Tuesday, 2 December 2014

A Coffin Puzzle

Nope...this is not a puzzle from a super famous designer of the same name we all know so well. 

But this puzzle (a.k.a Escape The Plague, ETP) is actually the design of and IPP34 Exchange Puzzle from Kate Jones, who runs Gamepuzzles, a US online retailer of games and puzzles, the latter which are also all designed in-house.

If there was a prize at IPP34 for packaging, ETP would surely have won hands down for originality. ETP is a "maze connection" puzzle where the first challenge is to form a single "escape route", by placing the 16 square tiles within a square formed by the 4 side strips and navigating from the start point (red dot) to the exit gate (round dot). The second challenge is the arrange the tiles to form separate loops. 

ETP was designed around the theme of The Great Plague Of London, a major epidemic which killed hundreds of thousands of people in England during 1665-1666.

In "deathly" fashion and true to its theme, the laser cut tiles and strips are packaged in a miniature wooden coffin; which is probably just large enough to contain a small (dead) rat. The puzzle even comes with a sheet containing instructions and the history of The Great Plague.

The puzzle has more than one solution and the total number of solutions are not known. Kate is offering a nice prize to the first puzzler that can offer proof of the number of solutions. Well, I wasn't gunning for Kate's prize but merely content to find at least one solution. And I did! While not very difficult, it's no walk in the park either. There are 16 possible positions for the tiles and each tile has 4 different orientations. The side strips forming the square have 6 possible arrangements. To top it off, the route has to run through each of the 16 tiles as well as along all the 4 strips in a single continuous direction with no doubling back or crossing paths. It took me a while to figure out the entire route and I encountered several dead ends along the way before finally reaching the exit. 

ETP is limited to 125 copies, so there may still be some left. If anyone is interested, you may contact Kate via Gamepuzzles.


  1. Dear Jerry, thanks for this fantastic write-up and the gorgeous photos. Just one thing needs fixing: we're "gamepuzzles" (one word, lower case p, with the s at the end, not in the middle), not GamesPuzzle (ouch!). Go to www.gamepuzzles.com. It may also be worth adding that we are not a mere retailer but the actual designers/makers of the puzzles we sell. Thanks for this wonderful publicity for our humble little enterprise. Happy puzzling, happy holidays!

    1. Kate, sorry for the typo error. Its been corrected on my blog post. All the best!