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Taking inspiration in real-life things when designing puzzles is always a nice way to come up with great ideas. Jean Claude Constantin took inspiration, this time, on the White House's Oval Office, although the puzzle's shape is a bit more elongated than the real thing.
The Oval Office puzzle is basically a Trick Box, needing only a couple of different moves to open, even though they're not as straightforward as you might think. The design is different from most puzzle boxes you're used to see around. It's intriguing and rather elegant, but that's not surprising when it comes to Constantin, as his designs are always well thought out.
The shape, also reminiscent of the contours of an eye, doesn't give you many clues as to how you should open the box, but if you look carefully you'll soon notice a few interesting features that look too suspicious to be just red herrings. The size of the puzzle is not too big, but still big enough to stash jewelry or other similar surprises - 15cm x 5.7cm x 5cm (6" x 2.2" 2").
The puzzle is rated as a level 7/10, but after being able to solve it in about 5 minutes, I'm thinking it's not that difficult. More like a 6/10. Also, a thorough observation lets you figure out most of its mechanism. On the top you can see a clear disk that rotates, but it doesn't seem to have an effect on the mechanism itself. The transparency of it is not just for aesthetics, though. Almost at the edge of the disk you can see a hole that, as you rotate the top lid (as seen in the photo below), let's you see through it and study the surroundings below. At first you can only push and pull the lid a little to the sides, but that's enough to accomplish the moves necessary to remove the lid. I won't go into further details, but you'll see it's not difficult to figure it out.
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Despite the fact it's not that challenging, I really liked the mechanism. It uses some elements you usually see in other puzzle boxes, but how they're presented and combined is sufficient to create a different enough concept that can puzzle you for a while.
Solution: If you feel like giving up, you can download the solution here.
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Constantin's Oval Office puzzle box won't keep you occupied for long, but as a fan of his puzzles I wasn't disappointed in the least. Its design is absolutely stunning and will certainly capture the attention of anyone that lays eyes on it, puzzler or not.
Availability: The Oval Office puzzle box is available at PuzzleMaster for $38 CAD. If you like this type of puzzles, check out some more here, or more designs from Constantin here.