Eric fuller was a giant among men. Not only as a tall,
imposing guy, but often as the bloke with the serious mohawk at our annual
puzzle parties. Softly-spoken and an absolute gentleman, he had a rapier-sharp
sense of humour and puzzle-chops like nobody’s business. He was a great solver
of puzzles, but he had an absolute gift for both designing puzzlers’ puzzles
and for selecting interesting designs from others… most people will know him
best for the amazing craftmanship in the puzzles he’s been making and selling
through Cubic Dissections for years.
The puzzling community lost one of the good guys when he passed
away last year – I’m going to miss his larger-than-life personality at IPPs, and
I know that there will be thousands of folks who have an Eric-shaped hole in
their lives now. My heart goes out to his friends and family who must be missing
him so much more than me – hugs to you all.
Noodling Box was one of the last projects that Eric worked
on – he’d spoken about it now and then and it sounded one of those projects
that he’d dip back into every now and then, noodle around a bit, and then work
on something else… until he thought it was ready to unleash.
The name, apparently comes from the act of catching catfish
with one’s bare hands (not one’s bear hands, that’s another sport entirely!) by
enticing them out of their underwater caves and then presumably grabbing them.
I’m no expert, but I wonder if there’s potentially a more effective way of
doing all that… either way, I’m sure that it’s at least partially relevant to
the puzzle – or just another of Eric’s jokes on an unsuspecting puzzler.
My copy has an African Teak case with a Quilted Sycamore drawer
– at least I assume it’s a drawer as it wiggles a bit, but resolutely won’t
open. There are a few noticeable holes around the sides, some of which seem to
have something lurking just below the surface (a catfish, of sorts?). The front
of the drawer has a round knob with a little bit of a wiggle to it… but again,
nothing that seems useful at all…
I end up spending quite a while making absolutely ZERO
progress until I notice something worth exploring. One thing leads to another
and I find myself in command of a small, but perfectly formed, tool.
At this stage I’m pretty chuffed and I reckon it’ll probably
be plain sailing from here on in having finally cracked my way in… disappointment
awaits… and I end up contemplating increasing dangerous things that I could do
with my little tool, as I try things in turn, none of which seem to be of any
There’s an obvious place for me to want to get to at this
stage, only my tool won’t allow… I spend several days Think- (c)-ing to almost
Progress finally comes from trying something I hadn’t
thought of yet – which is obvious really, until you think of it… only you don’t,
and you won’t, because it’s Eric, and he knows exactly how puzzlers think… and
then uses that against you, totally.
From there on I manage a bit more sustained progress and
actually get the puzzle to where someone who hasn’t come across Eric yet might
consider the puzzle to be solved… only you haven’t seen his hanko and there are
some as-yet-unexplained noises going on inside the box, and there’s altogether
too much space left…
Onwards, and sometimes upwards, until some further
discoveries, including at least one that will literally blow your mind and then
you’ll have not only the hanko, but also your prize – totally befitting a Noodling
The puzzling journey is beautifully designed with definite
stages of discovery along the way – there were two or three times that my head
was blown on aspects of the solution. Everything is that precisely made it’s
virtually impossible to guess what’s going to be happening until it actually
The gang at Cubic have really done Eric proud on this one – well