This packing puzzle has become one of my favourites for giving to first time puzzlers. Partly because it looks so simple that anyone is happy to try it, but mostly because I find it interesting to see lots of different people making exactly the same kind of mistakes (I'm not evil....honest!).
This puzzle is called 'Quattro Formaggi', and it was made by Jean Claude Constantin. However I recently discovered that it is in fact yet another design that came about some years ago from Stewart Coffin, which he originally named 'Cruiser'. Constantin revived this puzzle and brought it to the mass market, and in doing so he gave it the appealing 'Swiss cheese' appearance that you can see in the photo above.
Like most of Constantin's other puzzles this one is made from simple laser cut wood. It is comprised of only four pieces and a tray, so the objective is pretty apparent from the start (another good reason why you can give it to anyone), you must pack all four of the pieces into the tray so that they lay flat.
Many people that I have given it to start off with the preconception that you have to fill all of the space within the tray, but after studying the pieces a bit better they come to the conclusion that there is no way that could physically happen. This is one of a couple of misconceptions that really can keep people going on this puzzle for some really long periods of time.
If you have come across some of Stewart Coffin's other tray packing puzzle designs then you will have an idea of how this works. Many of his packing designs use very few pieces, and this really adds to their appeal. I really love puzzles that look simple and end up being quite difficult. I had come across some of Stewart's designs before, so I did have an unfair advantage and managed to solve this puzzle pretty quickly, but I have also given it to some non-puzzlers only to have it thrown back at me several days later after they had tried and failed many times.