Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The 3/4 Pack Puzzle

I have had several Dick Hess puzzles in my collection for some time now and he has designed and produced quite a number including both packing, sliding block and entanglement ones. I thought I would start off with something of his that is more manageable and the 3/4 Pack Puzzle fits the bill just right.

The 3/4 Pack Puzzle was Dick's IPP36 exchange puzzle in Kyoto last year. Its a 2D tray packing puzzle with six 3/4 discs. Manufactured by Walt Hoppe, it is made from laser cut Cherry wood and measures about 12.7cm x 9cm x 0.9cm. The tray and pieces are precision cut with tight tolerances. It even has a slot for one of discs for ease of storage when not in play

Typically for puzzles like this, where the fit is just right, I would place it in a dry box to make sure there is no expansion of the pieces due to the high humidity, which is what I did. One never knows if the inability to solve could have been due to expanded pieces which can't fit where it should.

The object is to place all six 3/4 discs flat into the square cavity. The puzzle comes with the solution sheet which shows that there are actually 8 ways to pack the pieces in. This explains why I didn't have too much trouble with this packing puzzle! But of the 8 ways 
(plus flipped pieces), only two are optimum (best) solutions and the rest go in descending order thereafter from 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th best solutions. I am proud to say my first attempt was actually one of the two "best" solutions!

The 3/4 Pack Puzzle is not too difficult and this is one of those packing puzzles that you can lay out all the pieces in the tray and slowly manipulate the pieces bit by bit to ensure every piece will fit inside. However, aside from the challenge perspective, I guess what's significant is also the math behind the design and the very precise manufacture of each and every copy to ensure that the puzzle works properly as intended. For those keen on the 3/4 Pack Puzzle or other Dick Hess puzzles, please PM me via my blog site email.

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