Tuesday 25 February 2014

Minotaur Burr

I’ve wanted one of these for a long time now…

I first saw it on Mr Puzzle’s web pages of past Limited Edition puzzles and thought it looked really interesting. I’d been on the look-out when I spotted an old auction for one that appeared to go unclaimed, so I tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with the seller…

Next time I came across one was when Frank Potts was giving a short talk at Laurie’s G4G event – he’d pulled together a bunch of three-piece burrs to talk about, including the Minotaur Burr which he admitted he’d designed as a specific challenge to the Hordern / Dalgety puzzle classification system, being both an interlocking solid (burr!) and a route-finding puzzle. I know it’s definitely not the only puzzle that can be classified several ways, but I loved the fact that he’d designed it specifically to challenge the categorisation.

In response to a request, Frank brought along a copy of the Minotaur Burr to an MPP and several of us enjoy playing with it.

Fast forward some considerable time (months!) and Frank mentions that it might be time to get rid of some duplicates from his collection – a few bits and bobs appear on Ebay and then a Minotaur Burr appears on Cubic Dissection’s marketplace being sold by the Potty one. So I bid early and I bid good…and over the course of the week I find myself needing to increase my bid a little – apparently I’m not the only one lusting after one of these – damn and blast!

But I manage to stay on top and my Minotaur Burr arrives while I’m out playing puzzles at MPP13.

It is a cracker!

My copy may well just be an unnumbered artist’s prototype, but the fit is perfect and the movements are crisp and clean.

Assembled, it looks just like a pretty large 3-piece burr. Pick it up and you realise immediately that it’s quite a lot denser than it should be – it’s not a simple wooden burr! Start moving the pieces and you realise there’s a maze or two inside there that you’re negotiating. You’re given a glimpse of the insides pretty soon after you start taking it apart and the aluminium mazes set this puzzle well apart from any ordinary three piece burrs. Navigate all the way to the end and you can remove one piece with a clear acrylic rod joining the two end pieces before the two maze pieces are freed.

It’s not a hugely challenging puzzle, but it is surprising and fun to work through – and I love Frank’s story behind the design. I’m well-chuffed to have finally managed to add one of these to the little collection. Cheers Frank for agreeing to part with one of them!

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