Sunday 10 May 2015

Marble Cake

Now here's an interesting packing puzzle I played with over the weekend. It's called the Marble Cake and is the brainchild of my puzzle friend Frederic Boucher. Not only did he design the puzzle, he also made it....without using any wood cutting equipment!

I got to know Frederic two years ago after acquiring his IPP33 puzzle design competition entry, Manholes 55. Frederic is a French Canadian who presently lives in Tokyo, Japan. While back in Canada he had his own wood workshop at home, this is not possible for him in Japan since his dwelling cannot accommodate such a setup. Fortunately Frederic is able to order and get his wood cut into specific size blocks and then he sands, glues and finishes them into the shapes and pieces required. Looking at the quality of the Marble Cake, you wouldn't be able to tell that this was the way Frederic put together his puzzle.

The Marble Cake consists of a bottomless tray made of Japanese elm with seven different pieces made from exotic hardwoods including Japanese beech, magnolia, paduak, teak, wenge, ebony and cherry). Construction and finish is very good indeed and the fit is just nice with the right amount of tolerance between the pieces. 

Three of these tetraminoes....are not like the others....
All seven pieces consist of four units each (tetraminoes) in various shapes.Nothing too unusual about this; except that three of the seven pieces, tho' they are four units a piece, are nevertheless joined together to form rather "odd" shapes (as shown in the photo).

As a result, this makes the Marble Cake far far more tricky and difficult than if it had just been a packing puzzle with seven regular tetraminoes. It took me a good hour or so before I got all the pieces flush into the tray!

If its any help, the trick I suppose is not to think of the odd pieces as odd if possible, but to see how they could possibly fit into the tray if they were just regular tetraminoes (which of course is easier said than done, with the benefit of hindsight).

This is really a very nice packing puzzle with a good level of challenge. Its difficult but not frustratingly so. An original design and with only one solution. For packing puzzle fans, the Marble Cake is a must-have for collectors.

[Edit 12 May 2015: There have been a number of readers asking how they can purchase a copy of Marble Cake from Frederic. Please email me via my blog email and I will put you in touch with Frederic directly]


  1. Replies
    1. I am not sure if Frederic will make any for sale but no harm asking. Please drop me a line via my blog email, thanks

    2. I would like to get one too

    3. Ok, I will ask Frederic if he will make more for sale