Sunday, 29 August 2021

Sometimes I Just Gotta Think©

Sometimes I Just Gotta Think Over and Over Again!

Grooved Three Piece Board Burr
Sometimes I think that I am really not terribly bright - Mrs S agrees with me about this almost all the time apart from when she wants something. The beautiful piece of joinery above is the Grooved three piece board burr designed by Kouki Kusumi and fabulously made by the Doctor of wood, Eric Fuller using Maple, Wenge and gorgeous Zebrawood with some tiny acrylic dowels to engage with the grooves.

This very simple design was released at the beginning of August and I couldn't resist it because the design looks so simple (just 3 identical pieces) with a nice challenging level of 8.2 and also because it won a Jury honourable mention in last years' remote IPP design competition. This alone would make it worth purchasing but mostly I have come to accept Eric's choices. He loves interlocking puzzles and burrs but they have to be something really special to pique his attention. He could make anything he wants with extremely high level but he almost never makes that sort of puzzle. Eric only produces puzzles that he personally finds clever and interesting. 

This sat next to me for a few weeks whilst I worked on some of my new toys from Mine and the latest twisty puzzles. Finally I had a little time to play and out it came. The premise is simple - interlock the pieces into a standard board burr shape. A teeny tiny bit of thought© allowed me to deduce how the pieces should end up and where the dowels should be. It is trivial to get two of the pieces to interlock and then when it's time to get the third piece in, it is immediately revealed that the dowel gets in the way. Take it apart and try a different orientation and same result. Doh!

That took some rather special thinking©
I spent about an hour the first evening doing the same thing over and over again but in different orientations with no success. How can it be that hard? The following day, I tried again and had some more thoughts© - I tried to be logical and move pieces around in preparation and Aha! I had my assembled puzzle. That was wonderful - why had it taken so long? I disassembled it and left it for a half hour and tried again...NOPE! Wasn't happening. For some reason, despite having a vague memory of the sort of moves required, I just couldn't reassemble the bloody thing! I kept ending back at the same place as the first day. Time to finish for the day and go back to it the following day...same problem.

More time to think© and I eventually manage to relax my feeble brain enough to let a new sequence in and I had it assembled. There is something wonderful about this design. It is really not terribly complex but it still seems to me to be really challenging. When I try to think to hard I cannot assemble it - I seem to have to try and achieve a relaxed brain thinking© each time before I can solve it - I don't actually think there are very many puzzles quite like that. Random movements won't do it and thinking too hard is counter-productive. The delight here is a sort of unfocussed thinking. This is rather different from the next puzzle.

Puzzles from Mine - no real detail visible
Koichi Miura has designed a packing puzzle called Croissant which has been produced by Mineyuki Uyematsu (Mine) and was put up for sale on Puzzle of Mine via his private Facebook group. He announced the latest batch of wonderful designs way back in May and having taken rather more orders from fans than he was expecting, it took quite a few months for all the puzzles to be cut, assembled and distributed. I think from one or two of his posts that Mine was knackered at the end of it. I cannot post a photo of the puzzles - Mine hates that some people recreate his productions from photos either for their own use or for sale and he prefers that I none of us publish photos on our blogs that might facilitate copying. I have therefore not put any here - Googling for them will almost certainly provide you with some images that will give you an idea. Sorry!

Recently a good friend of mine has set up a wonderful new Facebook group which is dedicated to Mechanical puzzles. I and several very active puzzlers in the community are moderators of the group (there are very few significant rules - mostly no spoilers allowed) and we frequently chat behind the scenes. The Croissant puzzle has been the focus of quite a bit of discussion as several of us have been working to solve it. I couldn't resist the premise of four identical croissant shapes to be placed in a tray with a limited entry hole. The first 2 pieces can be inserted easily and then they block the next. Certain movements are required to make room and then the third piece goes in. After this no movements are possible which can make room for the fourth. OMG!

It's very tough not showing any photos!!! This one also requires lots of experimentation to make a discovery or two and then some more thinking© which won't work until you think© again. It took me 4 days to assemble this one and the Aha! moments were wonderful. Even the genius that is Derek Bosch is currently stumped on it! I am sure that he will get there soon but it needs just the right type of thinking and until you have done that you just gotta try again and again and again! A candidate for my puzzle of the year, I think.


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