Tuesday, 18 June 2013

2-In-1 (2013 Edition)

Name
2-In-1

Designer
Oskar Van Deventer. Check out Oskar's puzzle wiki; quite amazing the number of puzzles he has designed including eleven commercially available Hanayama Cast puzzles.


Manufacturer
Eric Fuller. From www.cubicdissection.com for US$75. Currently sold out.

Type & Classification
Interlock burr

Dimensions
8.6 cm (Height) x 8.6 cm (Width) x 8.6 cm (Depth).

Materials & Construction
A stunning twelve different exotic hardwoods; Purpleheart, Yellowheart, Ash, Grandillo, Chakte Cok (I am not sure if this is the correct spelling?), Canarywood, Paduak, Wenge, Maple, Mahogany, Sapele, Bubinga. One of the most colourful wooden puzzles I have come across. Construction, fit and finish is excellent.

As they say the devil is in the details and each of the twelve pieces all have slightly bevelled edges on their external facings to up the quality quotient as well as making them smooth to touch. Which was a good thing also because in the course of trying to solve the puzzle, I dropped a piece here and there on my work desk occasionally and if it had been a sharp edge or corner, the piece would have been dented or dinged.


Overview
According to Eric, the first 2-In-1s were made some 7 years ago and this is part of a new batch made this year. Comprising of 12 pieces (of which some are identical), the object of course is to fit all the pieces together to form the result shown in the photo above. I had a look at the first version but that one doesn't seem as good looking as the current one. And this later version is also less expensive!

The puzzle came unassembled, so you can imagine how difficult this was going to be. I thought I could get started by matching the colours of the pieces to those in the photo on Eric's website or in any case at least get the general orientation of the pieces right. Alas, it was not to be so easy. While some of the pieces like the maple, purpleheart and yellowheart were pretty obvious to match, the rest was not so easy. It also occurred to me that Eric may have have cut identical pieces using different hardwoods so that no two puzzles were alike.

Added to the challenge was the fact that I had to grapple with 12 loose pieces and it got really difficult trying to trial and error fit more than 5 or 6 pieces at a time. Each time I thought I made some progress, I got stuck and had to take apart everything again. As mentioned in the puzzle's description, the way the pieces are cut leave open spaces concealed within the puzzle that can result in many false solutions. Well, how many false solutions to me was quite academic since after a good nearly a full day of trying, I decided to throw in the towel and resort to my favourite puzzle friend...yep...Burr Tools. But using the software is no walk in the park either for this 2-In-1 as other puzzlers may wish to testify. (Eric, can you please photograph your puzzles from different angles, thanks!).

Difficulty Level
Extremely difficult! Made more so by the fact that the 2-In-1 is shipped unassembled.

Summary
A real bitch to solve (well I wouldn't really know since I did it with the help of a computer programme). But once done, a beautiful puzzle to look at with the myriad of contrasting colours. Large enough to display really well, this one!

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