W-Windows is an apparent cube packing puzzle designed by Osanori Yamamoto and made by Pelikan Puzzles. In this case the box has 2 large 2x2 windows that need to be shuttered (i.e., filled) and 2 of the 3 zig-zaggy pieces have a W theme going on. The box is made from Apple and the pieces are made from Ovangkol. Usually, I don’t talk about the types of woods used to make puzzles, but since I had to look up Ovangkol in my wood book (Wood! Identifying and Using Hundreds of Woods Worldwide by Eric Meier from the online The Wood Database), it’s worth mentioning that it’s another name for Shedua. However, Ovangkol is the title for the wood description and Shedua is only mentioned in the comments. Apparently Ovangkol is used by guitar makers who have better lobbyists than puzzle craftsmen.
After having done many of these types of puzzles and looking at the pieces for W-Windows, I expected:
- All pieces will be used to fill the windows.
- The W pieces will be added with some variation of an insert-shift-insert movement. Sorry to state the obvious
- One of the Ws has a 2x2 face, which obviously fills one of the box windows. It’s so obvious that it can’t possibly be part of the solution. Or could it?
- The tetracube piece will be in the center somewhere moving around to allow the W pieces to slowly emerge from the box.
- Each W piece will be associated with its own window.
- The tetracube piece will have the highest move count.
I freely share these expectations with you because they are of no help whatsoever when solving the puzzle.
When I first sat down with the puzzle, I took the approach of looking for an assembly and then determining whether it could be placed in the box. I learned 2 important things from this approach: 1) There are too many assemblies, and 2) There are a lot of ways that the pieces cannot be oriented within the box. It’s definitely worth the time to determine how the pieces can and can’t be oriented within the box so that you can quickly recognize a possible assembly from an impossible one.
When looking for the solution, I try to find an assembly that looks like it has a few good moves. These types of puzzles usually don’t have deep false paths, and once you find something that looks interesting, it’s frequently the solution, which was the case with W-Windows for me.
It may be the eternal optimist in me, perhaps the stubbornness, or more likely the short-mindedness, but I looked at the 2 big windows of the box and the 3 measly pieces and thought that this would be a quick score. However, those simple pieces kept me entertained for about an hour and I did enjoy the solution once I found it. You really can’t go wrong with these apparent cube packing puzzles from Osanori Yamamoto. Thankfully, Osanori creates new ones faster than I can acquire and solve them.
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