Extremely Puzzling - Goetz Schwandtner's Puzzles

Puzzle Group: My Adventures in the Zoo of Burrs

This group page shows some burr puzzles with something special to them. Most of them look like traditional 18 pieces burrs, but actually they are not: They contain one or two extra pieces, and these extra pieces are animal shaped and lend their names to the respective puzzles.

It all started with a puzzle created by Alfons Eyckmans: "Free the monkeys" contains two monkey shaped extra pieces. The following ones were also created by Alfons: one with a gorilla piece, a bit bigger than the monkey pieces, and then a whole series containing several variations of hellhounds, the "Devil's Pets". This idea was adapted by a second designer, Stephan Baumegger, who created a burr with a big snake in it. All these burrs so far have two things in common: Based on the traditional 18 pieces burrs scheme, and because the animal pieces are quite big, they only move just when they come out of the puzzle, not before. The latest invention in this group is a 12 piece burr containing a camel piece. The 12 piece burr shape has been used by Alfons earlier already to hide some smaller 3- or 4-piece burrs in it and seems to offer a lot of room. Although the camel is quite big, it moves a lot during the solution.

In the following, I will review these "Animal Burrs", so beware: there may be some spoilers for the solution. For each puzzle, a picture of the animal piece is shown, and also a picture showing how the animal piece is built into the burr. Click on these pictures for bigger versions.

These reviews are result of my recent solving of these puzzles. All disassembled without the help of Burr-Tools and all of them have been great fun to play with. They are behaving completely different, even within the series. A big thanks to Alfons and Stephan for designing these puzzles.

Free the Monkeys
Free the Monkeys Free the Monkeys Free the Monkeys The first two pieces come out easily, then the fun starts: Some interesting moves with whole groups of pieces moving at the same time for removal of piece 3 and 4 — and the first monkey to come out ensures that these moves cannot be found too easily. Once you have found these moves, you will see that the pieces seem to have been designed for exactly these moves.
Save the Gorilla
Save the Gorilla Save the Gorilla Save the Gorilla This one has nice repeating and not too difficult move patterns for removal of pieces 1 and 2 (took me about 45 minutes). After that, you have to return to nearly the start and find some lateral and group moves to remove pieces 3 and 4. The rest is quite easy.
Devil's Pet 1
Devil's Pet 1 Devil's Pet 1 Devil's Pet 1 The solution starts off with a nice long sequence to remove the first piece, with special "tunnelling" moves which will return in Devil's Pets 3 and 4. While piece 2 is quite easy, the third piece requires some interesting and hard to find moves, where a group of pieces has to "entangle" with some others — while even moving more pieces simultaneously. This puzzle is not easy, but an excellent start if you would like to solve Devil's Pets 1, 3, and 4.
Devil's Pet 2
Devil's Pet 1 Devil's Pet 1 Devil's Pet 1 Somehow this one seems to be an odd family member of the "Devil's Pets": It is easier than the others and does not share common move sequences. Instead, it is starting with some unusual group moves, where some piece has to be stored away before anything else may happen. For removing piece 5, you will have to make some room where apparenty there is none, and this is probably the most difficult piece to remove for this puzzle.
Devil's Pet 3
Devil's Pet 1 Devil's Pet 1 Devil's Pet 1 This puzzle starts very similar to Devil's Pet 1 with a similar move sequence to prepare the removal of the first piece, adding some more spice to it. Unlike Devil's Pet 1, the level for the following pieces is quite high (Level is for the puzzle). When solving the puzzle, I found the 14 moves of the second piece quite easy, while the 13 moves for the third piece contain some very interesting and harder moves. This is then superseded by piece 4, which seems to be the hardest to me in this puzzle with some preparation moves well hidden. Further along, you will find that even after removing 8 pieces, the puzzle shows some interesting behaviour: Quite loose, but stable enough so that no piece can be removed, even with attempted rotations. The pet does an excellent job to lock the pieces in place. To move on, some hard to find moves have to be carried out. The third picture shows the puzzle shortly before this situation.
Devil's Pet 4
Devil's Pet 1 Devil's Pet 1 Devil's Pet 1 Clearly, Devil's Pet 4 has inherited the sequences for the first piece from Devil's Pet 1 and 3, but something strange has happened here: The moves are actually less sophisticated than for Devil's Pet 3, just to add some moves afterwards and to raise the level from 38 to 43. Noticeably, the same first piece is removed in both burrs and the last few moves for this are the same again. For the next few pieces to be removed, some tricky moves have to be discovered, but after mastering Devil's Pet 3 before, you will have an idea which pieces may move out and how they might move out. To make things more complicated, they won't come out in the same order! The sixth piece has another challenge to offer: 10 moves. Similar to Devil's Pet 3, the puzzle becomes very loose without releasing any more piece, even with attempted rotations or tilting pieces. Seems the hellhound (pet) is eager to keep it's keep together at this point and not letting any more piece out. Until you find an unusual move, it looks like none of the pieces can get out at all. However, a systematic analysis will show you the move you need and release another piece. I guess the third picture showing this situation does not give this loose lock enough credit! When verifying the solution, something strange happened to me that I experienced before for other puzzles. Instead of releasing piece 2, I released pieces 3 and 4 with some additional moves, and then the sequences for pieces 2, 5, and 6 became much shorter than before. Nice feature! Overall, this puzzle seems to be the most difficult Devil's Pet to me, but after training with the others I completely disassembled it on two evenings, maybe 5 hours in total.
Beware of the Snake
Beware of the Snake Beware of the Snake Beware of the Snake This puzzle set a new record for me: After picking up the puzzle for the first time, I removed the first piece in 15 minutes! It seems that this had not been the optimal 40 move solution, but some 6 more moves and I immediately pulled out some more pieces with 2 or 3 moves each (not 13, as in the optimal solution). Of course the quick solve made me curious to analyze the structure of the solution. This puzzle is a good example of a puzzle that is guiding the solver and can best be solved by looking at the pieces, analyzing which piece locks which other piece, and building a theory, which should be the next target piece. Seems like this is how I solve burr puzzles best, and this makes it very interesting to me — despite the quick solve. As you can see, the burr comes with an extra snake, so you can keep one snake on display while the other is securely locked.
Camelride Camelride Camelride This 12 piece burr is the only seen so far in which the animal piece moves before it is removed. Actually, already the second move is a camel move and as an extra feature gravity or very thin fingers are required for it. Later on, the camel hops through the burr in a long sequence to make room for other pieces, but only after one has unlocked the camel with a certain set of two pieces. Very interesting and unusual for a burr!
The Devil and his Pet
The Devil and his Pet The Devil and his Pet The Devil and his Pet This latest addition is a 12 pieces burr with two different pieces in it. One is the devil and one his pet, so we finally are going to meet the master of all the pets presented before (or should we rather leave him locked into this burr?). This beautiful level 19 burr — don't you think the purple heart color matches the devil topic well? — extends many known concepts in this group:

