This colourful 2D packing puzzle is the joint design effort of Rex Rosanno Perez and Stanislav Knot. Rex hails from the Philippines and Stan is from the Czech Republic.. Joint designs for puzzles are not uncommon. I had a joint design with Stan here for my own Exchange Puzzle called the SYM-353, which will be the subject of a future post. Primitivo Familar Ramos of Spain collaborated with me on the 9 Blocks Cube which we entered for the IPP36 Puzzle Design Competition.
I first had a glimpse of the Currency R&R a while back as pictures of the puzzle were posted by Rex (and I think Stan as well) on their respective Facebook feeds after the design first emerged. It looked like a real tough packing puzzle and then, I was pretty sure it was. What was also really interesting was the design theme. Rex and Stan had designed the pieces to resemble currency symbols. There are 5 currencies used here. They are the Dollar, Japanese Yen, Spanish Peseta, Euro and British Pound. The angular shapes of the pieces forming the currencies are nicely executed and look like the real thing.
Now what people do not know is that the Currency R&R started as R&S (Rex & Stanislav). Initially conceived in 2015 as a sliding block cum packing puzzle by Rex, the two gents worked on it as a sliding puzzle.But during this time, Stan also came up with a simple packing design which eventually resulted in the Currency puzzle that we know today. I am not sure what the second “R” in “R&R” stands for tho”. Was it a typo error?
Fast forward sometime to 2017 and at the IPP37 Puzzle Exchange in Paris, I got a copy of the Currency R&R in my hands. Exchanged by Frans De Vreugd. Frans had seen the puzzle and requested it for his exchange puzzle. The puzzle is made out of laser cut acrylic with coloured symbols and the tray consists of two sides both which can be used. Construction and fit is perfect and the puzzle is very well cut.
One 2d packing challenge becomes Five
The Currency R&R had been “modded” by Frans to include more challenges than the original design. The original version was just to pack the 5 currency symbols into the tray. The new challenges include 1) Packing the 5 symbols into a modified (tighter) tray (the side with with the etchings). And using a combination of 4, 3 and 2 symbols, pack the pieces into the tray such that none of the pieces can slide (anti-slide puzzle). The latter challenges had multiple solutions while the two traditional packing ones each had a unique solution.
Depending on the design, a 5 piece packing puzzle can be moderately difficult, difficult or very challenging, but rarely easy. My personal take on the Currency R&R is that the puzzle straddles somewhere in between difficult and very difficult, but leaning more towards difficult. While its hard no doubt, I would not say its frustratingly hard. Or perhaps it was just my good luck the day when I played with it! Both challenges took me about forty minutes in total.
For this particular design, a bit of thinking and careful observation would also help in the solve. Particularly paying attention to the shape of each piece and how they might interact with each other inside the tray. I don’t want to say more to avoid spoilers. The remaining anti slide challenges (using a combination of pieces) were not too difficult and I could manage almost all of them. Especially after my experience with Gridlock at the Arc De Triomphe.