Sunday 22 December 2019

It's The Time of Year For Packing

5 wonderful new packing puzzles from Yavuz Demirhan
No! Mrs S has not chucked me out of the house just before Christmas! Although that may still happen when my latest order from Eric arrives! If anyone has a spare room for me to sleep in that may be very useful soon. At this time of year, it's the time for giving, which means present packing...or in PuzzleMad terms, packing puzzle packing.

If you are wanting wonderful packing puzzles in the New Year, then you should head over to the amazing New Pelikan Workshop and whilst there you can order the puzzles that I reviewed last week. Most of them are still in stock (although Euklid has sold out already). If you are in North America, you could buy the 3 Osanori puzzles (and a few others) from PuzzleMaster here.

The puzzles pictured above are from the amazing (and very lovely) Yavuz Demirhan. He announced on Facebook that he had a series of 10 packing puzzles, beautifully made from Walnut, Maple, Ash and Acrylic/Perspex coming up for sale. A lot of us jumped on them when they went up for sale and they sold out very quickly (none left just now). With my recent spending (puzzles and Xmas), I could not buy all 10 of them (although I now wish I had) and chose 5 that looked the most interesting in terms of low numbers of pieces and less likely to be just trial and error to solve. My choices were Raya Box 1 to 4 and Snake Pit 2. They arrived earlier this week and I set to playing with the first one straight away.

Raya Box 1
Lovely detail on the base
So where to start? Ermmm maybe logically at Raya Box 1? I removed the pieces from the storage position and took my photo and started playing in the evenings this week. The woodwork is lovely - the Walnut box is 70x55x42mm and has beautiful shouldered joints and nice edge beveling. The base is floating and appears to be made from a different wood (maybe Mahogany?) Set into a groove at the top is a precisely cut acrylic lid with a fairly large window cut in it. The interior space is 60x45x30mm (a 15mm voxel) and interestingly the window is set offset from the voxel positions meaning that pieces clash as you try to put them through the gap in the top and really adds to the difficulty.

As I usually do with these puzzles, I set trying to find an assembly with the right shape outside of the box. This was surprisingly awkward! I managed to find a couple of assemblies and then set to trying to put them inside. Trying to be systematic, I realised that each of my assemblies had 4 possible orientations to try and put inside. This is just delightful! I felt I was being logical and clever and then I realised that the offset lid (which does NOT slide at all) really gets in the way! Damn! I couldn't put all the pieces inside! In fact, having quickly worked out that I needed to leave it so that a certain 1 or 2 pieces were placed last, I managed only to place 2 pieces inside and couldn't even get the third in! After one evening I had to give up and go to bed! I was sure that I'd get it the following day...WRONG!

I worked on it for 4 evenings this week and got myself into a real "thought rut"...I was completely fixated on a certain arrangement of the pieces as this would perfectly allow the entry of the final pieces. It was obvious from early on that rotations would figure here (Burrtools would not be helpful) but there was very little room around the pieces inside to manoeuvre rotations. Last night, just as I was running out of puzzles to write about, I had an ecstatic Aha! moment and realised my fixation had been a bad thing (they usually are). I worked out an alternative assembly and realised that this was much easier to get inside the box (still tricky and needing rotations but perfectly doable). After nearly a week of work I had Raya Box 1 packed:

Very heavily obfuscated - this picture really gives nothing useful away!
This puzzle (and I assume the rest) is a perfect packing challenge for experienced and newbie puzzlers alike. I will be bringing this to work for a while to challenge/torture my colleagues.

Yavuz has sold out just now and I don't know whether more are coming - keep an eye on his Etsy store. If you are interested in other puzzles designed by Yavuz then have a look at these on the PuzzleMaster site.

Missing Tile
Also packing a punch for me this Xmas was my latest delivery from Tom Lensch. These puzzles had been requested many months ago and have arrived just in time. Unfortunately, I only have 2 days off to play but intend to work hard on solving some new toys as well as writing my Top 10(ish) of the year.

One of the beauties, I received from Tom was Missing Tile, designed by the incredible Goh Pit Khiam. There is a beautiful wooden tray and 8 rectangular or square pieces. The aim as stated on the paper is to pack the tray full with 7 of them (minus the small square) and then redo it with all 8 pieces and still completely filling the tray.

It is a lovely chunky puzzle and a few very interesting quirks to the 3D shapes of these pieces. Once this has been properly understood then it takes just a fun ½ hour or so to manage both packings. It's not hard but IS quite clever and perfect for a beginner puzzler.

Another puzzle (in fact 3 in 1 puzzles) which arrived from Tom was the, wait for it.......3 in 1, also designed by Goh Pit Khiam.

3 in 1
A beautiful Yellowheart tray with a circumferential lip under the edge and 3 sets of 5 pieces providing, yes, you guessed it, 3 puzzles in 1. The 3 in 1 is considerably tougher than missing tile - so much so that in 3 weeks, I have completely failed to find even one of the solutions! It makes a wonderful worry bead which is just as well but it does tend to stimulate the odd swear word!

Now I should probably get back to packing Mrs S' Xmas present!

Have a great time over the Holidays (yuk! I hate that Americanism!) Look after yourselves and your loved ones and don't forget to look up from your new toys to actually enjoy each others' company. I will be back with one more post this year for you next weekend.