Our 29th MPP was unusual – for one thing we had
an American visitor that none of us knew, joining us for the day / weekend - for
another, a bunch of the usual gang couldn’t make it for a number of reasons… so
we not only had a very select little gathering, we also had a visitor from far
afield hoping to meet the puzzlers he’s only ever seen in the virtual puzzling
world… hopefully he wasn't disappointed!
On the Friday evening, we’d had Regan around for dinner and
confirmed that he probably wasn’t an axe-murderer, although he was a long way from
Kansas… we’d puzzled for a bit before sheer exhaustion set in and I dropped him
back at the hotel… where a wedding party kept him up all hours of the night,
resulting in him having had very little sleep by the time I collected him in
the morning for MPP-proper.
When the two of us got to the hall we discovered Angela and
Peter had already set up their For-Sale table and welcomed the chance to chat…
which we sort of did while setting up the rest of the tables and getting the
refreshments organised and laid out.
Angela had brought along a bunch of autographed 1st
edition Martin Gardner books for me and I happily wandered over to the ATM to
draw the extra cash I needed to add those to my collection.
Dave arrived somewhere in between me getting the milk and
soft drinks and my trip over for some extra cash, and he duly set himself up in
a corner of the hall…
Pretty soon the core of the regular gang had arrived from
London, with Frank arriving a bit later, having presumably had a bit more of a
lie-in than the keener souls.
Big-Steve had arranged for a group order of some brilliant
Japanese puzzles that I’d partaken in and he duly played father Christmas
giving a few of us an early present – I got a few of Endo-san’s exchange puzzles
along with a recent creation of his that is a fantastic little three-piece
interlocking puzzle, a copy of Home Alone Husband and a couple of little
puzzley-things that I could never have justified getting shipped on their own… cheers
The usual encouraging puzzle-banter soon set in, with Regan
joining in like he’d been one of us for ages – it seems that puzzlers really
are a pretty homogenous bunch in some respects.
Regan had brought along a copy of his handmade safe puzzle
for everyone to have a bash at – I’d tried my hand at solving it the night
before, spectacularly unsuccessfully as it turned out, and I was having more or
less exactly the same level of success at MPP. A couple of the others had a bash
at encouraging the little aluminium and brass beauty to reveal its secrets and
soon enough Oli had it open and was investigating the innards… where a second
Chris duly followed suit and cracked the safe wide open, and
I then spent another while getting resolutely nowhere! [In fact, I think I only
managed to finally open it much later after a significant amount of hinting and
suggestion from my fellow puzzlers – only I’m SO THICK that I didn’t realise they
were actually trying to help me at the time… no idea why that wasn’t the first thought
on my mind when they kept at me with what sounded like some rather unhelpful
suggestions!] It IS a stunningly well-made puzzle with a fiendishly clever
locking mechanism, the likes of which have virtually never been seen in a puzzle
before – I bear no shame at not solving this one – it is very clever indeed!
Big-Steve spent a while trying to convince a couple of
people to build his copy of Reza 12-20 that he’d had shipped from Australia in
pieces…! We’d all seen how complicated this thing was as one half of the IPP37
Host Gift – and Juno had admitted it took him ages to assemble them WITH the
solution to hand… so we all told him where to go… which meant he had to sit
down and have a bash himself… and of course he was soon joined by a couple of
the hardened puzzlers (Chris and Oli) who manly attempted to assemble the
beast, coming reasonably close on a couple of occasions to find that Steve had
clearly been sent the wrong pieces, as the final piece left out had the wrong
notch pattern to enable it to be inserted into the assembly they were all struggling
to keep more or less in the right shape. They gave up after a while so I expect
that Steve will bring it back in the same number of pieces next time in the
hopes of slightly more luck, or more puzzle-assembly-power, at least partly in
the form of Louis.
Pig rolls and the local chippie provided the usual excellent
lunch before yet more puzzling…
At some point Chris must have upset Steve awfully because he
duly sat down at Chris’ table and set about disassembling and scrambling all of
Chris’ puzzles… so Chris responded as every puzzler should, and calmly reassembled
them, including one that he didn’t think he knew how to reassemble… good man!
Michael made particularly short work of an IPP37 exchange
packing puzzle that Ali gave him – somewhat gob-smacking both of us at the
speed that he’d solved it… and what truly amazed us was that he’d totally overlooked
the biggest visual clues and still solved it WAY quicker than either of us had
Regan was made to feel part of the crowd with a number of
people successively shoving a puzzle in his paws and saying “Here you’ll like
this…” and then goading him into solving them… usually with a fair degree of
At some point late in the afternoon, silly season took over and we had Ali challenging everyone with a bar bet observation puzzle that had almost everyone going for ages - with those who'd caught on duly egging the rest on with all sorts of helpful little goadings... good fun!
At a suitable hour, we all retired back to my place for the
traditional fish supper and more puzzles – and there was a lot more puzzling, until
I eventually dropped Regan back at the hotel just before midnight – convinced he
must be running on pure adrenaline by now.
Next morning, he and Chris were back around at the house for
some more banter and puzzling – and I finally managed to crack open Regan’s
safe… albeit with a lot of nudging and clueing from the side-lines…
Early that evening I dispatched him toward London on a train
so he could do a little sight-seeing before he headed back to Kansas – thanks for
coming to visit and introduce yourself, Regan – it was really great to spend
some time puzzling with y’all…