From Stephan's Camelride and also Alfons' 12 Bastards it inherits this 12 piece burr outer shape with additional pieces inside. From Save the Gorilla it inherits the gorilla figure (with a small modification) sitting staticly in the puzzlei until it is removed. From the Devil's Pets puzzles the pet shape of course, and also from Camelride the agility of this piece, moving through the puzzle during the solution. Like in Dirty Dozen it is also pushed with other pieces.

The puzzle solves nicely and removing the first piece is quite difficult for only 19 moves. Among those moves are some typical moves for such a 12 piece burr, where the pieces heavily interlock while protruding from the puzzle, and some back and forth move sequences. The most interesting feat is what the pet piece does: This animal seems to have some free energy and is moving a lot during the solution, already four moves until the first piece comes out. In these moves, the pet piece is always pushed by others to move. When it comes to the third pet move, you better tilt the puzzle into the right orientation and carefully align the animal, or it will put its claws into the ground to resist. After the first piece has been removed, there are also moves where the pets moves on its own, unlocking more moves of other pieces. When you have removed most of the burr pieces, you will also be able to remove the pet and then also its master. The devil piece is securely locked into place until this moment and won't budge. Overall, this puzzle has some complex move sequences and as the puzzle is very well made and has perfect alignment, they are not obvious to find. With its level 19 and the move sequences for complete disassembly it is not too difficult to solve for an expert, but a nice little challenge, especially if you have some training on this topic like I did. It is a nice addition to the group with some interesting concepts!

Adam and Eve in Paradise
Adam and Eve in Paradise Adam and Eve in Paradise Adam and Eve in Paradise With this latest 12 pieces burr (in fact 14 pieces!), I had several doubts whether I should show it here. First of all, we are in a "zoo" group page and there are no animal pieces in the burr. Well, but very close: they are basically mammals (which you would find in a zoo), but then again they are not. They are more mythological characters from what many people refer to as "the book". But maybe I should stop with discussions about religion, evolution, and philosophy here. This page is about puzzles! After seeing the snake in one burr above (how appropriate!), we now have Adam and Eve as the two extra pieces. And now there is the second doubt I had about showing the puzzle here. These pieces appear as they should appear according to the original story. Would this have some impact on limiting the audience of this page? I hope not! They are nice wooden pieces with not very many details and again: We are talking about puzzles here! So back to topic:

This puzzle is a nice 12 piece burr which offers its first challenge already at the beginning: Not only the pieces are symmetrical, but so are the first few moves. Only after a few moves you find out whether you have gone the right way or should return "to square one" and head for the other solution path. Moving out all sorts of pieces you will soon find the first person, and at this point in time it is not clear who it is. Well, push its head down and on you go! Some more tricks and the first piece is removed from paradise. Ah, it seems it was Adam who needed a little push, or in fact two. Alfons mentioned that this piece would only move once, so I must be doing something different again. But hey: the solution works and I am working without a solution for most burrs, remember?

Soon after removing the first piece, paradise starts coming apart and piece after piece is removed. But that is what happens to paradises, once you start looking behind the scenes, isn't it? Good news for you being concerned about Adam and Eve: These two piees will stay in there for a long time and just come out when nearly everything else has gone. When starting to write this review and to solve the puzzle, I did not know that all these stories would come out of it. So maybe my conclusion should be a bit more puzzle related: A very nice puzzle, not overly difficult to solve, but with some very interesting aspects.

