Friday 29 March 2024

MiBinity I

 ….when your mate drops you an email and tells you he’s designed a three-piece burr with a level 25 solution, you do the right thing and say “Yes, please. How much is it?” 

Then you wait patiently for a travelling puzzler to hand deliver it and confirm your instincts are good: Jack’s done a stunning job of bringing Michel’s design to life.

Front and back have Michel’s logo nicely laid out in walnut - handily giving the bones of the three pieces - which start coming apart in a nice rhythmic fashion as you begin the solve. 

Given the designer and the name of the puzzle, there are plenty of clues to the n-ary nature of this little guy, and it doesn’t disappoint. You’ll find yourself traversing a predictable pathway before having to go back on yourself before you can finally escape. 

Take the pieces apart and the interacting pathways are clear… and while disassembly is fairly straight-forward, in a Belgian sense, I found establishing the proper starting position to be the real puzzle! (It’s probably just me…!) 

Reassembled once more it looks great - and really doesn’t look like a flat three-piece level 25 burr.

Nice one chaps!!

Thursday 21 March 2024

Unsafe Deposit

<Excuse the short hiatus - we’ve been exploring Fort Lauderdale and enjoying some Caribbean sunshine! Blogging came second…>

I’ve written about Alan Lunsford’s little sequential discovery puzzles in the past- but until recently I hadn’t been able to get hold of a copy of his Unsafe Deposit as it usually contains a small bunch of coins and come countries are a little sniffy about folks posting their currency around the world…

In a bid to get his puzzles out to a wider audience, Alan has come up with an international-postage-friendly-version, which from my attempts to reintroduce some coinage after I’d solved it, suggest that he hasn’t just replaced the coins with 3D-printed tokens, he’s also taken the opportunity to change the design up a little…

Unsafe Deposit is about the same size as the previous two little guys I wrote about - there’s a pretty clear goal staring at you through a square window in the one side, a few slots and holes spread around a few of the other sides, and a hex screw blocking one of the slots that may have some treasure hiding inside it…

At the start, there appears to be very little that you can do - I spent quite a while totally convinced there was literally nothing I could do, until I summoned up the courage to do what I thought I shouldn’t… and it turned out I actually should very much have… so I was off…

As you progress you’ll find treasure or tools, you decide… there was a lovely flow to this solve early on, until there wasn’t and I found myself with a proverbial brick wall that wouldn’t budge. (I did take some comfort from seeing one or two other puzzlers at least temporarily halted by that particular stage - it’s a delightful change of gear, as it were and forces you to think(c) just a little more…) 

Once that hurdle is overcome it’s a short sprint to the finish line and retrieving that coin/token that’s been waiting patiently for you all along. 

Once again, there’s a lot going on inside this little cube, and I really love the fact that you think you know exactly what to do, until Alan throws a monkey wrench in your path and stops you dead… definitely one to toss at fellow puzzlers with a “Here, you’ll like this one…”

Sunday 3 March 2024

Minima Series (#1-12)

This week, dear reader (for there can surely only be one!) I bring you thoughts on a most excellent little set of puzzles – the Minima Series, designed by Frederic Boucher and made by NothingYetDesigns.

I missed out on these when they were initially put up for sale (in my defence they didn’t last long!) so I was very chuffed when I spotted a set on Puzzle Paradise at a reasonable price. One or two of my puzzling mates had said some encouraging things about them so I was intrigued.

NYD have done a great job of making up the boxes in frosted acrylic – all neatly marked with their appropriate identifiers. The pieces are all in their own little drawstring bags and there’s an instruction card for each of the dozen little terrors. Most of the instructions just ask you to place all of the pieces inside the box and remind you that rotations are allowed. (A couple of the later puzzles impose some restrictions on where certain coloured blocks need to be placed.)

Diving right in, I figured I’d start at number one because, clearly, that would be the easiest one, right?

M1 has just three pieces to be placed inside the 2*2*3 box (the boxes are all 2*2*3 – it’s just the openings that differ between them) – the pieces take up 11 voxels so we have one spare voxel inside the box when we’re done… given the shape of the openings, there’s literally only one place those pieces can be inserted, sure there are a couple of places where a bit can be temporarily parked outside the box, but they’re all going in through that single little opening…

I end up spending some time thinking (literally) outside the box while exploring the different assemblies that might fit inside the box, and then trying to reverse pieces out of the way using the imaginary holes in the right places… that doesn’t immediately lead to a suitable solution so I go back inside the box and begin exploring all of the potential rotations that might be possible with that combination of holes… and then some pennies start dropping… and M1’s solved.

A brief break to enjoy a little dopamine hit (hey, I’ve got to take all I can get, this solving thing doesn’t happen that frequently!) and I’m onto M2…

I make steady, albeit slow progress until I get to M4 which proves to be a bit of a blocker for me… but that’s nothing like M8, it turns out – that one keeps me thoroughly stumped for a long time – and it remains the only one in the series that I haven’t solved for weeks.

You’d think things might get a little samey after the first half dozen or so – but they don’t – Frederic’s put together an excellent set of challenges that never gets predictable – to the point that going back to the start again a week or two after you’ve solved the lot of them will still provide some amusement – and in my case – another serious challenge.

I really love this set of puzzles, and so far, everyone I’ve inflicted them on has had the same reaction: “How the heck can this simple little thing be that difficult?”