Sunday 30 May 2021

So Gorgeous I Will Hang it On a Wall

Coming very soon from Jakub and Jaroslav

An earlier batch was also sent out

Yes, it's time again for some more gorgeous challenging new from the wonderful guys at the New Pelikan Workshop. The release that is due any time soon is a mammoth release. I guess that with no IPP they have had more time for their own puzzling production rather than producing exchange puzzles. Jakub sent them out to me in two batches to give me more time to work through them - something for which I am very grateful as the pressure to review quickly so that they can go on sale is huge. I don't want to keep anyone waiting.


I have to start with the most striking puzzle which gave the title of this blog post: Bugs!

The picture above does not give any idea at how impressive this puzzle is in real life! Have a glance again at the first picture in the post to get an idea of the scale of it. It is fabulously impressive - at 21 cm in each direction and 2 cm high this design by the unbelievably prolific Alexander Magyarics would make a wonderful picture to mount on the wall of your puzzle room. In fact the guys at Pelikan have drilled a hole in the back for it to be wall mounted and also made an edge holding an acrylic cover which will prevent the pieces falling out when put on display.

Wall mountable
Acrylic cover
It's a fun tray packing puzzle with a beautifully made wooden frame and 4 lovely mixed wood bug shapes to fit inside. The challenge is not enormously tough but using what looks like the "obvious" positioning won't work because the blocks in the frame prevent insertion of what looks perfect outside the box. Therefore this puzzle forces you to actually think about all the ways that the pieces might fit together. Once solved, it is really lovely(no, I am not going to show you the solution). This is a perfect decoration for anyone's puzzle cave.  Even Mrs S has agreed and I will be putting a screw in the wall very soon.

Key Trap

Key Trap
I've picked up Key Trap by Christoph Lohe first from the second batch of puzzles because it's absolutely stunningly beautiful. Everything by the New Pelikan Workshop is lovely but this is one of the most gorgeous puzzles I've seen in a long time. I also cannot resist the puzzles created by Christoph - he just seems to always find the very best sequences and combinations of moves that are possible in a shape. Here,as the name would suggest, we have a wooden lock made with lovely bevel inlays and slipfeathers in the shackle. The key is locked onto the shackle whilst being buried in the workings of the lock. Initially there is only a small amount of movement and after a little while begin to find a few more things that are possible and more wild movements are available to you. After a short while I felt I was getting somewhere and might even be able to soon remove a piece. I then tried my usual technique to aid memory of backtracking to the beginning and realised that I had got myself into a position where I was unable to remember the path and spent a rather fraught half hour trying to work it out. If you've not paid attention then the correct movement is very well hidden - it took me quite some time to find. Like most locks the key is the "key" to the solution. The position of that locked key on the shackle is the major thing to work out - you have to move it about the right way (no rotations though). Even at the end that key remains shackled in place. 

Reassembly from scratch is also possible if you are good at these. This is a fabulous puzzle - Christoph and Pelikan pull it off again!


This took me days!
Another wonderful 3x3 cube packing puzzles from the amazing brain of Osanori Yamamoto.  My copy has been beautifully made by Pelikan from Zebrano with Purpleheart pieces.The holes in the box are interesting here. The larger hole is just a single layer high but quite extensive (taking up 4/9 of the top layer) which severely constrains the possible assemblies. There are also 2 more holes in the box which must be filled at the end and these holes are the opposite corners from the main one which makes finding the finished assembly much more difficult. This difficulty is compounded by the complexity of the pieces. I struggled to get them to fit together at all initially and then getting all the opposite corners filled in any potential shape proved really tough. Having found just a few potential assemblies, I realised that every single time I would be unable to place a piece inside the box. After a few days of attempts I wondered whether Osanori-san had been up to his old rotational tricks and started looking for them. The dimensions and size of the pieces made this very hard to find but eventually I found a rotational solution and was really pleased with myself. Afterwards, out of interest I wanted to see if there were any assemblies that fitted inside but didn't fulfil all the hole filling requirements and entered the puzzle into Burrtools and to my utter horror I saw that I had totally failed! There IS an entirely linear solution to the puzzle. I made sure that I didn't look at it on my computer and spent another 3 days before finding the true solution. Either this is a brilliant puzzle or I'm really quite dense! You choose. Actually, this is a brilliant design which seriously challenged me.


At last!
This stunning creation made from Wenge and Yellowheart also comes from the warped mind of Osanori-san. I am not sure why it has that name but it may be because the pieces dance around each other during the solution. I initially thought that the enormous entry hole through which 3 rather complex pieces need to be inserted would make for a significantly easier challenge and, oh boy, was I wrong about that. Whilst it initially appears like there is a 2x2x2 sized hole for entry, it actually is even larger than that due to the fact that the bottom corner slopes gently down indicating that this puzzle is based on a much bigger grid. Obviously once solved the hole should be completely filled and that in itself is a huge problem. That sloping edge also makes movement of the pieces much more difficult. I managed to place the pieces inside the box in several different ways pretty easily (which made carrying the puzzle to work much easier) but I really struggled to find a way to leave the entryway fully filled and so I tried to think outside the box. After 4 days I had only found 2 ways to assemble a 3x3x3 cube which would fill the hole completely and none of them could be placed inside the box. I was forced to resort to Burrtools to find other possible assemblies - there were another 2. Even knowing the possible other cube assemblies still left this one as a huge challenge. Each finished cube could be rotated through 120º giving 6 more assemblies to try. Finally after several more days I managed to find the solution with a sigh of relief. If anyone says that only 3 pieces makes for an easy puzzle then laugh at them - with a disassembly level of 10.1.3 this is a massive challenge. Very enjoyable and a must buy for any Osanori fans.


