Sunday 3 March 2024

Celebrating a Landmark With a Best of Year?

Brass Monkey Sixential Discovery Puzzle (aka BM6)


I have absolutely adored the Brass Monkey burr series (which are not burrs) - I have reviewed them (along with a whole bunch of their other releases) over the last few years and some have been awkward to solve whilst others have made me laugh out loud as I did silly things to solve them. This one, the last in the series, made me frustrated, made me laugh and made me gasp in disbelief. It has taken me weeks and weeks to solve! 

I am delighted to be able to show this one off on the same week that my pageview count topped the 3 million mark! I find it totally unbelievable that anyone spends the time to read the rubbish that I write. It even continued and got more popular after my mother died (so it couldn't have all been down to her). Thank you for coming along for the ride and allowing me to justify my "little" hobby to the present wife!

Main site
New additions site
Total page views now 3,017,111 - thank you so much!

If you buy this then you probably should own the set - they are all fun to solve and look great on display:

Six wonderful challenges
They all look the same as six piece burrs with only the markings on the ends of the pieces showing a difference between them. Each of the previous versions have had a significant nod to different puzzle genres and this last one is the most enjoyed puzzle type of all the sequential discovery puzzle. If that is your thing then this is the amongst the best SD puzzles I have ever tried. Go BUY IT!

I was lucky enough to get one of the first of them to be released and set to straight away. The first thing I realised was that nothing moves...nothing at all! I poked and prodded and peered inside the holes that were in the ends of some of the burrsticks. I used a torch and all this told me was that I couldn't see inside. I pushed and pulled and wiggled and found absolutely nothing. Yep! Not terribly bright as always.

I then noticed some movement with something and, as this was the only thing I had found in a day or so, I persistently wiggled and poked it. Suddenly it wiggled more! Hooray! I carried on doing the only thing that worked and after about an hour something came loose. I had found something special! But this just proved that I was an eejit! I should have realised that this wasn't right because Steve and Ali would never have a puzzle that solved that way. Having found something which did not give me any tools, I then inverted what I found and pushed it back only to have it go in and then go rigidly solid and not come out again! Oooh! that's not good, is it? Time to contact Steve over the interwebs and sheepishly admit what I had done and ask whether it might be irreversible. I was reassured that what I had done was not irreversible but I should not have been able to do it in the first place - I dare say that Steve sheepishly admitted that something hadn't been tightened adequately. He would make sure that all the others did not have this move possible.

So I had found a thing, returned the thing and jammed that bit in so that I could no longer retrieve the thing. I hope that you all find that description helpful enough to avoid doing the same "thing"? I guessed that after having my hopes and dreams dashed like that, I should return to solving. My problem? I had pushed and pulled and poked and prodded everything I could think of. Apart from a slight general wiggle caused by the interlocking burr pieces not being too tight, I could find nothing. This state of affairs persisted for weeks! Every day I would risk sanity, kitchen tiles and worktop playing with my very heavy metal paperweight. I kept getting looks of impending violence from Mrs S when she thought I might drop it and crack something. After about 3 weeks, whilst chatting with the genius (yes, Derek Bosch strikes again) he suggested that instead of pushing and pulling and prodding, I should actually look at the bloody thing! Now, why didn't I think of that? The next day, I sat down with it and a nice bright light and properly examined the whole puzzle - if I was a good puzzler, then I would probably have thought of that already. After about 15 minutes, I noticed a detail that I had not seen before - what if I??? OMG! Aha!

I suddenly had a "thing" and from here on progress was a lovely sequence which started with:

  1. I have this - what can I do with it?
  2. I tried that and it didn't work so maybe I could try this?
  3. Aha!
  4. I have another thing
  5. Back to step 1
This 5 step sequence happened over and over and over again. Almost every time there was a new item. I have never seen a puzzle with so many pieces and so many steps. It was totally logical and required a nice bit of think©ing to manage each step. One or two of the tools needed to be used more than once but  mostly there was a new tool for each step. I was having a ball! After 6 or 7 steps, I stopped returning back to the beginning each time I stopped playing because there were just too many pieces and steps to keep reversing.

After another few of evenings of play, I managed to retrieve the part that I had mistakenly freed and then re-trapped in my first attempts. I had a monkey!

I thought that this was it - I'm an eejit!
This was the place I had been at last weekend when I went to write about the puzzle. I did have a sort of nagging feeling that there were pieces that I had not yet explored but I suppressed those doubts and when I sat down to start writing, I looked at Allard's wonderful review and saw his solved picture and also reread the announcement page on the TwoBrassMonkey site. Oh NO!!! I had not completed the puzzle - the ultimate aim was to find the bananas and feed them to the monkey. This seems to be a theme for Steve and Ali. There was obviously at least one more step and I had no idea what to do next.

I could see that there was something inside that deserved attention but I did not have a tool that would fit. Yet again it was time to think© and it hurt. I spent another 5 days looking for the right tool and moves only to not find anything. I then had to look at what I had and realised that there was something that was peculiar about one of the pieces I had. A sneaky idea occurred and I said aloud "what if I do this? Much to the disgust of she who who is thinking violent thoughts about big Steve and Ali (run guys, run!) my thinking aloud led to an Aha! shout! which really upset her. I then had yet another thing to explore and finally after 35 separate puzzling steps (give or take a few) I had my puzzle solved!

The BM6 dismantled and I have bananas for the monkey
No spoilers here
There are a serious number of pieces here! I have never seen anything like it in the 14 years I have been puzzling. It is incredible that the boys managed to fit so many parts and so many steps into one epic puzzle. Not only is this likely to be the best puzzle of the year - you have another 10 months until my 2024 top ten(ish) but this may well be the best puzzle I have ever solved! It is right up there with the Angel box, Opening bat, Katie Koala and Mittan puzzles.

Of course, having dismantled it and spread all the pieces out for photos, it was time to put it all back together. I had enough memory of the steps to not find this too hard but the big challenge was how to place the burr sticks so they could assemble into a six piece burr again. I am not good at burr assembly and this took me a little while to work out.

This puzzle is just plain epic! Don't hesitate - just buy it. I am sure that you will find the first step much quicker than me and not need a genius to help you. But once you have found that first step there is a marvellous journey ahead of you.

Thank you guys! I very much doubt that you can ever top this but I am waiting with bated breath to see.

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