Jammed Gem – Frederic Boucher & Eric Fuller

I can’t even begin to describe how impressed I am with this puzzle – and I haven’t even really touched it yet. The unboxing process was that intense.

It’s the first puzzle I’ve bought that came enclosed in a moisture barrier bag. I’m nervous to touch it. I’ve never spent this much on a puzzle – it’s like buying a lamborghini and then being scared to drive it. The puzzle is impressive all right. Hats off to cubicdissection for their detailed packaging. it seems they spend as much time focusing on packaging their puzzles as they do with the puzzles themselves. I mean that in a good way.

The presentation is superb, the craftsmanship is superb, how the F do you spell that word btw???

It’s heavy for it’s size and it has a strong aroma that’s got me captivated. I don’t know if i should even touch it.

This is likely the most impressive item I’ve even purchased. I’m enthralled by it.

The corners pieces are ridiculous. whatever wood it is, it’s incredible. using it at the corners gives us full exposure of the length of the grain and also the cross cut. my knowledge of woodworking is small and wood species even smaller, but despite my clumsy descriptions, this puzzle is flat out impressive to behold.

I want to savor it, and slowly uncover the secrets. SD puzzles can be wonderful experiences to solve. I think all serious puzzlers know this. A truly great SD puzzle can be a once in a lifetime experience of frustration, excitement, deep thought, incredible A-Ha moments and more. Is this puzzle one that will take me on an exquisite journey? I certainly hope so. It’s why I spend so much on these puzzles – I want the crazy rush of figuring shit out and overcoming these mechanical (and mental) challenges.

This puzzle looks like a packing puzzle. And, in some respects, it might be. It consists of a rectangular box with 4 restricted openings. Inside the box are a few different pieces. All of that is consistent with a packing puzzle. But, when I look a little closer I see some unique features.

I can see some metal rods in a notch in one of the openings. These sort of rods look familiar to me as I’ve dealt with such things in previous puzzles. Having dealt with these before, I know what to do, and sure enough it works! But what is this thing I’m looking at and what do I do now? Hmm, it doesn’t seem like this particular move goes anywhere, so let’s see what else I can find.

Well, I’ve been searching for a while and all I can find is one internal block moving back and forth. Back and forth, back and forth. I keep moving it back and forth and nothing continues to happen. Sometimes these SD puzzles just sit there, or maybe it’s me that just sits there. Maybe I should move that block back and forth some more..

I eventually wrapped this puzzle back up in the moisture barrier bag and placed it in my humidity controlled container and moved on to others. Little did I know that I wouldn’t pick it up again for an entire year.

Fast forward a year and I’m finally back at it. This thing cost way too much to just sit hidden away. Let’s see if fresh eyes can make some more progress.

Photo courtesy of Cubicdissection.com

A-ha! Hell yeah. I’ve made progress! I guess the fresh eye thing worked because I tried something new based on a very subtle clue and by god, it worked! Progress has been made! This is what SD is all about. Long moments of zero progress followed by euphoric a-ha moments that are motivators to keep going.

Ok. Let’s move on. I now have some more variables to work with and I can see a potential path to the next step. But, as we all know, it’s just not that simple. I suppose that’s one of the many wonders of mechanical puzzles. The solver can see what needs to happen, but is unable to make it happen. This is the barrier we must overcome and when we do, we are rewarded with a-ha endorphins. But, enough of that, I have a puzzle to solve.

Deep Breaths. Heart racing. Shaking hands. I’ve found the next step and boy was it unexpected. For the last 30 minutes or so I’ve been stuck with no results. Nothing. The thing that I thought I should be doing wasn’t yielding anything. I kept trying alternative approaches and kept exploring the puzzle, searching for any clues. I didn’t find any clues, but I did, magically find the next step.

With that discovery, I now had something to work with. Let’s see what happens.

Things are starting to happen, though it did take a bit more thinking and fiddling. But, another step forward and a piece removed makes me feel like victory is within reach. So far, this is pretty damn exciting puzzling action going on over here. I’m in too deep to quit now.

Oh my god. It’s happened again. This move is pretty damn incredible. I’m in awe at the moment, just savoring the rush. Heart racing again. This shit is amazing. I can’t even believe how well hidden this step is – all of them really, but this one is extra crazy. It’s simply incredible. The worksmanship on this thing, the devioius mind that though this up, the design and execution. I can’t say enough. My head just exploded.

It’s safe to say that anything can happen at this point. The puzzle has taught me a lesson and that is not to trust anything. There is nothing that Eric (Rest in Peace) cannot do. God damn this shit is clever.

But with all that, I don’t really know how to proceed. I seem to have several items at my disposal, but nothing is jumping out at me. Time to experiment.

