Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Gouge Packing Puzzle



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! 

Surely??


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.


9 comments:

  1. BurrTools struggled mightily on this one and succeeded only in overheating my computer. So you win over BurrTools this time!

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    1. I suspect that BurrTools is trying a lot more combinations than I did though! Humans suffer from the ability to be able to step back from a problem and think about it differently ... every now and then that helps! :-)

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    2. Indeed! The problem is that in BurrTools the box side is 18 and the cubes have size 5 and 8, so there are lots of options. Perhaps with clever use of colour constraints one might be able to solve it in BurrTools. I did try fixing one of the large cubes in a corner ...

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  2. 26 pieces, that's a lot to pack!...and I thought anything more than 12 pieces were already too many...not that many of such packing puzzles with so many pieces around I think...

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    1. Yeah, but they're all cubes and there are only two sizes (really!) so it doesn't seem that daunting...

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  3. I have this too Allard ... currently my solution looks like your first photo! It's beautifully made, and has provided lots of puzzling. Well worth the money.

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    1. ...that solution may be prettier than the real one! Not as elegant, but perhaps prettier!

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  4. Got a version of this also. Absolutely love it. Currently my most difficult puzzle and it looks beautiful.

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  5. This is one of my favourites for the year so far. Not as horrific as the large number of cubes would suggest but still a great challenge. And of course John's work is always beautiful.

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