Sunday 24 April 2022

The Burr Bot Took His Gold to the Burr Bank

Burr Bank by Andrew Crowell
I have been home alone for a week whilst "she who must be flinched from" has been oop north visiting the outlaws. You might think that this would be fabulous as I could slob about, eat crap, watch a lot of action movies on the TV and play with my toys! Unfortunately, I still had to work and I had been left a list of chores to do and had to look after a disturbed cat. I am far to frightened of her to leave the place in a filthy state for when she came home so the cleaning etc still had to be done. I did manage to find a little time for some action movies (Dune was a little slow) but I always appreciate a film with Milla Jovovich in it. The puzzling was really rather good as you will read below.

Two weeks ago I wrote about Andrew Crowell's Burr Bot and I absolutely loved it! Unfortunately it is not available any more as Andrew has shifted his attention to the next puzzle in the sequence, the Burr Bank. As far as I can tell, it is not yet available for general sale and my copy is an advance one prior to him making them more widely available. I do not know how many of them will be made because this is a tour de force - Many people seem to think that 3D printed puzzles are easy to make, you just set the machine to go and the puzzle comes out the other end. I know for certain that this is not the case - the design has to be perfected which may necessitate multiple reprinting, the machine settings need to be just right, the finish and infill need to be perfect and, in the case of these, lots of magnets need to be glued in place. The thought and work that has gone into this creation is staggering.

There are no real spoilers here but I have hidden several of the other photos behind spoiler buttons - don't click if you don't want to see.

Just like with Burr Bot, the aim is to open it up and find the hidden treasure inside - in this case it will be gold. Comparing it to the prior creation, this one is obviously significantly more complex. There is the usual four horizontal burr sticks (which I assumed were different form the predecessor) and also the vertical one that interacts with them. Except this time, the vertical one is trapped by a lid with a hole in it. Interesting to see but nothing moves apart from the horizontal sticks so off I go to see what is possible. Just like before, there are quite a few movement possibilities and I was worried that I would get lost (this is always my perpetual fear when playing with complex burr puzzles - I have one of Alfon's puzzles trapped in a halfway position which I cannot get out of).

I needn't have worried, the movements are not so many that I could not keep track. I made a particularly interesting discovery and was able to do it repeatedly and was happy to proceed with the next step. I was able to remove the top panel:

At this point I got a bit overconfident - remembering what had been done with Burr Bot, I attempted to do the same thing...again and again and again! 

Of course, I was too stupid to realise that Mr Crowell was not going to make it easy for me. I got stuck at this point for a couple of days - what I wanted to do just wasn't going to happen and I was too thick to stop and try something else. Eventually, I got fed up with failing and looked properly at what I had and what I could do. There was something obvious to try that I hadn't thought of (did I say already that I am not terribly bright?) and once I thunk it then I had something else to try as a result. 

This is fantastic! I really felt like I had achieved something and still had a long way to go. Looking at the lid and base was no help. There was obviously stuff to be done with them but I couldn't see how it was possible.

Maybe if I went back to what I had been trying and failing at before? Well that was clever - now my impossible aim seemed to be achievable.

Having done the puzzle multiple times now, I have come to realise that Andre has done something rather unexpected with the puzzle sequence. I can't tell you what it is but if you get a copy for yourself and play a few times then you will notice something special about the sequences that are needed. It is an added bonus that made me grin for quite some time.

Once I had feed a fair number of parts of the puzzle and looking at what I had, there seemed to be something obvious that I needed to do. I mean, really really obvious! So I did that obvious thing multiple times without anything happening. Yes, stuck again! At this point it was time for me to think© yet again. I am not good at think©ing and having to do it multiple times during one puzzle solve was pretty painful but quite enjoyable - everything that you need is there in front of you but despite being in plain sight, is not obvious. I noticed something special about one of the pieces and realised that was going to be useful. Also, at one point I did wonder to myself, why do I have two of those when previously I had achieved my procedure using just one of them? (No I can't show them to you) and then the reason hit me in the face. I had to use both of them (it was not because one was spare). 

I tried something doing something for a third time and this time it was useful:

That shark gets everywhere!
The rear of the coin - a ?
Having found the money, I was all flushed with success. Solved a puzzle in time for the blog post this week except...why was the a ? on the back of the money? I also had a nagging thought that maybe it was not the end result that was intended. The pieces that I had did look like there was another area to explore and the instructions (which I had not read since I took the photo a few weeks ago) were clear that the "cantankerous fellow" had hidden gold in the bank. The coin I had found was definitely not gold in colour. Time to think© yet again and maybe find some other tool and way to open the final compartment. It didn't take me much longer but the Aha! moment was wonderful - I had plundered the plastic gold:

What an incredible puzzle! There are multiple facets to it with tools to discover and work out how to use. Some parts have wonderful moments of realisation to them only after doing them a few times. Every single corner, plane, flange and magnet has been carefully designed into the puzzling process. Andrew has taken what he learned from Burr Bot and taken every aspect a step or two further. I adore my wooden puzzles but this is something I will treasure for a very long time - despite being plastic, it is still beautiful and is one of the best puzzles that I own. It will be a major contender for puzzle of the year 2022. Thank you, my friend!

Wil Tricks Me!

Aus dem Effeff
Recently I made a rather special purchase from Wil Strijbos and was delighted when there was a little extra gift in the very well taped box. The Aus den EffEff puzzle is a "simple" packing puzzle. A complex shaped hole in the frame in which there are a bunch of Eff's (10 of them). They are dual sided being white on one side and a really vibrant red (presumably Padauk) on the reverse. The instructions are to take all of them out and place all the pieces in place red side up. As you all know, I am terrible at this sort of puzzle but there is something compulsive about it - the pieces fit together nicely and it is strangely therapeutic placing them in the frame so that they lock together. At least it is for the first week!!! 

I have spent quite a few hours idly trying to put this together and was beginning to wonder whether this was one of those impossible puzzles that I have been a victim of before. I always would get extremely close and yet there was always one voxel in the wrong place:

Almost there but almost is not good enough!
I've been having a little email conversation with the great Michel van Ipenburg recently and he asked how I was getting on. After admitting my total failure he offered a clue - literally an emphasis on a single word did it for me. The solution was obvious if I had tried to actually think© about it but that is not my strong point and it took a little nudge. The aha! moment is delicious and I finally managed to pack the puzzle properly. Wonderful challenge as well!


  1. Hmm ... me thinks there is some sneaky trick to EffEff. Does it have anything to do with the fact that the pieces are hollow, or missing their middle?

    1. Hi George,
      Yes you are right there IS a sneaky trick but the hollow pieces are not it.

  2. Hi, I lost the instructions and I'm not sure if it's possible to solve it also on white side

  3. Hi, I bought this puzzle without any instructions and it's not very clear to me what I can and what I cannot do. Are ALL the pieces meant to be only red or only white? Because I think I found the trick 😁 but I need to know if all the pieces are meant to have the same colour ot not all of them... Or if you could just quote what the instructions say or post a picture of them. Does "Total them out" mean "put them together, amount them"? Thnkas