Sunday 27 November 2022

Nine Balls

Another superb puzzle from the mind of Koichi Miura, brought to life by Mine.

You’re presented with (there’s a clue in the name!) nine balls joined into three pieces and invited to simply place them into the supplied frame, which is clearly large enough for the nine balls in a three-by-three layer. One of the pieces has a red dot on one side and a blue dot on the other and you’re politely asked to insert the pieces into the tray with the blue dot showing and then the red dot showing.

The only slight wrinkle is the placement of the two holes that allow the pieces entry into the frame – one on the centre of a side, and one in the middle of an edge on the top of the frame. There are also a few little holes around the corners allowing some scope for manipulating the pieces inside the frame – and no, that’s not a spoiler – you’ll work that one out for yourself in around three seconds flat – and if you didn’t, you might want to consider another hobby.

Once you start experimenting with the pieces you’ll find ways to get them all inside individually, but it’ll take a little A-Ha! moment to get them all in with the blue dot showing…

Getting them all in with the red dot showing is a little more challenging and definitely requires some outside-of-the-box-thinking.

I really loved the solution to this great little puzzle – it’s not one you’re going to spend hours and hours mulling over, but it will definitely put a smile on your face and give you a nice sense of achievement when you slot the pieces into the frame with the red dot uppermost.

For me this is definitely another puzzle that deserves to be called “delightful”!

(…and I managed to get through that without a single double entendre!) 



This just off the interweb: some bloke called Nick has discovered an alternate solution for the blue challenge that makes things more interesting... go on, get your copy out and find the other assembly - you know you want to... and yes, I did! :-)


Saturday 19 November 2022

MPP XLiiii

I’ve just about lost track of my butchered roman numerals, but I reckon this was somewhere around the 44th in-person MPP – it seems they’ll never learn so we’ll need to carry on having these things…

This one started on the Friday for me – I’d taken the day off work to get some organising for the weekend done and get some puzzling in myself – generally the weekends can involve a fair amount of running around and getting stuff organised, so some personal puzzling time is a bonus.

Stefan arrived late afternoon and Louis arrived early evening and once we had both of them back at the house, we polished off a couple of pizzas before heading for the puzzles. Stefan gifted me a (superbly) 3D-printed copy of Rick’s Keyhole Cube with a beautifully designed stand which I got rather a kick out of assembling – I’ve probably solved it once or twice in the past, but it’s still nice to come up with a strategy and get it assembled.

Louis made short work of a tray-packing puzzle that Stefan had brought along – and in spite of that, I failed spectacularly to get anywhere near a solution. I called time somewhere around midnight and left the lads still puzzling…

Next morning we had a bit of breakfast before packing up some puzzles and heading down to the village hall to get things set up… Louis and Stefan did pretty much all of the heavy labour while I sorted out the drinks and treats and by the time I’d made my normal trip to the shops to pick up the milk and some sodas, the rest of the gang had already begun arriving.

Louis had brought along a selection of the Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition entries and laid them all out along the back wall for anyone to have a bash at… a brilliant initiative that saw not just the IPP members who’d be voting in the Design Competition being able to fiddle and play with at least a selection of the entries, but also meant a heap of non-IPP-ers got to experience some of the designs as well – Nice one, Louis!

It didn’t take long for a decent gang to appear and the puzzling and banter kicked into full swing. I collected Ed from the station and got him set up with some puzzles and puzzlers to amuse him – I’m still not sure whether the former or the latter were the main source of amusement. John managed to wend his way from Boston, via London with a little Uber assistance on the last leg and duly joined the fray – settling into things as though he been to every other MPP in spite of this being his very first one.

Steve had brought along a bunch of wooden copies of Mrs Butler that Vinco had made up for him and he duly showered them on all and sundry – and I’m happy to report that it is just as fun in wood as it is in 3D printed form. Ed seemed to really enjoy playing with Mrs Butler(!) and particularly enjoyed the final part of the tricky assembly process. (Great job, Ed!)
Sometime around midday we headed off for the de rigueur pig rolls and kebabs, with only one or two folks opting for the healthier alternative of a packed lunch from home. Simon arrived while a bunch of us were having lunch and a couple of helpers duly unloaded several crates-worth of puzzles that Simon had brought along for sale – he was doing his usual generous charity donation to Oxfam for any puzzles that anyone wanted to take off his hands – a great initiative that saw several folks acquiring some pretty unusual, often rare puzzles, all for a great cause!

