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Continuing with themed puzzles, this week the horse lovers get a treat with Galop, a packing puzzle from the family of Picture Frame Puzzles, designed by Jean Claude Constantin from Germany. What seems like a simple puzzle at first sight, is actually a very difficult challenge, trying to pack all five pieces in the frame.
The puzzle is beautifully made with different shades of laser-cut wood (plywood), each piece designed with great detail, and complemented with a horseshoe-shaped tray. The horses are cut in different poses, adding extra complexity to an already difficult puzzle. It comes unsolved and without a solution, so you're on your own to try and find out how to neatly pack all the pieces in the frame. The puzzle is a bit small, measuring 12.2cm x 8.4cm (4.8" x 3.3").
I love Picture Frame Puzzles but they're usually quite challenging. What I find fascinating about this type of puzzles is how you need to study each piece, its curves and indentations, and trying to figure out how they can interact with other pieces in order to save the most space in the frame. It's a very immersive process, which few other puzzles are able to offer.
The difficulty of the puzzle is rated as a level 8/10, but this is very subjective. I agree with the difficulty, but it can be even harder if you've never solved one of these. It took me about 20 minutes to find a solution, and even so I'm not sure if it's the ideal solution, as the pieces seem too tight. One thing to be aware of is that you can only use the top side of the pieces - no flipping allowed - because the engraved marks are on one side only. Also be careful not to chip the pieces, since many of the edges are very small and fragile (e.g. the horses' hooves and ears). This happened to me on a couple of pieces, unfortunately.
Galop is a nice little puzzle, a bit challenging for a beginner, but its cute design will surely captivate the attention of any horse lover. If anything, it's a Constantin puzzle, which in itself is a guarantee of quality.
Availability: Galop is available at PuzzleMaster for $19 CAD. There's a wide selection of Constantin's puzzles, all great choices.