Tuesday 29 August 2023

IPP40 (part 2)

Tuesday is exchange day: I grab a quick breakfast with Sabine, Stefan and Zack before retrieving the heavy suitcase of puzzles and dragging it downstairs where Louis and I build an impressive pyramid of brain food. There are six of us with matching comedy shirts with plenty of hamsters, bananas and of course our exchange puzzles… we all pretend we’re shocked to see anyone else wearing the same shirts as us. Steve and Ali have done an awesome job on my exchange puzzle and I’m really proud to be giving them away this year- it’s a brass burr set with multiple challenges for 9-piece burrs and then an option to build a bunch of 6-piece burrs as well… Louis is my incredibly capable assistant cum wrangler, he gets me pics with everyone and lugs piles of puzzles around the room for me. Thanks Louis!

The number of exchangers is a bit lower this year so we manage to finish our rounds before lunchtime and end up having a leisurely boxed lunch in the room while chatting about the morning’s fun…

Steve’s exchange routine involved plenty of hokeying and pokeying with Frank and was another highlight this year. There are some stunning puzzles waiting to be played with when I finally get the chance.

We have a couple of hours to spare before the lectures, where Guy teaches us to fold an origami puzzle and we’re amazed with a couple of talks about blindfold solving of sequential movement puzzles and co-ordinate motion puzzles - I feel very thick…

I dish out a few more copies of my exchange puzzle before typing up some notes for the day while Gill has a shower before the evening’s banquet…

While we’re queuing for the banquet I manage to give away a couple more of my Three Triangle Test giveaway and a couple of my exchange puzzles to some greenhorns I haven’t gotten to yet… the doors swing open right on time and everyone enters politely (it’s not always like that!) There’s some jockeying around to make up tables with friends and invariably we find ourselves making friends with folks we haven’t spent much time with yet. There is a pretty epic spread of food and a couple of queues at a pair of serving stations mean that even if you do join when there’s a queue, it doesn’t take long to get your food… and there’s plenty food for everyone- Israelis can cater! I find myself trying a bunch of new things I hadn’t previously tasted - nothing disappoints.

After dinner we have an entertaining local mentalist - he kept reminding us that English wasn’t his first language, but boy did he know his way around it and his (English) patter was superb… Steve ended up donating a 100 shekel bill to the entertainment cause but did end up with a lovely lemon-scented memento of the evening’s fun.

I had a very intense conversation a new friend about how some of the effects might have worked. (She disagreed strongly with my theories on the methods being employed on a combination of book tests and ended up heading up onto the stage to quiz said entertainer about how he performed his miracles.)

Dessert after the show was every bit as good as the main event and then the room dissolved into a tangled mess of puzzlers catching up and chatting while puzzles were being handed around for others’ amusement.

Wednesday is puzzle-party-proper day, the chance to pick up copies of some seriously lust-worthy puzzles that literally aren’t available anywhere else… my first stop is always at Perry’s table to grab a copy of his latest creation - this year the Puzzled Guy Bakery brought us a slice of wedding cake - he took my money. :)

From there I made a bee-line to Boaz’s table to grab a copy of his Design Competition entry, Picolock - I’d spent a while working on it in the Design Competition room and got literally nowhere so I needed my own copy to fail on at home too!

Next stop was the Gaby Games table where Philippe DuBois’ daughter (the Gaby!) was arranging the sale of the last of her dad’s works… Nick was advising all-comers on which bits he thought everyone should have a copy of… I selected one or two and then over the course of the day kept returning to see what new wonders had been unpacked and put on display… in the end I made three trips to that table to pick up something else… so I now have a few Philippe DuBois puzzles in the stash. #HappyPuzzler

Brian was selling his latest sequential discovery puzzle, Brian’s Big Bolt, so I can now write about one of the best puzzles I got hold of last year before they’d been more widely released.

William Waite literally had over a hundred puzzle designs available for sale on his table and there’s an entire row of tables with Russian puzzle designers selling their wares. Ethel has some absolute treasures for sale next to the Two Brass Monkeys who’re doing a brisker than expected trade in shirts(!).

I ended the day with more money left than I’d anticipated, but didn’t feel like I’d passed up on anything that I specifically wanted… although there was plenty more available!

I did enjoy several long chats with various puzzlers during the course of the party, including a long session with Bram teaching Louis about some relatively new developments in Sudoku and some of his new (Sudoku) designs - I tried really hard to keep up and almost managed!

After the party a few of us got sucked into the coolth of the bar and ended up getting trapped in there and missed the afternoon lectures… managing to escape its steely grip just in time for a quick shower before the Awards Dinner.

