Sunday, 21 October 2018

A Frustrating Week Finally Ends in Some Happiness

Jigsaw Puzzle 29
I was staggered in August when the results of the IPP design competition came out and the descriptively named Jigsaw puzzle 29 (yes, it has 29 pieces) won a Jury honourable mention prize! This very nicely made acrylic jigsaw puzzle was designed and produced by a very nice gentleman from Japan called Yuu Asaka. I chatted with a few people who had been there and asked how come a simple jigsaw won a prize? Everyone said that the puzzle was fantastic and deserved to win - they had all enjoyed solving it a lot. No more information could be extracted from them and so I contacted Mr Asaka via Facebook and asked if he had any for sale. He did not have them in stock but was happy to make another one for me and a couple of weeks later a thin package arrived in the post.

The Jigsaw Puzzle 29 includes a nice white acrylic tray and a sealable plastic bag with 29 jigsaw pieces in it. I was still rather sceptical but I set to. I have only once ever reviewed a jigsaw puzzle and enjoyed that one mainly for the sheer quality of its manufacture. John Rausch has, on several occasions offered me a chance to buy other sublime jigsaws which he acts as a distributor of and one day I will take him up on one of these because of their incredible difficulty as well as sheer beauty.

Now I don't know about you but when I start work on a jigsaw puzzle I separate the pieces by type - corners, edges and middle pieces, so I set about doing this and discovered my first problem:

I have studied some Maths in my time (OU maths degree for 7 years of fun) but I definitely cannot consider myself a mathematician like my friend Jim and whilst my studies were a rather long time ago, I am fairly sure that a square does NOT have 5 corners to it! Houston I seem to have a fundamental problem.

Despite this minor(?) setback, I continued in my usual fashion and started working on the edges. This proceeded as one would expect and I did manage to make 2 very nice edges with pieces that fit together perfectly BUT I seem to have found a second problem:

What the @£$% is going on here?
Yes, my nicely assembled edges don't seem to fit inside the tray. YES! I did try the other direction and can assure you that the tray is square! I was beginning to suspect that this puzzle might be beyond me when I looked at the remaining pieces and realised that Houston was trying to get in touch with me - there was a THIRD problem:

I think someone sent me the wrong pieces!
Looking at all the remaining edge pieces (all in the tray in the pic above) it is quite obvious that they are all "female" in form and cannot link together! This is a VERY strange Jigsaw puzzle! AT this point it has occurred to me that maybe it is just a very very difficult packing puzzle where the pieces just need to be stuffed into the tray but not actually interlocked? I started out trying to solve it this way with the pieces just loosely packed together but this really did not seem to be a possible solution as there was not enough space. PLUS, it did occur to me that an incredibly complex packing puzzle with 29 oddly shaped pieces would not win a prize at an IPP.

During the week, after some discussion with the genius, Derek Bosch, about my singular failure to solve a "simple" jigsaw puzzle with only 29 pieces, he let me have the bombshell that his rather gorgeous daughter (age 7!!!!!) managed to solve that puzzle! This made me "rassafrassarickarackets" like Muttley (do you remember that???) and I carried on working on it.

So far, after 3 weeks of working on this blasted award-winning puzzle that a7-year-old can solve, I have singularly failed! I am genuinely no closer to finding the solution than I was when I started!

In desperation, I started work on some wonderful new cubes that I bought from my friend Alfons Eyckmans.

Happiness Cubes - they should make me happy hopefully!
Alfons showed off the Paduak (red) cube on Facebook and after a little discussion, I learned that this was number 169 of the Happiness cubes designed by Japanese puzzle designer, Sekog Yukiyasu. He has produced a huge number of extremely complex interlocking cubes which he published on his website here. There is also a pdf with all of these designs. Interestingly the number 169 is not on the site or pdf and I am not sure where it came from. I had started playing with several of these and on each had found only a move or 2 and then got stuck with nowhere to move. Each evening I tried a few of them in turn and was beginning to wonder whether my puzzle solving days were over? Looking at the cube description for the 9.2 that I was really working on, there is a solution described but for the life of me, I could not make head nor tail of it:

Nope! Not helpful at all!
Every time I lost patience with the Jigsaw puzzle 29, I began again on the Happiness cubes and finally after a week of abject failure, I solved just one cube:

Happiness cube 9.2 finally in pieces
I lurve interlocking cube puzzles and I think that these are amongst the very best! The 9.2 disassembly is level which doesn't sound like much but the interlocking of the pieces is so incredibly complex that finding even a single move is a huge challenge. Alfons has made these puzzles for me from Oak and they are stunning. I have another 5 to solve and they may well take me a good few weeks or more before I manage them. If you would like to try then Alfons may well make some more or you can buy one of the hardest of them from my friend Rich Gain's Microcubology Shapeways store where he has the Happiness cube #20 up for sale in white nylon. Rich was one of the puzzle friends who really led me astray at the beginning of my Puzzle journey and you can count on him to find a good puzzle!

Thank goodness! At least I finally managed to solve one puzzle in a week - my despair ended in happiness! Now I need to have a breakthrough thought about this damned Jigsaw!!!


  1. That jigsaw looks absolutely impossible.. maybe the kind (?) folks sent you the wrong pieces to make it a "bit harder" for an experienced puzzler such as yourself? In any case, I am very interested to find out if (and how!) you ever solve it!

    Noah P.

    1. Hi Noah,
      I will inform the world if (not when) I solve it. I’m assured by others who have done it that these are the correct pieces. I’ll keep trying and thinking!

  2. Very interesting. 29 is a peculiar number, too. 5x5 + 2x2?

    I'm not on Facebook - do you perhaps have contact info for Mr. Asaka? I want to try this.

    1. I’m afraid I only have a Facebook contact but I’ll ask him if he’s happy to receive email contacts.

    2. Mr Asaka has said that people can contact him by email. I won’t publish his address on the web but you can use my contact page to get in touch with me and I’ll give you his address.

    3. Thanks, Kevin. I think I may use my wife's FB account to try to contact Mr. Asaka.

  3. On the Happiness did you decide which to get (and which were they)

    I may try to persuade Alfons to make me a few

    1. I just chose some with a moderately high level from the list. Pretty random sorry from that. I got 7-2, 9-2, 19-2, 20-2, 103-2 and 169.



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