Saturday, 3 June 2017

Wil Strijbos’ Revenge Lock, aka The Wanderer



Emails from Wil about the release of a new puzzle are always cause for excitement and generally result in a response of “Hit me up!” almost seconds later… the announcement of his new puzzle lock in the style of Gary Foshee’s well-known Lunatic Lock was no different… I was never going to pass up on getting it, and Wil made sure that the serial number matched most of my other recent Strijbos treasures – I am 002 – licenced to ponder…

“The Wanderer” is a further development on his earlier “Revenge Lock” produced many years ago to reprise the Lunatic lock and confound puzzlers: it looks pretty similar to the Lunatic Lock but the internals are somewhat more challenging…


Now I’d been fortunate enough to see an early prototype of “The Wanderer” over a year ago at Wil’s place – Louis had been test-solving and advising and there was a new prototype so we all had at it… Louis had followed the text-book solve and I’d tried a few slightly less orthodox approaches and was somewhat amazed when one of them paid dividends and I was able to open the prototype… sadly news of my success reached the puzzle designer (at the other side of the room!) and he decided that a thorough redesign was in order… and when I next saw it, it had grown a casing and I was assured that the internals had been thoroughly re-jigged to stop me solving it “my way”… 


Right, so get the puzzle home and explore.


First impressions – it's beautifully made and it looks like a lovely lump of aluminium (No, gentle reader, that "i" is not superfluous!), with a little brass and steel to make it look like a lock… 


Wil’s instructions are to first find your serial number, then open the shackle and remove the key (a brass bolt in the centre of the lock) and finally, release the wanderer, before returning everything back to its starting state. 


The first step effectively involves releasing the lock from the casing as the serial number is on the back of the lock… that’s not too challenging and shouldn’t take a puzzlist particularly long…

Your next step is to open the shackle – that is a significantly harder step in the process… one that took me weeks! 

And thereby hangs a salutary tail, dear reader… you see, it was my own fault entirely – having seen the prototype, I knew what I was planning to do to solve this lock, and as soon as I’d separated the lock from the casing, I went off down a particular path that I’d pre-planned… only to find it wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do. 


I then spent many, many evenings trying to prove the Einstein quote wrong and indeed extract a different outcome from trying the same things over and over again… just in a different order, or in a different orientation, or while in the shower – you get the idea. 


Eventually I was getting goaded by news of my friends all solving theirs and how great this puzzle was – and I had a pretty lump of aluminium for all I knew…


…until someone made me think (c) a little, and I found something I really hadn’t expected – and it was entirely my own fault – because I “knew” what I was trying to do, I ignored a bunch of possibilities and didn’t look for some things I really should have – most of all, because one of those little things was stopping me from doing what I wanted to do…


Going back to basics helped me spot something interesting which turned into a fantastic “A-Ha!” moment – one I had totally overlooked and I had been thoroughly underestimating this puzzle – and I paid the price – for several weeks!


Moving on from there was an utter joy – not only was there a wonderful discovery, but there was so much more to explore now… and that changed everything… and about an hour later I had extracted the key and the shackle, retrieved the wanderer and had a neat little pile of pieces on my desk…


So I did the obvious thing and sent Wil a picture of the bits – he replied pointing out I was halfway there now… Uh-oh…


Next evening I sat down with the bits and attempted reassembly – for several hours… along the way learning an awful lot about the mechanics inside, and just how devious they are – there are plenty of ways to put this thing together wrongly, but none of them will allow you put the lock back in the case with everything immobilised as it is in the start-position… time and time again I’d try a series of things only to find myself blocked and having to go back to the start again… reassembly is tough – and you can see everything and it’s pretty clear where it all has to go… yet…


By the end of that journey I’d found little ways of making some of the process simpler, more predictable, and importantly for me, less reliant on dexterity, until I finally managed to get it all back in the casing, neatly locked up.


This is a pretty darn amazing little puzzle – even if you haven’t had the “advantage” of seeing the prototype, this thing will confound and entertain – there is some beautifully hidden engineering in there that will surprise you and a wonderfully simple, reliable mechanism to lock it all up – several times I thought I’d damaged something or bent something and that things weren’t behaving properly, only to realise I hadn’t quite understood something or not got it quite right… you have to do everything properly or you don’t progress… nobody is going to manage to fluke this one like I fluked the prototype – this is a well-thought-out, beautifully executed puzzle… instantly one of my favourite Strijbos puzzles!


Anon


No comments:

Post a Comment