After finding that DCD 2018
clashed with a week away in Wales with some good friends, I was pleased to be
able to return to the scene of the crime this year. Gill dropped me off at BHX
at a reasonable hour on the Saturday morning and KLM did a grand job of getting
me across the puddle to AMS where I met Louis in the arrivals hall. We hopped
on a train through to Rijswijk and managed to surprise Rob by arriving a few
hours too early. The puzzles came out almost immediately. The coffee began
flowing and soon enough the banter struck up.
More and more puzzlers arrived
until there was literally no room left round Rob’s dining room table – and he
has a pretty big dining room table! The lounge was duly populated with puzzlers
metagrobologising and there was a good buzz about the place.
After nearly running over Steve
and Ali with his bicycle the day before, Rob had acquired a Brass Monkey 3
which had him rather perplexed, and a pair of Nova Plexus that hadn’t quite
been assembled yet.
Ali and Steve had brought along
a slightly oversized set of Nova Plexus sticks – actually they were three times
the size of a standard puzzle hamster-sized Nova Plexus. Ali then spent a few
minutes lashing various bits together and carefully positioning the large rods
in three-space – while Rob tried to keep up with a dinkier set of sticks next
When the last of the big sticks were edged into place, Ali pulled out a
large hammer and began “encouraging” things into their right place – this is
after all, a rather critical part of the assembly process as any Nova Plexus
assembler will tell you: it’s crucial to get everything properly aligned before
you remove the rubber bands… hearing the tinkle of twelve little metal sticks
is one thing – hearing the din of 12 massive rods bouncing off Rob’s dining
room table wasn’t something any of us wanted to experience. He duly tapped his
way around the structure until he was satisfied that things looked about right
and then proceeded to remove the lacky bands… successfully! Cue several mightily
impressed puzzlers at the sight of a giant Nova Plexus on the table. Rob’s set of
sticks remained less rigidly assembled until Taus took over and quickly
assembled the little pair with almost no fuss whatsoever.
It turns out that the large
assembly is even more stable than the standard sized ones, so we created a bit
of a shrine to all things holy to the assembled puzzlers – I realise this may
be confusing to some readers – just go with it. Try not to think about it too
Several wotsits were duly pondered
over – some in real life courtesy of Rob’s crate of what-the-heck! And some
virtually - courtesy of Timo’s phone.
At one point several puzzlers were huddled around a set of brass Hyperboloid Burr pieces in an attampt to prove Steve's theory that if six puzzlers all ran at one another with a piece of the burr fast enough, the burr would assemble itself... they may have been hampered by not having six puzzlers actively participating, but their attempts at a slow-co-ordinate-motion assembly weren't spectacularly successful. They were, however, very funny to observe.
Several folks had a bash at my
copy of Hat Trick and pretty much everyone managed to solve it there and
then…in total they managed to solve it quicker than I did – reminding me just
how rubbish I am at solving these things! My copy of Gremlin got passed around
a bit as well, but it didn’t yield to anyone – then again that one literally
took me months! Several unsuspecting puzzlists had a go on Rob’s copy of Ice 9
– there weren’t any little whoops of joy on that one…
Pretty much everyone managed to
solve my one-piece-two-dimensional-tray-packing-puzzle, albeit everyone was
amused by the fact that something that sounds like it should be thoroughly
trivial, isn’t quite.
I’d also taken along a few
puzzles of my own that I needed to solve and was delighted when I finally
managed to crack Bracket Holes, Iwahiro’s exchange puzzle designed by Hajime
Katsumoto. The object is quite simple: place a few L’s and a Z into a clear
acrylic frame with a few odd shaped holes on both sides… the solution is
anything but simple, requiring puzzlists to think WAY outside the box in new
and exciting ways – I had several mini A-Ha moments before I finally had enough
techniques to string together a complete solution – it’s an absolute delight to
Somewhere around 6pm Rob ordered
a large pile of pizzas for dinner and a couple of us jay-walked across the road
to collect them. Boxes opened, a bunch of hungry metagrobologists duly grazed
and refuelled, ready for a few more hours of puzzling.
Somewhere about 9pm we decided
we’d probably sufficiently overstayed our welcome and we piled into a
combination of public transport and private automobiles and headed toward our
hotels. Most of us were staying at the newly reminted Hotel Den Haag so we
ended up in the hotel bar where the new management made it incredibly difficult
to order libations of any sort… I tried asking for a Coke Zero to be told that
the bar was closed and they couldn’t serve me any cocktails – when I looked
even more confused than normal, they offered me beer or soft drinks, so I opted
for a Coke Zero – someone travelling with us, who needn’t remain nameless, felt
that comparisons to Fawlty Towers weren’t amiss. It was hard to disagree based
on how they ran the bar after 10pm. The rooms were spotless and comfortable and
the breakfast the following morning was as good as it used to be… so we’ll
probably be back – we just won’t rely on the bar being able to serve us
anything after 10pm – sort of a BYOB bar.