Gobi Gobi Gobi This burr leads us out of the zoo on an expedition into the famous and big Asian desert "Gobi". Although it only has 12 pieces (plus two extra special ones) and a moderate level of 31, it kept me busy for some time and after some time I was feeling like I was lost in the desert eager to come out again. In this puzzle I found the real reasons for the name of the puzzle: A nice camel piece (with double hump) and a desert dwelling nomad. To find these pieces, you will have to remove a couple of pieces. The first piece will take 31 moves, and some of them are very well hidden. For some moves, you will have to move what feels like half of the puzzle, just to reverse most of the moves later again. At these early moves, it seemed to me that someone was shadowing me during some moves — maybe a native desert inhabitant? Like going in circles in the desert trying to find the way out, I returned almost to the starting configuration of the puzzle, just to head for a different direction, and then the first encounter with the nomad! Being familiar with the "Rat trap" puzzle by Alfons, I decided to use a pencil for support. Had to hit that nomad with a stick to get him out of the way to continue! Just the camel did what these animals seem to prefer: Stubbornly lying in place and not moving at all! Later on, I found out that the nomad can also be moved by tilting and shaking the puzzle, but still he will have to move on his own. A few steps later, there he was again, obstructing my way. This time I knew what to do and a few moves later the first piece came out, as usual the one with the signature on it. That has been the hardest part of the expedition into the Gobi. The next nine moves for the second piece required some creative moves, but followed rather easily. Seems that you only have to adapt to this desert enviroment a bit!

The moves after that are not that difficult any more. The nomad seems to want to keep the cage together, but with one firm push this is solved. After some more moves we find out the secret of the stubborn camel: Up to the very end, the poor animal is tightly locked into place, unable to move at all! Like with a sand dune in the desert moving quickly, you will have to be careful to notice where which piece had been before when they fall off the puzzle, or you will be lost in a sand storm of pieces, difficult to reassemble.

After first seeing this puzzle (the very one shown here) on facebook, I found the idea and form fascinating. There are two big pieces inside the burr and yet there is room enough for a high level of! Not an easy puzzle, but a very interesting one. It might in fact be the most difficult 12 (+x) pieces burr I tried for some time. A very nice puzzle and also an interesting theme, thanks a lot, Alfons! Now I am back home from my expedition, looking at the assembled puzzle and still thinking of some small yet interesting challenges on the way back.

Gumball 3K
Gumball 3K Gumball 3K Gumball 3K This Burr relates to an (in)famous street race, the Gumball 3000. This puzzle looks like a ball trophy and has two car pieces inside. Not really animals, but some fast cars have animal names! Now this is a burr related to a car race, let me tell you my solving experiences. Eager to make some miles I started quickly and right from the start I used some drifting (rotations of pieces) to remove the first two pieces. Quite appropriate for a street race! However, it seems that with all these stunts I lost my way a bit and after looking to get back on track for a long time I had to resort to the map (burr-tools — yes! guilty as charged!). During all that, I noticed that suddenly my car has been completely parked in and I needed a tow truck (screwdriver!) to move the car sideways so the journey could go on. You heard right: The car piece has to make a move on its own, sideways, and while well built into the burr. With current humidity conditions, the puzzle is tighter than usually and so the car would not move just by tilting or hitting. But believe me: finding that move was the difficult part. After that and moving some other bricks out of the way, the car started moving forward and some more pieces came off. The fifth piece contains some tricky move sequences with the car interlocked with other pieces. Soon after, a couple more pieces come out easily, which then leads to the situation in the third picture. While the second car is hidden upside-down in the bottom part of the puzzle (can you see the bit of tire?), the first one and my main car so far was hooked into a strange mechanism, just like it was in a repair shop. With a few moves more, the mechanism swings out and the car comes off the mechanism. Hooray, first car over the finish line! The second car is not that lucky. You have to unwind the rest of the road (i.e. burr puzzle) to remove it from the puzzle. It is tightly locked into place in the lower part of the burr. Removing these other pieces is not too difficult and some of the pieces try to fall out, but overall it is a quite stable puzzle until the end.

When first looking at the level, I thought of this puzzle as being easy or of moderate difficulty. This impression was supported by the first two pieces coming out rather easily. How wrong have I been! The level is not that high, but the complex piece shapes and the cars inside trying to move, make it a more difficult puzzle. Took me some time to find the moves for the third piece, for which a lot of preparation moves, including a car slide are required. Alltogether I like this puzzle not only for the move sequences, but also for the beautiful look and craftsmanship of it, and even more for the way how the designer and craftsman Stephan Baumegger has incorporated the Gumball race theme into the puzzle. Fun to play on multiple layers!

Dozer Dozer Dozer After recent car race, there seems to be some cleanup to be done, so I got myself a dozer to clean up. And a dozer might also be useful in a zoo, so it fits onto this page, doesn't it? The Dozer came well packaged and I had a hard time removing the packaging (read: 12 pieces burr), which by itself is quite beautiful. This burr is bigger than the usual 12 piece burr and uses two different basic piece layouts (3x3x9 and 2x4x9 sizes). Opening the burr and removing the first piece is not overly difficult, but also non-trivial. My first impression was: it is all hooks! Lots of hook shaped pieces ensure that the puzzle stays together, while providing enough room for the dozer inside. Thin piece shapes like in this puzzle usually allow for easy rotational shortcuts, and in this case I found rotations, but no shortcuts. Pretty stable for these piece shapes! After a while I noticed some systematic structure behind the moves and was able to remove the first piece. The second, third and fourth follow immediately (see third picture). The most difficult part of the solution seemed to be the 11 more moves to remove another piece. During these moves, also the heavy dozer has to be shifted a couple of times. After removing one or two more pieces, the puzzle looses most of its cohesion and can be disassembled easily, revealing the dozer at the end.

