Sunday, 6 May 2018

Perseverance Pays Off....

With a little help from a friend

Mrs S has gotten a little "miffed" the last week or so! In fact so "miffed" that the whiplash tongue was fully unleashed upon my person and quite a lot of Whack! Ouch!'s rained down on me! The reason for her ever-increasing ire? I might have "ahem" had a "little" splurge in the purchasing department. The cascade of new deliveries that arrived within a short period of time led her to ask me whether we had a) any money left at all? and 2) where I was going to put all of these new deliveries? It is true that my study currently looks like a bomb has gone off in it with puzzles and paperwork and journals absolutely everywhere with no obvious place for them to go. My big plan is a nice big set of display cabinets in a spare room - I have clocked what I need from Ikea and am ready to purchase them to solve ALL my problems!

Mrs S then questioned my puzzle manhood by asking whether I had solved all of the ones I had and then taunting me that I should go back to my unsolved ones and not buy any new ones! I sheepishly admitted that there were quite a few that I had not solved in several years despite many many attempts. I do keep returning to most of them and occasionally do manage to solve one. Here is a tale of one such event which occurred just this weekend.

Nearly a year ago (June 2017) the "Published professor of wood", Brian Menold, made a fabulous design from Christophe Lohe called Trenta. My copy was made with an Ash frame and gorgeous Mahogany pieces. When it arrived, there were 2 pieces held captive and the aim was to insert the third piece inside. "How hard can this be?" I thought to myself. and proceded to play with it and despite many weeks of play, failed completely! The 2 pieces in the frame are pretty loose and at least one rotation may have occurred during my fiddling. This was definitely NOT part of the solution and I might have rendered it unsolvable in the process. Every few weeks I would pick it up and play again with no result. A few people, including the great designer, noticed this puzzle sitting in my "currently playing with" pile in the living room next to my chair. Contributing to the mess, Mrs S would say with a laser burning stare!

Over the year, I have communicated with Chris and he has offered lots of encouragement and even suggested I send it to him to assemble so that I can proceed with it as a disassembly puzzle. Each time I have held off as I wanted to keep working on it. I was really amazed when he informed me that a friend of ours had even worked out a way using rotations to actually remove the captive pieces from the frame completely - however, I didn't dare try that at that time. Recently we have collaborated to purchase a bunch of puzzles from Aaron Wang (yes, I cannot resist good wire). He also sent me a few new ones from Bernhard and amongst them was a few gifts - a new prototype and a 3D printed version of Trenta in the assembled state for me to play with.

New wire from Aaron
New toys (incl Trenta)
From Bernhard
At last, I might have a chance to finally solve Trenta and in the process start to get Mrs S off my back! Whack! Ouch! Sorry dear. I did have a quick comparison of my copy with the one from Chris and realised that I had completely "buggered up" the start position and it was no wonder I had completely failed!

It was quite obvious that something was very wrong with my copy!
I proceded with a complete disassembly of mine:

Beautifully made! Maybe never to be assembled?
When I did this, it did occur as I made a number of fairly complex rotations that I might NEVER get it back together again but I was quite pleased with myself that I had managed it. Time then to go to work on the 3D printed copy. This started on yesterday evening in front of the TV and luckily for me, it is plastic and silent and the gently fuming Mrs S was not disturbed. I proceeded back and forth through the sequence in my usual way and got very stuck. There are a few paths but at each point, I came to a halt with no further moves possible. I was obviously missing something. If I was struggling with the disassembly then it was no wonder that I had failed at the assembly! After nearly 2 hours I found a, to me, VERY well hidden move and suddenly a new pathway was opened which progressively led to a solution:

Phew! That was quite a struggle!
I had gone back and forth a lot of times and was reasonably happy that I could repeat it. At that point, it was bedtime and I had to reassemble it and put it down. This morning, I began the day with a good gym session - Mrs S has told me that it may have been "for better or worse", "in sickness and in health" but it was NOT for "fatter or thinner"! If I get fat then she will certainly chuck me out and hence the frequent trips to the gym to ogle the babes, Whack! Ouch! Sorry! To achieve "the body less horrific". After my trip to the gym and a light healthy "not get me fat" breakfast, I went back to the Trenta so I could finish it off for today's blog post. Except I couldn't remember the sequence and had to work it out all over again. Damn! I am not terribly bright! That took me an extra hour of sweating and swearing under my breath. But at least I knew the orientation of the pieces inside the frame now and just had to work out the key rotational move(s).

You very nearly didn't have a blog post to read today! Working on the plastic copy, I tried to work out the moves to remove the captive pieces and for the life of me, I couldn't do it. There is one obvious easy rotation but as usual, this gets me nowhere. The correct move is unbelievably hard to find. I then moved to the wooden version and tried to insert the pieces to get the start position as shown above and....I couldn't do it! There was lots of swearing and for a while, I thought that I might just have to send the puzzle back to Chris for him to assemble. Mrs S began to laugh at me for all the muttering and my frantic twisting and turning. Ridicule from the wife was obviously what I needed because all of a sudden I found the required rotation. That move is incredibly hard to find and requires the pieces to be placed with tremendous accuracy and turned exactly so. There is no scraping and it is not tight but it will not work if not just right.

With the pieces correctly in the frame, it was just a matter of backtracking the original solution. Even that is not easy and I finally, after nearly a year of effort, had the puzzle solved.

2 fully assembled Trenta's
At last! The question now is do I dare disassemble it again? I think I must - the little voices are saying that I need to prove that it was not a fluke!

Thank you, Chris and Brian, for a fantastic puzzle. Thank you, Mrs S, for letting me live a little longer to tidy up the puzzle collection! Whack! Ouch! I wasn't being sarcastic, I promise! I will work on the backlog that has recently increased a lot! Whack! Ouch!

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