The Eiffel (Tower) Burr

If I thought the Eiffel Burr interlocking puzzle was anything like the Vivaldi Burr, both designed by Rene Dawir,  I couldn’t be further from the truth. More about this later. The Eiffel Burr was Rene’s IPP37 Exchange Puzzle in Paris this past August, while the Vivaldi Burr was his Exchange Puzzle last year.

For IPP37, Rene had decided on a themed design for a mechanical puzzle to gel in with the venue of this year’s IPP, which was the City of Love, Paris. And I must say it was very well executed. There were several Paris Eiffel Tower themed puzzles this IPP but the Eiffel Burr is only one of two burr style interlocking puzzles. The other was an transpartent acrylic version designed by Junichi Yananose and made by Brian Young. I would probably get around to this other puzzle at some point in the future, most likely next year.

First off, the Eiffel Burr is cut entirely out of MDF board and produced by Marcel Gillen of the metal Chess Piece Puzzles fame. Quality of construction is very good and the pieces all fit nicely, albeit a bit too tight for my liking. Even after a few days in my dry box didn’t do much to loosen the pieces caused by the high Singapore humidity. But thankfully I could still slide and move the pieces around without undue force. My European and American puzzle friends probably won’t have this tightness problem. Apart from being made of MDF board, the Eiffel Burr, while looking like a miniature Eiffel Tower, is in reality a 6-piece board burr in disguise, with two of the pieces cut to form the shape of the famous Paris landmark. Nice choice of colours (orange and dark gray) and contrast for the 6 pieces.

The object is to disassemble and re-assemble the puzzle. Like I said above, the Eiffel Burr is quite different from the Vivaldi Burr in several aspects. Firstly, IMHO, it is far more difficult than the Vivaldi Burr. The disassembly I could manage without too much difficulty but the putting together totally lost me. I had to specify the design in Burr Tools for help. The puzzle requires 27 moves and has a level solution (meaning t requires 11 moves to remove the first piece). While the Vivaldi Burr  had distinct un-burr-like shaped pieces which aided seems to have aided my solve, this one has 4 (out of 6) typical looking board pieces which adds to the challenge. But I am sure the burr experts amongst you would not have too much trouble with the Eiffel Burr…but not me.

Rene did explicitly (on the packaging) caution that the pieces could be damaged by rotational moves and this is probably true. MDF while tough, is still not indestructible. I did also find one rotational move accidentally during early play which would have taken apart the puzzle with just 4 to 5 moves.  Anyway rotation is not permitted and unintended. As an interlocking board burr per se, the Eiffel Burr would have been a very decent challenging puzzle on its own, and I think without the odd-shape constraints of the two orange pieces, rotational moves could have been eliminated as well. But still it is all the more impressive because it is quite a feat of design to have transformed the burr to look like the famous Eiffel Tower.

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