Sunday, 18 January 2015

It's Decemburr (and my 250th Post!)

I wish it was still December (with Christmas and the New Year) but unfortunately it ain't! 

But this is my 250th post, since I started this blog three and half years ago; how time has flown!

But my puzzle of choice over the weekend was Decemburr by Goh Pit Khiam. Designed over 15 years ago in 1999, it was the highest level solution burr (level 13 at that time) for a 12 piece burr configuration. The highest known solution level then for any burr puzzle was believed to be level 18, which was from the Lovely 18-piece Burr, designed by Bruce Love. 

Goh named his burr Decemburr because it has 12 pieces and was designed sometime during December 1999. Mind you, the design was done solely by hand, not aided by any computer software. At that time Andreas Rover also hadn't come up with Burr Tools yet, so Goh used Bill Cutler's GENDA ("GENeral DisAssembly") programme to check his design to confirm a unique solution. Really quite a feat in those days!

My Decemburr came to me as a gift from Goh at the our first meeting several years back, after I found out he was a fellow Singaporean living just 14km away from me. It has been in my puzzle cupboard all this while. My copy was made by Mr Puzzle of Australia. Its from Mr Puzzle's higher end Craftsman range and constructed from Queensland Blackbean wood. Quality and finish is very good with nice detailing of the edges. And the pieces all slide smoothly (after a couple of days in my dehumidifying box).

The Decemburr has a total of 23 moves to fully disassemble and 13 to remove the first piece. The starting was straight forward enough and I got the first piece to move, then slowly the other pieces on the sides were also able to move which allowed the movement of their intersecting pieces. There appeared to be a sort of sequence to it but up to a certain point..and then I was stuck, nothing else seemed able to move. But after a bit more experimentation I finally was able to extract the first piece. In fact once the first piece was out, the rest was pretty straightforward. 

However once the 12 pieces were all strewn over my table, that was it...I was totally lost, not knowing even where to start. Anyway I was very pleased just to have disassembled it, as with most of my other burr puzzles. I contacted Goh and he kindly sent over Burr Tools which saved the day. following the Burr Tool steps, I managed to get everything back into place again.

The Decemburr is rated 10/10 for difficulty by Mr Puzzle because its very difficult to put back together unless the correct sequential 13 steps (in reverse order) are taken. It has 5485 false solutions! It is considered by many to be a classic and a must-have for collectors. Unfortunately, its not commercially available at the moment and perhaps the only route to acquiring one is via auction


  1. I haven't done mine in ages but it's definitely a great puzzle. It should be possible with this one to learn the reassembly by doing the disassembly multiple times with backtracking. I can do this with many puzzles with less than 18 pieces.


    1. Kevin, I took some time to get this thing apart...not sure if I want to do it again and multiple times tho...! I still have over 70 IPP34 exchange puzzles to get through...and I doubt if I can even finish half of what's left before IPP35

    2. I solve all my burrs by going back and forth a few steps at a time so I get a certain amount of muscle memory.

      Lucky you! I'm actually running a bit low on puzzles to solve!

    3. I do the same too...except that once I am done with one puzzle, I move on to the next. Usually I only "practice" repeat solve when I get people writing in asking for hints or solution for a puzzle and I go back to puzzle to refresh myself...or a puzzle that is easy and fast to solve once you know it but need practice to maintain Wil's Egg

    4. We have the same approach! It's hard work but maximises the fun.

  2. I assume you wrote this review in December in advance and decided to post now because we are no longer in December!!! :)

    1. I was doing some spring cleaning over the weekend and found my Decemburr....had it for a couple of years and forgot about it.