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Jean Claude Constantin not only has great looking puzzles, but also quite a few fiendish ones. Last week, I reviewed his IQ9, which remains unsolved even after a hint from Tomas Lindén (3 pieces placed at 45º), and this week I have to add to the unsolved family the Pack+1. Well, it's half solved, so to speak... I'll explain further below.
The puzzle is beautifully crafted with various tones of wood for the pieces and a reddish tone for the box. There's a nice contrast between wood and metal that complements the overall elegant appearance of the puzzle. The dimensions are medium sized, with 8 x 8 x 6cm (3.2" x 2.4").
Pack+1 consists of seven wooden pieces and five metal rods, two of them are glued to two pieces and the remaining three are loose. Most of the pieces have at least one hole across their sections, except for two of them, and the second one is the extra piece (the one-unit block).
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There are mainly two challenges for the Pack+1: the first challenge, although easier than the second, it's still a bit hard to solve and involves packing all the pieces and rods into the box, except for the one-unit block. When you accomplish this goal, the second challenge asks you to pack all the pieces again, this time with the addition of the extra piece. This is exponentially harder to solve, which explains why I haven't solved it yet.
When you solve the first challenge, if you take a closer look and examine all the puzzle's characteristics you reach the conclusion that it's virtually impossible to add the extra piece without some creative thinking and unorthodox placing of the pieces. When solved, the first challenge makes use of all the holes in the pieces and there are no apparent wasted spaces, unless those that are crossed by the metal rods. The problem lies in rearranging the pieces so that it's possible to accommodate that extra unit. If you've used all the holes in the pieces, which are being crossed by the rods, where do you get the extra space? This is indeed what you call an enigma wrapped around a riddle with a pinch of conundrum on the side. Can you solve it? If you do, a hint would be much appreciated...
It's been a good couple of weeks for the mind boggling puzzles. First the IQ9 and now the Pack+1. Constantin really knows how to make them. Solve it or not, the Pack+1 is a great looking puzzle and deserves a place in your collection.
Availability: Pack+1 is available at Sloyd.fi for about €25. If you want a bigger version, you can opt for the Pack+1 Stor instead.