Sunday 7 February 2021

Aleksandr Terned My Head...Again!

Ternary Pin Burr
My Russian friend Aleksandr Leontev is another king of the N-ary puzzle (alongside Namick Salakhov) and when he emails offering toys my brain just starts to dribble and I immediately hand over cash. You see, I just love N-ary puzzles - some might say that they aren't really puzzles but I argue that if you need to explore a sequence to discover a logical sequence of moves then that is the very definition of a puzzle. Plus if one of the best puzzlers in the world, Goetz Schwandtner, collects them, solves them, writes about them and catalogues them, then they are certainly going to be good enough for me.

Ternary burrs
Initially I had just been wanting to add to my collection of Ternary burrs - above is Eric Fuller's reproduction of the Ternary burr (designed by Goh Pit Khiam and originally made by Brian Young) and alongside it is the wonderful extension to it "designed" and made by my genius friend Derek Bosch. Whilst I always prefer wood, there is definitely something special about the plastic ones too. This little collection got me thinking about other puzzles I had that may belong with them - how many Ternary puzzles in my collection? I found quite a few with the help of Goetz' site and even managed to find a good few of them (there are a few missing in action because I have them stuffed into chests of drawers and not on display).

As many Ternary puzzles as I could find
After placing my order with Aleksandr, it only took a week for it to arrive and then it sat around whilst Mrs S quarantined it in the porch and then I needed to find time to play. Yesterday I was forced to write our on call rotas a week early because I'm an eejit and put myself down to work next weekend when I would normally have written it. Luckily catching everyone by surprise with an early rota meant I had less requests to contend with and it took quite a lot less time than usual. I was therefore able to play afterwards and only fell asleep once during my playtime.

Grooves give a hint
First few moves
According to Puzzlewillbeplayed, the N-ary sequence for the Ternary pin burr is 162 moves long which, by the standards of Aleksandr's previous puzzles, really quite short and very pleasant. In just a few minutes I had the sequence worked out and completed with a piece falling onto a cat's head (he barely noticed - another advantage of plastic puzzles):

161 moves done
N-ary pieces removed
At this point I had a little blow to the head! It occured to me rather stupidly to try and look inside. This didn't end well as the pieces move against each other very smoothly and easily under gravity alone. I turned it out of the horizontal orientation and peered inside just in time to watch several pieces drop out onto the cat (who began to pay attention). I desperately tried to prevent them from falling out and dislodged several more and it became very unstable and collapsed in a heap on the cat who ran off my lap with rather sharp claws - OUCH (but no Whack!) scattering pieces everywhere. Oh boy! Now I had a REAL puzzle on my hands:

What was I thinking?

Ternary burr pieces
With the previous Ternary burrs I was able to dismantle them slowly and organise the pieces and learn the (dis)assembly method but here I just had a whole bunch of bits and only the vaguest idea of what goes where. First of all I had to separate them into types and take a photo - then it was going to be time to Think© which may hurt quite a lot! 

Mrs S told me I had to stop last night and then it was time for bed and then it was time for breakfast and blog post writing - this puzzle currently sits on the Kitchen granite nicely ordered and taunting me - can I put it back together? I am sure I can do it if I enter all the pieces into Burrtools but am not so sure if I try and use my very small tired brain! I'll give it a go and report back next week:

It may stay like this for a while...unless the cats get to it first...
It may end up partially under the fridge!
This was my first puzzle acquisition of 2021 - if this continues then I'm hoping for a VERY good year!

I have finally received my second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and am hopeful that this will allow me to be a bit safer and certainly prevent me from reinfecting Mrs S as I did in June. She was not impressed with the size of my viral load!

Stay safe guys - it's improving out there but nowhere near what we need to allow us to relax our vigilance.

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