Sunday 14 February 2021

Man! That was Fast! Man! That was Good!

Man! I was Fast and Man! I was Good! 🤣

Just a quickie again this week - I had to work yesterday yet again (unfortunately I missed another Zoom MPP) and when I got home we had a boiler catastrophe and no heating in the house (not going to be fixed until at least Thursday 😱😱😱) and this required multiple attempts to reset the boiler (failed) and then a mad scramble to source some electric heaters. Mrs S is grumpy/angry at me at the best of times - if she gets cold then I am in serious trouble! My only hope is that she freezes to an icicle quickly before she has time to murder me! Some one suggested on Facebook that I cuddle Mrs S to keep warm on Valentine's day - OMG - that is a dangerous thing to attempt!

At the top of the post is a statement you don't read on this blog very often! I pretty much never claim to be good at puzzling. At best I think I am sub par and at worst bloody awful at puzzling. I do wonder why I keep torturing myself with these things? It may be something to do with the eternal love of wood (a boy can NOT have too much wood) or maybe the fabulous community of puzzling folk who provide support (although mostly to me they just take the piss).  There definitely is something that keeps me buying these wonderful, ever more expensive toys.

So why those extravagant claims? Well, Brian Menold put some wonderful new toys up for sale on his site 2 weeks ago and I was mesmerised - they are just so beautiful and I might just have spent rather more than I should have. I couldn't resist it and in my defence, these were just the second puzzles I had bought this year after Aleksandr's wonderful Ternary pin burr I reviewed last week. Considering that it is the middle of February, I am telling Mrs S that I have been very controlled - she doesn't need to know about the other purchases that are on their way, does she?

Amongst the puzzles released by Brian is a Turning Interlocking Cube (TIC). I adore these puzzles and will pretty much buy any of them when they come up for sale but with Ennui, we have added attraction...this was designed by Laszlo Kmolnar. Laszlo is one of my favourite designers. He is delightful to chat to and his puzzles are always fabulous - well thought out with some stunning logic or a wonderful Aha! moment. I had never seen a TIC design from him and knew straight away that it would be fabulous. On top of that, the TIC-Meister himself, Bernhard Schweitzer, had been extremely complementary about it:

"It has a very very unusual move for solving, a combination of 'unnormal' turns coordinated by 2 pieces together, I don't have any similar solution moves in all of my 240 different TICs (Turning Interlocking Cubes), it is a must for a serious TIC collector"

WOW - what an accolade! Click, it was in my cart. Then, I am delighted to say, Brian was absolutely on fire! He used DHL for the postage which was a little more expensive but unbelievably quick - it took less than a week to arrive and was not held up by customs (I assume that I will be billed soon for the VAT that I will owe). After a short quarantine in the porch by Mrs S, she heeded my plea and unpacked them (yes, I bought more than one puzzle) for me on Thursday evening for me to play with on Friday.

I set to on Friday evening whilst watching a bit of TV and, as is usual, tried to find the position of all the pieces. This allowed me plenty of time to admire the gorgeous wood choices - Brian has used Movingui, Bocote, Peroba Rosa and Maple for this one with some lovely contrasting dowels to strengthen the joints - the pieces are gorgeous and beautifully finished as always. I seemed to be on fire...I found the placements of the pieces in ust a single evening! Unheard of for me and I hoped this boded well for the assembly - but...Brian had said this about it:

"This puzzle has a very difficult to find maneuver. You may be tempted to force the pieces together but you should not do it. You will be able to make the move you must just be patient (or lucky) and keep searching. It requires precision. I have put each of these puzzles together several times and finding the move never got any easier and often took several tries."

As always with these puzzles, it is one thing entirely to find the final positions of the pieces and another, much harder challenge to get them into said positions. I started that straight away and noticed a very interesting move for one piece and then tried to insert the second. No way was that going in - completely blocked. Maybe change the order of insertion? Piece 2 inserted first yep! Oh dear the second (first) piece also blocked. No matter what, these two had to go into these positions and even if they were 3rd/4th the same problem would occur. This was the main challenge of the puzzle. 

I discovered some interesting possible moves of one piece but was still stuck and couldn't get them into the correct positions when the other piece was in place. Time for bed and back to work again on Saturday. This was going to cut things really fine for a blog post this week! After my boiler shenanigans yesterday evening, I was a little frazzled and sitting in a room just about heating up with a fan heater listening to Mrs S rant about the failure of British Gas to offer an appointment any sooner than Thursday (we have a service contract) and I focussed on Ennui to try and decrease my feelings of "weariness and dissatisfaction" (the definition of Ennui). Eventually I narrowed it down to only one potential move for those pieces and remembering what Brian had written, I fiddled very carefully.

AHA! That was Good!

Actually, it was better than good. It was amazing - I have done quite a lot of TICs over the years and I cannot recall a move sequence like that. The precision required is amazing - everything needs to be placed absolutely perfectly to the fraction of a millimeter. The rest of the pieces were inserted over the next few minutes to give me my assembled cube:

Man! That was good!
As Brian stated, undoing the assembly is fairly straightforward but putting it back together never seems to get any easier - it must be just perfect or it won't go - brilliant design by Laszlo.

In the end I managed it in 2-3 hours over 2 evenings - that's pretty quick for me to solve a puzzle - I was Fast and I was Good......for once.

I might have a few more puzzles to play with and hopefully something to write about next weekend. Wish me luck!

Take care out there guys - the numbers in Europe and the UK are heading in the right direction and even in the craziness that is the USA, the infection rates are decreasing. But this is not the time to let down your guards - stay at home as much as possible and wear your masks when out and about. 

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