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Sunday, 9 October 2011

One Piece Packing Puzzle / Clive Box / Pack It In (Simon Nightingale)

Here is a really unassuming little packing problem standing at only 1.75" tall, designed by English puzzle designer and manufacturer Simon Nightingale. And this particular copy was manufactured in a limited run of 42 copies by Eric Fuller.

It was released by Eric Fuller under the name of the 'One Piece Packing Puzzle', but it has also been called by the names 'Pack It In' and the 'Clive Box'. It was called the 'Clive Box' when it was used by Simon Nightingale as his exchange puzzle for the International Puzzle Party held in London in 1999 (IPP19).

What a brilliant looking puzzle! It looks to be made entirely from exotic wood, but looks (as always) can be extremely deceiving. The object here is glaringly obvious; pack the cube (and yes, it is a perfect cube) into the box that is just the right size to hold it.
When I picked it up for the first time I knew there would be more to it than that, so I wasn't too surprised to find that no matter how I put the cube into it's box it insisted on jumping back out again. From the feel of the resistance I could tell that there were definitely some form of magnetic repulsion going on there, but even after flipping the cube the other way it still refused to be packed into the box!

After about ten minutes or so I managed to get the tricky little blighter to sit still in it's box, but I had to do this a few more times to truly understand why this puzzle was acting in such an unusual way. Now that I have it properly figured out I am really impressed with it! This puzzle implements a very interesting property of magnets that many people are not aware of, as I wasn't until very recently.

It's not a very difficult puzzle, and it does work on a sort of 'trial and error' solving method rather than an entirely logical approach, but it is truly brilliant! I love the fact that you can hand it to someone without saying a word and they will know exactly what has to be achieved. Also the quality of Eric's workmanship on this particular run is once again outstanding. I also recently got to see a copy of Simon's exchange version, and they are very similar in both size and build style to Eric's, so I assume that Eric worked his designs directly off from an original.

Sadly this puzzle is currently not available as Eric made these back in 2008, and like most items that go up on Cubic Dissection they sold out very shortly after release. I was lucky enough to be loaned this particular copy from a generous fellow puzzler that I met during my recent visits to the Camden Puzzle Gatherings. But if a copy ever does come up in the future I definitely won't hesitate to add one to my collection.

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