Monday, 4 July 2011

MPP3 - That was fun!

Sunday saw the third in our incredibly informal Midlands Puzzle Parties at our place... yet again we had ideas of having someone present a talk (heck, we even had a volunteer for that!), doing a round-the-table chat about puzzles (what was your first puzzle, favourite puzzle, most expensive puzzle etc.) – having a bit of a competition (for REAL prizes!) and all of that came to nought as we just descended into chatting and puzzling – all day! ...and it was good!

I collected Louis from the airport hotel first thing in the morning – 09:30 – it was a Sunday after all and Nigel and Chris arrived soon after we got back to the house and helped set up. The rest of the gang duly started arriving and by about 11am we had 13 hardened puzzlers gathered around a couple of tables outside on the deck – unpacking their respective boxes / carrier bags of treasure – much to my dogs’ delight – although I don’t think we actually lost any puzzles to a canine all day... 
All the regulars managed to come along (Oli, Ali, Chris, Nigel, Karl & Louis) and it was great to have Helen (Chris’ far better half!) there as well as some new faces (but well known names) off the Revomaze forum (Kevin, Graham, Bruce & Shaun) and Richard Gain –aka Microcubology Man. 

Mark76 donated a pile of Revomaze goodies (mouse mats, mugs and coasters) featuring his incredible graphic design skills – most were snapped up rather quickly and Chris won himself a magic Revomaze mug for posting the second-fastest Revomaze Blue opening time at 20 seconds ... Nigel had done it in 17 seconds and we’d more or less abandoned the competition shortly after I failed to open it at all (the meat was burning!). When Nigel dashed out the door in the afternoon on his way to a concert he disqualified himself and we crowned Chris the fastest hands in the Midlands (or something like that!). 

Mark had also shipped 4 mini Revomazes down for a bit of a show and tell – he’d made up mini Revo’s each of which has a nod to its namesakes’ features – and sent us a Blue, Green, Bronze and Silver to try out and give him some feedback... several hours into the day, not a single person had managed to open one yet – which I think gives Mark one part of his answer: “They’re non-trivial!” to use a mathematical understatement. During the latter part of the afternoon there was a more concerted effort that saw three of the four being opened – Bronze is still holding its secrets ... but I’m hoping to have a play with them before they get shipped northwards once more ... I have to add one little bit in here – anyone who’s played with a Silver Revomaze knows about the “not-a-canyon” ... well Mark has engineered one into his tiny scale Revo-silver – masterful Mark, masterful! 

Richard Gain kindly bought along a little stock from his Shapeways / Etsy shops and spent quite a while demonstrating various puzzles to interested onlookers – Helen seemed to be doing quite well on a few on them. Quite a few of us came away with some of his little Microcube puzzles – at one point he was even dishing out samples of a three-piece 4*4 cube puzzle that was only 15mm cubed – and its cube-lets are all hollow with the skinniest walls you’ve seen, yet it’s easily strong enough to be a perfectly serviceable puzzle – this 3D printing stuff is phenomenal...

Ali gave everyone a wood and rope puzzle he’d knocked together on Thursday evening (!) – One solver so far...? (Nope, not me!) 

Another great aspect of this meeting was that some of our number are now bringing along their own creations and getting plenty of encouragement form the others - keep it up guys!

 There seemed to be plenty of new high-end puzzles around – quite a few new Japanese puzzle boxes, there were four of Kagen  Schaefer’s new Maze Burrs there and a Tom Lensch version being played with,  a couple of folks had a (figurative!) bash at the Opening Bat and there were plenty of folks drooling over Scott Peterson’s Coffins. Phil Tomlinson’s Always Empty Box stumped a few seasoned puzzle box veterans for a while, but the one that stumped most of the people most of the time was the Karakuri Box with a tree... (and yes I count myself in there). Excellent mechanism...  Eric Fuller’s Wonder Bars were a big hit as well...

We started out with a table full of help-yourself-stuff courtesy of several attendees (you know who you are – thank you!), and although folks did help themselves, we somehow ended up with more than we started with... so we’ve a healthy start for next meeting’s Box o’ Bounty...

As always, there was one special moment this time around that will go down in the legend of MPP – thanks to Shaun for this gem: he’d been fiddling with a pair of YOTs and not having a lot of success when “all of a sudden” it literally exploded showering pins, rings, a coin and ball bearings everywhere – Shaun gets this “What did I do wrong?” look on his face and Oli peers across and remarks “I’ve never seen a YOT taken apart quite like that before...” – vintage! 

Thanks for the chocolates, flowers, wine and puzzles – Gill and I are still negotiating over who gets what!

All in all, we had a great day – good company, lots of puzzles and (even though I say so myself) good grub! It was great expanding the circle a bit this time and meeting new puzzlers – hopefully they’ll come back again next time, and maybe even bring a friend...Thanks to all of you that made MPP3 such a great day - allard


  1. Thanks to you Allard and Gill! The perfect hosts in every way!

    I had the most fantastic time and now have to buy more stuff to feed the addiction as well as to have stuff to show at the next one.

    Looking forward to MPP4


  2. So how was the Yot opened? And is it still working or now consigned to the dead pile? Any pics of that one would be interesting!

  3. ...there's an outer collar that came off, releasing all the locking bits and unlocking the puzzle in the process - don't think there were any pictures taken of the evidence, and it was reassembled fairly quickly by the surrounding masses!