Sunday 7 February 2016

Fourfold and a brief MPP tale

Today will need to be a fairly quick blog post. I spent all day yesterday down in Birmingham at the 21st Midlands Puzzle Party and so really owe the present Mrs S some of my time this weekend. She has had me doing chores and the weekly shopping but has generously allowed me to write my weekend post as long as I don't spend too long. I don't want to risk a Whack! Ouch! or worse so this is a quickie (but still a good puzzle to be reviewed).

The puzzle pictured above is the Fourfold puzzle which I bought from Tomas Linden's Sloyd puzzle store. It was designed by Ad van der Schagt who seems to have been reasonably prolific in several puzzle areas. Puzzle Master have some of his burr designs and Sloyd have quite a few disentanglement designs. I picked this because it looked horrific with a very long string intertwining everything and because it was rated as 4 stars out of a possible 4 in difficulty by the producers - Eureka puzzles. I have had quite a few new disentanglement puzzles recently and have singularly failed to solve most of them. Either I have lost my mojo or I have picked out some seriously tough puzzles to work on! I took the Fourfold to work one day in the hope of finding a moment to have a play. Several of my colleagues were fairly horrified at the complexity of it and I expressed the fear that a very large knot may ensue which I might not be able to undo. But these challenges are sent to try us!

The aim of this one is to remove all the rings from the shuttle and then, of course, put them back again. The length of the string is usually an indicator of the complexity of the moves that you are expected to carry out so with some trepidation I started pulling the rings off the end of the shuttle to see what would happen. OMG! that wasn't a good idea - the string bundle gets very thick and very complex by the time the 3rd ring is off - backtrack quickly! Maybe they come off the other end? Hmmm.. more horrible tangles. Time to take a word of advice from my good friend and "piss taker", Allard - I needed to THINK! The rusted little grey cells slowly started into electrical activity and I remembered a long way back solving a puzzle with a similar topology. It required a rather fancy sequence - I should try that with this! I had a new configuration which seemed to be closer to a solution. Try it again? Why not! BINGO! First ring off and "clatter" second ring just fell off too. That was unexpected! Keeping going along those lines and I had:

My! That's a VERY long string! Plenty to hang yourself with?
My colleagues at work had been watching in amazement that I had managed to solve this beast in under 10 minutes. The moves seemed very complex but I would say to anyone who has any real skill with disentanglement puzzles, this is actually a fairly straightforward solution. If you are a beginner or this genre is not your thing then the level of 4/4 stars is absolutely correct.

After leaving the pieces for half an hour or so, I began the reassembly. It is certainly much harder to put back together because most people don't notice the exact alignment of the string during the disassembly. Getting 1st and 3rd rings on is trivial but the 2nd and 4th rings a real challenge and took me several attempts. A few times I carried out what I thought was the correct sequence but had a tangle of string in and out of the ring. Luckily it is obvious immediately that it is wrong and backtracking possible before you wander too far down that line.

This is definitely a puzzle for any enthusiast to own - at €12.10 it is a bargain - get it here. Well made with quality string and wood parts. This is a hallmark of the Eureka puzzles - they are simply beautifully made. If you are a beginner then good luck! I'd start with something easier but it is certainly doable by anyone with a little experience.

A little MPP fun

My MPP table - back right my latest acquisition
What did I take? Here's the list starting top right:
Pinburr by Jerry McFarland
Pincube by Jerry McFarland
Power Tower by jack Krijnen
Wish Cube by Johan Heyns
Racktangle by Tom Lensch
Convolution Ball by Pelikan
Little Portico by Pelikan
69 Puzzle by Frederic Boucher
Portico J by Pelikan
Mochalov ball by Pelikan
Rhombic triacontahedron twisty by Kickflip1993 on TP
Insanity cube by David Pitcher
Castle by Pelikan
3x4x5 iCube by Nathan Wilson
Halfminx by Rex Rosano Perez
Dual direction Chinese 99 rings by Mr. Wu Jianjang
Assorted wire puzzles from Mr Wang Yulong
Yesterday (6th Feb) was the 21st Midlands Puzzle Party organised as usually by the Maestro himself, Allard. It was a great day which I am sure he will blog about in due course. I don't plan on giving a full write up here because my age makes my memory very poor these days! We had a good turnout and I brought along a selection of my most recent acquisitions that I thought might be of interest to the guys. One of the first things I did after arrival and making a coffee (it's quite a long drive from Sheffield in the pouring rain) was to hand over a large wad of euros to the puzzle pusher himself! Mr Strijbos had joined us (along with Mr Coolen aka the puzzle solving machine) and had brought with him several copies of Rainer Popp's latest design:

Popplock T10 - brass and steel
Stunning workmanship
The Popplock T10 is a masterpiece of design and workmanship and has the most moving parts of any of his previous designs. Rainer suggests that you need paper to take notes during the solution process! GULP! I might be in trouble here! Some of the best puzzlers in the world have been working on these and many have failed so far. Even the puzzle solving machine that is Louis Coolen took several hours to open the lock! My friend Shane is a trained Locksmith, has a large collection of puzzle and trick locks and has even just released his own puzzle lock on to the market (sorry to tell you that they have sold out now - maybe one of your puzzle purveyors will provide you with one). Even Shane has failed to open it despite spending over 60 hours on it over the last 2 weeks. OMG - I don't stand a chance! So far I have noticed a couple of interesting things about it but that has not really helped me much yet!

The Wish cube that I gushed about last week received some deserved attention - Jamie went as far as to carry out the initial part of the solution to take out the tray. He didn't really have the time to do the rest and was distracted by other toys nearby. Everyone who saw it (mine or Allard's copy) appreciated the beauty, complexity and skill that went into it's production.

Hybrid nail and claw puzzle
Solved eventually!
Jamie handed me this puzzle which we had seen last year (several MPPs ago) and he had decided to make a couple of copies. I managed to make a fool of myself by taking an embarrassingly long time to solve it and then being unable to work out how to make the alternative assembly. In fact just before writing this, I took an embarrassingly long time to solve it again! Really not terribly bright!

Another friend who shall remain nameless attempted what I consider a relatively easy disentanglement puzzle and really struggled:

Single level Lucky Lantern
Eventually he handed it to me solved and sheepishly asked whether a certain move was deemed to be "allowed":

He had pushed the ring over the end of the shuttle!
Definitely NOT allowed. I showed him the reassembly using the correct moves and oddly he declined to try the others in the series - I wonder why?

I had a fantastic day solving a few puzzles that I know I will never get a chance to own (thanks Allard for bring your copy of the amazing Fairies Door Puzzle box by Mike Toulouzas which won the Puzzler's award at the 2014 IPP). I even managed to solve a burr with a difference - I am sure you will hear about that when Allard writes his review - I wish I had managed to nab a copy of that puzzle!

Right! I'd better get back a to paying some attention to "she who must be flinched from". I do want to stand a chance of going to another MPP in the future so had better behave myself and continue the chores she has set!


  1. And the T10 is.............. Still not open !! Great day. Cheers mate !

  2. Thanks Kevin, Fourfold is going on my short list. And glad to hear T10 is a b%$#buster. Should have mine in hand soon. Cant wait.