Friday 30 October 2015

DCD 2015

Attending DCD each year is one of my guilty pleasures – an excuse to go away and spend the best part of a weekend with some of my puzzling mates from around the world – and as I’m not organising or hosting any of it, I get to selfishly just enjoy it all – I like DCDs!

DCD 2015 was once again held in Voorburg, a suburb of The Hague. I flew across to Schipol on the Saturday morning meeting Steve (M) who’d flown in from London and Louis who’d caught the train across country from Eindhoven to act as tour guide and fellow-puzzler. We hopped on a train through to The Hague and met up with a bunch of puzzlers at Rob Hegge’s place for a gentle afternoon’s puzzling and snacking (which turned out to be important as I’d contrived to miss out on getting any lunch!).

When Wil arrived, Rob showed him a rather locked up copy of the Butterfly Lock Box and sought some help, so Louis (as Wil’s Chief Approbation Manager) was duly roped into getting it back into a more reasonably solvable position and a few minutes later it was presented back to Rob for his further puzzling pleasure… unfortunately Taus then took up the challenge and with just a little encouragement he made superb progress through the solve, reassembling everything the way it should be and looking quite pleased with himself, probably wondering what all the fuss had been about… 

When he was asked to put it back into the original position for Rob he had that gloriously sinking-feeling-look on his face when he turned the key and realised something important… Pleasure and PAIN indeed… so after all that, I suspect that Rob was exactly back in the same position that he was in before we all arrived, in spite of Louis helping him out in the middle.

Steve (N) had brought along several copies of Derek’s latest helical variants Twiddle Dum and Twiddle Dee that were generally getting twiddled by various puzzlers during the course of the afternoon… I managed to twiddle one until it released the first piece, but then took absolute ages to put it back into its starting position. I made sure I picked up a pair of them from Steve’s table the next morning!

When we all started getting a little peckish we headed across town to the hotel so that some of us could check in and we could find some other puzzlers for dinner… after we’d checked in and reassembled in the lobby, it turned out that there were 11 of us for dinner so we wandered down to the usual Italian restaurant we frequent on these trips only to discover we were a little too late and they couldn’t give us a table for 11… which I guess shouldn’t really have been a surprise. We headed back to the hotel, safe in the knowledge that the restaurant there wasn’t full and they did in fact manage to feed us… a rather nice meal – along with several puzzles on the table doing the rounds throughout the whole affair.

After dinner we found a couple of the German puzzlers entertaining the barman so we engaged in a little gentle banter before admitting defeat and heading off to bed… only to hear from (Big-)Steve that they’d carried on for another three or four hours, well beyond the time when the cleaning staff emerged with their rug-suckers.

Next morning there were bunches of puzzlers at breakfast and just after nine everyone had checked out and headed across to Sint Maartens. At registration we were each given a Threedy printed DCD board burr that looked suspiciously similar to the JCD version I talked about over here. [In spite of that similarity it still takes me a while to assemble it!]

Inside the hall there’s a familiar gaggle of puzzlers around the tables laden with treasures from around the puzzling world. After I dump my bags in the corner I start wandering around and greeting old friends. 

Marcel shows me a pair of his original chess pieces that he’s found and has for sale and a couple of hours later I notice that at least one of them has been sold… the other one taunts me for hours as the copy I have is somewhat jammed and I could be doing with replacing it… but I resist that urge.

Alfons Eyckmans has a table full of beautifully made burrs of all descriptions. I spend a while trawling through the various options and getting recommendations from Goetz (“on that one I’m struggling to release the third piece” – SOLD!). I end up picking up a few burrs that are terribly reasonably priced for such beautiful creations and Alfons throws in a tray-packing puzzle for free on top of it… merci Alfons!

Michel has a table full of duplicates that he’s bought over a number of months and is now offering to his fellow collectors like me who aren’t as good at scouring the internet’s auction sites for bargains – I get a pristine original copy of The Brain, still in its original pretty-good-looking box to add to my collection. (Yip, I really didn’t have one yet!)

Rik seems to be doing a pretty good trade in signing people up for NKC memberships during the course of the day and Wil has a steady stream of people raking through his various plastic crates of wonder. At one point he invites me to trawl through a crate around the back that has a Tom Lensch copy of Kagen’s Maze Burr, some rather collectible Karakuri pieces (have you ever seen one of Kamei’s Bombs in the flesh?) and some rather lovely Coffins – I end up playing with a KW-2 cube for ages and cannot open it… eventually we open the solution to make sure it’s not malfunctioning and of course it isn’t, I’m just being useless… it’s a brilliant mechanism so I end up buying it…

I got to meet Christoph Lohe and chat for a while over some of his designs that have been made by the Pelikan guys… I picked up a copy of Letterbox after it comes recommended by a passer-by (Goetz again I think - he may be on commission by now! Nope! Christoph reminded me it was Dirk...) and I’m somewhat embarrassed later that day when he gives me a copy of his variation on an East German sliding tile puzzle along with a booklet of his own challenges – sehr dank Christoph!

I was quite chuffed to pick up a twisty puzzle from Tony Fisher – Yes, you read that right! It’s even a twisty puzzle that I can do… I’d been meaning to get a copy of Tony’s replica of the original wooden Rubik’s cube for a while, so when I spotted a single copy on his table I took it off his hands… he’s done a great job on these making them look thoroughly authentic, down to the odd stickers on some of the pieces and the occasional uncovered screw-hole, but he’s built them on a modern mechanism so they behave beautifully… it’s one twisty puzzle that I will definitely be keeping proudly on display!

Splinter had a table with all of his puzzling creations laid out for everyone to try and buy – I saw the Burgh Swing Lock keeping some folks rather confuzzled for a while…

In the afternoon we had three lectures from the assembled international contingent:

  • George Miller started out the afternoon’s talks with an overview of the development of his Cubigami puzzles – including some rather astounding facts behind the specific nets chosen for his various Cubigami productions… having a bit of a math-bent I found it all rather fascinating.
  • Roxanne Wong gives us a talk on her various puzzle factory visits over the past few years and shared some insights on the development and manufacturing processes of some of the puzzles that are now available on the mass-market.
  • Steve Miller gave us a talk on the design and development of complex mechanical puzzles based on his experience with the Tessarisis and Fire puzzles. Seeing the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes on design, prototyping, manufacture and marketing is quite daunting…

Somewhere around 5pm things began to wind up and we headed out to grab a train back to the airport where Steve (M) and I grabbed a burger before heading off in our respective directions…. and I was home before 10pm – having done an awful lot of puzzling, prattling and purchasing in a great little weekend break.

I can’t recommend it highly enough!


  1. Hi Allard, it was my Swing Lock that wondered a lot of people. The one copy of the Burgh Lock I had sold out very quickly...
    Thanks for your writing about DCD, you really should...