Sunday, 5 January 2020

There's a Right Way and a Wrong Way

Secret Burr
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all enjoyed my New Year's Eve post with my top 10-12 or 13 (or maybe a lot more) puzzles of the year? It was a fun one to put together - do you agree with my selection? Do you think any of the puzzles shouldn't be in there at all? Let me know by commenting below the post. For the first post of the new year (indeed the new decade) I will be starting slowly and gently with a nice little review of a gorgeous puzzle made by the Doctor of wood, Eric Fuller. The Secret burr is a remake - Eric has kindly agreed that there are a few classic puzzles that he (or others) have made over the years which many newcomers to the puzzle world have never had a chance to play with or buy. This puzzle is a design by Marcel Gillen (famous for the Chess pieces which have been reproduced beautifully by Hanayama - still available individually here). The original version of the Secret burr was made in very limited numbers back in 2002 (way before I got into puzzling). Of course, I cannot resist a beautiful burr and the description sounded very intriguing:
Unique in that it's difficult in both assembly and disassembly, there are two locks inside the burr that interact much like Cutler's Ball Bearing Burr. Instead of steel bearings, Secret Burr uses small wood rectangles
How can anyone resist a burr that has two separate hidden locking mechanisms? I had solved Allard's copy of the Ball Bearing Burr at a recent MPP and had found it interesting but not terribly difficult and wistfully wished that I had bought a copy. So when Eric released these to the world, I jumped...quickly! I might also have bought a copy of Oskar's paperclips too (I have been trying to buy a copy of this one at auction for years).

I just couldn't resist another of Eric's re-releases!
Oskar's Paperclips
I am a sucker for gorgeous wood and there were a few varieties of the Secret burr available - I immediately homed in on the Bloodwood, Sapele and Walnut which is stunning (only 13 copies of this were produced) - there are still a couple of copies of the Cherry, Walnut and Figured Maple version still available as I write.

This one arrived just before Xmas which helped defuse Mrs S' ire at yet another puzzle package. She knew that she was going to receive yet another nice handbag for Xmas and couldn't complain at me receiving a few small splinters of wood too.

I set too immediately after our evening meal on Xmas eve (it is our tradition to have a classic swiss fondue which gives me a wonderful cheese buzz - Mmmmm!) I was almost disappointed that within a few seconds I had managed to remove the first piece without really doing much more than wiggle it all about a bit:

2 very interesting locking pieces
I had no idea how the puzzle locked, so I put it back together again and fiddled to lock it and then tried to work out what I had done to unlock it. Every time I had done it with just wiggling - that CANNOT be right! Eric (and Marcel) doesn't do puzzles that open randomly. I was doing it the wrong way.

I kept the first piece out and explored the way it had been locked and, with a bit of turning about, I found a second set of locking pieces. Now that is very interesting...a small thought started to brew. I wonder whether the 2 mechanisms might interact in some way? What if I do this? Followed by this?
AHA!
Now that is rather clever! There is definitely a right way to solve this puzzle and it takes just a bit of thought to work it out. You cannot avoid solving it the wrong way first because that gets you enough information to then work out what should be done. If you have bought a copy then make sure that you don't just disassemble the whole thing after the initial random removal of the first piece - take the time to explore the 2 locks that Eric described. They interact and it is that which is the real puzzle here. Once you have worked it out then go ahead and completely dismantle the puzzle, scramble the pieces and attempt a reassembly. Even this is not terribly tough but is still a lot of fun.

A 13 piece burr - or is that 17 pieces?
I am certainly delighted that I bought this remade puzzle. Eric has done his usual masterful job on the pieces and his choice of woods is fabulous. Remember that he has a couple of copies still available just now. This is not necessarily a puzzle for people seeking a high-level burr, it is a puzzle for people seeking a nice exploration and a bit of thought about how it locks together. There is the easy way (which is wrong) and the right way which is beautiful. Thanks mate!

Hopefully, 2020 will bring a whole lot more fabulous new toys - I am expecting a delivery from Juno to arrive tomorrow which will include his first sequential discovery puzzle of the year (still available for the moment). Although even if there are no new puzzles this year, I have a fairly large backlog to get through anyway!

Once again - Happy New Year to you all.


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