Saturday, 19 September 2020

CORVI 2020

I often find myself calling my mate Chinny a bit of a nutter – in a good way of course. He’s one of those guys whose laughter will instantly brighten up a room-full of puzzlers deep in concentration and the boy has skillz – man does he have skillz! And when those skillz, and that sense of humour combine, quite often something magical appears.

Chinny is also the sort of guy that, when life gives him lemons, he makes lemonade – damn good lemonade! So when 2020 threw COVID-19 at us, Chinny saw that as puzzle fodder, and cooked up a puzzle that might just pass as a slightly scaled-up model of the COVID-19 virus – and presented us with CORVI 2020… his entry in this year’s Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition.

A few copies of this puzzle have appeared on various puzzle auctions over the last month or two and I managed to snaffle a copy (along with some more Chinny awesome-ness – but that’s another blog post well off into the future!) and after a slightly longer than usual wander over to Blighty, I finally got a shot of the Chin-meister’s sense of humour.

Of course it also comes with a handsome stand, complete with a trapped ring around the base with virtually no play between the dished sides and the perfectly round, well-trapped ring – because Chinny hates to waste any of the wood that gets cut off when he’s turning a project… and speaking of wood – my virus is made of some rather nicely marbled Mulberry wood – this is definitely my first puzzle made out of Mulberry!

The puzzle itself is a generously-sized sphere, perfectly pitted about the entire surface, with about 30 golf tees giving it the characteristic spiky COVID-19 look. Looking carefully at the sphere you’ll spot a dividing line and you might surmise that you’re going to need to open this virus up at some point.

Examining the tees a little you’ll discover that most of them just pull out… and some don’t … and several have perfectly functioning whistles cut into them (it’s a Chinny thing: there’s usually a whistle somewhere in his playful designs!). Some of the tees are special and require a bit more thought and you might even need to engage actual puzzle-solving mode at this point.

To be honest, removing the golf tees isn’t even the appetiser in this fully-balanced meal! You will need to find out what’s stopping you from opening this virus up, and be warned, there are several steps in that process… but if you persist you are rewarded by the rather ominous ticking countdown and the sound of an explosion as you catch sight of death himself staring right back at you goading you into doing something you shouldn’t.

This is classic Chinny: it may not levitate (for long) or indeed make breakfast, but it provides you with several whistles and a darn good laugh when you open the thing up.

Closing it all up again is reasonably straight forward once you've seen the insides, but then there is the small matter of reinserting all of the golf tees so that the colours are symmetric and no colour is repeated in any of the pentagons on the surface of the virus.

Definitely a worthy new puzzle in the canon-of-the-Chin-meister – guaranteed to put a smile on your face! 

Thanks for giving us a reason to laugh at that blimming virus, Chinny!


  1. The funny thing is I used to extract money from Stephen for many years via my Hobby Shop, Then one day I developed this dreadful toothache,
    That was the day I found out Dr.Stephen Chin was an excellent dentist and puzzle maker,---------He has been extracting money out of me now for years,
    Regards Greg M Ellis