Saturday 11 March 2023

Noodling Box

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 use whatsoever…

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 no avail.

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 Box.

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 happens

The gang at Cubic have really done Eric proud on this one – well done folks!


No comments:

Post a Comment