Back 2 Back

The story behind the creation of Back to Back

Raf Peeters, January 2013

Back to Back is a single player game I designed for SmartGames. It looks a little bit like “4 in a row”. But Back to Back is not a multiplayer game, but a puzzle. And the pieces are not placed on the inside of the game board but on the outside of it .


The object of the game is to fill up a vertical grid with puzzle pieces. But what makes this puzzle different, is that the grid needs to be filled up on both sides! Every puzzle piece has two parts that are longer and that fit inside the holes of the grid. This way the puzzle pieces can be placed vertically, but it also means that you can’t place any puzzle pieces on the flip side of these protruding parts. It was very hard to find a set of puzzle pieces that filled the grid completely on both sides, without leaving any holes uncovered. This was much harder than anticipated and at times I wondered if it would be possible at all. In order to have enough challenges and variation in the final product I needed enough different ways to fill up the grid. At last I found a set with 11 puzzle piece. All pieces are different from each other, except for the 2 pink ones.The places on the grid that are empty on both sides of the grid are in the challenge indicated by a black circle. It would have been more logical to make them white, but this looked more confusing. Solving the challenges was easier than expected, except for the MASTER and WIZARD levels. Just like IQ-Link the position of the puzzle pieces that were given in the challenge, give you a lot of hints to place the next puzzle piece. But it does take some time to get used to the fact that you have two sides to fill up. But I seldom needed to rotate the game to see how the other side looked like. 

The game includes 60 challenges. All puzzle pieces and the challenge booklet can be stored inside the game itself afterwards. When you buy the product, you are looking at the transparent bottom behind the window box and the grid will act as a lid.


The hardest part in the development of Back2Back was to get the fitting of the puzzle pieces right. Everybody who has seen the pre-production samples shown on the toy fairs will remember that the puzzle pieces could easily be removed from the vertical grid and sometimes dropped off accidentally. We tried to change this by fine tuning the size of the holes and puzzle pieces, but could not solve the issue completely until we changed the material of the white vertical game board.

So in the final product this is now made from a softer, flexible material. You need to push a little to get the puzzle pieces in and out, which is perfect. So although the game rules say that you need to play it on a table, you can also play it in a car, train or plane or even upside down if you want.

UPDATE 2024: This game is no longer published, but there is now a smaller, simpler version of it named REVERSO.

top: example of an easy challenge (left) and solution (right). The protruding parts of the puzzle pieces placed on the backside are indicated with a white circle.

example of a hard challenge (left) and solution (right) of Back2Back


1) Place the lid vertically inside the tray. Choose a challenge and place the puzzle pieces as indicated. 

2) Try to place the remaining puzzle pieces on the grid. You can choose whether you place them on the frontside or on the backside. You can't place a puzzle piece on the flip side of a protruding part of another puzzle piece.

3) You have found the solution when the 11 puzzle pieces fit together on the grid. There is only 1 solution that can be found at the end of the booklet. When a puzzle piece is placed at the backside, you only see the colored circles of the protruding parts of the puzzle pieces.

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