Friday, 17 April 2015


No way! - my first thought after reading Kevin Sadler's review of Optiborn. He had mentioned:- "don't be put off by such a high level - this is definitely solvable by almost any puzzler".

I was not put off by the level of this puzzle...not at all. I was just stumped and stuck like after 10-12 moves...well, more on the solve later.

Optiborn is from the most recent range of puzzles offered by the Pelikan Workshop. I had gotten it together with Castle, reviewed previously. Made of Paduak and Walnut, the puzzle is very well constructed with superb quality and finishing. Nice touches include the fine beveling of the edges and the name of the puzzle engraved on the cage! 

The Pelikan Workshop have always produced quality value for money puzzles in the past. But with their newly revamped website, the level of quality has also correspondingly gone up a few notches as well.

Optiborn was designed by Stephane Chomine, who has done a staggering 497 designs in the last five years, since March 2010. That's an incredible average of 2 designs every week! 

Not a large puzzle by any means, the Optiborn measures about 6cm x 4cm x 4cm. Externally, it doesn't look intimidating, sporting a minimalist look with four regular burr pieces and a ordinary looking cage. But this is a tiger in sheep's clothing! Its really least I found it so. So don't believe Kevin what he says. After all, he's quite an accomplished burrist, but not so much of a packist (the latter by his own admission; "packist"- one who plays with packing puzzles).

I wrestled with Optiborn for quite a number of evenings; in between playing with other puzzles but got nowhere. Usually hitting a dead end after a number of moves. Finally I threw in the towel and configured the design in burr tools. The first 27 moves look so convoluted and confusing that I knew I wouldn't have been able to solve it on my own. 

Its one thing to design high level burrs using all sorts of notches, grooves, cuts with numerous pieces and odd shapes. But in my opinion, a really good design is one like the Optiborn - innocuous and simple looking, with regular shapes and few pieces...yet in terms of difficulty, punches well above its weight!

Little doubt that those who are into burr puzzles would enjoy this one! And great value for money too! 

1 comment:

  1. Nonsense! It's definitely solvable by anyone! You got caught at a very well hidden move! We all get caught there but eventually find our way past and then it's plain sailing until another hidden move near the end. The important thing here is that there are very few blind ends and you don't get lost in them so can easily get back to the beginning.

    I maintain this is a great challenge but definitely solvable!