Sunday 3 November 2019

Taking Osanori to the Next Level

Belt Cube 3
I am extremely fortunate that Jakub (joint head honcho of the wonderful Pelikan puzzles) asks me to write reviews for him and thus gives me the opportunity to buy most of his creations a week or so early. About 10 days ago he offered me the chance to buy another bunch of puzzles by the incredible Osanori Yamamoto. As well as a review he wanted to know whether these would be best sent out as assembled (for dismantling) or disassembled puzzles (for assembly) and so you can blame me for the extra special challenge you will be receiving because I most definitely think these are a MUCH better challenge as put-together puzzles - and that is coming from a rather dense man who is rubbish at assembling things (I might have a problem with the new arrivals from Brian just posted on my Newstuff page.

This time, thanks to Jakub avoiding standard post and using UPS instead my delivery arrived in just 2 days! I immediately set to so as to try and avoid any delays in the release of the new toys to the puzzling community. These are a seriously challenging set of puzzles!!! It has taken me a while to solve them and get the review to you (and Jakub).

I began with Belt Cube 3 (my copy came with a gorgeous Purpleheart box and Wenge pieces but it will also be available with the reverse colouring). This takes the usual packing puzzle which we love so much to a whole new level of frustration and cleverness. With a box/frame and holes in it and a few simple pieces to be placed inside which completely fill the aforementioned holes leaving no gaps visible, we usually have to create a 3x3x2 shape inside which, despite such simple shapes, is quite a tremendous challenge. This time we have a 3x3x3 cube to be constructed and two HUGE diagonally opposite windows to put pieces in and then fill. There is so much space to use that I expected this not to be much of a challenge...Oh, how wrong I was!

I began playing with the pieces inside the box and got frustrated that they kept falling out of the enormous holes so moved on to assembling my cube outside it. Your usual play outside of the box reveals several simple shapes that can be used to fill the visible 2x2 cubes on opposite sides. Getting these 2 cubes opposite each other proved quite a challenge. I found a few possibilities quite quickly and began to try assembling them in the box. Oh boy! That doesn't work quite so easily! I spent a couple of days playing with this with my Bash Street Kids, Plug face on and amusing Mrs S before I had a very unexpected Aha! moment. What I realised was really very clever and just perfect Osanori - he has made a bigger better version of all the puzzles we have tried before. You really don't want to miss this one - the fact that it is beautiful also helps - it will look fabulous on display in one of my 2 (yes TWO) puzzle caves (Whack! Ouch!)

No clues here!
How gorgeous is that???
Not content with giving us one 3x3x3 cube in a box puzzle, Osanori and Pelikan have released another, even more difficult version, rather descriptively named W-Windows. My copy is made from Oak and Wenge:

This one will also be made available in Apple and Ovangkol. The name clearly comes from the fact that it has a nice cubic box with 2 windows in it (not the usual diagonally opposite holes) and two of the pieces have a definite W shape to them. For transport, I made an interesting storage arrangement which Jakub may adopt for sending these puzzles out. At least with this puzzle, the pieces don't keep falling out when you play with them because you WILL be playing with this one for a VERY long time! To my eternal shame, it took me a whole week! There are lots of interesting ways to fill the windows but filling two of them simultaneously is really really tough. Then when you have found all the simple ways of filling those windows, it becomes quickly apparent that you cannot get them inside the damned box. You can get one (occasionally 2) but definitely not all 3 pieces inside. Mrs S suggested after a particularly furious episode of swearing my head off that maybe I should rest for a while.

The W-Windows is a huge challenge (at least for a dimwit like me) and you will love it. Don't be tempted to use Burrtools to CAN solve it eventually but you really need to think outside the box before the solution will come to you.

2 filled windows
The Aha! moment is phenomenal when it arrives and then later when you try to disassemble it, there is an extra challenge...sometimes a piece rotates inside when manipulating the pieces which effectively makes it unsolvable until you realise this and rotate it back to the correct orientation. It is a fun additional dexterity challenge to disassemble the puzzle.

The final Osanori puzzle being released soon is a beautiful thing, Rattle Twist V which will be available made from Mahogany and Maple:

Sent out like this - pull the middle 2 pieces out
to get this
The Rattle Twist V is very reminiscent of the Wing Hanger and the King Box also by Osanori and produced by Pelikan and Tom Lensch respectively - I reviewed them both here. Like the other puzzles reviewed, it takes the older puzzles to a whole new level of difficulty and fun. The premise here is a frame with holes in it and a couple of complex burr sticks which need to be slid into position inside the frame but with an impediment to the sliding process making for a more complex dance of the pieces before assembly is complete. I would usually have preferred these puzzles as disassembly puzzles but at the Paris IPP, I was convinced by John Rausch that the best part of these puzzles is the assembly from scratch - as usual, he is right!

This puzzle is unlikely to be solved by simple trial and error, it requires first looking at the pieces and the frame and making a plan for how to go about it. A few false starts will teach you where the pieces can and cannot go and thus the dance begins. The level is only 8.2 (for disassembly) and thus is not impossible - I managed it in a single evening and ended with a huge grin on my face - the end result is lovely:

Solved it! Phew!
Osanori has taken the basic premise of his older designs to a whole new level and made them even more fun than before. These puzzles are not just more challenging, they are also full of Aha! moments and are definitely solvable as assembly puzzles - if I can do them then so can you! They will be available from Jakub and Jaroslav's wonderful site very soon.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend guys.

1 comment:

  1. When will they be released?

    Thanks a lot. George