Sunday 15 April 2018


Once again on a Friday evening I find myself collecting a few Dutch puzzlers from BHX… except this time there are three of them: Rob’s spent the day sight-seeing around Brum (basically sampling craft beers and buying a few bottles – “for a friend”) and meets us at the airport when Louis and Wil arrive from Schipol. 

Back at home I make a round of coffees and, not unsurprisingly, we start puzzling. I get to have a rake through Wil’s crates and manage to score a copy of Tube It In for a friend and a few of JCC’s latest creations that haven’t made it into my collection yet. Wil gives me a prototype hyper dexterity challenge consisting of an angel dangling from a hook on a chain inside a Kikkoman bottle – the aim is to dangle a necklace around the angel’s neck… I can only picture the angel coming unhooked and NEVER going back on the hook again!

Louis presents me with a 3D-printed (his new toy!) ambiguous object that either looks like six round pipes or eight diamond shaped pipes – I haven't seen that one before and it's rather trippy! Thanks Louis!

Some time after midnight, wondering how the heck they’re still so wide awake when they’re supposed to be an hour ahead of me, I head to bed, leaving them happily chatting and playing in the puzzle cave. 

Next morning we feast on croissant and pain au chocolat before heading down to the hall to set up before the rest of the gang arrives… and for the first time in a while, I actually manage to get there first! (Probably only because Angela wasn’t able to make it – she always beats me to it!) 

It doesn’t take long for the gang to gather – although Big Steve seems to be registering a protest vote: he’s brought along a bunch of jigsaw puzzles and his new (but growing!) collection of tongue depressors. 

Actually I do the man a great disservice: the jigsaw puzzles are awesome pieces of art from Mike & Gill Hayduk – must order some of those soon! 

…the tongue depressors, well that’s another story entirely. Since I last mentioned them in the MPP XXXi write-up, things have gone a little downhill on the tongue depressor front… and for the benefit of those of you who haven’t followed Steve’s social media cries for help, here’s a potted summary: first of all, someone sent Steve a bunch of tongue depressors in an envelope with no discernible postmark – this confused Steve. 

Then he started receiving random parcels, some from Amazon with no apparent way to identify the gift-giver (yes, you really can give a gift through Amazon absolutely anonymously, just in case you were wondering!) and some from anonymous well-wishers, there were large quantities of coloured dowels (technically not tongue depressors, but close enough!), coloured popsicle sticks (ditto, but even closer!) and even a work of art (postmarked RAGUPON?): a Tongue lifting device crafted purely of painted tongue depressors – real vintage Blue Peter stuff! Somewhere in there a couple of hilarious videos popped up with helpful suggestions and encouragement… things may just get a bit silly! But even after all that, the pièce de résistance, a pair of tongue depressors arrive through Royal Mail with just Steve’s address and a stamp on each of them… pure-dead-brilliant! 

…not only had Steve brought along these wonderful artefacts (making a promising collection, don’t ya know?!) he also brought along several boxes of tongue depressors to give away… and a couple of tongue-depressor-art sculptures (some assembly required) to give away – and we ended up playing pass the parcel with them, hiding them in one another’s crates in the hopes of avoiding them – in the end Ali and I ended up the winners…!

We had a new guy called Ed join us for the day – Ali collected him from the station and we had him sat down and puzzling with us pretty soon after he’d arrived – he wanted to feel some Karakuri boxes so we’d brought a selection along for him to have a go on… generally he knocked them off pretty quickly and told us how simple he was finding them… Ali passed him a Super-Cubi and that kept him quiet for a little while – but he got it open and closed again fairly efficiently, pausing halfway to run a finger around the mechanism inside and express some awe and wonder at the engineering – you see, he’s totally unsighted – and a pretty darn good puzzler!

Shane had brought along a small number of vintage locks and his full collection of Popplocks, just in case anyone wanted a bash at one they didn’t have themselves…!

Having met up with Jim Kerley the week before, he’d given me a few copies of an old puzzle he’s reproduced in laser-cut acrylic – I give them away as a gift from Jim and ask the guys to let him know how they find the puzzle… and I trust they will! :-) 

Rich Gain had brought along some 3D printed copies of his recent designs and I managed to grab a copy of his Coronation Cube and Printable Interlocking Cube #3 (I think – someone will correct me if I’ve got that wrong!) – I had a great time fiddling with those on the Sunday evening after all my puzzling guests had left… they’re definitely worth a look. 

Wil did a reasonably steady business all day and his bags weighed a lot less on the way home than on the way over. As usual he had everything out for people to play with and it’s interesting to see how some people decide to buy a puzzle: some solve it and decide “That’s brilliant, I have to have one” and others don’t quite manage to solve it and decide they need to take one away and solve it at home… we’re a pretty strange bunch, but we all manage to justify our purchases somehow! 

Several people were tempted to try Mike Toulouzas’ Flatliner Deluxe during the course of the day, and not a single person managed to solve it:   

Toulouzas 1 – MPP hive-mind 0 

… in fact it remained unsolved by the gang until the following day when Rob managed to solve it around lunch time… Well done Rob!
Everyone who played with my new copy of Coffin’s Hexagonal Prism absolutely loved it… everyone managed to assemble it and all seemed to enjoy playing with it… it is an absolute delight!

The gang did best me on one of my own puzzles, with several of them solving my Ixia Box, even though I’d had a month’s head start on them… and that final compartment still remains locked for me… although the guys did rather helpfully put some coins and treasure inside there for me – no doubt when I eventually get it open I’ll find a few tongue depressors in there too! :-)

We had a surprise visit from our youngest MPP member in the form of Oren – aged 5 weeks – he’d thoughtfully brought parents Adin and Sophie along knowing they enjoyed a bit of puzzling!

Somewhere after 5 o’clock we all decamped back to my place for the traditional fish supper, where there was a fair amount of really good banter and some dinner, and puzzles, of course.  

When everyone else had left, the Dutch contingent and I went on puzzling in the puzzle cave and yet again I was the first one to crash, desperately needing my bed…

Sunday morning was complete with the traditional Coolen-Puzzle-Solving-Service, sorting out a couple of pesky little blighters for me, before I dropped him and Wil off at BHX for their flight home… followed by more puzzling and some lunch before Rob was safely deposited there for his flight home… and another fine MPP weekend draws to a close. 


  1. Mikes puzzle really bugged me so I was really glad I solved it in time for my flight back! Excellent packing puzzle, I enjoyed it very much even though there were a lot of others puzzles I would like to try as well.
    I just made the obligatory star, triangle and square, but I guess I now have to trawl the internet looking for other depressing items to make...

    Thanks once more for all the hospitality, it was good to see a lot of friendly puzzlers again!

    Btw Glas is a lot heavier than aluminium so I only bought a bottle or two...

    Cheers, Rob

    1. It was a GREAT pleasure to have you stay with us, Rob!