Neil's Puzzle Building Blog
24Jun/147

9 Parts Packing Problem

Another of the IPP32 exchange puzzles that I've been banging my head on for a while now is the 9 Parts Packing Problem designed by David Goodman, and exchanged by Dor Tietz. I travel to Israel for work fairly frequently, and as such I have the pleasure of meeting up with Dor, David and a few other puzzlers in the area for an evening of puzzling and good (non work related) conversation. This puzzle has been taunting me for quite some time, but having finally solved it, I feel that it's time I wrote about it.

9 Parts Packing Problem

9 Parts Packing Problem

This simple looking puzzle consists of just 9 pieces plus the box, with a sliding lid. Eight of the pieces can be easily packed into the main compartment of the box, leaving a pesky 9th that sticks out, preventing the lid from shutting. Cleverly, David has designed the box to store the '9th' piece, in an extra space, so when frustration sets in, you can put everything back in the box and forget about it for a while. (I may have done this more than once!)

The box measures 3 ⅜" x 2 116" x 1 ½", units, with the pieces being 1 x 1 x 3 units for the larger block, and 1 x 1 x 2 for the smaller block. As it states on the side of the box, the goal is to pack all 9 parts into the large container (2 x 3.8 x 4.75 units) and slide the lid closed. Sounds simple enough, and given how many packing puzzles I've played with over the last couple of years, it should have been easy ...

Space for that pesky 9th piece

Space for that pesky 9th piece

While the puzzle isn't made from fancy exotic woods, and there's no interesting joinery in the box, it would be easy to overlook this puzzle. I would suggest though that you don't overlook it. This is a very clever little puzzle, and one which I have struggled to solve for many (many) months. I'm not too proud to admit that I even went so far as to ask for help, posting both a picture, and a plea for help on Facebook, and had a few people send me hints. Nothing that told me how to solve it, but nudges in the right direction. None of them helped sadly.

9 pieces, and not enough room

9 pieces, and not enough room

The puzzle sat on my desk at work, and taunted me for months. I've idly picked it up, had a poke at the pieces and put it back down with no real progress. I've tried blowing on it, spinning it, shaking it, beating it (it's very well made!) but nothing seemed to help.

Then earlier this week, I picked it up , and noticed something about the pieces that I'd not noticed before. And moments later, the pieces were all neatly packed into the large container, I slid the lid closed, and sat back with a smug look on my face. (Then I got back to work, writing that document).

This is a really good little puzzle, and well worth a play. If you're interested in trying to acquire a copy, give me a shout and I'll pass you David and Dor's contact information, to see if they have any left. I think you'll like it!

Edit: Thanks to fellow puzzler Theo, who not only pointed out a mistake in my sizes above, but also made a copy for himself, having checked the dimensions with me, he found two solutions! I've corrected the sizes above, and looks like I'm back to trying to find a second solution!