Sunday, December 11, 2011

Marking boredom-quintet in f

One of the Joys of my job is the marking. Now today, I have marked 65 summaries, 80 essays,37 IELTS, 50 reading/usage(easy) 82 scripts for the Poly. Big deal I hear you say. Well, no, it isn't. It's a boring deal! I am sick up to my eyeballs of body parts (yes, that was one of the topics) and something about companies. Oh well, only a few more days of it I hope. And since it is my puzzle money I'd best get back to it.

But first...

A puzzle for you all. Today between candidates and making bursts, I was playing with a puzzle called Quintet in F. It is a Stewart Coffin #253 to be exact. This one has 5 little identical f's on it. I've had it on my office desk for a while to play with, but sadly never seem to have the time (a recurrent theme of late) so knowing full well what I had in store for the weekend, I put it in my bag and set off to work.

As you can see, the cage frame is not square. It's offset ever so slightly. This makes it all the more difficult to fit those pieces in. There were many a moment this afternoon when I wanted to sove the darned things into place and pray for a miracle. Sadly, it didn't pay off. Neither did trial and error or counting. I solved this one by thinking! Are you all as shocked as I am? I had around 40 minutes left of my full day testing session and I looked down and suddenly it dawned on me. Aha! or Eureka! If you prefer. Done! Solved! Finished! I'm shocked and pleased I managed it. Next one....Those pesky bears.


  1. I love this type of packing problems, like the classic 4 Ts. They always have these incredible and devious solutions. Congrats on solving it ;-)

  2. I have a love/hate relationship with packing puzzles. I love the look of them and the difficulty and I hate how I am absolutely rubbish at them!

    I really have no clue how to go about them except using very extensive trial and error. I have such a terrible memory that I can't remember who I am let alone what pieces I tried before! I'm impressed that you got this one by thinking - I would have been at it randomly trying stuff for days!!


  3. Stan Issacs showed me the Stewart Coffin Checkerboard one at the awards dinner. He leaned over and said something to me about counting, which I of course ignored at the time. Mostly because I had no clue what he was on about. When I was playing with the same puzzle at a boys and toys, I sussed out the counting maybe I wasn't thinking, I was counting :)
    :) try counting. Not thinking. Lord knows I do very little of that. Brute force is more my style.

  4. I solved the checkerboard puzzle fairly quickly but this "Quintet in F" is driving me nuts! I found a solution, eventually, but I think it is an illegal solution. The reason is that it is super tight, I tried it again just now and you really have to squeeze the pieces in there. When you turn the tray over the pieces do not fall out. The total area is 25, so what? Hheellpp!!

  5. OK, I just solved it without using my head. No Eureka, but it is solved ... what exactly was your insight? Please email to

  6. George, as you said, the count. My Eureka was simply this: Turn the darned frame the other way around stupid! :-) seriously. That was it!

  7. Hi Roxanne
    I always read your posts about metagrobology. Some years ago you spoke of "Quintet in F" and how you solved it.
    Please help an old man (but young metagrobologist), can you give me the solution. Thankssssssssssss
    Sandro Aliverti