Sunday 9 December 2018

Ixia Box - The Blind Leading the Stupid!

Ixia Box
At last! This fabulous beast has taken me months and months to solve! I can at least say that I am not alone in being befuddled by it - take note of this little clip from Allard's puzzling times:

The puzzle that I am reviewing today is called the Ixia box (named after the 2 flowers that adorn the top) and I saw it go up for sale on Juno and Yukari's Pluredro site (please note that it is now out of stock) and I duly ignored it because it's a box and I don't collect boxes. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! However, I saw it at the Midlands Puzzle Party in the spring and had a little play myself and did not get very far. What I did realise was that there are bits that come off and can be used as tools later on. In other words, it is partially a sequential discovery puzzle and I definitely DO collect those! Whatismore, out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of Mr Strijbos and Mr Coolen (the puzzle solving machine) working on it and getting quite excited at times. At the end of the MPP they had solved it and after a brief chat, they had me convinced that it would be a fabulous puzzle for me to own and solve. It duly arrived at the end of April this year and after catching up with one or two other puzzles, I set to.

It is quite lovely being made of Rosewood, Jarrah, Util, Bubinga (sapwood), Ebony and with metal parts inside too. The size is fairly reasonable at 144 x 94 x 84mm. There are obviously a number of parts that will slide and hopefully come off eventually but the shape doesn't give much away. The first thing one notices are the rather striking flowers on top:

Beautifully made flowers
The flowers can wiggle a little but not actually do much. All other items that look like doors or sliders have a teeny bit of play but nothing moves at all. Turning it over and giving it a shake reveals nothing so in desperation I grasp at straws...or flowers and they come off in my hand:

No wonder they would not rotate!
There are pins and magnets and the reason that the flowers don't turn becomes quickly obvious. Not being very good at boxes, I am at a bit of a loss for what to do next. Magnets!!! They must be there for a reason so I hover them over the rest of the box and get a sort of hint that there are other metal things inside but it's not terribly convincing...or terribly useful. Stuck already! Yep! I am stupid when it comes to boxes - Mrs S told me that I had my Plug face on. Attractive aren't I?
It took me another hour maybe to find the next move and suddenly I had a cavity. YES!!! I had solved a box. Or had I?

As cavities go it really doesn't look like much!
Finely cut grooves for a reason
Looking at it, I did realise pretty much straight away that this was only an interim stage and there was quite obviously more to go and presumably the main cavity still to be found. I spent another few hours getting not much further - inside the box there appear to be some CNC cut grooves towards the edges and they are obviously intended for some special use. Needless to say, I was only vaguely able to see these inside the cavity and committed the cardinal sin of cheating! I put my fingers inside and played with the grooves until something happened. Please don't be shocked - I am not a box person, I am not terribly bright and Allard had already done the same thing (go on - go back and read his review). Either way, what I had done did not feel very satisfactory so I put it all back and had a think©. Interestingly, this one time that thinking thing actually worked! I made some lovely discoveries and realised that opening the second door could be very elegant indeed. If you stuck your fingers in and pushed something then STOP THAT! Take them out and play nicely!

...And that's where I got stuck! For days, and weeks and months! Allard's review was published and I still had gotten nowhere! I wasn't handicapped by his so-called friends putting distracting things inside to make noises that were of no use whatsoever. I had a pristine puzzle and could find no way to open the final door to the main cavity. I worked on it off and on with no progress at all. I made some discoveries but could not formulate them into a solution and here we get to the title of the post.

A certain Ed has appeared at a few recent MPPs and has distinguished himself by singlemindedly sitting down and working his way through quite a lot of Karakuri puzzles and a huge number of puzzle boxes. He collects them himself and has developed quite a talent for solving them. This talent even included him solving the Ixia box without too much difficulty. Everyone at the MPP is very impressed by his HUGE........prowess! 

Why? Because he manages to solve a lot of very difficult puzzles despite being completely blind! Obviously, some of his other senses have improved as compensation and I reckon that he can actually smell a solution! I have been chatting to him on Facebook messenger on and off over the last month or so and we seem to share a very warped sense of humour and a love of Juno's toys. We also share the fact that his fiancé is a medic so he understands some of the stresses and maybe sympathizes with my puzzle addiction all the more. Ed gave me a very small clue at the beginning which, with me being very dense, did not help me at all. A few weeks later that was followed up with another, less subtle, clue. Hmmm! Nope!

Still not there so another whack on the head with a big clue just short of telling me the secret got me trying some new things which I was sure that I might have tried before but obviously not properly. Suddenly the cat shot off my lap as I shouted my success and Mrs S glowered at me for being noisy. I suddenly had a solved puzzle and a very big grin on my face:

Absolutely genius puzzle - only took me 8 months and a number of less than subtle clues to solve it!
Thanks so much, Ed! Great to have you as a puzzle friend!

Wow! This was an amazing odyssey. It took me nearly 8 months to complete this puzzle and my only excuse is that I am not very good at boxes, or sequential discovery puzzles, or other puzzles for that matter. But I do enjoy being puzzled and this one was a fabulous challenge. Unfortunately, it is not available any longer but if you get a chance to play with one at a puzzle party or see one up for sale at an auction then go buy it - you won't be disappointed. Juno's latest sequential discovery box/burr went on sale a few weeks ago and sold out completely in just a few days - my review will be coming soon.

It's a burr and a box and a sequential discovery puzzle
The "sequential discovery burred box"

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