Because of this, reassembly is another story! Overall, the puzzle is nice to play with and not overly difficult (managed the disassembly in two afternoons). In the first part of the solution (removal of first piece), the pieces nicely interact and these interactions can be studied and used for the solution. The second part (fifth piece to come out) is a harder challenge with 11 new moves. A very nice puzzle and both dozer piece and the burr are beautifully made!

Dragon's Cave
Dragons Cave Dragons Cave Dragons Cave A difficult eight piece burr in a frame, with an additional dragon piece in it. Has been some time since I first discussed the puzzle with Stephan before it was released and different aspects some of which you will find in the review below. This time, I tried to solve the puzzle unsuccessfully a couple of times, and after it had waited for some time still being unsolved, I resorted to Burr-Tools for help (Hint: dim the frame piece to see what is going on inside when watching!).
The most important piece, the dragon, moves in groups of pieces, but also on its own. There must be a great and fearsome power in that cave, because after around 50 moves, the dragon retracts and peeks out a bit — back end first. Indeed, a few moves later, it flees from the puzzle backwards. Now we are left with a "Cave" puzzle instead of a "Dragon's Cave". As the shorter name suggests, this is now much easier and the rest of the pieces come out quickly. Seems that rest of the complexity has fled together with its former inhabitant.
Before the dragon comes out, there is already enough room for some pieces to move a lot, but I have not seen any possibility for rotational shortcuts. Even after a while after production and of playing the pieces move flawlessly and without stability issues. The brass pins making up the dragon's eyes and for stabilizing the cave are nice visible features. One excellent idea are the round holes at both sides. As far as I have seen, no shortcuts become possible via them, but they give you excellent visibility of the dragon and allow you to manipulate this piece when it does some solo moves. Surprisingly, I have never seen a situation when that dragon piece had too much space, and its moves were always well controlled and the physical features (gap between legs) was nicely included in the solution, for other pieces to lock in.
Overall, this is a very nice and quite difficult puzzle and the space inside has been well used to put in a rather big extra piece. This group of interlocking pieces (8 sticks with 2x3 end plates in a cage) is probably the one I am least successful with, and with the lot of room and possible moves, I decided to go for the guided way. It is a very nice puzzle to watch the solution, too!
Alligator Alligator Alligator This is a six piece burr with an additional alligator piece in it and consequently smallest puzzle (in terms of piece count) on this page. It looks beautiful from the outside, but wait until you have freed the alligator and have seen all its nice little details! That is what I did — free the alligator. The level is not that high so I stood a chance to manage this burr in reasonable time (without Burr-Tools, of course!). The movement is excellent and after a few moves you start seeing first details of the wild animal within it. Some more moves later, more details show up, like the curved tail. Seeing this, I asked myself if the alligator would do some illegal moves, not being a box shaped being. There is some space for tilting the alligator, but not enough to allow shortcuts. Well designed and crafted! The puzzle came with some helper sticks to move the alligator, but I did not need them, maybe when humidity changes I will. The first required move could be achieved just by carefully tilting the puzzle and giving it a slight tap. After that, the alligator could be moved with the fingers quite easily, until at one point, it stood out like in the third picture. Looks like it's hungry and trying to get out. Not that way, I am afraid. If you get all your wits together and push it on the widely open jaws, it will slide out backwards and leave the scenery. Never try this at home with a real alligator!
Now I was left with a six piece burr to disassemble. Stephan employed his usual hook shapes to ensure that the pieces would not come apart easily. Instead, one piece could be dragged far away from the center still being tightly locked to the burr. Looking at the other end, I discovered that now a piece should come out, and as a confirmation it had the signatore on it, which is typically on the first piece to come out. The rest was not too difficult, and meanwhile the alligator is back in the burr already waiting for the last of the gaps of his prison walls being closed (=burr in original starting shape). A beautiful puzzle, very well crafted and astonishingly complex for such a 6+1 piece burr. A nice puzzle and I like how the alligator interacts with the surrounding pieces! Probably, I have moved the alligator more times than in the Burr-Tools solution, but that was fun!
Beware of the Dogs
Beware of the Dogs Beware of the Dogs Beware of the Dogs Beware of the Dogs is one of Alfons' latest puzzles, which demonstrates how much space there is in a 12 piece burr with 2x3x8 pieces. There are three additional dog shaped pieces in there, which is quite a lot for such a burr. At first, the puzzle does not want to open at all. Then after finding some moves, there are sequences discovered blocking each other. Either you run through one of the sequences, or the other, but not combined. Those dogs won't come out easily! After some systematic approach including observation what moves may also be possible, I found another piece that could be moved to the far end, now two pieces were sticking out into different directions, giving a first glimpse inside, but locking the puzzle. Reversing one of the sequences (again!), only one was sticking out and then could perform some interesting moves. Until now, I had only seen some legs of several dogs, not more. Finding some more moves, I actually moved one of the dogs by one unit, and then found that the legs of this dog were used to lock another piece, which was then freed. Funny aspect about this move: The dog is actually moved by moving its tail, literally the tail wagging the dog! After letting that new piece stick out and reversing some sequences (again!), including wagging the dog, I could remove this piece. As to be expected from the level, I quickly removed some two other pieces. After that, the puzzle pieces got a lot of movement, but not loose. It is too packed to become loose, as can be seen in the picture after removing five more pieces!
The rest of the disassembly is straightforward and reveals how tightly the dog pieces are packed into the puzzle and interlocking with the other pieces. Two of the dogs are stacked and only come out as a group. Luckily, the reassembly was a nice and quick exercise and within 5 minutes I had the puzzle back together.