Dozer - there's a surprise inside
Next to Stephan's original
Jakub and Jaroslav don't make very many burr puzzles these days but when they do any Burr fans should sit up and pay attention - they only choose the best of the best of them and this marvelous design by Stephan Baumegger is fantastic. The wood choice and finish with all the bevelling is the mark of fabulous attention to detail. Inside is a shape that gives the puzzle its' name - when Goetz classified it he was forced to enlarge his Burr zoo to include machines! I had solved the original back in 2015 after a huge struggle (I had managed to get lost in the puzzle about 20 moves in and could not find the next move for a very long time). Of course I was completely unable to remember even a single step from the solution and had to start from scratch on this one and managed to get stuck yet again about 20 moves into the solution. The movements are smooth and there is minimal catching of the pieces as they slide. I was really very pleased that Jakub had sent this to me several weeks ago as it took me several weeks to wend my way through the maze of moves. The puzzle does not have a stupendously high level ( but is a wonderful challenge with lots of exploration. The blind ends are frequent but not too long and so not too frustrating. Inside is one of the most beautiful pieces of wood work I have seen from them.

There is no way I am reassembling it without Burrtools!


6L by Alexander Magyarics
Another of Alexander Magyarics' packing designs - 6L does what it says on the tin...there are 6 L shapes to be placed in a 3x3x3 box through a restricted entryway. Straight away it's obvious that the entry shape cuts the possible entry orientations of the Ls and then to make things much more interesting there are 2 cubies fixed inside the box which greatly limits the possible positions and movements. I started by just randomly placing pieces inside to see how it might work out and discovered that it is easy to get 4 of the L shapes inside but then you quickly get blocked and left with bits sticking out. As always, think© outside the box and then think© inside it. We have 24 cubies to place inside a 27 cubie space and on top of that there are 2 fixed cubies inside blocking your movements. This leaves a single gap which is essential for the movement of the pieces during the solve process. With a bit of planning the possible finish becomes obvious and you only need to work out how to prepare for it. There is a lovely Aha! moment with this one. It's not as tough as some of his previous ones which is a bit of a relief. It is still fun and definitely suitable for a beginner or a child. It has been beautifully made by Pelikan and is very tactile. Solved picture might have a small spoiler so hidden behind a button:


Mouse Hole
No spoilers here - solved after many hours
These designs by Alexander just get more and more spectacular. Very few craftsmen would have agreed to mass produce this piece with a beautifully crafted box complete with a captive sliding arm (shaped like a mouse hole in a skirting board) and holders which are made from contrasting woods. The movements are wonderfully free and yet exceptionally precise. There are 3 moderately complex Purpleheart pieces to be placed in the box through a fairly wide opening but this entry is severely restricted by the moving arm over the top. I had left this one to the last because it frightened me a lot. In the last batch of puzzles from Pelikan, Alexander had given us a multi-challenge packing puzzle (Sliders) which had captive moveable pieces on the walls of the box which significantly hindered the ability to place the pieces. I had really struggled with most of the challenges he had set. Similarly his Wishing Well puzzle from last year had also been very difficult for a rubbish puzzler like me. I was cutting it very fine - this one was only solved yesterday, just in time for this blog post (it is always a bit embarrassing to write about puzzles that I haven't solved yet). There are 45 possible 3x3x3 shapes that have the top S shape filled but only one can be inserted into the box with the restriction provided. The solution process is considerably narrowed down by thinking about which orientations of the pieces can fit through the restriction and once that is taken into account the number of assemblies is low enough for mere mortals to manage. Still incredibly difficult and not for the faint hearted but very solvable.

Also due to be in this upcoming release but not yet solved and reviewed by me will be:


Another design by Dr Volker Latussek, Bubble looks extremely simple but I suspect will be a massive challenge like most of his puzzles. The drilled out hemispheres in the 4 L-shaped pieces of wood have to be paired to form complete "bubbles" . The goal is to make a free-standing structure containing four bubbles. I am looking forward to playing with this one next.

Euklid for Kids and Shrinking Soma

Euklid for Kids
Shrinking Soma
Euklid for Kids has been slightly redesigned by Dr Latussek to make it more discoverable for kids and increase the enjoyability of the puzzle for beginning puzzlers. Obviously adults will still have an Aha! moment and enjoy the beautifully made puzzle. If you missed out on either of these the first time then now is your chance to get hold of a copy.

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