I got this rather cute and interesting packing puzzle, the Swiss Cheese courtesy of William Waite. I have had the pleasure of meeting William on several occasions during the past IPPs and corresponded with him previously. We had done a private puzzle exchange; my Ball In Cylinder No 2 for two of his own-designed puzzles. I checked out his puzzle site Puzzlemist and finally settled on the Swiss Cheese and Flower Finder. These two were amongst the more difficult ones in his collection. The whimsical factor won me over.
Swiss Cheese Puzzle
Like your typical packing puzzle, the Swiss Cheese puzzle came in a regular shaped tray and 5 pieces. But with an interesting theme. The cheeses were a combination of different shapes with holes and half-holes and hiding at the top left corner in its own recess was the little mouse. The Swiss Cheese is made from laser cut Red Alder and Walnut wood. Quality of construction, fit and finish is very good. And after you have solved the puzzle, you will also realise that the tolerances are very tight. The mouse just fits nicely within the tray with the rest of the pieces. The back of the puzzle has the starting position of the pieces etched into the surface and other accompanying text. This is just in case like me, you can’t solve it and have to transport the puzzle around.
Waite’s design was inspired by and pays homage to an earlier mouse/cheese puzzle designed by Vladimir Krasnoukhov, which has 5 pieces of cheese and a mouse. There is also one other puzzle bearing the cheese/mouse theme that I am aware of, the Quattro Formaggi designed by Jean Claude Constantin.
Now, the goal is obvious; place the mouse and the four cheese pieces flat into the tray. With only four pieces which don’t look too out of the ordinary, I didn’t think the puzzle would be beyond me. But I should have known that a William Waite designed puzzle cannot be that easy. On his site, William says this the Swiss Cheese is “filled with red herrings to lead you astray, this puzzle consistently resists efforts even to fit the 4 pieces of cheese in the square at all”
I struggled for quite a few days on this one before finally throwing in the towel. Afterall I have a lot of puzzles (exchange and others) still to go through. I emailed William for the solution and I am glad he didn’t give it to me outright. Instead he gave me a clue, which on hindsight I should have asked him in the first place!
Surprising even myself, with his clue, I solved the Swiss Cheese in under a minute. All this while the pieces were staring back at me and I was led astray thinking there was only one possibility of a solution. Yes the damn red herrings! I didn’t consider the other possible alternatives. Hmm…lesson learnt for other packing puzzles on their way. But the final solution with mouse in its resting place looks very cool and you will wonder how the pieces can fit in the way they do! For those interested, you can contact William Waite via his website.