This is the latest of the animal piece puzzle I have and it is really stuffed with these pieces. It is not a difficult one, but a nice exercise for one evening. Some interesting sequences to discover, and also interaction between these sequences. As to be expected, only one of the dog piece moves during the solution, the top dog in the picture — as it should be for a top dog! (Sorry for the pun!) I like the puzzle, beautifully made and three new woods to discover inside the puzzle, and three different dog shapes. Even with the tightly packed interior, one of those dog pieces is moving several times during the solution (back and forth, one unit), a nice feature!
Rhinoceros Rhinoceros Rhinoceros Maybe the biggest additional animal piece in a 12 piece burr. The rhinoceros can be dangerous and is securely locked away. My first attempts showed some interesting move sequences and even some rhino moves. After a while, I concluded that this must have been a (quite long!) dead end and returned to the beginning and then went the correct way. The first move will decide whether you are going into some of the several long dead ends, or the correct way, and those dead ends can even be combined in longer sequences! On the correct solution path, those sequences will re-appear a little later, eventually leading to the release of the first piece, and it is not the rhino. Despite the size, the rhinoceros piece moves quite a lot during the solution. Several moves on its own, and several other in a whole group of pieces. Handling wise it is a very well designed puzzle. Whenever the Rhino has to move on its own, you will have access to both ends, allowing for an easy push/pull.
This move is also a key item to discover solving the puzzle. When you have managed to move the Rhino, try to figure out why you did and what needs to be done to reverse this move. An analysis of this sitation lead me from the dead ends to the correct solution path. The other pieces are quite easily removed, which is also supported by the knowledge of the sequences already used before.
This puzzle has some very interesting aspects, like the big innner piece moving several times and playing a key role, the long dead ends that can be combined even, and the solution sequence which can be found via systematic reasoning. I like this puzzle and it was not too easy, but easier than the Dog Catcher I tried before.
Dog Catcher
Dog Catcher Dog Catcher Dog Catcher This 12 piece burr contains three different dog pieces, the same shapes like in the "Beware of the Dogs" from last year. However, this time, there is an additional frame involved mounted to a base plate. This puzzle also comes with a small metal tool reminding me of a dog lead, so it seems that these dogs will need some convincing to be freed! And indeed, this metal tool is required several times during the solution.
The solution starts off with an unusual move moving 11 of the pieces one step in the frame (nearly the whole puzzle), and then like a sliding door, two pieces slide up to allow a glance into the puzzle. Not much to see of the dogs at this point, but I found something different: a rotational shortcut. It is an illegal rotation, requiring a tiny bit of force and only possible because of the bevelled edges. It allows two pieces to come out after 5 (and 8) moves, but as this is an "illegal" rotation, I do not consider it a design flaw and have not examined it further. The real solution is so much more fun!
During the solution, one of the dog pieces is visible soon, but that seems to be a lazy dog. Does only move with its neighbor piece, but as it is the biggest of the three dogs, it has some locking/synchronizing function for the other pieces. The next of the dog pieces is moving frequently, but still well guided by the other pieces. There are only moves by single units possible, then another piece has to move. For some of the moves the "lead" tool made of metal is required to pull that dog a unit. The second dog is actually the smallest and moves several times during the solution, alone and locked into other pieces, acting like a switch or key piece.
The third dog (dark one in the picture) is the next to move. While it moves together with the neighbor pieces quite a bit, it also has its two own main positions and some nice sequence to move between those two positions on its own with 2 moves. For one of these moves, the metal tool can be of help, but also thin fingers will do. This piece also acts as a switch and will unlock a sequence to move another piece (at the other end of the puzzle) to a certain position. After that, the dog has to go back to the initial position, then the second dog has to move on its own (a few moves later), and then the first piece comes out, shortly followed by the second one.
The third picture has been taken a few moves later, with the first two pieces out and dogs waiting to be removed. The position of the first dog is obvious, but the other two can also be seen in there, look closely! Compared to "Beware of the Dogs", this puzzle is much tougher and features many unusual moves. On several evenings, I explored the puzzle and found sequence after sequence. Of course, those moves where dog pieces not only move on their own, but have to be pulled (with the tool), are the most difficult to find. The early opening on one side and some pieces moved aside early allow a good deal of visibility into the puzzle, but still some theories have to be developed what might be possible. The stand drives level and difficulty up a lot: most of the time, three pieces are encaged between stand / frame and the bottom plate, and without it the puzzle would have been much easier and less interesting. This puzzle is an excellent challenge: Many unusual moves, not easy, but still solvable within a reasonable amount of time. When disassembling, I arranged the pieces in a way that I would know their positions (not order or sequences, though!) and surprisingly I was able to re-assemble the whole puzzle. This puzzle is definitely one of my favourites on this page! (No April fools included!)
Casino 2
Casino 2 Casino 2 Casino 2 This is an older design, actually one that started the 12 or 18 piece burrs with extra pieces in it. There are two extra dice inside. The first one can move on its own after a few moves of other pieces, and this die also has to move on its own to come out and allow other pieces to move. For the first die to move, an extra tool is required, and the one coming with Dog Catcher served me well. If the puzzle is created a bit less tight, the die will also move on its own, just by tilting the puzzle. The first die has an interesting sequence of around a handful of moves to come out, only interrupted by moving one other piece out of the way in between, and on its own. The final move for this die can also be carried out by pushing the adjacent burr stick to make it easier. This is the situation shown in the third picture to the left.