We snagged a table up front with the cool kids and enjoyed seeing the results of the Design Competition getting announced and guessing who the final award winners were from the ones who’d picked up the runners up prizes… glad to see some of my own picks getting a mention and realising I owned quite a few of the award-winning puzzles already.

Hamster for scale
Yael’s host gift was presented to her by Stefan Baumegger who amused us by recounting his heart attack when he realised that Yael’s surname had changed when she recently got married after he’d spent a while custom-designing a puzzle around her maiden name - she seemed chuffed to bits anyway!

There was a literal standing ovation when the organising committee was acknowledged and presented with their thank you gifts… they’d gone through a lot of ups and downs over the past four years trying to get this IPP to happen, and it really had been a massive success - thank you and well done to Yael and her whole team.

After all the ceremonies (and food) things wound down and there was a lot of hanging around with folks keen to make IPP40 last just a little longer by lingering… when I crashed there was still a stack of folks hanging around and chatting and I’ve no doubt things moved off to the bar for another (really) late-night sesh…

On Thursday we’d opted to skip the organised tour and had a leisurely start with a late breakfast before heading out to Mahane Yehuda as I wanted to see it for myself after hearing Gill’s enthusiastic descriptions… it was truly a feast for all of the senses.

We headed back to the hotel and chanced upon the Coolen’s and the Monkeys lurking in the lobby waiting for their respective taxis. We all had an excellent laugh when Steve appeared carrying two boxes of puzzles and told Ali that they weren’t quite as completely packed as they thought they were and then proceeded to virtually spill the contents of his entire suitcase on the lobby floor… it all ended well and they got their cabs.

Gill and I grabbed lunch by the pool and managed to finish almost half of our portions before heading up to the room for some packing prep and a short nap.

We met up with Brian and Sue and took the tram out to the Jaffa Gate a couple of hours ahead of our final tour so we could grab a bite to eat for dinner. We found a neat little joint just inside the Armenian Quarter where our friendly host sorted us out with some excellent grub and some really interesting knaffa for dessert. It had to be done… what also had to be done was the round of ice creams while we waited for the start of the evening tour - a walk along the ramparts of the city wall.

We met Zev our big bear of a tour guide just outside the gate and he proceeded to entertain and educate us in equal measure for several hours as he led us up and down the city wall as the sun was setting (at the start of the walk) and into the early evening. Seeing the sights and the sounds of the city beneath us, including the bustling fair and the joyful screams of the kids playing in the fountain and a trio playing local tunes up on the ramparts… all really memorable - it felt a real privilege to get to do some of this sort of stuff all around the world…

We ended up needing to wait a while for the bus to collect us and had a prime opportunity to analyse the Israeli approach to “queueing” for public transport - they seem particularly keen to get on the bus before anyone has been able to get off it - no one was seriously hurt so it was all good!

Back at the hotel we started saying some our goodbyes as we weren’t sure who we’d see the next morning before we headed off to the airport. It’s always a bit of a downer having to say goodbye to friends we’ve just caught up with again, but hopefully it won’t be another three years before our next get together!

Next morning we slept in rather successfully and then found Nick and Anne had just arrived so we ended up joining them for breakfast and one last chat. After the final bit of packing we checked out of the hotel and grabbed a cab to the airport courtesy of the front desk… something I certainly won’t trust in the future - let’s just say there was a fair bit of abuse, but I didn’t get ripped off.

Security, check in, security and passport control were all relatively painless, but Steve had warned us that his bags had all been unpacked and “repacked” for him en route, so who knows what we’ll find when we retrieve our baggage at Heathrow - we’ll look out for the dreaded yellow stickers and steel ourselves for the results as I suspect they won’t be quite as careful as Gill was (re-)packing all my puzzles.

We grab a light lunch in the lounge while jotting some more notes on the last couple of days before I forget what we got up to, and then we’re joined by Peter, who, it turns out is not only on the same flight, but sitting right behind Gill and I... perhaps IPP40 hasn’t quite ended yet after all.

One final Thank You and Well Done to the IPP40 team - you did great!!




  1. Replies
    1. Cheers Bruce! AND I got to see all my mates I hadn't seen in the past FOUR YEARS! :)

    2. Frustration over. Hopefully normal service will now resume going forward. :)

  2. Thanks again for swapping the Think-C Sticks for the Drunken Woodworker! For the life of me, I cannot believe you convinced me to take an inflatable banana too... It is dominating one corner of the living room.
    As for the taxi: my wife urged me all week to ensure we would have one Friday morning, and she was able to stop worrying about it Wednesday afternoon. Well worth the few minutes to make the arrangements a couple of days ahead.
    Cheers. -Tyler.

    1. You're very welcome, Tyler - especially the banana bit - everyone needs at least one, right?