Sunday 5 February 2017

A Chomine and Pelikan Triumph is Coming Soon!

Sucrier by Stéphane Chomine
For those of you who follow me on Facebook you will have seen that I received a few packages over the last 10 days or so. The first set I showed off on my New additions page. Jakub and Jaroslav have been very busy in their "New Pelikan Workshop" and are in the midst of a production run of wonderful new puzzles from Stéphane Chomine, Osanori Yamamoto and Lucie Pauwels. Jakub has given me the opportunity to buy the set in advance to have a play with and write a review - let me say that you will not be disappointed with these as they are fabulous. Today's post is a review of the first 4 of these puzzles. Stéphane seldom puts his new designs on Ishino's site now and so it is always a fantastic surprise when some new designs get released to the world. When Jakub told me about them I jumped at the chance to buy - very occasionally I have said no to one of his puzzles and have always regretted it afterwards (yes I should have bought the How?Box designed by Peter Hajek and fabulously implemented by Pelikan but I turned it down as I don't collect boxes to allow someone else the opportunity to own it - damn that was a stupid thing to do!) This time I didn't hesitate and said yes yes yes to the lot!

When they arrived Mrs S showed the rather huge cardboard box to me and tapped her feet in disgust - "where are you going to put these?" That is a very good question as my study is now absolutely choc-a-block with new toys and I have nowhere to put them just now. The packing puzzle will just have to get a bit tighter!

I'm going to start off with the Sucrier burr puzzle (it is the 4th one I tried but is the easiest of them). It looks like a straightforward burr with 4 sticks in a square ring frame but there is a hidden delight which you discover early on during your exploration. It is stunning with burr sticks made of Wenge, Padauk, Purpleheart and Acacia with what looks like a Mahogany frame. The first thing that jumped out at me apart from the colour was the delightful rounding of edges rather than standard bevels. It makes the puzzle really tactile - a wonderful thing to hold and play with.

The burr sticks have protrusions!
Within a move or 2 I discovered that the burr sticks are slightly more complex than expected - they had protrusions that stick through into the ring. In the photo above 3 of them can be seen sticking out the sides. Then I realised that the square ring consisted of 2 rings which can slide on each other. I adore puzzles like this - there are a few early blind ends but not enough to get you lost in the solution. With a solution level of this puzzle is a perfect introduction to burrs. Everything is perfectly smooth and the pathway through to the removal of the first piece is a delight. I had seen on Facebook that another friend had received copies and he really enjoyed this one like me! After the first piece comes out there will be a lot of possible movement but a nice pathway to the next piece removal is quickly found. After about ½ hour I had this:

Notice the protrusions out with the 2x2 girth of the sticks
I am not particularly good at burr reassembly and after scrambling the pieces and leaving them a while I would usually expect to have to resort to Burrtools for a reassembly however this puzzle is just so logical that reassembly is just as much fun as the disassembly. Despite being one of the easier burr puzzles that I have bought recently, Sucrier is actually one of the most fun to play with - nothing is hidden and the exploration is wonderful!

Campanus looks very similar in general shape to previous puzzles by Stéphane and Pelikan - look at the puzzles I reviewed here and you will understand. The amazing thing with Stéphane is that he seems to create puzzles that look remarkably similar but with totally different solutions. I absolutely love the contrasting Wenge and Padauk with the usual perfect finish. My initial seconds with the puzzle were fun as nothing moved at all, in any direction! Yes! I need to improve my eyesight and yes! I need to improve my brain! Interestingly there is a hidden piece which is very well disguised. Once that is discovered then you are on your way....lots of sliding pieces back and forth and using that hidden piece as a rail to get things into position. The fascinating thing here was that the stated solution level is just 21. A single number? Once the first piece is out then all will come clear. The picture below will give a clue why there is only a single digit level:

Can you see why there is just a single level of 21?
Again, this puzzle is not difficult but it has a fabulous sequence and a couple of lovely Aha! moments during the solve. It is perfect for someone new to burrs as well as seasoned puzzles (like me). It also is another puzzle that is perfect as an assembly puzzle - scrambling the pieces and attempting reassembly is pure logic and can easily be worked out from scratch. So if you want to do a "Laurie" then this would be a good one - get a friend to disassemble it and see if you can just put it together.

