Sunday 17 January 2021

My Intellect Is Not Big Enough For...

 This Most KongTastic of Puzzles

The Kong Puzzle
This post is going to be a cathartic admission of guilt/failure and I apologise to those of you who expect more of me. Way back in August I participated in the TwoBrassMonkeys' Kickstarter campaign for a chunk of extremely heavy metal. It arrived in October, beautifully presented in a small aluminium briefcase and recalling my abject failure playing with the prototype at the MPP in February I was determined that this would not beat me. They called this the Kong Puzzle and the last few are still available direct from them here.

I took my photos of the pieces and Mrs S hovered around with threatening comments about what painful or even fatal violence she would perform upon my person if I was to drop any piece of this and damage any of 1) the granite work surface, b) a kitchen tile or iii) the glass kitchen table we eat at and which I occasionally puzzle at if there are two many pieces to play with on an armchair. She did say that it was perfectly acceptable for me to drop things on my toes and break them! She is so considerate.

It is even more gorgeous outside the case
I did wonder for a while whether having a violent Scottish woman muttering dark imprecations at me was going to put me off in my puzzling prowess and I am tempted to blame everything on her. But let's face all know that I am a bear of very little brain and am generally quite rubbish at puzzling. Especially assembly puzzling (and packing puzzling and sequential movement puzzling and coordinate movement puzzling and...)

Meanwhile, my difficulty in solving this was rapidly made into a humiliation when quite a lot of my puzzle friends on Facebook quite promptly showed off their completed assemblies leaving me feeling ever more inadequate. I had my photo of the final shape and was all set to work it out. I counted notches and whilst this did sort of assist me a little in my understanding of piece placement (only a little bit), it did not really help me find moves to use. There is no key piece which means that the final move will need to be an insertion of a multi-piece assembly (?2 ??3 pieces or even more).

After Shane showed off that he had assembled it I redoubled my efforts! Shane is well known as a lock genius and a great woodworker but he is not well known for having a long attention span. To me this meant that Shane must have solved this in under an hour! Ok we are talking Shane here...probably under 30 minutes 15 minutes! There must be a system to it! I tried and tried to find a method nad persistently came up blank. Mrs S was very relieved to be proved correct in that I am completely blank. Another couple of weeks of play whenever I had some time was not helpful and I resorted to Burrtools only to realise that I couldn't work out how to program the cylindrical rods into it. I'd better put it away for a while to preserve the tattered remnants of my sanity.

More recently, whilst perusing Big Steve and Ali's website, I came across a page which I had not seen before - hints and solutions. I had a look and was gratified to see that they had typed up some hints without completely giving it away. I printed the hints off and when I went to look at them properly had a frustrating time reading text typed backwards complete with a reverse font (that really forces you to concentrate). I went through the clues one at a time in order not to give myself too much away at once. Erm, I needn't have worried about that - the first few clues can barely even be called clues and after that they don't really add an awful lot more. Still stumped!

Their final clue was a photo showing which are the 3 horizontal long sticks and their orientation. I was more than a little peeved to realise that all my earlier trials had not used any of those sticks in any of those positions. Sigh - I am so bad at assembly puzzles. I picked out the correct 3 and then tried to rearrange the others into place. I'd like to say that I managed to work the positions out but none of you would believe me and I don't blame you. I made lots of shapes that looked promising but certainly were rather difficult to hold in position whilst I added new pieces and always at the end had 2 or 3 sticks impossible to place. Several more hours of attempts and a rather hair raising near miss at breaking a tile and I was no closer.

I simply have no idea how to go about this sort of assembly puzzle! I can make a little progress by thinking about numbers of notches but then I am left with a huge amount of trial and error which I cannot keep track of. The pieces all are extremely similar and after 5 or 6 assemblies I lose track of what I have tried in which orientation. Yesterday evening I was reaching the end of my tether and finding the whole process no longer enjoyable - I was also running out of time to solve something for the blog today (I am sure that you understand that puzzling is something I struggle to find much time for at the moment). 

To my eternal shame, I had to click on their final link with step by step instructions of how to assemble the Kong. Even following said instructions proved rather tough in my weakened, frazzled state but finally after several months I had something to put away on display! Mrs S watched agitatedly as I moved it to the granite to take a photo:

Eternal proof of my shame!
It does look gorgeous on display which is just as well because the chances of me ever dismantling it are very low.

If any of you can tell me what I can do to find ways to assemble this sort of thing then I would be very grateful. I just don't even know how to go about it! I can assemble many 6 piece burrs but seriously struggle with them when they get to slightly higher assembly levels (in fact I have so far completely failed to assemble Brian Young's Mega Six burr - the hardest 6 piece burr ever designed)

Well! I can't do this one either!

I look forward to hearing from you all with your tales of success to make me feel even more useless and also expect lots of information on how to go about solving these sorts of puzzle with simple step by step techniques.

Stay safe out there everyone! It is really quite bad in most Western nations just now - infection rates are incredibly high with hospitals approaching breaking point (mine included) - now is not a good time to get seriously ill.

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