Sunday 1 November 2020

Alexander Adds Longevity

Yesterday was my birthday - YAY! Another year older - BOO! Unable to go out to celebrate with Mrs S due to a global pandemic - BOO! Had to go to work - BOO! Taking part in a study to help with the pandemic - YAY! As part of said study, I had to take a Covid swab causing gagging and pain in the nose - OUCH! BOO! Had to have blood taken for the study - OUCH! BOO! But, at the end of the day, I spent a nice evening with she who is nice to me for one day a year. We had a curry at home and a very nice gin and tonic - it all ends with a YAY! This article is being written a day early because I will be working on the Sunday - BOO! It is about some wonderful toys from the Published Professor of Wood, Brian Menold and the very unique designer, Alexander Magyarics - YAY!

Today's puzzles arrived back in September - I couldn't resist adding them to my collection because 1 - I like to send Brian some of my hard-earned cash periodically, 2 - Brian uses simply glorious woods for his puzzles and 3 - Alexander is creating some really terrific challenges at varying difficulty levels and all really fun to play with. 

Shuttle is pictured at the top of the post and is simply gorgeous with a HoneyLocust box and fabulous Bolivian Rosewood pieces. As soon as I saw the Rosewood I knew I wanted it - the grain is amazing. This is a packing puzzle as you would expect from Alexander. He has adopted a similar theme to the amazing Osanori Yamamoto and taken a very simple box (usually with a 3x3x3 cavity) and created an awkward set of pieces which need to be fitted inside. Unlike Osanori, the challenge comes with the unusual shape of the entry hole into the box. It is more than a simple packing puzzle as it requires a large sequence of movements to get the pieces inside and then arranged in position. The Shuttle is slightly different from the prior incredibly tough Collator puzzle (which took me weeks to solve) because the aim is just to get the pieces inside the box - there is no need to ensure that the entry hole is completely sealed off. For this reason, Brian thought the challenge was easier. I probably would have to agree but it is still a damned good challenge - it took me days instead of weeks. I loved it! I have also realised that I didn't take a photo of the solved state and so will need to solve it again in the next few days. This has, of course, long been sold out but if you have a 3D printer then I suggest that you print yourself a copy right away - it's fabulous! 

Opposite 1 & 2
Also in that release Brian produced a pair of puzzles in one (I lurve that!) Opposite 1 & 2 - again, with a similar idea to Collator - using each trio of pieces in turn, fit them into the box through the pair of entrances and ensure that all the holes are sealed off. It was available in a number of different woods and I chose the Angelim Pedra Box with Mora and Madrone pieces - again, the grain is stunning! Brian said this in the description:

"Opposite 1 has two possible solutions to get the pieces into the box but only 1 of them will fill the openings with moves of 9.4.5. Opposite 2 has a total of 5 solutions for getting the pieces in the box but again, only one that fills all the openings with moves of 9.3.6."

I set to on this and had a lovely time finding the several different ways the pieces could be fitted inside the box. That part was actually not terribly tough. Finding the solutions that filled the openings (made awkward by having 2 pretty large openings on opposite sides) took me quite a long time - BLUSH it might have been a couple of days! The complexity of the pieces is a major factor in the solution as the way they can be inserted is very restricted. Again Alexander had kept me happily occupied for a long time, the Aha! moment is a delight! This time I did remember to take my photos: It doesn't give anything away to show them solved below:

Opposite 1 solved
Opposite 2 solved
Not a lot of difference externally is there?
So you will be asking, "how does Alexander add longevity?" I could hear you! A few days ago during one of our little FB chats, he told me that there are yet more challenges for these puzzles:
"Using the largest piece of Shuttle paired with any one of the others, create a symmetrical shape"

Oh yes! This was going to be fun and I am truly awful at symmetry puzzles! I still recall the many many MANY months it took me to solve the Symmetrick puzzle:

Symmetrick - make a symmetrical shape
It nearly killed me!
Over an afternoon off work, I found lots of symmetries and most of them were not quite right - they only had either rotational or reflection symmetry when viewed directly from above. If you look at the whole puzzle then on one layer there's an error. With a little back and forth of photos to Alexander, I finally found all the symmetries...two of them with each pair of pieces. That was especially fun. Definitely prolonged the life of the puzzle for me.

Then my next challenge was to use all 6 pieces of Opposite 1 and 2 and construct a 3x3x4 cuboid. This took me about ½ an hour. I did need a fair bit of help from the boyz.

I couldn’t have done it without them
Apparently there are 27 assemblies. I only managed this one. The second challenge is to create a 2x3x6 cuboid. So far this has beaten me (the boyz lost interest after finding one).

I love puzzles with multiple challenges (one reason that I collect sets) and if they are gorgeous then that helps a lot. I can’t wait to see what Brian and Alexander produce next.

Take care out there! Things are getting worse all over the world. I know that my hospital is chockablock full. Working patterns are changing and we don’t want to be looking at each other professionally, believe me!