Monday 20 September 2021

Polar Burr

Many weeks ago, Steve included a copy of Derek’s latest helical burr in one of my regular care packages. Polar Burr is the product of Derek’s relentless research into all possible helical variants – this one comes with the dubious title of being the highest level helical burr to date… at somewhere over 30 moves to remove the first piece.

That probably won’t scare you – like me, you’ve probably been victorious over many level-30 burrs in your time. Heck, you’ve probably even done plenty of them with a lot more pieces than this one… and yet this one is very, very different! You should respect this one, even approach it with deference… and if you don’t, it will bite you on the bum – guaranteed.

Now I’ve acquired several helical variants over the years – and virtually all of them have been great fun. Sure they mess with your head a little when you start playing with them, but once you get used to the movements and the interactions and you start forming a mental picture of how the blockages and passages inside are interacting, you can almost picture a route through them… or you can just blindly fiddle and often that’ll be enough to take them apart. Of course blind luck is seldom sufficient for reassembly!

Polar Burr seriously ups the ante however… I must have spent hours over the course of several weeks trying to get the darn thing apart without making the lightest bit of progress. Sure, I could get the pieces to start coming apart – heck, I could get them to the point where they were literally hanging together by a thread – but get them totally apart? Nope – not a sausage.

Truth be told, if it hadn’t been for the kind offer of a BurrTools file from a fellow-puzzler, that thing would never have come apart. Even with the BurrTools file it’s a pretty tricky task! 

There are some wonderfully sneaky little moves in there that casual fiddling (my usual approach to solving puzzles!) will simply never find… so if you want a thoroughly serious helical burr, hit up the Two Brass Monkeys for a copy of Polar Burr – but please don’t blame me if your vocabulary gets a lot more colourful than it ever used to be as a result.

Derek 1 – Allard 0

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