Sunday 28 January 2024

An Original Pelikan

Shows where Jakub and Jaroslav Got Their Skills

Four Corners by Stewart Coffin
I have had a rather hard week at work this week and have been working on some tough new puzzles. This has meant that I have solved nothing! Yes, Nothing! I am rubbish at puzzles - you heard it first here. I wish I was a genius like Steve and Derek or a puzzle solving machine like Louis but unfortunately I seem to be much better at accumulating puzzles than solving them.


The Brass monkey number 6 arrived nearly 2 weeks ago and I have singularly failed to find even the first move. Remember that if you want one then it goes on sale NEXT Sunday. I am sure that you will have a lot of fun with it and solve it in a reasonable amount of time whilst I spend months and months trying to find the first move.

Oleg's Wardrobe

I also received the Oleg's Wardrobe from Dedwood Crafts. It is absolutely stunning and rather huge. It is NOT a box! Even if it has a cavity in it - Dee has said that it is a wardrobe and there's nothing that says I can't have wardrobes in my collection! Mrs S is muttering about storage again but has admitted that it is very very beautiful. Again, I have played for a bit and followed the easy first steps which lead you nowhere and then stopped dead. Yet again, I have accumulated something and haven't managed to solve it. Aargh! I am trying not to cry thinking about the previous 3 from Dee which also remain stubbornly closed.

Erm! I seem to have failed at these as well - I really need to find my Mojo.

All three by Dee Dixon remain unsolved - only one has revealed any steps at all to me!

Al Bus by Jordi Gallen         

Then after that, Having seen the Al Bus (designed and created by Jordi Gallen) raved about by several people at Peter Hajek's EPP and also enthused about by Derek, I decided that I should try and get a copy. It is available to purchase now from PuzzleMaster but when I looked at it and made my decision, a copy was put up for auction to go to charity commemorating the late Eric Fuller. I bid and I won and several rather gorgeous pieces of plastic arrived. I haven't had time to do much more than fiddle so far. It is rather lovely!

Having gotten nowhere with several rather complex puzzles all I can do is show off a rather lovely Stewart Coffin puzzle that I managed to acquire from Bernhard. This copy of the Four Corners (STC#6) was made by Josef Pelikan using 3 woods and is a lovely variant of the diagonal star puzzle. It slides apart beautifully to show 6 identically shaped pieces with the classic base and slightly altered ends:

Instantly recognisable piece types
At this point I noticed that there are 4 different woods appearing at the ends of the pieces (3 Padauk, 3 Wenge 3 Mahogany and then 3 Oak. When the puzzle had arrived, as you can see at the top of the post, all the colours at the ends were mismatched. I hadn't read anything about the puzzle and wondered to myself whether the aim is to reassemble ensuring that each of the 4 poles is the same colour/wood. I also wondered whether there were any alternative assemblies. I quickly discovered that despite the simplicity of the pieces, there seems to be no other way to assemble the puzzle. If you try to put it together with pieces the wrong way then it is blocked.

Sliding together blocked
After fiddling for a little while, I discovered that this one is a little awkward to assemble the halves. I found it quite confusing - I could assemble the top half with the single pole but struggled to manage the differently shaped bottom half. I got there in the end and now have the puzzle arranged with a different wood at each pole:

Much better!
Looking at the online version of "The Puzzling World of Polyhedral Dissections" kindly hosted by John Rausch, there are other challenges involving different arrangements of the colours and symmetry. The four different ways in which the Four Corners Puzzle can be assembled in color symmetry are represented in in black and white below. The one on the left, in which each "corner" is a solid color, is the easiest and most obvious and is how the puzzle got its name. Each has a pair of solutions.


Finally, to extract one more bit of recreation from this puzzle, discover the 24 ways of assembling it such that the patterns of all four colors are identical but not symmetrical. You may skip the 3,808 ways that do not have either property. Hint: in general, these color symmetry problems are not the type that one solves by trial and error. One must try to discover the principles involved and the simple rules that transform one solution into another. You may not even need the physical pieces.

I have managed a couple of these and then got side-tracked by other toys! Now it's time to get back to these blasted sequential discovery puzzles and hopefully solve something for next week - wish me luck!

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