Friday 5 October 2018


We planned MPP xxxiv to be a couple of weeks after the end of IPP38 – so that we would be able to give our mates who didn’t make it along to San Diego an opportunity to play with the latest round of exchange puzzles… and anything else we happened to snag while we were over there.

Peter and Angela had already arrived and set out a few crates of books and things for sale when I got to the hall. Sensibly they headed off into the village in search of a cup of tea and a newspaper for Peter, which left me to get things set up before the rest of the gang arrived. 

It didn’t take long to get all the tables through from the room next door, set out the tea and coffee stuff and put up the customary MPP signage. As I was finishing that off Tim arrived with several crates of antique puzzles and he set out his stall (quite literally) while I wandered over to Tesco to pick up some milk and cold drinks… finding a few more puzzlers had arrived in my absence… and about half an hour later the ranks had been swelled to the extent that it was starting to feel like a puzzle party. 

Bob H had joined us for the first time and dragged Ed along (thanks Bob!) – Ed had been in touch during the week and was asking about some the Kamei Expansion Boxes and the Link Box by Iwahara, so I’d taken my copies along for him to fondle… we duly set him up in his usual spot somewhere near the door and laid out a bunch of Karakuri boxes within reach for him to work his way through… it should be said that this time he actually stumbled on one or two of them:  pronouncing one Expansion Box was clearly broken (not really, and after we had a conversation about a binary pattern that might be at play, he made significant progress on it) and later he admitted defeat on getting the Link Box closed up properly again – although in fairness it was the hardest of the set. 

I’d taken my latest Kostick beauty along for anyone to have a bash at and the only person who really stepped up and had a go at it was Rich, who was making a welcome return after a gap of  couple of years… he carefully took the outer puzzle (RDS Interlock) apart and set aside the little copy of 4 Directional Trapsticks, only to pick up the latter and move it out of the way – managing to pick it up at exactly the wrong orientation and finding a sliding axis that split the puzzle neatly in half, and when I fumbled at the halves they duly fell apart totally – at which point he smiled and mentioned my parentage… and then duly reassembled both of them separately, so that it was clear that he’d thoroughly solved them…  becoming the first and only person who solved it that day!

Wee-Steve had brought along his Sisyphus side table and had set it up drawing and re-drawing pretty patterns pretty much all day – it was pretty hypnotic watching it. At one point Wee-Steve was having a whinge at Big-Steve about the fact that it had been a Kickstarter project that he’d funded so he’d paid his money and then had to wait almost two years before he’d received this wondrous object – fancy having to wait that long for someone to finish off and ship something, eh…

James had managed to battle his way up the M5 and spent the best part of the day with us, having brought along some duplicates of old exchange puzzles which he proceeded to give away – Thanks for my Cornucopia! He’d also brought along a rather handsome tea caddy with hidden compartments and a stunning interlocking chess set from Mongolia which Laurie had purchased on auction in Ottawa… the chess set is still looking for a good home if anyone’s interested. :-)

Gill and the hounds arrived at the hall somewhere around lunchtime having wandered down to the village via the woods… just after Jo had arrived by train from oop north, and after the hounds had been duly fussed and petted, the girls took them off to the local deli for lunch whilst the boys headed to the chippy and the pig bun purveyors… Ed did not conquer the kebab this time and will probably not order a large one next time… Ali did and presumably will once again… the jury is out on Kevin, who really should know better with all of his medical training. 
No, this isn't the solution!

In the afternoon a few of us had a go at Dor’s exchange puzzle and managed to spend some time thinking out loud and helping one another past the inevitable mental blocks we all had about the solution… which then allowed one of our number to deduce the actual solution which we all agreed would pass muster.

Several people played with Radek’s latest design, the Hexahog – I managed to disassemble the outer cage (by which I mean I removed the retaining masking tape and it fell apart in my hands… it’s an assembly puzzle!) and Frank managed to remove the hog from the hex cage – seriously no mean feat! An anonymous puzzler then “managed” to reinsert said-hog and forced me to actually have to solve my own puzzle… ‘cos that’s what friends are for...

I’d brought along a few sets of Connectaballs that I’d found at Eureka in Brookline… while the name may be decidedly dodgey and reminiscent of an Ann Summers’ product, they’re quite fun to play with (don’t go there!) and will give a couple of relatively straight-forward puzzling challenges: use two strings to make a tetrahedron, four to make a cube etc…

By packing up time Big-Steve and I were feeling a little impish and set about trying to provide Kevin with a little additional challenge for the weekend – I manged to disassemble his copy of Square Target and then Steve cunningly inserted the four loose pieces into the frame of a Loopy Lattice – probably not a hugely challenging disassembly puzzle for a man of Kevin’s talents but he did see the humour in it, sort of…

When we called time almost everyone headed back up to chez Walker for more puzzling and a decent fish supper from Peter’s Pan. After said supper, the remaining puzzlers decided to take on Pavel’s Punana Split and managed rather well to work their way through the whole thing in around an hour with very little steerage from yours truly who managed to remember a little of the process from a couple of weeks earlier at Jeff’s place… much fun and a good sense of achievement whenever a particularly challenging match was finally made. 

Ali stepped into Louis’ shoes for the evening and provided me with a much-needed puzzle solving service: returning the Link Box that Ed had unceremoniously left half unsolved back to its proper starting position, and opening a JB Hoffmann Barrel puzzle which some kind gorilla of a puzzler had closed up for me at the last MPP – leaving me totally unable to get it to budge for the intervening month or so… thanks Ali!

Another pretty darn good MPP for the books…

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