John Devost makes some gorgeous puzzles and from time to time he’ll sell a few of them on Puzzle Paradise. A little while back he posted a couple of copies of the Gouge Packing Puzzle, designed by fellow Canadian Gaétan Gouge. The first thing that caught my eye was the absolutely stunning woods that John had used … and knowing from experience that John’s craftsmanship is superb, it took only a couple of seconds to hit the Buy Now button.
When it arrived, I was over the moon – John’s attention to detail is fanatical, right down to bevelling not just the edges of the box, but the corners as well … and then there’s the trademark Devost slipfeathers as well…
Right, enough gushing about how beautiful it is – tell us about the puzzle!
Inspired by the famous Hoffmann Packing Puzzle, Gaétan wrote about this puzzle in Cubism For Fun [Issue 33] back in 1994, explaining that he’d sought to use voids in the puzzle as an intrinsic part of the puzzle itself. The challenge is to pack a total of 26 cubes into the box so that nothing projects above the lip of the box. There are 21 cubes of unit size 5 and the rest are 8 units cubed. All of these cubes need to be packed into the box which is 18 units cubed internally.
I started out by randomly experimenting with various combinations of big and small cubes and managed to find some useful interactions between the size of the box and the sizes of the cubes – that’s got to be useful!
Time and time again I’d manage to find a way to get them all inside the box only to find a couple of errant blocks hiding on the desk behind a burr or something. Eventually I went back to basics and worked with what I knew – what would be efficient – and what wouldn’t be – and how to make use of the fact that there we a strange number of larger cubes … and then it all makes sense, as long as you can see it all in three dimensions … it really is more about managing the voids than fitting the pieces in.
This one’s really interesting and makes you think outside the box, in a sense. And when you find the solution, it all seems so obvious, as long as you’re thinking about it in the right paradigm.