The checker board puzzle

     This is a testimony to my perseverance.  This is a model of a puzzle i bought when i was 16 years old.   the object is to make a checker board from the 12 pieces.  It doesn't look tough but i kept trying it from time to time for the next 17 years, before i finally made it.   There is a  story that goes with my finally solving the puzzle.  Although i did not work on it every day and indeed some years not at all, i did keep at it until i finally put it together before i hit 35 years old.   I think i read in the puzzle packaging  that there actually is more than one solution.   There were several but in order to get them, you had to send in a dollar to the mfr.  They were not going to give it free.

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The Great Checker Board Hoax
(putting the braggart in his place)

(to hear this story, instead of reading it, click here)

 

    After 17 years of fiddling with this puzzle i finally solved it.  Needless to say this was a happy day for me.   I carefully wrote down the solution for future reference and put it away in a safe place.  I was working in the Jig & Fixture dept. for a large aircraft subcontractor's tooling manufacturing division at the time, (the shop) and had access to all sorts of things with which to make puzzles when work got slow.    I chose some 3 inch thick Styrofoam packing material and made a large scale version of the puzzle with 3 inch squares.   Using a broad tip felt marker, i colored each alternating square black, according to my model puzzle i had for so long.          When assembled the big puzzle measured two feet by two feet square and looked like a big black and white checker board.     At lunch time i was telling one of my shop buddies about the puzzle and i showed it to him, telling George about how long it took me to do it.   George told me he could do it in no time at all and i gave the pieces to him to work on.   For two days, every break and lunch period, George worked on the puzzle and finally got it.  He was of course joyous that he had beat my time by such a margin and i was slightly miffed about it, because he was being so abusive with his crowing and posturing that it was getting on my nerves.  Every time we met he would say something like, "Solved any good puzzles lately, Sherlock?"   Rather than being happy to have solved it, he seemed to be concentrating on letting me know how stupid i was not to do it sooner.   He would not pass up an opportunity to tell anybody who would listen to him how he showed up JP with his own puzzle.  After a week or so, he was still at it with the digs and remarks. George would not drop the topic but kept bringing it up so he could squeeze a little more 'one-upmanship' out of the scenario.
     
Well, anybody who knows me, knows how devious i can be, in the spirit of fun, and back then i was into revenge, big time..  If anybody ever pulled one over on me, then you could bet that they would be getting it back again, in spades, when they least expected it.      "OK, buddy."  I thought, "..go ahead and crow.  I will fix you. You think you are so smart, eh?"  Well, i was going to fix George once and for all and shut him up about how fast he solved the puzzle.    I took one of big " L " shaped pieces and made a duplicate of it with the exception of the color arrangement.   Although the piece was the same shape as the one i took away, the colors were reversed.  The squares that were supposed to be white (not painted) were colored in with black marking pen and the squares that were supposed to be colored black, were now white.   I hid the real piece and put the bogus one in the pile of puzzle pieces on my bench.   At lunch time George had to show everybody how  stupid i was taking 17 years to solve a puzzle that he only took two days to work out.  I encouraged, and enraged him by denying he ever did it at all.   I made a lame excuse that i was not paying too much attention at morning break and he had only fooled me into thinking he had solved it.   Well this made George really hot and he prepared to demonstrate for the crowd just how much smarter he was than JP. (what everybody calls me)   He gathered his buddies and started to put the pieces together. I could see that he had memorized the arrangement by the confident way he was laying out the parts.  It was not long before he realized that he may have forgotten the arrangement, and started to "hem and haw".    The more confused he became, the more abusive i was, taunting him to call up his superior intellect and show me how fast he could put the parts together.   He kept on working all lunch time. He never even ate his lunch.  By the time the whistle blew, he was feverishly trying to remember how he had done it before, and everybody was laughing at him.   I almost told him that i had messed him up by switching the parts but after listening to him bragging for a week or so, i was not going to let him off the hook that fast.
        George spent every spare minute he had from that time on, devoted to trying to remember how he had put the puzzle together in the first place.  All his breaks were spent at his bench with the problem looking him in the face and taunting him.   His lunch time was spent in concentration, while haphazardly stuffing food in his mouth.  For two weeks George busted his buns trying to re-solve the puzzle, and finally came back to me with a whole different attitude from the cocky crowing bantam rooster stance of two weeks prior.   He told me he finally had to give up but was really puzzled on how he thought he had solved it before.  I laughed and told him that i had gotten tired of his rubbing my nose in the situation and i made it impossible for him to repeat the task.  I opened my drawer and gave him the proper piece of the puzzle.  While he still had a blank stare on his dumfounded face, i tossed the bogus piece in the trash and suggested he try with the one in his hand instead.   As the realization of what i had done to him sunk in, he started to turn red.   I never saw George so angry in my life.... well, no that is not true either.   The time Pete Martinez pushed him down while he was running for the gate at quitting time was the maddest i ever saw him.  He would have hit Pete if he could have caught him.  He didn't hit me.  Although for a little while i thought he was really using a lot of restraint to keep from punching me in the nose.   Needless to say, George ceased to be an antagonist  after that lesson.  His entire attitude toward me changed to one of wary apprehension. He never did much crowing to me after that and we got along just great from that time on.
 


      
 

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