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Erich Friedman, a Professor of Mathematics and puzzle designer from Florida has made many interesting puzzles over the years. One of them, Cover Up, is a brilliant concept and has multiple challenges.
The puzzle has three pieces of a lighter toned hardwood and three pieces of a darker tone. Your task is to cover the entire area of the lighter pieces with the darker ones. Obviously this works the other way around. There's an easy and medium challenge as well to train your brain before attempting the main one, as figuring out how to solve it, is rather tricky and requires an out-of-the-box thinking. It's rated as a level 3/5+.
The Cover Up puzzle is made exclusively by Puzzle Crafthouse in Florida and comes in a nice 9.5 x 9.5cm (3.75") wooden box to store the pieces. All six pieces have the same 7-unit area and share the same 4-unit length.
I found it hard to classify this puzzle. It's not exactly a packing problem, but it can be categorized as an assembly puzzle... After all, you do have to assemble the pieces in a way that they can show the correct solution.
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I'll start by the easy challenge. This requires only two light pieces and two dark pieces. The goal is the same, to cover two identical pieces with the other two. Solving this one might not take you more than a couple of minutes. The second challenge is a little tougher, but you should still be able to solve it within 10 minutes. This time, you use all six pieces, but in a mixture: select two dark and one light pieces, or two light and one dark (either combination works), and cover the first three with the others. You can see the solution for the easy and medium challenges at the end of this post.
After solving the first two challenges within 15 minutes, I was confident that I wouldn't need more than half an hour to solve the hard one. Wrong assumption... I honestly lost count of the time I needed to finally solve it, because it was done after several unsuccessful sessions. I won't go over the solution much, because it would spoil the fun of solving it on your own, but I can say that it's a little different from the first two challenges. It's not a trick or anything like that, as the solution is a 2D shape, but it's a bit counter-intuitive in my opinion and not easily found by just random manipulation. More like a level 4 than a level 3, but like any other puzzle, the level of difficulty depends on many things, so it's a bit subjective.
Overall, the Cover Up puzzle was a great surprise and it's a welcome addition to my collection, as I have nothing else quite like it. Easy to understand, but a pain to solve... However, there's a very satisfying feeling of accomplishment when you finally solve it. For its unusual and original idea, I highly recommend it to anyone in need of a tough challenge.
Availability: The Cover Up puzzle can be found only at Puzzle Crafthouse for about $14 USD. For an extra $4, you can engrave custom text on the puzzle. Perfect for a gift.
Solutions: Below, you can see the solutions for the easy and medium challenges. If you want to check out the main challenge solution, click this link.
(Click to Enlarge) - Easy Challenge Solution
(Click to Enlarge) - Medium Challenge Solution