The second piece has the most moves to come out compared to the others, but I managed to get it out quickly. After removing the first die, there is some space to maneuver and some move sequences to discover, and one of my standard techniques (try to move as many pieces away from the center, so that they stick out and there is more space inside) worked very well here. After removing the second piece, more sequences are possible and you get a glimpse at the second die, which is securely trapped in the corner opposite of the first die. It seems it cannot move until there are only around 7 other pieces left. Thinking of the initial stages of my solution, I found out that the second die does actually move a couple of times, always sandwitched between some burr sticks. Getting back to the solution review, the third piece takes only 10 moves to get out, much less than the 18 moves of the piece before. However, that piece was the one that took me the longest to get out. The reason is that there is now more space in the puzzle and many moves are possible, most of them leading away from the solution. To remove the third piece, some pieces have to be pushed in certain positions, and then two short sequences need to be combined to allow for a new move of one of the central pieces, which opens another gap allowing to remove the third piece. Following the level, the other pieces can be extracted easily, wich a couple of moves each. During this phase, the puzzle remains nicely stable, until the point is reached where the second die can be removed. Then everything quickly falls apart leaving the reassembly as another challenge.
I like this nice puzzle with the two additional pieces in it, which lead to the other puzzles on this page later on. Some nice sequences and not too easy, and also not too difficult.
Aracna Aracna Aracna 12 piece burrs have a lot of space inside and have been used to introduce many different additional pieces to be hidden inside, nearly like a puzzle box. However, these pieces are not just stored, but interact with the solution. While the Rhinoceros above is probably the additional piece with the highest volume, the spider piece in Aracna is quite close to this, at 30 voxels, but so far the biggest piece with a 3x6x6 bounding box. Probably due to the restrictions of the available space, this spider has only six (not eight) legs, and has some nice eyes made from contrasting woods. At level 13, it is an easy puzzle, with a disassmbly also suitable for beginners. However, rebuilding it from scratch is a completely different story. The solution sequence starts with some typical sequences also seen in some other puzzles above, to move some of the pieces aside. After that the puzzle expands a bit, like an accordion, and then offers a first view onto the trapped animal. The puzzle does not come apart at that point, but a few moves later, the first piece comes out. With the spider piece being that big, it does not move a lot and sits there until there is enough room to maneuver it out. It is a nice puzzle and it is good to see another "zoo burr" produced in a greater series, and also suitable for more people to solve. It is very well made and the big spider piece actually makes it a quite stable puzzle during the solution sequence.
Spidernest Spidernest Spidernest The Spidernest looks like a massive puzzle, an 18 piece burr with wider pieces and some spaces between the pieces. Unlike the 12 pieces burrs, of course there is less space in such a burr, because of six pieces sticking through the middle. However, Alfons managed to get two large extra pieces inside, spider shaped and with creepy eyes. The solution starts nicely with some very interesting moves. After a sequence putting some piece aside to make more room in the inside, the front two pieces can be slid open like to parts of a gate, and then another piece can move inward. Repeating some of the sequences found, at the back side of the puzzle, a piece is soon afterwards disengaged and bears the date and signature, and a #3 serial number. Getting four more pieces out did not take me too much longer, and according to the level, the easy part of the solution should then start. However, it did not, and I was stuck there for weeks. I must have found a slightly different solution again! Asking Alfons for a hint, a well hidden move was to be discovered, and this one requires perfect alignment of several pieces and then a good push to move many pieces at once. This is one of the key steps in the solution and indeed hard to find. With that accomplished, it then became easy in fact, and I could continue to dismantle the puzzle, and while it had been very stable so far, now some rotations were possible to remove pieces — but no shortcuts to the solution. After a while, the first move of one of the spiders occurs, and looking at the picture it becomes obvious that these spiders are sitting in there back to back and not able to move a lot. When disassembling to the end, one of the spiders will even be one of the stability providing elements of the puzzle, which keeps everything in place. A great puzzle, with some very interesting moves and not too easy, and fun to solve!
Waltzing Whales
Waltzing Whales Waltzing Whales Waltzing Whales After the other excursions narrated on this page were on dry land, this puzzle is about creatures from the sea, and the biggest mammals to be precise: whales. Two of them sit on top of two the puzzle, glued to two pieces, and then there are more inside. Earlier, I was assuming that another whale would be inside, but the space inside this 12 piece burr is so large that it not only holds two whales, but they also roughly occupy only one half of the puzzle, so there is plenty of space inside which could be used for more whales, but which is actually used for the movements of some of the other pieces for a more challenging move sequence. Following the title, the pieces perform some beautiful dance around the whales and soon some pieces are extended, rising one of the whales high up into the air. Of course, that does not mean that the piece will come out of the puzzle, it is still held in place by other piececs. In this configuration, I thought it to be interesting to have one of the inside whale piece move a bit, and carefully setting up the puzzle, I managed to perform such a move. Sadly, this turned out to be a dead end, and so I went on for a different approach. This time, "waltzing" would be the theme, and I actually managed to find a complicated rotation of several pieces just making enough room to free the first piece from the puzzle, and soon after another one with more rotations. Having "waltz" in the theme, I found it quite fitting to have some rotations involved, even though they only lead to a shortcut of a few moves. When following the traditional approach without rotations, this is where some very well hidden moves need to be found, and later on, one of the whales will perform some shifts unlocking and locking other pieces. This puzzle has some very interesting moves and move sequences, making it a bit more difficult than the level 20 may suggest, and the rotational alternatives are also hard to find and clever. The nicely detailed whale pieces (look at the faces!) have different faces, engraved like the puzzle name and designer name, and all that gives this puzzle the little extra.
