Happy Friday the 13th! For me, it was my lucky day…I solve a rather difficult puzzle without resorting to the solution!
It’s been several weeks since my last puzzle blog post. Sorry, I was very busy with work and other commitments. I had also spent quite a bit of time producing and listing new puzzles in my shop. If anyone is interested to see what is available, please feel free to click here.
Just last week, my friend Frederic Boucher emailed me to say he was sending a new puzzle design of his for me to try. I received it this mid this week. I always look forward to Frederic’s puzzles. He has this uncanny knack of coming up with designs that are rather unusual. Not only that, he designs different puzzles across several genres as well. Click here and you will know what I mean.
There are many good puzzle designers out there and the puzzle community knows who these folks are. But many of them focus on just one or two particular categories, most typically interlocking burrs, dissection and packing puzzles, just to name a few. Well, Frederic is a bit of a Jack of several trades; which is good, because I never know what I will receive from him. Its usually a surprise!
The puzzle consist of an ordinary square box with an acrylic cover (which can be removed). The pieces are all identical rectangular shaped sticks. All contain either one or two magnets embedded within except for one piece. The size is about 5.5cm x 5.5cm x 3.6cm. Quality of construction, fit and finish is very good. The pieces fit nicely into the box with just enough tolerance.
Anti-Gravity Box is a 3D packing puzzle. The goal is to place the box on a flat surface and fit all 6 pieces into the box through the two holes on the side. Really nothing to it it seems. Except there are certain restrictions which make this a much more challenging puzzle than it looks. Firstly, you can’t move the box like shake or tilt it etc to get the sticks to move inside. Secondly, you can only use your fingers and the sticks to aid in moving the other sticks. You also cannot turn the box upside down. The lid must remain on top except for reset and storage.
With all these rules in place, the difficulty quotient goes up many notches. Oh, there are those magnets there as well. They are either there to help or hinder, depending on how you want to look at it. When you start playing, they’re both, as I discovered.
GREAT DESIGN AND GREAT FUN
To solve the Anti-Gravity Box, a bit of thinking (in fact quite a lot, for me at least) of thinking outside the box is required (no pun intended). I don’t want to place any spoilers here but there is a sequence to follow, just like how an interlocking burr works. Pull or push the wrong piece or in the wrong direction and you are stuck.
I had to reset (dump out the pieces inside) the puzzle well over half a dozen times and plan (and re-plan) the moves before I finally got the last piece into the box as intended. Any one who has studied some basic science would know that magnets attract and repel and this had to be taken into consideration as well. Very challenging to say the least and a fair amount of dexterity is also required. I checked my solution against Frederic’s and yes, mine and his were about the same. It take approximately 18 moves to fully pack in the 6 pieces.
Overall, a rather unique and I would say, a very clever design. I enjoyed the thinking process and the fun factor was great. Challenging but not to the extent you would want to tear your hair out. Just need to ponder the moves ahead to save you all the trial and error. A must have for packing puzzle enthusiasts.