Proteus was the second puzzle from the batch that I tried - it is absolutely gorgeous in Walnut and Purpleheart and at first sight looks like a simple 2 piece burr in a ring puzzle and I am ashamed to say that it took me quite some time (3 days!) to dismantle it. At first the 2 burr sticks move aside nicely and then stop. Nothing further is possible - at that point having scratched my empty noggin a bit I made the delightful discovery that there are actually 4 burr sticks - the visible ones are 5 voxels high and within their shelter are another pair just 2 voxels high. Having discovered this I was able to explore how to separate them. I got another 7 moves and again hit a wall! I couldn't go any further. Back and forth I went trying to find a move that I had missed but nope! nada! nowt! for 2 days. Not terribly bright! Eventually I found a beautifully hidden move and could continue my passage. Once this had been discovered a lovely dance of the inner and outer pieces ensued and it came apart:

Pieces fit inside other pieces
When this one came apart, 2 pieces fell on the head of the cat who was fast asleep on my lap. He got a fright and shot off spilling the puzzle on the floor (also reminding me that I need to clip his claws again - OUCH!) I scrambled about and picked the pieces up and of course couldn't remember where they had come from or the starting orientation. As you can see they are very similar. It would seem to be a theme with this release of puzzles that the reassembly is just as much fun and just as good a challenge as the disassembly. It took me the whole of the rest of the evening to work it through but it can definitely be done with a litth thought, exploration and a little memory. It looks so simple in the design but is actually a wonderful challenge due to the hidden nature of a couple of moves.

The final puzzle for today's blog post is the Confluence puzzle. Yes it is another puzzle with a ring frame (possible 2 or 3 at first sight) containing burr pieces. The contrasting colours of the Wenge, Purpleheart and Padauk is stunning and the CNC engraving finishes it beautifully. The first moves come as a bit of a surprise and they open up the centre to lots more possible moves and exploration. I initially thought that there would be a simple swapping the burr sticks around and out they would come but it took me a while to even find the hole through which they could exit. Having done so, I really struggled to move the sticks towards it because the moves were always blocked by protrusions on the sticks themselves which interact with the ring frame. I had a wonderful Aha! moment early on and thought I was well on my way as a stick moved extremely close to the exit point but nope! Stéphane wouldn't make it so easy. I spent a day trying to find a way to remove the first piece and was blocked each time but luckily I was able to return to the start fairly easily. After 2 days I had a breakthrough and my first stick was out - it was not the one I expected either! I thought the rest should be quite easy now as there was so much more space to play with. Oh boy was I wrong about that! I spent another 2 evenings desperately moving sticks about and failing to get them anywhere near the exit. Was there another exit? I couldn't see one. On my 4th evening playing and with Mrs S getting ever more upset with me "effing and blinding" under my breath, I suddenly had a revelation - that was one of the most beautifully disguised moves/positions I have ever seen. It should have been in plain sight but is soo easy to miss that I had missed it for 2 days. Having found it, I was well on my way and it was solved:

Simply the best!
I absolutely adore this puzzle - there is just so much to explore and so many unexpected moves. The reassembly had to be done first with Burrtools. The second and third attempt at this puzzle has shown it to have plenty of repeatability. There are quite a lot of moves which I just cannot seem to remember and it remains a challenge even though I know where the hidden position should be. The second time I even managed to reassemble it without Burrtools and that really made my puzzling day.

All 4 of these are wonderful in their own right. My favourite is Confluence but the others are great fun and well worth buying. Jakub will be updating his site soon with all of these for your delectation and delight.

What else did I receive in this bountiful puzzling week?

I'm not ready to blog about them yet but after Mike's fabulous guest post for me last week, I could not resist going to Tomas Linden's store to buy some more puzzles including the fabulous goodies that Mike reviewed. Of course, I couldn't just buy 2 or 3 wire puzzles I had to buy a good few and Tomas was kind enough to send me a couple of gifts too. Have a look at my New Additions page to see what I bought and go have a look through the site - there are loads and loads of disentanglement puzzles at all levels to play with. I also received a copy of Shane's latest torture device which he has named "Laurie's puzzle" - Allard reviewed it here and I will wait a while for my review so as not to bore you with the same puzzle.

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