Sunday 25 April 2021

I Needed To Think Even Further Outside the Box


I couldn't resist it...yet another design by Alexander Magyarics. I have been watching this week as he seems to be on a design roll - I think at least 4 if not 5 new designs of his were published on Puzzlewillbeplayed this week alone! Having received a nice bunch of puzzles from Eric a few weeks ago, I have been gradually fiddling with them as time allows. I wanted to get back some of my burr solving mojo and jumped in with the brilliant Spy (reviewed here and still available). After that I tried my luck with BurrBon, the rather fun little 6 piece burr inside a 6 piece burr that was brought to us all because I drew it to Eric's attention on Facebook after the design was shown off by its' creator, Tim Alkema. Eric said that it was extraordinarily difficult and I soon found out that was the case...I failed! Trying to find something for today's blog post, I moved on to the other item from Alexander - the MagneTeam. For a moment I was worried that I had bought a duplicate puzzle - there is a very similar design I reviewed a while ago called Super Magnetic from Pelikan puzzles with an identical box but different pieces and the challenge to pack them inside. I really struggled to solve that puzzle and adored the incredible Aha! moment after I got it some 5 hours later. 

4 simple pieces
The MagneTeam has been stunningly made by Eric with incredible tolerances (0.002in - why can't he use metric measurments? I have no idea what 0.002in looks like!). The box is a lovely pale Ash and the 3 larger pieces are Granadillo - they need to be placed inside such that no gaps are visible. Just like Super Magnetic the top of the box has a plus shaped hole and the bottom a minus shape. This requirement is a huge constraint - surely this will make it fairly simple? On top of that the shape of the larger pieces effectively means that they can ONLY be inserted into the box and placed vertically - another huge constraint. This must mean that this will be quite a quick easy solve? Oh hell no! Remember guys, that I am a bear of very little brain and solving puzzles is really not my strong point. I seem to find that I am MUCH better at buying puzzles than solving them. 

Starting outside of the box, I realised that there are a huge number of 3x3 assemblies with these 3 pieces but quite a lot less with the vertical arrangement constraint - I was getting there! Errr no. After 4 hours over 3 days of trying I had not found the solution. What was wrong with me? This was the easier of the challenges. I took it to work and handed it to my ODP (anaesthetic assistant) whilst I was doing an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm repair and I periodically watched what she was trying to do. All of a sudden, I had an epiphany! Alexander designs his puzzles very carefully with pieces intended to fool you or throw your thought processes the wrong way. I suddenly realised what I had been missing.

Helena failed to solve it and told me in no uncertain terms that I HAD to show her the solution right away! Gulp! I did explain that I had so far failed as well but whilst waiting for the surgeon to do a particularly awkward suture line deep in the pelvis, I had another look and completely amazed her by solving it right before her very eyes and before the surgeon was able to cause any more blood loss.

Take my word for it - this is solved!
It has to be on its' side for the photo to stop a piece dropping down
What had changed? How had I managed to solve it this time? I realised whilst watching Helena play that I had been trying to do it entirely outside the box and using my virtual 3x3x3 grid had completely missed that one of the pieces after dropping through could then move outside of that small grid. I had actually assembled the correct positions of the pieces many many times whilst trying to solve it but had not been able to think outside the box in a fully unconstrained way - sigh! Really not very bright.

Helena was amazed at my prowess - this is quite a delightful feat for an old man like me in front of a pretty young thing like her. Unfortunately that was very short lived - I then explained the next phase being to repeat the process with the 4th piece (made from Morado). She looked at me expectantly and basically said "go on then". Let's just say that the admiration in her eyes faded very quickly! In fact it was just like being at home with Mrs S looking at me with disappointment in her eyes! Eventually after another 3 days of playing with it I finally found the correct solution. It really is a significant challenge with the entry of the final piece requiring 9 moves to get into position. Unlike the Hydrant puzzle from Alexander, the addition of the 4th piece actually requires all the pieces to be rearranged and not just find a way to pack it into the same arrangement.

What an amazing design! Beautifully made as one would expect from eric and a significant pair of challenges (especially for those of us who are 3D challenged). It is still available as I type and well worth adding to your collections.

Mrs S is currently quite pleased with me (well, partially pleased). I did manage to repair our Dualit toaster - it needed 4 new heating elements and a new timer switch - I fixed it yesterday without making a mess and without killing it. She is ever so slightly disappointed that I did not do the repair whilst in the bath and with the toaster plugged in! 😳 Especially after she went to all the effort of buying all that extra life insurance for me!

Yay!! I did not get electrocuted!
Stay safe everyone! Whilst the UK is currently doing very well, things are going really badly in parts of Europe and horrifically badly in India. Get your vaccination when it is offered to you - they are all extremely safe.

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