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Thursday, 4 October 2012

Mad In China (Jean Claude Constantin)

Packing puzzles tend to come in all shapes and sizes, but this particular one caught my eye because of the complexity of the pieces that need to be packed.
Mad In China - Jean Claude Constantin
This puzzle is called 'Mad In China', a name which I imagine came about due to the slight resemblance between the shape of the pieces and written Chinese characters, and it came as part of an order from Puzzle Master. As some regular puzzlers may have guessed by the laser cut wood this is another creation from the mind of Jean Claude Constantin, and an excellent one at that.

As with all packing puzzles the objective is pretty obvious; get all four of the very irregular pieces to lay flat within the tray. At first glance it really doesn't seem that like much of a challenge. Even though the pieces have very irregular shapes the tray is actually very empty, apart from the four protuberances around the edge.

Immediately it became clear that all four pieces were far too large to go into the tray without being interlaced within each other, so then I began the process of finding the most space-saving assembly of the four pieces outside of the tray. This turned out to be a pretty ineffective method because I had to check each time if my assemblies would also fit into the tray, so I moved on to trying different assemblies within the tray instead.

After a good half hour or so I decided to give this puzzle a rest for a while, but I took it to the Midland's Puzzle Party (MPP) not long after. At the party fellow puzzler Nigel sat down next to me and solved it in what I guess to be less than 10 minutes! Now Nigel is a seasoned puzzler, so I didn't feel disheartened, but it did spur me on to try again later that evening once I got home. After another 10 minutes I managed the solution as well.

Now even though there are only four pieces I would still class this as a moderately difficult packing puzzle, mostly due to the highly irregular shape of the pieces. So if you fancy a challenging packing puzzle that doesn't have too many pieces then this is one for you.


  1. I don't think the number of pieces is the key issue! Many people bought Lean to from Paradise after the last IPP and most have seemed to struggle with it despite It only having 4 pieces. I'm rubbish! I have singularly failed!!


    1. Indeed! I think most of Stewart Coffin's packing puzzles prove that as well. Too many pieces always puts me off from a puzzle.


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