Sunday 14 July 2019

25 Years of Marriage Have Turned Me Into a LunaTIC!

LunaTIC pieces
Well, I survived! Friday was my 25th Wedding anniversary and despite everything, I have survived, more or less intact! She has threatened me with "serious words", significant violence aka a Whack! Ouch! and even mild murder (can you have a mild murder?) including an offer to burn my body on a pyre of flaming wooden puzzle pieces. She has you remember this?

Luckily I have hidden the matches since this famous moment!
To appease the wifely Gods, I purchased her some significantly beautiful (and expensive) jewellery and she seemed rather pleased with the gift. I even earned a few Brownie points for the nice things I wrote in her anniversary card. Unfortunately, in this household at least, Brownie points expire after just 1 week - GULP! Her gift to me? I have been sitting in the living room for a few months looking longingly at her gift to me but definitely not allowed to touch...A Berrocal Goliath puzzle sculpture awaits. Now I just need to find some time to play!

80 Pieces of beautiful polished brass

Today, however, I need to write about yet another of Andrew Crowell's designs, beautifully made by Brian Menold, the LunaTIC. The most recent batch of Andrew's designs have caused me a huge problem...I couldn't solve them! It took me weeks to finally dismantle the GalacTIC cube and then the reassembly was also a massive issue for me. As soon as I had solved that one, I moved on to another in that batch, choosing the LunaTIC partly because it only had 5 pieces. I sort of figured that if I am really REALLY bad at assembly puzzles then I should probably start on one with only a few pieces.

Brian had felt confident enough to send it out in pieces and both he and Andrew felt that it was doable as an assembly challenge - the descriptive blurb said:
"LunaTIC is another TIC with relatively few pieces, only 5. And with only 2 rotations, it would seem to be a good challenge for a new puzzler. But I think it will also challenge the rest of you too. I like the look of these woods with the darker, richer look to them. Made from Moabi, Padauk, Cambodian Ormosia, Wenge, Monterillo Rosewood or Lacewood."
He said it is a good challenge for a new puzzler! That would describe my skills very well so I packed it into my work bag and off I went. My workload has recently seemed to focus more on big high-risk operations with no breaks during the day giving me little opportunity to play but every time I had a few moments of downtime, I set too. I assume that I am not much different to most of you better puzzlers in that I start out by trying to work out how these pieces will all eventually fit together once complete. Usually, this approach quite quickly produces an awareness of what goes where but with this one, quite a few of the pieces will fit together in a number of orientations. Not very helpful...especially when I have something promising which looks great but then none of the other pieces can possibly fit in that group. Two days go by before I have worked out how the puzzle can form a cube shape! Damn! I am not very bright!

Having found the positions, it is obviously time to work out how they can reach that final resting place. I have previously taken a pair of pieces and put them together and then try to introduce a third and then a fourth and then... This time it fails rather spectacularly! I spend a week (which would be a LOT of hours) trying to find a sequence to introduce all the pieces in order. After trying every order I can think of, even being mathematically rigorous, I decide this ain't going to help me. Either I am being more than usually dim (which Mrs S would not argue with) or Andrew has been a sneaky Bastard! I developed the sneaky suspicion that this one would go together as 2 separate sub-assemblies - but which ones? Was it two 2s and a single or a 2 and a 3? If so, which pairings were the correct ones? Aaargh! Logic and thought do not come naturally to me! I worked on it for even longer than the GalacTIC and after 2 weeks I still had not managed to solve the damned thing. I had a sneaking suspicion that I was on the right track but was getting a little frustrated. I asked Mike, who has begun his own puzzle blog and who had posted about this very puzzle for a little hint. All I wanted to know was the pieces that are used in each sub-assembly. I didn't want to know (at least at first) what the sub-assemblies looked like. He replied very fast with a picture of 2 groups of pieces. I would love to say that this was a fantastic Aha! moment but all it did was confirm that I had been right all along. It also confirmed that I was being particularly thick - I had the pieces correct, the order correct and still could not manage it.

At least I knew that I did not need to go right back to the drawing board. The puzzling continued for another few evenings and suddenly, on Thursday evening, I had a huge Aha! slid together smoothly into a lovely little (5.7cm) cube.

At last! Nearly 3 weeks of toil in one puzzle!
The final sequence was absolutely beautiful! The fact that there are "only" 2 rotations in this puzzle and that the rotations are not the main challenge does not detract from it in any way - if anything, the new approach was a very nice refreshing change. The voyage of discovery and thought was a wonderful experience. Reading back over Mike's assessment of the same puzzle, we seemed to have gone through exactly the same torture and process - he just seems to be better at it than me.

The cube looks gorgeous in all those wonderful woods and I am torn now, as to whether I should store this in my shelves as a made-up cube or as pieces for future challenges. It won't take long for me to forget the sequence and then I will have a nice fun puzzle to solve as if it is new. DON'T tell Mrs S or she will stop me buying anything else!


  1. I don't believe the pyre photo is authentic. She would never put a black stain on that beautiful granite counter top!

    1. Plus that tiny pile of puzzle pieces would be barely sufficient to roast a hamster!

    2. You are quite right George! That is just the kindling pile which she will move out to the garden once it has been ignited. There she will have a MUCH bigger conflagration with me on the top! The wood would have been on the granite for a very short time and will not have left a mark.
      I have stashed the matches in a puzzle box! She will never get to them there!

  2. Kevin - glad you got the LunaTIC figured out - and glad I didn't spoil anything for you! Those last moves sure are fun and rewarding (and difficult)! As always - I appreciate the links to my blog too!