And again, I’ve found more pieces and clues. I had a feeling about this one, but didn’t know where it might happen or when, but it just did. I know, I’m talking gibberish, but how do you write about a puzzle when you can’t describe the puzzle? The move here added another mysterious piece to my growing collection of items. I had no idea this puzzle contained so many things.

The path continued for a bit and I finally figured out how to utilize a certain feature and from then on it was a matter of manipulating pieces, getting lost and turned around and second guessing whether I should be doing what I was doing. But there didn’t seem to be alternatives, so I continued in the confusing direction and suddenly found that I had added another piece to the collection.

Down to the final moves, I felt honed in. I knew it was fast approaching if I could just figure out the sequence that I knew I knew. Well, it may have been a bit of luck, but I eventually removed the piece and found the Gem.

Hot damn that was exciting as hell and was just a great overall experience. I’m just shaking my head because I don’t have the words to describe this all. I’m imagining the whole life cycle of this puzzle, not just me solving it, but the whole creative process behind creating this work of art. It goes so much deeper than just making this puzzle (although that in itself is an incredible work of precision) It’s all the puzzles that lead up to this one, all the trailblazers in the puzzle world, with their ideas and designs, and then the next generation of puzzle makers that push the boundaries of the previoius generation. There’s god knows how many hours of effort Eric put into CD. It all culminates in this puzzle. It’s incredible. Positively the greatest puzzle I’ve ever solved.

Sequential Discovery Burred Box – Junichi Yananose

Oh man, I’m so excited. I just received a package in the mail from Pluredro.com and I am now the proud owner of the Sequential Discovery Burred Box! This particular box was announced on social media (as far as I know) and sold out super quick (In 5 days!). I was on vacation at the time, but managed to sneak an order in when inventory was down to only 3 or 4. Well, I’m glad I put in the order, because this puzzle sure looks like fun.

A Quick Warning! – I’ve tried hard not to include any spoilers in my write-up, BUT, if you own this puzzle and haven’t yet solved it, I would avoid reading any further. You have been warned!

The only spoiler-free image I can show! Many secrets hidden inside this puzzle.

I’m going to do a running commentary for this blog post – I’ll write down my thoughts as they come and try to share in the discovery of solving this puzzle (hopefully!) I want to be careful not to post any spoilers, but also want to share the process – the successes, the failures, the frustrations and ultimately, the triumph! Let’s get started.

This puzzle is super unique. It is a sequential puzzle, that also has a small cavity inside. Is it a puzzle box? Is it a burr? Is it sequential? Yes, yes and yes!

My initial impression is that it is pretty big. It is bigger than my hand, and yet despite that, it is surprisingly light. It is hard to believe that there is a sequential puzzle box incorporated into this common 6-burr shape – but we shall see.

My initial inspection doesn’t reveal much. There are no loose pieces rattling around inside and there is not obvious initial move. It feels solid with very little play between the burr pieces. Closer inspection reveals that there aren’t 6 separate burr pieces either – some of them are fused together or made from a single piece of wood. Ok, enough of the examining, its time to start working on it and see what happens!

Wow! Very quickly, I’ve made my first discovery – and it is pretty exciting. That quick rush of adrenaline that spiked up and down my spine is exactly why I love puzzles. Without revealing any spoilers, I can say that this first discovery has revealed some of the puzzle’s interior and also given me access to a “tool” of sorts. I’ll see if I can put that to use…

But before I use the “tool” I’ve discovered that there are now some movements possible that weren’t possible before. And it’s even more exciting because this new movement now opens up some more areas and also unlocks an additional piece. This is really cool stuff and despite my skepticism this puzzle does indeed hide more secrets than seemed possible.

I’ve managed to use the tool and one of the pieces to make another move and now I am stuck. Is the puzzle solved or is there more to it? I fiddle some more and am feeling pretty certain that there is more to do here. There is still another area that I haven’t touched and then I discover there is also another tool to use! I can use the first tool to free the second! I’m having so much fun here!

There aren’t a lot of options left at this point but I still have to try out a couple of alternatives to see what works. Finally, I notice an area that I had not yet utilized and it just so happened to be the exact size to fit one of the other pieces… But I didn’t have things oriented correctly, so had to give it a second try and YES! I’ve done it! One last little trick and I’ve discovered the small cavity and the “Juno” brand! Wow. That was so cool!

One more shot of puzzle. Very clever indeed.

I’m just amazed at how much was packed into this puzzle. True, it’s not a small puzzle, but my first impression was that it would be pretty simple, and in fact it turned out to have many more moves and sequences than I thought it would have. Lesson learned – don’t judge a puzzle my its’ weight!

Overall, this puzzle was delightful. I really, really enjoyed it and hope that Juno makes many more of these types of puzzles – in fact, I may have to purchase one of his puzzle boxes because I enjoyed this so much. While this particular puzzle is no longer available,  its popularity and quick-selling performance makes me confident that there will be more of this type coming in the next year – and I can’t wait!