Monday, 28 September 2015

Love's Dozen

What a very cool name for a puzzle! Love's Dozen is my first puzzle from puzzle craftsman Jerry McFarland. I have heard of his excellent workmanship over the last several years but never had the chance to buy one of his works until at the last IPP Puzzle Party in Canada. There he had a table showcasing some new prototypes and selling a small selection of puzzles he had recently produced.


Love's Dozen was designed by Bruce Love nearly thirty years ago in 1987. It is a six piece burr with the classic burr shape in the solved state. My copy is made of three different woods. Each pair of pieces comprise of Bloodwood, Jatoba and Ramin, giving the puzzle a contrast of light, medium and dark colours. Construction, fit and finish is excellent and I like the way that each piece has slight beveled edges making the pieces very smooth and comfortable to hold. The puzzle measures about 7.5 cm all round, a very good size that is neither too small nor too large for ease of handling.  


As far as the solving goes, I didn't have too much trouble taking the puzzle apart as it is not a very high level burr and a bit of experimentation here and there did the trick. It is a level 12 solution at the hardest. Unlike other burrs, this one does not possess a unique solution. According to the accompanying literature, Love's Dozen has 90 solutions and 154 assemblies. What's unique is that the 12 moves required here to remove the first piece from the burr is the highest possible for a 6-piece burr. And the 12 move solution also happens to be the only one which all pairs of parallel pieces are of the same wood. In a way, if you specify the requirement that each pair of parallel pieces must be of the same wood, then Love's Dozen may be considered to have a unique solution. Currently the highest level for a 6-piece burr with a unique solution is 10.

Re-assembly is altogether a different kettle of fish. And of course I had a lot of problems trying to put the thing back together again. Thankfully I didn't have to resort to configuring Burr Tools since Jerry provided a printed solution. 

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