Lion King 2
Lion King 2 Lion King 2 Lion King 2 This is an exceptional puzzle on this page, because it contains a 3D printed piece inside, a lion in red and yellow. It seems that Alfons has used a printer capable of printing with two filaments, as I don't see any possibility how these parts of the piece could have been assembled afterwards (only with some invisible glue joint on the inside, maybe). The lion piece is of the same shape like the lion sitting on top of the already biggest piece, which was combined of two of the standard 12 piece burr pieces. At the beginning, the puzzle seems very stable and after some first moves have been found, others follow and allow a first glimpse at the lion caged inside. Some pieces start sticking out quite a lot and one of the light piece is parked between the legs of the lion sitting on top. After many more maneuvers, something happens that could be called "unlocking the interlocking lions": The one inside is pushed in and his back then releases the big piece with the other lion on top. In the optimal solution, this piece only moves one unit, but in my solution, it can move much further, as shown in the third picture. Then nearly everything starts rattling and becomes a bit loose, but no rotational shortcuts found here so far and the puzzle remains rather stable. After his first move, the inner lion is caged again and unable to move until it comes out completely, controlled by the other lion's piece — there can only be one lion king, and the one on top is obviously in the better position! Taking the puzzle apart is not too difficult from that point on, and unless you find a special grip immediately, this puzzle will also help you by releasing some of the pieces quickly.
The puzzle is the top notch quality we know from Alfons, and I like this design a lot. It is an easy challenge, and it took me several sessions of maybe 1.5 hours in total to get the puzzle apart, and it was fun to watch these pieces move to be stored in strange positions, without being able to remove them. The use of the 3D printed lion is an interesting design feature, and this should also ensure that the lion will not be overly sticky and locked in place in the future. This lion piece is big and has many interactions with other pieces, so it seems a good idea to use this new material.
Matryoshka Burr
Matryoshka Burr Matryoshka Burr Matryoshka Burr This massive 46 piece burr with 18 outside pieces does not have an animal piece inside. Instead, the high number of pieces come from 4 additional little cubic puzzles inside, all framed six piece burr made in nice ebony each. While the big puzzle, the Lange Wapper Casino, is not too difficult at level 16, it releases the first piece after a short time, while the later pieces still pose additional challenges. The first three pieces to come out are regular burr pieces, and for these, one of the inner puzzles has to move, guided by one of the outer pieces. As one progresses, there is more and more space for the inner puzzles to move some pieces, and depending on the orientation of the puzzle, some of the micro burrs are sticking out some "arms" from time to time and don't want to sit completely still. Later in the solution even, I discovered a case where two of the micro burrs blocked each other by such arm movements. After the three first piece, there is a bit more room, and a few moves later, the big puzzle kind of gives birth to a tiny one. The next piece to come out is one of its micro siblings, then followed by a big piece again, and then micro number 3. The last one seems to want to stay inside for a bit longer and only comes out after a couple other pieces have left the puzzle. After that, 10 pieces remain like a frame for all that, and the puzzle is quite stable at that stage, but then comes apart easily. After disassembly of the main puzzle, there are the micro ones still to be solved, and they are of varying difficulty, and you will have to find out which is which by playing with them. Both the main puzzle and the micro ones, and also the combination are well designed and fun to play with it. The cubes coming in the boxes will allow for an assembly with the cubes so that the micro puzzles can be exhibited separately in their boxes. Nothing I am going to do, as it is much nicer to have those tiny puzzles come out, like unwrapping a present!
Spider Web
Spider Web Spider Web Spider Web A recurring theme in Alfons' zoo burrs are spiders, this is already the 4th on this page, so probably he is not afraid of them (or this is a special way to compensate for arachnophobia). Surprisingly, all of them have the exact same shape and the picture to the left is actually a picture from this puzzle, not one of the others. They have six legs instead of eight (maybe lost some after a fight), and they are all quite bulky as pieces and are therefore well suited for 12 piece burrs. To make sure the spider will not come out easily, Alfons has fitted six wooden ring pieces around this burr in a symmetric pattern. First of all, the spider does not move much during the solution of this puzzle, but other pieces compensate this by more movements. The solution starts with some nice move sequences exploring how the rings and long burr pieces interact, and they interact in an interesting way following a common pattern, enabling the solver to find new moves quickly. Soon some ring pieces are parked in positions a bit out of the way, yet still not removable. Then some other moves become possible and one piece in particular gains a lot of freedom to move and to pass by other pieces. This takes until around move 11, then you have to make a choice. After that move, a rotation becomes possible that enables you to remove the first long piece easily in an elegant fashion. More rotations will be possible and after a while more pieces come off, but not immediately. There are still nontrivial move sequences to be found before more pieces come out. The other option for this choice is to follow the path of a solution without rotational shortcuts and it takes 15 more moves to get the same piece out as the first one. I am not sure if anyone but Burr-Tools (working in a zero gravity environment without any rotational moves inside the computer!) can perform these moves without trying an obvious rotation every now and then, and also performing