Sunday 26 November 2017

Continuing my Pelikan Romp

Giegeldonk special version
Giegeldonk available now
You will be pleased (at least I hope you will) to read that I am feeling much better today! The pain is greatly improved after my operation and I am on much less painkillers and the really strong stuff is no longer clouding my already feeble bwain! I might even manage to solve something now.

Last week I wrote about 2 most unusual designs on sale at the New Pelikan Workshop. There are just 1 or 2 of each of those designs left just now so go get them whilst you can - you really will not regret it. At the same time that Jakub and Jaroslav released these they also produced some more "conventional" puzzles which I left until later. The Giegeldonk is a design by the extremely talented Klaas Jan Damstra which he made during a carnival week in Holland. It was named after the district that he lives in and began with the shape of the external frame. It is available in 2 versions just now (limited numbers left) Cherry and Padauk (right hand version above) or Elm and Wenge and I was really delighted when Jakub offered me a chance to buy a special one that he would not be selling to the general public - the left hand copy is Wenge and Padauk. I know that means I have 2 copies of one puzzle but it is gorgeous!

The Geigeldonk looks like a conventional 6 piece burr in a beautifully complex frame and initial play doesn't change this idea but there is actually very little movement possible at first. I think 4 of the sticks can move just a single unit along and that seems to be it. I was a little flummoxed for a few minutes before I noticed something special which led to something REALLY interesting. After that there seemed to be a lot of space inside but surprisingly little unlocking of the pieces. I love it when a burr doesn't just become a huge unstable mess with pieces that can move every which way. I always use my "back and forth" technique which lays down memories of pathways but does make it very longwinded if there are a lot of blind paths. After 3 rather big moves had been made and memorised, I could see inside and was surprised at how much space there was. It should allow me to plan an attack path through. BUT for some reason I could find quite a few small possible paths but nothing that seemed to go anywhere. I was stuck in this place for 3 evenings and becoming convinced that I had been wrong despite making what seemed like good progress. Finally I pissed off Mrs S by shouting aloud when I found a crucial move that had been hiding in plain sight! Phew! At the moment in my recuperating state, she is still being gentle with me! This might explain why I have managed to survive receiving 3 new packages of toys in 3 days this week!

Having removed the first piece, these puzzles usually get much easier after that but because of the shape of the frame here and the way the sticks seem to interlock with each other, the puzzle remains a challenge to remove each subsequent piece - even the last 2 pieces don't just slip out easily they require careful looking and planning to unhook. After 4 days of strife I was overjoyed to solve the puzzle and have the full glory of the level 51( revealed. At that point I had the very sudden realisation that all the 6 sticks were identical which was most unexpected as well as a delight to see:

A gorgeous frame and 6 identical sticks
The difficulty was partially explained by the fact that it is an 8x8x8 grid aalowing much more complexity. Interestingly I was able to reassemble this puzzle from scratch too. Part of it was sheer memory but also it seems to be a nice logical sequence to work through as long as one remembers the rough orientation of the pieces as they enter. I absolutely love this puzzle! It is one of the very best designs that Klaas has produced - just the right difficulty level. Get one now whilst the stocks last!

The Four Hands Puzzle
The final puzzle today is sadly sold out already, the Four Hands puzzle is another fantastic design by the amazing Ray Stanton who seems to specialise in coordinate motion puzzles of varying complexity. I have quite a few by him (made beautifully by Pelikan of course) and they are always a wonder to behold. Ray wrote the spiel for it on the site and said:
"This is called the ‘Four Hands Puzzle’ because even after you have figured out how the pieces should go together, it helps if you have four hands to complete the assembly. This is the most difficult puzzle in the series, and my personal favorite. Given the complexity of both the relative motion and the geometry of the pieces, I believe that this is one of the most complex coordinate motion puzzles ever made. The puzzle is difficult to fabricate because all the interaction between the pieces requires that very tight tolerances be maintained. The craftsmen at Pelikan did a great job as usual, and they created a really really nice looking puzzle with beautiful contrasting woods. Enjoy."
I first saw this in the design competition room in Paris. Ray had entered it and unfortunately it did not win a prize but several of us had great fun playing with it and scaring ourselves to death by its' sudden movements and bid for freedom! I recall my first play with it, I picked it up whilst standing at the table and casually pushing and pulling in various places. It took a few minutes before I had found the correct finger positions before very smoothly and VERY quickly it began to slide apart. I yelped and nearly dropped it on the floor!!! Scared me half to death - I read the name and counted my own upper limbs and thought there was a deficiency somewhere! Over the weekend I went back to it a couple of times and took it to just the point where a single piece would come out and then I would stop and reassemble. I never got the courage to take it any further in that room.

Push and pull just right and this happens
I was delighted when I got the chance to buy my own copy - if Ray says this is his favourite and one of the most complex coordinate motion puzzles ever made then I have to have one! Although I have to say that the Kamikaze Burr Limited Edition puzzle from Brian Young is pretty damned complex too! It also scared me half to death when I solved it - review is here. The Four Hands Puzzle is stunningly made from Wenge, acacia, padauk and purpleheart and turned to sheer spherical perfection. Like all of Jakub's "balls" the feel is wonderful! When I got my own copy I couldn't resist quickly having a play. With the humidity recently here, it was a little stiff but at least it didn't attempt to detonate itself like the Kamikaze burr and the version I played with in Paris. After I found the starting movement I took my photo and threw caution to the wind and just "went for it":

Nice pile o' pieces
I was quickly left with a pile of pieces and a bit of a dilemma! Unlike Ray and many other good puzzlers, I only have 2 hands and my brain power leaves a lot to be desired. I was very unsure whether I would be able to assemble it ever again! I did not dare ask "she who holds my recovery in her grasp" to lend me one or 2 of her own hands! I was going to have to force myself to work this out myself. I assembled the pieces into an order to allow me to see how they differed and was flabbergasted at the number of bevels there were:

Looks impossible! Anybody got any spare hands?
It took me 2 days before I had it back together and required both hands, a knee and the tip of my nose! I was certain that was not the best way to do it but at least I had assembled it myself and without endangering my life. After that I admit that I did look at the instructions that Jakub had sent out. Apparently there are just just enough mm available on certain pieces that it can be done with one pair of hands! Amazing! I did it several times after that and love it! It really is a masterpiece of geometric design and manufacture. I cannot wait to see what Ray comes up with next. If one of these comes up at auction then jump on it - you really don't want to miss out on one of the best coordinate motion designs ever.

There is a wonderful YouTube video on the Pelikan site from Tim Rowett showing off various IPP puzzles that may be available on Grand Illusions soon. At 2m 35s he shows the Four Hands Puzzle coming apart. I have added it below:

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