Sunday, 15 November 2020

That Will Teach Me Not to be Too Confident!!!

Groove by Alexander Magyarics made by Brian Menold
Very busy again this week at work and not much time for puzzling. I attempted 2 puzzles and solved only one! I got a bit cocky and thought I could solve one of them pretty quickly and left it far too late - that will teach me!!!

Over the last year or so thanks to Jakub and Jaroslav's fascination with the oddly compulsive packing puzzle designs from Osanori Yamamoto I have found myself rather addicted to packing puzzles. NOT the classic "find a way to stuff all the blocks in a box" packing puzzles (although I seem to enjoy failing at those too - I've still not solved the Euklid for Nick). I have fallen for the rather more interesting interlocking type puzzles that involve only a small number of pieces to fit in a relatively small box but having to do it through a very limited entry hole.

I couldn't resist the recent releases from Brian which had 2 of these puzzles and of course. Brian's wood choices are astounding. The Groove puzzle above is a classic from that genre. There are just 3 relatively simple pieces to be fitted into a 3x3x3 cubic box which has a big "groove" cut out of the top (this groove also has a couple of interesting curly ends which make it even remotely possible to pack. Brian made a couple of different versions - all had this incredibly beautiful Spalted Tamarind box and my copy had Wenge pieces to be packed.

Many of these have the added challenge of requiring that the solution also completely fill the entry hole to the box. This added challenge can sometimes make the puzzle much harder or occasionally make it easier by giving a clue for the possible final conformation of the pieces. In this case, I was very grateful for the extra requirement as Burrtools reveals that there are 2076 possible assemblies of the piece into a cube shape but only the one with the holed covered is actually assemble-able.

Having spent some time chatting to Alexander, I decided to start with this challenge. Even taking the photo of the pieces had to be delayed - it arrived partially packed as you can see in the small picture above and having taken one of the pieces out, I was stuck! The remaining two pieces were locked inside. I could not for the life of me remove them. It took me until the following day to be able to remove them. I am not sure whether it happened in transit or Brian had been deliberately mean but one of the pieces had been rotated in the box and it took me nearly two hours to work out what was going on - I am really not very bright! Once the minor panic was over, I took my photo and set to work. Of course I did NOT go straight to Burrtools! I only did that just before writing this post. Starting outside of the box, I quickly realised that there were a LOT of cubic assemblies and decided to settle on looking for one that covers the interestingly shaped hole - there are 38 assemblies (again discovered just now) which will meet this particular criterion which already helps a lot. However my feeble brain had managed to find quite a few straight away and then couldn't keep track of them - there must be a way to reduce the potential solution set further. Luckily for me there is a very obvious limitation...the groove winds in a clockwise fashion which limits the orientation of the pieces for entry into the puzzle. Thank goodness for that! Another evening of puzzling and I finally had my assembled puzzle:

Thank goodness for that!
I love these packing puzzles so much because there is very little of the random trial and error that is usually involved with conventional packing puzzles. They require proper thought© and attention to the restrictions provided by the puzzle designer. I have quite a large collection of these from both Brian and Pelikan puzzles and am looking forward to yet more - they are terribly addictive!

Corner cube by Andrew Crowell (also made by Brian)
At the same time I could not resist the Corner cube - apparently Andrew Crowell (the master of the Turning Interlocking Cube) has branched out and moved into packing puzzles (this is apparently part of a series called the ARCparent series - how come I haven't heard of these before). My copy is absolutely gorgeous made with a Tigerwood box (look at those stripes) and Curly Maple pieces. The aim, as usual is to place the pieces in the 3x3x2 cavity of the box through the small opening in the top corner and again, the opening must be covered at the end. 

Silly me left this to yesterday evening to attempt (did I tell you that things are very busy in healthcare at the moment and I had not had much time recently?) I looked at the shapes of the pieces and thought that this would not be a particularly difficult challenge. After all, 2 of the pieces are just 1x1x2 blocks! Oh boy! How wrong could I be? I had become a bit blasé about these having solved so many of Osanori's similar puzzles. Last night I actually had a PROPER look at it and, to my horror, realised that there was something rather special here...the entry hole was not a unit size - it is 1½ units in all dimensions which seriously limits the ability to insert pieces or have one sticking part way out whilst you add another. OMG!

After nearly a couple of hours of play, I have to admit that I have completely failed! I have managed to get all the pieces inside once but not been able to fill the entry hole. I am beginning to wonder whether rotations might be required! Part of me hopes so but another part is screaming nooooo!

That will teach me not to get too confident!


Take care out there! There is little sign that the virus is under control yet. The UK might be reaching a second peak and hopefully come back down the other side soon but much most hospitals are struggling to cope and maintain even a fraction of their normal services. Many parts of Europe have horrific numbers and a hospital catastrophe going on. In the US the Orange Idiot has completely given up on looking after his people (surely what should be a president's primary concern) and the numbers being reported there are truly a nightmare scenario with 181,000 new cases and 1400 deaths on Friday alone - please be careful. Go out and about only where necessary, keep your distance from others (especially the elderly, the obese and the immunocompromised) and wear a mask.  There is NO excuse not to wear a mask in public - they do not affect blood Oxygen levels, they do NOT make you breathe in CO2 - if your breathing is worsened enough by wearing a mask, then imagine how bad it will be when you have caught Covid-19! You probably should not be out and about amongst other people! I wear a mask 8-12 hours a day - it is uncomfortable but tolerable.


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