I headed back to the station to collect Peter fresh off a train from London and managed to swing by the house to collect a puzzle that Brian had left at my place for Simon a couple of month’s ago. Back down at the Hall there was a reasonably orderly throng around Simon’s crates as folks trawled through the crates piled with commercial puzzles, new and old, and too many IPP exchange puzzles to count. I managed to pick out a few interesting disentanglements, including a pair of nice Rick Irbys - definitely worth raking through!

Steve had brought along a copy of one of the Lazels laser-cut micro jigsaw puzzles in many, many pieces… we all took one look at the tiny, tiny pieces and the tweezers required to manipulate said pieces and told him he was nuts – Rich on the other hand is always up for a challenge and duly sat down and completed the puzzle for Steve, who then very carefully packed it up assembled before any of us reprobates had a chance to disassemble it for him so it would fit better in the tube.

Come to think of it there wasn’t an awful lot of mischief this time around – there was some reminiscing of happiness-based mischief-past, but no new mischief was visited upon anyone - including Kevin- despite what he tells anyone! ;-)

Somewhere around five-thirty we packed everything up and I got a call from Rob to say that he was waiting outside the estate so we all headed up the road to chez Walker for the obligatory fish supper. We found Rob at the gate – it’s a long story that involves mixing up dates but he made it in time for the fish supper, and of course for most of a day’s puzzling at my place.

While we were getting dinner organised we discovered that Ed’s train, and indeed Peter and John’s, had been cancelled due to the delights of Avanti’s inability to make pea soup in a brewery. As a result a fair amount of reorganisation ensued and shortly after said fish supper, Gill took the three intrepid travellers off to Birmingham International in order to catch an earlier train – which from the sounds of Ed’s IMs, including the unforgettable “Train is stopped. There is now discussion of postmen delivering dildos. V v loud discussion.” – which I can only assume had been spiced up considerably by autocorrect. They did get home safely that evening.
There was a fair amount of puzzling fairly late into the night, but before all of that, there was also cake – birthday cake for Ali who’d celebrated his birthday the day before – Happy Birthday Ali!

With most of the folks safely en route home, Gill and I set about turning puzzle cave number two into a bedroom for Rob for the night – the sound of which seemed to entice the final knot of puzzlers to leave, presumably so they wouldn’t have to take a turn on blowing up Rob’s aerobed!

Sunday was a lovely relaxed day of puzzling with Stefan, Louis and Rob, before the shuttle service to the airport kicked in to get the lads off to their respective flights…


…another damn fine weekend’s puzzling with good friends… thanks folks!

Tuesday 8 November 2022

Bomb Destroyer Puzzle

I’ve never particularly thought of myself as a pacifist, but somehow I just instinctively don’t like to be around guns or other sorts of weapons… and yet recently I found myself wanting to buy a little bomb-shaped puzzle to show my support for Engineer Bruns – a peace-loving, puzzle-making guy from Ukraine. Bruns’ videos of making his puzzles always made me smile, he has a great sense of humour and it really comes through in his videos…

…but then his country got invaded and his videos were absolutely gut-wrenching, his pain was clear and visceral, and I wanted to show some support for him, because, quite incredibly, he’s continued to make puzzles and even cranked out a new design with a nod to the invasion – Bomb Destroyer Puzzle.

I ordered a copy, happy to wait for as long as it took – but it really didn’t take long to arrive at all.

It’s a neat little cartoonish bomb – with a brass nose and an aluminium body… some bits spin around, but nothing seems to do anything useful at all.

Your mission is to find the Skynet coin from the future… and it is a great mission, with several very distinct steps to be traversed. The first is well hidden, the second confusing, the third is my favourite: a clever mechanism that is perfectly executed with some excellent workmanship, and the last is a wonderfully tactile experience…

…and the Skynet coin from the future is always a great reward – I love this puzzle, even if it looks like a bomb, because it speaks of defiance against tyranny and the hope of a little puzzle bringing joy against the grim misery of encroaching war.

My wish is that the puzzles will always win.

In Bruns’ own words: “I wish peaceful skies to all of you, and I want that you can see war only in fantastic movies or virtual games.”