Sunday 4 April 2021

Like Plastic Sudoku

Bird 11 box
I have survived my week off without electrocution! Luckily for me, the spare parts to the toaster remain unavailable and hence my bathtub electrocution has been avoided narrowly. Instead, Mrs S has forced me to work in the garden (something I absolutely hate) in the hope that I will either be struck by lightning or the exertion will kill me off. However I am extremely proud that, according to one of the post-Covid studies I am participating in, my "fitness age" is down to 39! Yes, I have managed to shave 15 years off my age by working out regularly on our rower. This has dashed Mrs S' plans to cash in on an insurance policy. Phew! It's a shame that it usually feels like I am going to die when I get up after the bloody exercise! 

Back to the puzzling:
When I placed my order from Mine, he also had a couple of Yuu Azaka puzzles available at the same time. One I had bought from PuzzleMaster already (I reviewed it here) and the other I ordered from Mine. This one is Bird 11 and is a sort of packing puzzle...except really it's not. I bought it because I had really enjoyed all of his previous creations - they have been packing puzzles with a twist...something that makes you think differently. They are not about randomly placing shapes in a tray or box until something happens; they require an Aha! moment which often catches you by surprise. Who can resist?
11 very odd birds to fit in 11 very odd nests
This puzzle is much less colourful than Yuu-san's previous creations. It has been very nicely made from good quality plastic and acrylic. We have a grey tray with 11 nests/cut out holes in it and 11 very deformed chickens that need to be placed in the nests. It looks pretty simple!

I set to straight away and started placing the birds. At this point it becomes clear that the shapes have been very precisely thought out by the creator. Certain pieces will only fit in certain nests and usually will only fit if flipped right side up. Quite frequently, it looks like a piece will go but her wings/legs are a couple of mm out of alignment and it ain't going to go. The only thing to do is start placing pieces and work your way through. This has been rated by Mr Asaka as only 2 out of 5 so it is not that surprising that you race through placing more and more pieces before suddenly hitting a wall and one won't fit in any of the remaining spots. In fact having placed 5 or 6, none of the rest would fit anywhere. That's interesting! Tip them out and start again. Obviously with shapes like these there is no way to remember what you have tried before so starting from scratch gets you nowhere...again. This time, instead of starting from the beginning again, I take a blocked piece and attempt to find where it will go and remove the offending blocking piece. This leads to a cat and mouse race around the board often looking great but ending up with pieces blocked. After an hour or so I manage to reach a point where I have one piece left to fit into its nest:

So near and yet so far!
I put it away for a while and try to think© for a bit (ouch). I come to a conclusion and one evening whilst chatting to Derek we realise together that this puzzle is going to require pen and paper or a spreadsheet and being systematic. I ma not great at being systematic so I put it aside for a couple of weeks. Yesterday after finishing my stint in the garden I decide this puzzle needs to be put to  rest and being too stiff to lounge on a sofa with a puzzle, I sit at a desk with the Bird 11 and take notes. 

It takes about 30 minutes to get all the information tabulated and I start placing the birds in their correct nests. Once you can see the pattern on paper then it is quite satisfying. This puzzle is rather like a Sudoku but made of plastic. In the end I found it quite satisfying despite my initial disappointed reaction when I realised what was going to be needed. 

You are certainly not likely to solve this one by randomly placing the pieces in the holes. You need to think and plan and unless you have an incredible memory you will almost certainly need to take some notes. I agree with Yuu-san's rating of 2/5 but don't let that low difficulty put you off - it is actually a nice diversion.

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