Sunday 10 October 2021

Painful But Very Worthwhile

I'm Not Talking About Mrs S! I Mean The Butterflower Cube

The Butterflower Cube by LanLan
Yes, two twisty blog posts in a row! I have really not had a lot of time for puzzling since I went back to work after my time off and I figured that it was time to finally play with something that I had been carrying around with me since it arrived back in July. I had immediately worked on and solved the Skewb puzzles which were a fun challenge - just the right difficulty level for someone who had not been solving twisties for a while. I had not worked on it because it sort of frightened me as there seemed to be so many parts to scramble and solve and my twisty prowess was at a low ebb. I showed it to several colleagues who just shuddered and shook their heads at me. 

I had thought when I bought it that it was a combination of a Clover cube (a cornerless Curvy copter) and a Dino cube. I have always adored edge turning cube - starting with the Curvy Copter and moving up to the incredibly difficult Skewby Copter Plus. I was sure that this would be a lot of fun and hopefully not too difficult - I was right after a little pain and a little thought (some of which was painful).

Independently edge turning and corner turning
The Butterflower cube turns very nicely and has corner and edge turning properties which includes the usual edge turning jumbling moves. Luckily for me the corner turning and jumbling moves cannot work together otherwise the puzzle would have gotten much too deformed and complex for me to be able to follow. 

Last week, whilst waiting for an intensive care bed for a patient to be made available, I had a little time. I scrambled the little bugger in front of people at work. They looked on with almost as much horror as I did. Stupidly I went straight for a full jumbling scramble and quickly had a dreadful mess:

Believe me, it is properly scrambled - you cannot separate every coloured piece from all their neighbours.
To jeers of disbelief, I set to work and initially just returned it to cube shape - it was less difficult than I remember the Curvy copter being. Then it was time to Think© - I realised the diamond shaped central pieces were more or less fixed and could only rotate through 180º so I assembled what were effectively edges. Then it became clear that the true edges were split in half and spread all around the place - next job to move them into place by intuition and the puzzler's favourite algorithm ("up, up, down, down") with twists of whole edges in between. It took a while and appeared fascinating to my audience that I could achieve such a thing but was not very difficult. When I explained what I was doing, they looked at me like I was some sort of magician but it really is not that tough - I would go as far as to say that a standard Rubik cube is harder than what I had been doing thus far. 

Having recreated inner edges and outer edges it was time to work on the oval "petals". These are split into a large segment and a small triangle which needed to be combined before being put into their correct position. Again, I worked on this entirely using intuition and the 4 move algorithm. Basically, the petals can be moved around using Curvy copter moves until the ones that you want are arranged around a cube corner. Then the corner is rotated to connect the parts of the petal and the formed part then moved away for use elsewhere before turning the corner back and recreating the edges as they had been. Each completed petal could be moved into place and I worked my way from the white face up the cube. Over the space of a day, I managed to do the whole lot until I was left with 4 or 5 incomplete petals and I was stuck. I could not seem to complete them without breaking other things. 

Time for a Think© again! Maybe I had been going about it wrongly? I was fairly certain that my general approach was fine but maybe the last part was doing too much at once? Probably reforming the petals at the same time as moving them into their places on the cube was just too much to do at once? My problem was that I gradually placed myself into a position where there was no room to manoeuvre and then I was unable to complete either of the remaining processes. As is usual, thinking told me to separate the processes. I re-scrambled and did my early sections again. This time I decided to just recreate the petals and store them somewhere safe rather than try to actually place them in their final places. This was much easier and still almost entirely intuition. Once I got to the last 2 or 3 petals it was just a matter of moving them around into appropriate places around a corner, turning the corner to make the petals whole and moving them out. If I replaced them with 3 petal of the same colour then I could turn the corner and realign the outer edges without breaking any petals up again. Yesssss!

I just had a Curvy copter to solve, complete with jumbled moves that had taken them out of their proper orbits which, as I have stated many times is one of my favourite puzzles to solve. It had taken me 2 days and a fair bit of pain but I had conquered the Butterflower cube.

Why painful? For once, it was not down to a Whack! Ouch! from Mrs S (even if she had accused me of looking like Plug again). Well, my very small brain hurt quite a bit but also this puzzle can be lethal on your thumb nails - I think the sharp corners must have nearly torn them off nearly 50 times in the first solve:

See that pointy corner at the back left and right?
Imagine getting that under your thumbnail many many times!
Apart from the pain the Butterflower cube is a wonderful puzzle for anyone who has mastered the basics of the beginners twisty puzzles and wants to go beyond the simple edge turners. This would be another puzzle that would be added to my advice to a beginner twisty puzzler. Once the alternative puzzles have been mastered then this would be an ideal next step up.

Remember to get your vaccines (either first doses or boosters if you are eligible) - they are a LOT better than getting Covid - believe me because I have had Covid and looked after people with it in hospital). They do provide a significant protection from death and significant illness - plus it is everyone's duty to protect the members of society who cannot protect themselves. No, the vaccines are not perfect but they are up to 93% effective for at least 6 months. The only way out of this dreadful pandemic is for people to get vaccinated. Do it! They do NOT affect your DNA! Anyone with knowledge of physiology and genetics knows that is a bloody ridiculous claim. They do NOT affect fertility (also utterly stupid). They are not injecting microchips! Have you seen the size of the needles used to put microchips in pets? They are ENORMOUS! Also most of you carry a phone with you everywhere you go - tracking is pretty easy with that and remember that in your homes Alexa, Siri or Bixby are listening to everything you say anyway!

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