Back to the bar… the German
twisty puzzle gang had a number of somewhat exotic looking twisties spread
around the table and Steve and I couldn’t quite resist the urge to fiddle with
one of the shape-shifting monsters on display – it quickly lost all semblance
of conformity and no amount of earnest attempts at returning it more or less to
its original form would help… apparently Ali came pretty close to solving it
after I crashed for the evening, but it remained stubbornly unsolved for the
rest of the weekend. (We did consider buying a solved replacement from Hendrik
and attempt a sneaky substitution…)
I did my pumpkin impression
somewhere around the appropriate hour and we all re-grouped around the hotel
breakfast in the morning, where I recognised Makoto from his FaceBook profile
pic and introduced myself – it’s good to see new enthusiastic puzzlers joining
collected a series of puzzle sellers and ferried them off to the school hall
and a little while later we followed along courtesy of a lift from Patrick. (Thanks!)
We joined the queue to pay our entry fees and get a name tag – I opted for the
same old name again this year – and then headed into the hall, almost
immediately seeing people we haven’t seen for ages, and the re-acquainting and
catching up began.
Tony had brought along genuine twisty
coconut (2*2*2) and an absolutely massive Astrolabacus – for its public debut. Fully
functional with balls that wouldn’t look out of place on a pool table instead
of the usual little plastic beads, this monster took a fair amount of
man-handling, but it operated perfectly and Tony was happy to demonstrate it to
all comers over the course of the day. The world needs more nutters like Tony!
Wil had his usual huge collection
of plastic crates full of wonder – nicely balanced between his current latest
finds from around the puzzling world and past treasures from some time ago – I was
delighted to find a copy of Claustrophobia, Nick’s IPP20 exchange puzzle along
with a fairly recent tray-packing puzzle from Mine that I hadn’t seen before.
Jan Willem had brought along a
couple of duplicates from his extensive collection of puzzle boxes and I found
myself hoovering up a Hamburger, a burr and a couple of box-shaped thingies.
While I was doing that I managed to help another puzzler convince himself that
he really needed both Splined Box 1 and Splined Box 2 as they were in fact
quite different in spite of their apparent cosmetic similarities.
Diniar had brought along a huge selection
of recently printed goodies and I found myself getting totally confused by his
7-piece moon and star sliding tile puzzle [Question: HOW HARD CAN IT BE? –
Answer: pretty tricky!] – so I felt obliged to take a copy home, along with a
copy of his new sliding tile box with a tree.
(Since getting them home I’ve managed to solve the star and moon, but
the box is still locked solidly!)
Jan Grashuis’ widow and his son
were selling a couple of table’s worth of puzzles from his collection and I
decided that I needed a couple of puzzles to remember Jan by – so I bought a
large wooden copy of the Alcatraz puzzle labelled “Impossible Ball” and a small
copy of Blockhead by makers unknown… something to remind me of Jan’s presence
Steve and Ali did a steady trade
on the Brass Monkey stand, with the massive Nova Plexus proving to be a good
conversation starter. Rich however outed himself as a closet twisty puzzler
when he proceeded to solve one of John’s 11*11*11 cubes while manning the Brass
Monkey stand… completing it rather briskly before solving and scrambling a
7*7*7 he’d purchased earlier for a laugh several times – apparently there is
nothing that boy can’t solve!
Just after the traditional NKC
all-you-can-eat lunch we head upstairs to a darkened room crammed full of metagrobologists
for the afternoon lectures. Before the lectures get underway, Frans is
presented with a Thank You gift for serving as an editor for CFF for more than
20 years before recently retiring. Rox then shows us what you get when you join
two seriously large puzzle collections together, and how you go about
displaying them so that you can actually play with all of them at any time, and
then George gives us a lecture on the various incarnations of puzzle printing he’s
experienced, including a preview of his next virtually commercial-scale
printer. Rob rounds out the afternoon’s lectures with his customary canter
through this year’s IPP exchange puzzles.
I picked up a couple of Rombol
productions that I’d been meaning to get hold of from Hendrik, so the hoard now
has a copy of Bastille and Tower of London – the latter had confused me at Rob’s
place the day before and I’d been meaning to have a bash at Bastille for a while…
now I can say that I’ve had a bash at both of them, and they have both defeated
me – there’s probably a lesson in there somewhere for me, but I’m too darned
dim to learn it.
Jack had brought along a couple
of new designs – most notably variants of his own Chair puzzle: a simple 3*3*3
cube made up of three articulated pieces… he took one of them apart in front of
us and then gave us the pieces – which had by now changed shaped several times –
and invited us to reassemble them… and I tried, as did several others – all of
us failing rather spectacularly – we all insisted on throwing money at him and
the copies he’d brought along disappeared quickly! I returned to his table
later on in the day, giving everyone else a good opportunity to grab whatever
they wanted before hoovering up a bunch of Jack’s cheap little pocket puzzles
as gifts for puzzling friends – he does a super “Make a House” puzzle and has
produced a neat little version of Coffin’s Cruiser – all for a really
attractive price – so I loaded up on gifts.
Sometime around 4pm the speed-cubers
finish up for the day and Matts is awarded his many, many winner’s certificates
– that guy is pretty incredible. The
sellers repack their remaining wares into their suitcases/crates/shipping boxes
and we re-set the hall for the arrival of the schoolchildren.
Another excellent DCD courtesy
of Joop and the NKC gang - this year with a little more hamster-fondling than usual.
Trains, planes and automobiles
take me homeward where the weekend’s loot is unceremonially dumped on the sofabed in the puzzle cave and I crash – it’s been a long weekend.
|Lets play a game: Where's Nick?|