Sunday 12 February 2023

Japanese Packing Causes Some Difficulty

Shutout by Osanori Yamamoto
Today will be a really really quick post - I spent 8 hours yesterday sitting at my computer doing the worst puzzle ever and I am fed up with sitting down and fed up with typing. Yes, it was that time again - time to write our consultant anaesthetist on-call rotas and it was a nightmare. This one covered Easter and various school holidays including 5 public holidays in the 2 month period. The numbers of colleagues are rather depleted and there were a LOT of requests. At the end of that I wanted to run away!

Today I will write about my first ever Osanori Yamamoto puzzle. No, not the first of his puzzles I have ever solved - this is the first puzzle that has been actually made by the master himself. I had seen that Osanori-san's Shutout design had won a "Top 10 vote getter" prize in the 2022 IPP Design competition and I had been intrigued. I have solved quite a lot of his designs over the years and only a few had either been entered into the competition and fewer still had won a prize. I sort of forgot about it until the end of last year when at Peter Hajek's end of year puzzle party the Shutout was shown off by Naoaki Takashima as one of his puzzles of 2022 and looking through the EPP book there were 3 other very serious puzzlers who had announced this as one of their best (they were Boaz Feldman, Theo Geerinck and Guy Loel). When Naoaki-san had showed it off he had announced that he had placed a few of the pieces inside and couldn't even work out how he had done it and couldn't remove them. How could I possibly resist? I contacted Osanori and asked if he would make some more and send one to me. Like a true gentleman he just asked for a bit of time and would let me know when. The postage from Japan was quite ferocious!

Delivery arrangement
It is very nicely made with an MDF box and a lovely grained set of wooden pieces. When it arrived I was slightly surprised to see that it had been sent out in the solved position and went back to the Design competition page to read the aim:
"Build an apparent 3x3x3 block inside the box. (The opening of the box is completely filled and any empty space is hidden within the box.)"

Ah, there is the difference. The arrival position had an obvious gap visible and the aim was to take them out and return them with no holes visible. With 6 tetrominoes there would be 3 gaps in the cube and they all needed to be under the sides of the box or in the centre. 

Initially I struggled to actually take the pieces out of the delivery packing which did not bode well for the main challenge. OK - start outside the box. There are a good few ways to arrange the pieces in a 3x3x3 cube and obviously each one can be oriented in lots of directions inside. First find an organisation that would leave the gaps covered - I found 2 and started to work out how to get them inside. Of course I started on the wrong one because I'm an eeejit and it only took me about an hour to realise that my proposed solution was obviously impossible. Doh! By this time I had forgotten my other arrangement and I had to find it again. I was certainly getting my money's worth.

I eventually found my arrangement and worked on assembling it inside. OMG! This was quite tough - I had failed to notice one of the cardinal features of the box which is immediately obvious from my photos - Doh again! and spent quite of time attempting the impossible. I finally realised what I was doing and tried again only be stumped for a couple of hours. There are sliding moves but also TIC moves inside the box. Solving this puzzle took me a whole afternoon of fun and frustration. I am sure that most of you brilliant puzzlers out there would manage it in about 30 minutes but little me...about 4 hours! This puzzle was at least as good as, if not better than most of the other Yamamoto puzzles that I have in my collection made by various other craftsmen.

No spoilers here!
Having taken my photos, I dismantled it and tried to put it back in the travel assembly. Embarrassingly, this took me a little while. It had been quite a while since I had taken it apart and it does require a bit of thought just for that part. This makes this puzzle doubly worthwhile. I have solved it a few times now and it has required me to work it out each time and whilst it no longer takes me 4 hours, it still takes an embarrassingly long time. I think I might just take this to work to torture some colleagues.

If you can get hold of a copy then this would be well worth your while - great for a collection and a really fun challenge. 


  1. Typo. When Naomi-san had showed it ...

    1. Oops! Auto correct does it again. I’ll edit.