Quintet in ‘F’ is number Stewart Coffin’s design #253 ... two hundred and fifty three!
And he’s still going!
OK, back to the puzzle in hand - Coffin #253 served as Rosemary Howbrigg’s Exchange Puzzle at IPP31 in Berlin and as you might expect from the name it employs five ‘f’-shaped pentominoes in the tray packing puzzle.
Mercifully this time (unlike Lean 2) the tray is symmetrical, in fact it’s a rhombus so it’s very symmetrical ... however the pieces aren’t – and there are five of them, which makes building a shape that’s symmetrical a little tricky...
My copy came from Puzzle Paradise where John Devost has recently picked up his woodworking tools after a couple of successful restorations. I tend to keep an eye on Paradise just in case anything interesting turns up... John’s pretty good about warning folks when he’s put a bunch of new things up for sale on Paradise, but every now and then one or two new things will sneak on before he’s had a chance to wing an email around to warn anyone...
So one day I happened to spot this particular puzzle appear out of the blue – just a single copy available with a zebrawood tray and spalted myrtle pieces and I thought it looked terrific so I snagged it. It arrived less than a week later in perfect condition having made the journey across from Canada in a padded envelope.
John’s done a super job on this puzzle – the tray has a floating zebrawood base , the corners are finished off with wenge slipfeathers (one of his trademark features) and he’s signed and dated the back of the tray.
It’s an excellent little puzzle and the combination of an odd number of non-symmetrical pieces being fitted into a perfectly symmetrical tray provides plenty of blind allies to be explored. I got fairly lucky and managed to stumble upon a solution quite quickly, but I’ve heard of some pretty mean puzzlers being stumped for quite a while ... but then it IS a Stewart Coffin design, and you wouldn’t expect any less ... would you?