Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Restricted Area

This "crooked" shaped box puzzle is Saul Bobroff's IPP35 Exchange Puzzle. For those serious puzzlers, you may know Saul as the guy behind the very unusual and unique impossible object; 4 Street Elbows, which I never quite figured out how to take apart although I have heard stories of puzzlers who have.

When I first un-packaged this puzzle and saw the blue box, I thought it was made by Brian Young, who had produced something physically similar (but straight at right angles) called the Restricted Soma. But its actually manufactured by "Here To There", which I believe its Saul's own puzzle company. 

Now back to Restricted Area - it's a Stewart Coffin design, #270-A and the goal is to pack eight pieces into the box which has a restricted opening, reminiscent of Lacika Kmolnar's L-I-Vator Cube. What is unusual about this puzzle is that the box is slanted at an angle from all sides (not obvious from the photo). Whichever side you look at, you will see a "pararellogram" shape on each face of the box. Consequently the pieces inside; each piece comprising of two glued-together "slanted" squares are also at an angle. Quality is good with all the pieces cut and fitting nicely. Dimensions wise, the box is 6.5cm x 6.5cm x 7cm.

If this was a "normal" packing puzzle with straight edges, I don't think it would have been that difficult; but because of the angle that the pieces have to go into the box and with the different shapes, the packing becomes consequently much harder. 

I fiddled with the pieces, taking each one out very slowly with several involving 2-step orthogonal movements because of the restricted opening. Took a bit of time and practice but after a while I memorized where each piece was suppose to go. I can say its not easy. I didn't want to scramble the lot because knowing my lack of packing skills, I probably won't be able to get them all back in later. I suspect Burr Tools could help here (configuring the pieces in the normal way) but I didn't bother to try. I am also not sure but there could be more than one way to solve this puzzle.

Not an easy packing puzzle by any means and certainly different from your normal box packing puzzles with the angles and all. Hardcore packing fans would most certainly love this one.

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