Monday, 14 September 2015


MPP19 started a day early for me with the arrival of Marc in the afternoon (after a quick fight from San Jose!) and Louis in the evening (after a short hop across the channel from Schipol). We started the weekend as we intended to continue, and settled into a couple of hours puzzling before I called it a night and left the two of them to puzzle into the small hours.

After a quick breakfast the next morning, we put some puzzles in crates and headed down to the village hall where we found Oskar and Jose had already set up shop displaying Oskar’s recent developments and some old favourites. We said our hellos and set about bringing tables into the hall just in time for the arriving puzzlers to lay out their latest treasures.

It didn’t take long for around 20 mainly-blue-shirted puzzlers to assemble and lay out piles of puzzles, grab a cup of coffee and settle down to some good banter, gentle kibitzing and a goodly dose of puzzling.

Oskar had brought along a bunch of new-ish designs for sale and for demonstration. Along with the obligatory twisty puzzles (all well beyond my abilities!) he also had a number of rather interesting gear mechanisms – from a self-balancing stack of gears that rolled back and forth on a track, to balancing gears for a clock mechanism. The one that really caught my eye was a Golden Ratio gear set… where the ratio between the one cog and another was the Golden Ratio Phi… at this point your head ought to be exploding because the whole thing with a pair of gears is that the relationship between them should really be a rational number (i.e. expressible as a fraction of whole numbers) – except the Golden Ratio isn’t… yet this purveyor of black magic has found a way to not only conceive, but also to physically manufacture (with Shapeways’ help) a real live example of one…more than just a little mind blowing.

Oli had brought along a bunch of marked decks and proceeded to demonstrate his general prescience by telling us what cards we had in our hands – a feat I was able to duplicate by heroically looking at the other side of the playing cards in question. Several folks had a bash at trying to work out the various marking schemes with Louis cracking most, if not all of them, and I had to have the simplest one explained to me… it seems a career in card-sharpery is not in my immediate future.

Shane had brought along a few of what he was calling his Interval Puzzles – little puzzles he was been making in between larger puzzling projects… there was a doctored door lock mounted on a stand ("Turn the Plug") that kept me confused for a while before I managed to find a way in, but his wooden block ("Wire Cutter") had me totally confuzzled and confounded and I was relieved when Chris solved it in front of me and put me out of my misery… Shane, they aren’t “interval puzzles” mate, they’re proper puzzles in their own right!

Kevin couldn’t make it to MPP so sent along the Naga Puzzle that Carsten had sent to him a week before with an exhortation to play with it and get as many other people to play with it as I could – and then encourage them to send their thoughts to either Carsten or Kevin. I had a go at it before the guys arrived on Friday and rather enjoyed it. It makes use of some well-known principles but does a great job of hiding or disguising them… Kevin had warned me to play over a tray or a table, and that some things were small – crikey he was not joking! There’s one particular tool that is rather minute, yet perfectly sized for the task at hand… there is a lovely bit of humour around the final tool where you use a … as a … - very imaginative! All in all a great journey in a puzzle. The guys had a go on it on the Friday evening and unfortunately there was some collateral damage which we repaired that night, only to have it let go during the course of Saturday’s playing that saw a bunch of MPP-ers take a turn at solving it… Sorry about the damage Kevin, but thanks a stack for sharing it with us – it’s a cracking puzzle and we should be encouraging Carsten to make a habit of creating these little treasures! :-)
Somewhere around lunchtime we headed up to Warwick’s and Peter’s for some lunch – it’s hard to beat Warwick’s pulled pork baps! (I’m not on commission, but if they give me a free one I’ll happily keep telling everyone how good they are!)

After lunch Steve and I ran a little competition based on the IPP35 exchange puzzles – we each laid out our set of exchange puzzles on a table and invited two teams of puzzlers led by Ali and Oli to solve as many as they could in half an hour… Oli and his team triumphed solving 32 puzzles to Ali’s team’s 27, thus winning the Choccy Biscuit of Awesomeness – which Oli will be engraving with the team’s names and returning next year for the rematch. (Or it was eaten within seconds of the official victory photographs.)
Steve Miller had produced a bunch of rather interesting puzzle bolts, some based on one of Ali’s puzzle designs… I managed to solve most of them, and they all managed to put a smile on my face – nice one Steve!

Frank brought along a number of large boxes full of puzzles for sale and ended up giving away some of his funky 3D shape-shifting kits – Thanks Frank!

Douglas Cameron joined us for his first visit to MPP from sunny Glasgow (inside joke!) – taking the rather circuitous route of flying from Glasgow to Luton, grabbing the bus from Luton to Milton Keynes and the train to Barnt Green via Birmingham New Street – serious Trains, Planes and Automobiles stuff! He arrived just about in time for lunch and launched into some puzzling and making new friends, dishing out a fistful of maze pens and buttonhole puzzles along the way – thanks Douglas!

Louis brought along a few copies of his 3D printed locks and I suspect that he didn’t leave with any of them as they proved rather popular… as did Steve’s copies of his Ottawa exchange puzzle with several people taking the opportunity to acquire one.

I rounded up all of the stragglers still there at 6pm and we headed back to my place for fish suppers (the local chippy did a double-take when I phoned in the order!) and a little more puzzling…

People seemed to have a good time so perhaps we’ll do it all again…November anyone?


  1. Thanks for having me for my 2nd MPP. The puzzling and the hospitality were both outstanding. Good to meet you all - some newly, some again.

    The exchange puzzle challenge was lots of fun. Sorry, but I think Oli ate the "grand" prize :-/

    Thanks for folks also letting me have a go at puzzles I hadn't seen in person before, like Chris P's copy of Gary Foshee's Corkscrew and the various puzzle locks Shane had made and those he found.

    It was a great time, thank you all.

    1. Great to have you around, Marc...and thanks for cooking breakfast on Sunday and giving me an excuse to go down to James' on the Monday. You're welcome to come back anytime!

  2. Enjoy reading your post about MPP Allard. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I'm up for November, Allard; sorry to have missed the last MPP because of our cycle-tenting adventure (enjoyed your write up though!). Expect to see a few MPP-ers at DCD.