Quite some time ago now, I mentioned in the post about the Post IPP California Puzzle Party that I'd purchased a copy of Dave Rosetti's exchange puzzle from IPP31 and that I'd write a review soon. It seems that soon wasn't very soon at all and it's taken me months to get round to writing it! But here at last is the review of 'Check Me Out' designed by Stewart Coffin, and numbered 256 in his numbering system.
Check Me Out is another devious tray packing puzzle from Mr Coffin, where a mere four pieces have to be packed into the tray. To make things interesting, the tray isn't square, it's a nice parallelogram, and one piece is conveniently not placed in the tray. If that wasn't hard enough, the card which comes with the puzzle kindly states
"With puzzle art such fun to play
Chuck the four "checkers" in the tray
So that shape and color both will be
In perfect two-fold symmetry"
The Puzzle itself is fairly plain. There's no exotic woods used here (possibly Maple for the lighter wood), and the base of the tray is made from a veneered 3 ply plywood. That said, the grain in the veneer of the base of the tray is nice enough and gives a good contrasting colour to the pieces. Add to that the fact that the grain is offset to the angle of the walls of the tray really helps to mess with your head as you're solving it. The bottom of the tray is marked in pencil "256 STC 2011".
Each of the four pieces is very accurately cut and has had the corners rounded very slightly to take the sharp edges away. It's a small detail, but as a fellow puzzle maker pointed out to me when I started making puzzles, it really does make the puzzle far nicer in the hands when you're solving it.
Solving this one really took quite a while for me. I spent several hours trying to find a combination where all four pieces could fit in, ignoring the symmetry part of the problem. This is an excellent puzzle that will likely keep you busy for a long time. Who would have known that four pieces could provide such a problem to placing them in a tray?
I'm not going to post the solution here, as that would spoil the fun. If you're really stuck, then drop me a note and I might help you out by letting you know where one or two of the pieces go!