Saturday, 16 March 2019

Three of the best... tray-packing puzzles. 

I’ve mentioned all three of these puzzles in various blog posts over the past three or four months but I thought they really deserved a post on their own, so here goes!

Yuu Asaka’s Jigsaw Puzzle 29 was entered in the 2018 Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition…  and I didn’t play with it once. In my defence, I was fairly busy at IPP38, but the fact remains, I didn’t let it draw me gently in and punch me in the stomach… that came later, when my Dutch mate gave me a copy for my birthday a month or so later… I did the classic mechanical puzzler thing and commented on the fact that it was a jigsaw puzzle – missing the ‘29’ reference entirely but he grinned and said I’d like it… and he’s never been wrong yet! 

So I started playing with it – first thing I noticed is the corners – you always start with the corners, don’t you… it’s a square frame so there are four corners… always. Except this time. Jigsaw 29 has more – which is interesting, to quote an old friend.

Try coming up with an edge and you find that it’s either too long or too short – and when you FINALLY come up with a couple of edges, you find yourself running rather low on edge pieces, which is probably going to make constructing the remaining two sides rather tricky…

This puzzle gives you a fabulous roller coaster ride from having no suspicion that anything strange is afoot, to thinking this is pretty weird, to “Hey I can do this” only to be followed by “Aw nawwwww” and somewhere in between all that, thinking to yourself that this is a square puzzle… but there are 29 pieces, which isn’t usually a square number.

I like ‘29’ as the introduction to this set of puzzles… it looks almost normal and let’s you think that your usual strategies for solving jigsaws should suffice… until they don’t. 

Next up is Jigsaw Puzzle 19… a gift from Kevin - Thanks mate! 

If 29 suckered you in gently, then 19 sits up and yells at you, telling you “You don’t know nuttin' ” right from the get-go! You see, whereas 29 has an extra corner, 19 consists only of corner pieces… 19 of them – and there’s that whole 19 isn’t a square number thing again – but the frame is square…

You’ll pretty quickly find that your standard jigsaw solving tools aren’t going to be very useful at all here… again the pieces are transparent with no top or bottom and starting at the corners, filling in the edges and then completing the middle clearly isn’t going to be a simple task of sorting the pieces appropriately. 

This one really requires some thought and a fair amount of jettisoning what you think you know about jigsaw puzzles…

Wave 7 is a little different – seven simple wave-shaped pieces come with a neat little rectangular tray. Six of those pieces will fit into the tray rather simply – but the seventh will invariably refuse point blank to go in… no matter how carefully you match up the dents to the bumps, the remaining gap is pretty much always just the wrong shape: there’s always a bump where you need a gap. 

But that’s OK, ‘cos we’re puzzlers – we don’t always expect fair play, so we start exploring the potential tricks – and interestingly the tray’s geometry looks quite fair – at least in the Stew Coffin sense of fairness… trying those sort of tricks results only in greater embarrassment.

The solution, it turns out, is very cute and has taken almost every puzzler I know a lot longer than seven simple little pieces should ever really take a proper puzzler… this one starts and ends as a simple “pack seven pieces into a tray” challenge and doesn’t have all the wonderful jigsaw subterfuge of the other two, but it’s definitely an excellent design… 

I hope we see a lot more from Yuu Asaka in the future!

…and best of all? They’re all still freely available direct from the designer, who’s on FaceBook. Look him up!


  1. Hi Allard,
    Two new designs from Yuu Asaka are available:
    Wave 5 and Ice 9.

    1. Thanks Frederic! I hadn't seen those yet... :-)

  2. See my review of wave 5 and Ice 9 in my blog :)

  3. So many new puzzles. Always appreciate your insight

  4. Hi, - very interested in purchasing some of these puzzles ( is always Sold Out) but cant find the correct Facebook page as you say above to contect him? Cheers!

    1. Yuu Asaka' email address:

  5. Puzzle Master just received the latest 3 puzzles. The 2 older puzzles are still out of stock. (Morning of April 9) -Tyler.

    1. Update, morning of April 11: Puzzle Master has sold out of Jigsaw 19 and Ice 9, leaving only Wave 5 currently in stock. These three are en route to me. This leaves only Wave 7 to complete my set. -Tyler

    2. And all sold out by the morning of April 12. Good for Puzzle Master for the North American audience! -Tyler.