a small hiatus from purchasing, I came back with a vengeance and managed to obtain something from an auction and from Wil, my twisty craving was fed and then I topped it off with some more wooden beauties.

I couldn't afford a copy of everything unfortunately (as I know some of you out there are prone to buying the whole lot!) so I tried to be selective and get what I thought might be interesting and/or beautiful.

Starting with this gorgeous piece from Brian Menold - he has recently become a full time professional puzzle maker and is gradually expanding his repertoire and using more and more beautiful woods. The quality of his work is now up with the very best and I chose just one from him this time. I had to make do with only the one for purely financial reasons - I would have bought several had I been able (yes they are THAT good). Yavuz Demirrhan is one of the most prolific puzzle designers in the world now (with 388 designs on Ishino's site). He is a good friend who specialises in interlocking puzzles with very unusual shapes and solution sequences. I adore the burr puzzles that are being designed by Alfons Eyckmans and Stephan Baumegger but Yavuz' designs are really different - he tends not to go for the really high level solution - the aim is to make something interesting. I have quite a few of his puzzles now and I have never been disappointed. It was tough to actually settle on just one but out of them all this had the nicest combination of woods and interesting shape with medium difficulty level.

Another Menold beauty
This is a BIG puzzle at 3" x 3.75" x 3.75" and is made of a Canarywood split frame and the two burr pieces are Redheart. It has been finished perfectly and positively gleams in the light. Mrs S immediately exclaimed how beautiful it was and said that it could stay on display in the living room. Once I regained consciousness from my faint, I made plans for where to put it - I think it might be nice next to the L in cage which is already in that room! Do you think I might be finally managing to get her trained? OUCH!!!! Sorry dear!

So why might it be called painful? I was wondering that myself - the level is not particularly high at 14.5.3 and there are not lots of pieces to confuse you. The description on Brian's page simply says to
weave the 2 burr pieces through the 2 piece frame.
My initial exploration quickly found a dead end and then found the obvious correct pathway. More small dead ends revealed themselves but never particularly deep and so I carried on about 8 moves to this point:

Stuck here for so long it was "painful"
 At this point it really looks pretty precarious and that the protruding burr piece should just fall out. I got stuck here - I could not for the life of me work out what to do next - it sat and taunted me for a couple of days. I kept backtracking in the hope of spotting another pathway but always ended up here. After a couple of days, I was forced to try and be logical (not a natural phenomenon for me!) and I peered hard inside to see what was stopping the moves and suddenly I realised I had been focussing on the wrong piece completely. I worked out what the next move should be in my head and tried to put it into action and at this point I realised just how good Brian's workmanship had been. The required movement was only possible with EXACT perfect alignment of the required pieces - the fit was spot on to a tiny fraction of a mm!

Having managed that special move, I still and quite a lot of weaving of pieces in and out before the first piece came free - much to my surprise, the piece that actually was released first was not what I expected! Even releasing the next piece took a good bit of fiddling about. I love it! It will stay on display and be played with regularly - Thanks Brian and Yavuz!

Only 4 pieces but still very 'painful'
The next puzzle is called Rupture and was designed by another friend of mine, Dan Fast (aka CrazyBadCuber) and beautifully made by Eric Fuller. Eric has released a huge slew of puzzles recently and they all sell very fast but some are still available (including a few copies of Rupture). I had previously bought a similar puzzle from the same duo and had really enjoyed the fresh approach so I immediately added this to my shopping cart when the store opened.

Rupture by Dan Fast
This puzzle is a diminutive beauty compared to Painful above as it measures only 2.25" in each axis. The frames are made from Maple & Walnut and the burr sticks from Yellowheart & Paduak. Eric claims that it is aptly named:
it's very difficult and may rupture your brain!
The difficulty level is a moderate 21.7 which really does mean that it will be a challenge. The four internal burr pieces interact with the three looped cage pieces to create a series of gates and there are definitely a few short dead ends thrown in to confuse you. I solved this during the week and it certainly took me a while to disassemble the first piece. There is a lot of movement of the frame pieces (independently of each other) as well as all 4 burrs in different directions - I actually found the removal of the first piece a lovely little voyage and then really struggled to get any further. There is a huge amount of movement of the pieces once the first has been taken out but despite feeling quite unstable, it holds together very nicely. The removal of the second piece took an extra half hour and came as a surprise to both myself and the cat whose head it fell on! and after that the other pieces came out reasonably easily:

Stunning precision and such simple pieces for a very pleasant puzzle
Reassembly proved a problem - yes my brain ruptured! I had a fair idea of how it had disassembled but unfortunately I could not recall the specific orientation of the pieces (especially the ones that dropped out on the cat) - I could not, for the life of me, accomplish it. I tried for an hour or so before giving up and resorting to Burrtools. I don't mind this failure because the making of the burrtools file is part of the fun for me. I intend to keep disassembling and reassembling until I finally get it in my head.

Gobi by Alfons Eyckmans
I had read the story of Goetz' solution of Gobi (designed by Alfons Eyckmans) on his site. This puzzle is a 12 piece burr with a man shaped piece (and his camel!) captured inside. The aim is to make the man walk around the Gobi desert until you release him. I love these burrs with figures inside and have a few already - how could I resist another? There is a LOT of movement in this burr and I expect it will take me many hours to solve - especially as it is level! Level 15-30 is about the right level for me to provide a nice challenge without being disheartening. Although, having said that, I have been working on the level 24.14 Clamps (also by Alfons) on and off for nearly a year now without success! Sigh! I'll get there eventually - but it's certainly good value for money!

I just can't seem to solve it!


  1. Yipes! My eyes are smarting just looking at that gorgeous wood.

    1. Yep! How could I possibly turn it down? As soon as I saw it I just had to have it!!!!

  2. Kevin, very nice it the wood or the photography?

    1. It'so the wood Jerry. I boosted the saturation a tiny bit but it actually looks that gorgeous!

  3. Brian Menold's are almost too good looking to actually solve.

    1. I know what you mean but all puzzles must be solved!