Grooved 6 Board Burr #1 – Junichi Yananose

The time is here, the mission’s clear. Today I will attempt to solve Juno’s amazing Grooved 6 Board Burr #1.

I purchased this particular puzzle way back in 2018 and have yet to solve it. I’ve toyed with it a few times, but never really put in a good effort. As Juno has continued to release more Grooved 6 Board Burr’s (6 released so far) I thought it was time to finally tackle this one. Assuming things go well, I’m going to move on and try to solve them all (yes, I’ve continued to buy them as they are released) and they’ve all remained on the shelf taunting me. Well, no more! 

Burr #1 is a gorgeous piece of work. It’s made from American Cherry wood with reinforced corners made of Jarrah. The action is smooth, it’s enjoyable to hold and it’s really a wonder to behold – as are all of Juno’s puzzles.

It’s hard to imagine that this simple looking board burr contains so many possible configurations

The description of this one is intimidating. 22 moves to take out the first piece and 4246 assembly options. The big difficulty lies in the grooves and pins. There are grooves routed into many of the boards and correlating pins that travel along the grooves while moving the pieces. This groove and pin system greatly restricts the movement and adds extreme difficulty – especially in assembly. I’m not even going to attempt a blind assembly, my plan is to track all the movements and map things out so that I can reassemble after I’m done.

Let’s get started. 

The puzzle is quite fun to play with. There are two moveable boards to start with, but one of these options quickly hits a dead end. The second option quickly forks to more options and once again one path leads to dead ends, while the other seems to open up more opportunities. Things really get interesting here as the boards slide around and different moves open up even further paths and though it seems like a piece might come out at any minute, I know better than to get too optimistic. These darn grooves and pins prevent the boards from sliding all the way out. 

Seven moves in and I’m stuck. I felt like I was on the correct path, but this feels like a dead end. I must have missed a move somewhere. Time to backup.

Ok, now twelve moves in and stuck again. This is getting quite hard to keep track of. Instead of just one board moving at a time, it is now groups of 2 or three that seem to want to move at the same time. It’s difficult to tell whether these are individual moves or not. Sometimes I think I found a new path only to discover that all I’m doing is reversing the previous move. Things are getting tricky, but I must press on.

Jeez. 15 moves in and I’m sort of back at the beginning – except I’m not. There’s one piece that is now out of place. I’m not sure if this is the correct path or if I’m just circling round and round doing the same moves.

It has just dawned on me that I have no idea what I’m doing. There are pins and grooves and I can see exit points in the grooves, but I’m not really trying to put a specific piece in a specific place, rather, I’m just blindly going down every path possible, hoping that I’ll eventually find the solution. I really don’t know any other way to solve this beast. But I’m currently about 18 moves in and so the end should be near. However, I could be way off on the 18 move thing. Doubt is creeping in as I hit another dead end and have to back up a couple of moves and try a different path.

Not easy to keep track of the moves at this point. Am I progressing forward or just circling around and around?

Aaaand. I need a break. By my count, I’ve completed 32 moves and haven’t removed a piece, so clearly I’m repeating moves and circling around. I’m having a hard time keeping track of what moves take me forward and what moves return me to a previous state. This thing is not easy. There seem to be countless dead ends and the pieces have to be positioned perfectly before moving forward. The puzzle allows you to move forward, but if the pins aren’t in the correct position it just leads to a dead end. This is very tricky indeed and after a solid hour of concentrated focus, I’m going to rest on it and give it another go tomorrow.

Next day and I’m back at it. I’ve taken the puzzle back to the start and am working my way back through the sequence very slowly and carefully, looking for every possible path forward. I’ve clearly missed something along the way and I intend to find it. I also re-read Kevin’s blog post about this puzzle where he specifically says “The true pathway was quite an early divergence from that initial path.” This helpful hint also influenced me to start over and look more carefully.

Ouch. This puzzle has spanked me again! Another fruitless half hour gone as I get more confused. I really thought I’d be able to solve this a little quicker, but I guess not.

And after another hour or so of tinkering, I finally found the move! Wow. I’ve done it. The puzzle has been disassembled. Whew, that was amazing! This truly is a devilish puzzle. I’m amazed at how many deep dead ends there are. Most puzzles that I’ve worked on have much shallower dead ends – it quickly becomes obvious that you are down the wrong path. But, not this puzzle. There are still multiple forks available within the dead end that causes you to keep tinkering, to keep believing that you are right, when in reality, you are dead wrong and the only way to find the real solution is to backtrack 10 moves almost all the way to the beginning. Wow. Just wow.

Yay! I’ve disassembled the puzzle. What an amazing feeling!

I don’t know if I stand any chance of putting this back together. I took dozens of photographs to attempt to keep track of those final moves, but I’m feeling doubtful. Even after the first piece was removed, it still took me a good amount of time to figure out the next piece and it still didn’t get much easier. The final few pieces were stubbornly difficult to remove as well.

In the end, I managed to get it back together without using burr tools. To me, that’s a success. I may have used photos and my written notes, but ultimately, it went back together. It was tricky as there were some moves that I hadn’t tracked very well, but ultimately, I had enough clues to make it work. Whew. I’m exhausted! The bolt of adrenaline from solving the puzzle coupled with the extreme focus required to hold everything together and the mental gymnastics to decipher my notes has left me ready for a nap. 

Notes on the page, colored stickers and coffee are essential ingredients for a difficult solve.
Colored stickers make it easier to identify moves and keep track of what’s what.

Overall, I’m beyond thrilled with this puzzle. It may have taken me 3 years to get it done, but it was well worth it and I will display this one proudly on the shelf. This is truly a masterpiece. Now the only question that remains: Will the other 5 grooved board burrs live up to this one?

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