Sunday 21 November 2021

Ali and Steve Annoy Mrs S...Again!

Brass Monkey #5
Just a short one this week - I am going to struggle to write much without giving significant clues. About a month ago, Allard posted his review of the 5th in the Brass Monkey series by Steve and Ali. He had received an early version to play with and had absolutely loved the idea. As soon as it went on sale, I couldn't resist and bought a copy - you cannot have too many burrs apparently and these are very nice heavy burrs...or are they? They certainly are burr-shaped but only number 1 is actually a burr - the rest unlock in a variety of different ways, each of which will leave you laughing out loud at the boys' cleverness and cheekiness. 

Brass Monkey #4 had me gasping in disbelief at what they had done - it was fabulous and beautifully implemented so I was very keen to find out what they could possibly have done to make yet another identical looking puzzle be fun. It arrived a couple of days later, much to the disgust of Mrs S, and unfortunately had to sit for a while before I could find some time from work to play.

It looks, as I have said, just like all the others. It's a cylindrical brass six piece burr with a circle etched into the end of each burr stick and a hole drilled into it. Each of them have slightly different variations of the hole and etching to set them apart from each other. It is a very significant chunk of puzzle at 70mm across each axis and weighing in at almost 800g - do NOT drop this on a tile, kitchen work surface or foot! Actually Mrs S has told me in no uncertain terms each time that if I damage any part of the kitchen then she will make me wish I had dropped it on my foot! 

So, what do you do to start with them? Well, they are burrs, so, despite the fact that you know they are not really burrs, you do the totally useless thing and try and push/pull each piece in each direction. By the time you have worked out how to keep track of all the possible moves, you have wasted at least a ½ hour. Now what? As you all know by now, I am a bear of very little brain so I move on to the next best thing to pushing and pulling and I start to shake it wildly in every possible direction. Aech shake has to be interspersed by pushing and pulling each stick in every direction before trying to shake in another direction. As you can imagine, the possible combinations mount up very fast and I take notes on my ipad for what I have done. In this fruitless way, I pass a very happy 2 or 3 days of effing and blinding and start to really get on Mrs S' nerves.

Finally I have run out of combinations of shaking and pulling and move on to swirling it in different directions and about different axes before pushing and pulling again. Yes, that didn't work either! After several days it is time to think© and it hurts! I go back to all the suggestions made over the years at MPPs about how to solve a puzzle - Mrs S stops me from submerging it in gin as she wants to drink the gin and that certainly calms her inner "savage beast" (she is Scottish and the savage beast is very close to the surface). I then put it down for a while and chat with Derek again. He hadn't solved his copy but had noticed something and suggested that I do something unthinkable to see if it would happen with my copy. Unthinkable? Very much so! I gird my loins and try it. Now that really gets noticed by Mrs S and she is very unhappy about it! In fact she tells me in no uncertain terms to "STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!" Gulp! I stop it...after cheekily doing it one more time just for fun.

Needless to say, it didn't solve the puzzle - apart from annoying "she who scares all living creatures", it  did nothing apart from to make me think© what else this particular feature might indicate. The only thing I could do was to look very closely at the puzzle and notice some unusual features. Aha! There is something odd that I had noticed when it arrived but only Derek's idea made me think harder about it. What if I??? Oh! That was unexpected! Quick, put it back and try again. Yep, not a fluke. Suddenly the burr come apart and the mechanism is visible - no I am not going to show it to you!

It's a six piece cylindrical burr.
No clues here!
So as a clue to you, you have to do something unthinkable and then think© hard before doing something even more unthinkable and try not to piss off your wives/husbands/pets in the process. Over the last week, I have been deliberately pissing off Mrs S because every now and then a bit of violence can be exhilarating! 😈

Yet again, I cannot believe what the boys have done! This is so clever and beautifully implemented. The engineering precision to make this work is tremendous. Don't hesitate, if you are a serious puzzler then this is an essential purchase - buy it direct from Steve and Ali at TwoBrassMonkeys (all 5 are available) or if you are in North America then maybe wait for it to be in stock at PuzzleMaster.

Loki from Boaz Feldman
Boaz Feldman recently showed off his latest lock/sequential discovery puzzle on Facebook and I was forced to wait a little while for work to settle down a bit before I remembered to buy it. Like all of his (and his Dad's) creations, the aim is to "open the lock" and then "close the lock". So far I have done neither even if I have discovered a few peculiarities. With my puzzling skills, this could take me months!

Boaz is obviously a cat lover and he knows how much my boyz help me with my puzzling and he was very kind to provide a special Hanayama Cats puzzle in the package - thank you so much my friend.

The cats said that, not me!

The news has been full of the problems occurring in parts of Northern Europe with Covid19 with very high infection rates and the health services almost being overrun. The problems are occurring particularly in places that have poor vaccine uptake. The UK and Israel have shown that with high vaccination rates the number of people getting significantly sick and ending up either in hospital or worse, in critical care, is massively lowered by having a vaccine course (and booster). Yes, it is not 100%, but the only people getting critically ill in my own hospital (and others around the Western world) are those who have chosen not to get vaccinated (including young people) and a few of the vaccinated who have significant immunity problems. So my advice to you if you want to protect yourselves, your families and the population in general is to go and get a jab! Getting a bit under the weather for a day or so is nothing compared to the illness itself (I know, I have had Covid and the jabs)


  1. Do something unthinkable? Why didn’t I think of that? Thanks for the tip!

    My puzzle is still mocking me!

    1. George, what did your mother say what you should never do with strange items that you have picked up? Think about that and you might work it out.

  2. I love it when a useless hint actually helps! I’ve discovered something strange and rather funny. My wife was amused. Now I need to think more! I hope I am on the right track.

    1. You are definitely on the right track - my wife was less amused when I found what you have (especially whilst watching TV). Keep trying other stuff along those lines.

  3. Replies
    1. Clever isn’t it? Definitely an unexpected mechanism.

    2. Yes! The mechanism works really well, kind of surprising.