unintended rotations of the piece only being held in one ring. When you try to find this solution, the beauty of this sequence will be a big reward for not giving in to all those twisting shortcuts! The first piece to come out somehow performs a delicate dance on top of the puzzle, just being held by its ring. After completing this part of the solution where the piece is somehow flying, a real counterpoint appears and after arranging maybe half a dozen pieces very carefully, even more pieces move at the same time like in a big thump downwards, and free the ballerina piece standing on top. Of course, my first attempt involved turning pieces into strange (but obvious) positions to take them out and I also liked this solution. After a while, both solutions are re-united when a massive final block appears, with a spider stuck to it. Not sure if the spider is holding this block together or whether the block was designed to keep the spider locked away, but the group of the last pieces seen in the second picture is very stable. Here, the first spider moves come into play and release the pieces in an interesting fashion before everything is shattered into pieces. A very interesting puzzle, and some other nice move sequences to be found on the way, no matter which way you chose to free the spider. The puzzle has been built in high quality with the usual tight fit, and this makes the group moves more difficult to find, and you may not think they are possible until you find them to be working. It is actually possible to find these moves, as most interaction between the pieces in these positions can be seen or deducted. I like this puzzle, and this time, for me the main aspect is not the spider inside, but the move sequences!
Atacama Atacama Atacama This is another desert themed puzzle, and a 12 piece burr with two additional pieces inside, totalling to 14. Locked inside is the scene of an accident: A Guanaco (Llama native to that region) and an Atacameño, where the poor guy had been run over my the Llama and then been trapped beneath the animal. But back to tbe beginning of the story of the solve. Taking this puzzle apart took me quite some time, because of many other activities and puzzle solves going on, and also because some of the moves were very well hidden from me. The first few moves are easily found, but then a move sequence with well aligned pieces follows, which eventually moves one piece to the side, so it will stick out of the puzzle. This will also be the first piece coming out later in the solution. Then a sequence follows which requires some specific moves allowing to move a few more piece away from the centre of the puzzle, to have more room to even slide one piece around one C end of another one, so that it comes sitting on top of that one. Solving wise, this was a bit like trying to find the way out from the desert: I had found part of that sequence after a while, but not the other moves, so I went back and could not find this sequence again, and kept searching for a while. Then having carried out that sliding trick, I noticed that I could actually rotate this piece on top and then remove it from the puzzle easily. Later looking at the original Burr-Tools solution, it turned out that the no-rotation solution would have been grouping some of these pieces and perform a group move, and get that other piece out on the opposite side. Having removed my first piece, I could get out this opposite one (sic!) easily, and then remove more and more pieces, until I reached the cavity with the Guanaco and the Atacameño, securely locked in place. Speaking of the desert theme again, this whole solve seemed to me that I first had to move some sand dunes around and around, back and forth. Then the rest seemed to me like just shoveling the other pieces away until I found the unlucky inhabitants. Burr-Tools does things a bit different, as it does not know about gravity, rotation and other such things: The puzzle comes apart into two big parts of many pieces, which is rarely seen in high level puzzles. The half with the Llama is much more stable, also because the two figures provide a lot of support for the surrounding pieces.
The whole puzzle is nicely built and designed and quite difficult for the level. It contains many group moves, and also the possibility of a slight rotational shortcut in the solution. The animal/men pieces do not move during the solution, and this may also be due to the big size of the Llama piece. It is always fun to see what can be put into such a 12 piece burr puzzle without making it too trivial (like an empty shell would be). I like the challenge of this puzzle and the move sequences that kept hiding, even after I had found them once.
Turtle Turtle Turtle This puzzle is another 12 piece burr, and those have a lot of storage space inside and following the name of the puzzle, it is occupied by a rather large turtle. Starting to solve the puzzle, some moves typical for these 12 piece burrs can be discovered, some quickly leading to dead ends, some others showing some parts of the turtle inside. The general approach was to get as much space for maneuvering by moving pieces out of the way, and after a while of excluding false moves leading to dead ends, some pieces were sticking out and others could be moved. Then a special move sequence had to be discovered, moving one piece around the end of another one and then sitting wedged between the ends of two adjacent pieces and hovering a bit above the rest of the puzzle. Some more move sequences later, the first piece comes out (the hovering one). Instead of a sequence of a few moves, also a quick rotation is possible to get this piece out, but it is more fun to find the designed sequence. On this path so far, some multiple move sequences have to be used back and forth, to allow other pieces to move. A few move sequences later, the next couple of pieces come out easily, and one more piece removed, one can clearly see poor turtle lying on its back and being held in place by various burr pieces, as can be seen in the second piece. Overall, the turtle moves relative to other pieces a couple of times, but not on its own and always together with some surrounding pieces. Aside from the rotation for the first piece at the end of its move sequence, there does not seem to be too many rotational shortcuts, but of course once a few pieces are out, they become possible more easily. Overall, the puzzle is still quite stable and does not fall apart easily. The move sequences are nice, but not as difficult as for some other recent zoo burr, and this puzzle is fun to solve. As a reward after solving, you will also have a beautifully made turtle piece.
Dragster I have just received this puzzle and will add more pictures and a text when I have solved it. From what I know, this beauty contains 12 burr pieces and one dragster car, so it is not technically a zoo burr, but very similar.