Saturday 16 September 2023


(Yes, I know that’s not a real Roman Numeral…try and keep up!) 

MPP XXXXVIII was another rather select affair – a few of the usual suspects weren’t able to make this one and I ended up in the decidedly weird position of not having anyone staying for the weekend and heading down to the hall entirely on my own on the Saturday morning – it really felt quite weird!

I got there before anyone had arrived and set about getting the urn up and running, laying out the refreshments and setting up all the tables – I put up a couple of the traditional signs and then headed across to the shops to grabs some cold drinks and some fresh milk – good thing as Phil later discovered that the milk left in the fridge was somewhat beyond its best…

Sod’s Law dictates that while I was at the shops two loads of puzzlers had arrived, and George and Rox seemed to be packing or unpacking their luggage in the car park while Steve, Ali and Rich looked on – I didn’t ask and they didn’t offer… the mystery remains…

Inside the hall we unpacked some puzzles and began the usual banter, fiddling with puzzles, more banter and the occasional bit of friendly abuse, aka banter.

A couple of us had brought along a full set of our exchange puzzles so that anyone who hadn’t been at IPP 40 could experience our pain at not being able to solve quite a few of them; and perhaps solve one or two of them.

Dale had a rummage through the exchange puzzles and found a goodly number that interested him.

Kevin had brought along a huge number of recent Pelikan productions and several of us had a bash at some of them that we hadn’t had our grubby paws on yet. I reciprocated by encouraging him to have a bash at George Bell’s Another Broken Burr – a lovely little six-piece burr that might look like a “standard” diagonal burr when it’s properly assembled, a badly coloured diagonal burr when it’s not, and a really scary pile of pieces when it’s not assembled. It turns out there’s a sliding axis assembly for the wrong assembly, and the right assembly requires six pieces to be simultaneously assembled… Kevin loves a challenge after all… and after one or two false starts he was victorious, which is great because I can now store that puzzle assembled! (I’d had no luck trying to do that myself a few days earlier – so well done, and thanks Kevin!)

Kyle had brought along one of his new creations and Tamsin spent a while sitting next to me working her way through it – every now and then there’d be a delighted squeak as a new bit of progress was made – spoiler alert: she enjoyed it!

Phil had arrived with a few copies of his latest creation: a set of three dexterity puzzles beautifully machined out of chunks of brass – they had to be, didn’t they?! I’d already arranged to take a set and handed him some cash – mainly so that I could annoy visiting puzzlers – I’m really rubbish at dexterity puzzles and probably don’t stand a hope in all heck of ever solving them – especially after hearing how he’d struggled with them – Quigley will no doubt consider them all a mere child’s toy and complete them in minutes – in fact he may have even done that in the hall and completed them so quickly that I wasn’t even aware of him doing them. <I did subsequently try and solve them when I was taking some pics and managed to solve one out of the three… I’m going to have to try the other two again, not that I’m a proud man, but…>

Several folks enjoyed Andreas’ exchange, Swaptic by Andrew Crowell, before George tried to throw it at BurrTools and found himself asking a familiar question…

Quizbrix latest release, Vertigo, had several folks playing with Lego for a while – not a single bad word was uttered – everyone loves playing with Peleg’s latest design.

Several folks had a bash at solving Chinny’s Ze Tooth Fairy Puzzle – with some people finding some rather unconventional approaches to solving some of the steps and then finding themselves thoroughly out of sequence with things, finding tools with no apparent use having cooked an earlier step or two – Chinny’s puzzles never fail to put a huge smile on folks' faces – that never changes!

I embarrassed myself severely spending an absolute age totally failing to solve Ali’s copy of his Bolt From the Blue in front of him… only to be told that Mike had just solved my copy of the bolt without any issues – I’d been hoping my copy was somehow defective and that it wasn’t merely a case of the solver being defective – turned out ‘twas. Hey ho… onwards and… somewhere…

Being a smaller bunch – about 13 of us, I think – there seemed to be more time for chatting with everyone and chillin’ with puzzles – no that is not a euphemism!

I managed to disappoint Rox (and no doubt one or two others, including myself!) at lunch time when the deli had just run out of pig buns when we got there – mental note: must leave earlier for lunch next time! With my staple not being available I opted for a curry sausage roll, which turned out to be delicious, so all was not entirely lost! There was a smattering of some wonderfully unhealthy pickings around the various lunch tables – kebab-man I’m looking at you! – and even some really healthy choices – puzzlers are an interesting mix!

In the afternoon I spent a while watching Steve playing with Chinny’s exchange puzzle and seemingly trying to play a tune on some poor unsuspecting moles’ heads for some reason. Possibly it was just that he had the wrong tune, but the puzzle didn’t magically open – suggestions for the right tune on a postcard to Steve please.

I managed to give away a few copies of my exchange and the Monkeys had copies of their exchanges and one or two other recent goodies available for sale at most reasonable prices.

There was a fair bit of fiddling with Rik’s exchange, albeit not a lot of progress beyond the predicted first stage of the solve… I got lucky with that one and solved it during the preceding week – I had a line of thought and managed to make elements of it start working and then bashed through to the final solution – definitely a bit sneaky!

Dmitry’s Third Wheel got a LOT of attention across a couple of copies, and to my knowledge nobody managed a solve at MPP, although I’m pretty sure that Ali has subsequently solved it… the rest of us mortals struggle on… Nobody got anywhere at all on Brian’s exchange… that one’s going to go down in history as a mean bastard! (The puzzle…)

Somewhere before six o’clock we packed up the hall, bid some folks farewell and then headed off to my place for the traditional fish supper, only this one turned out to be a little less traditional: the weather on the afternoon was absolutely wonderful, so Gill was sitting out on the deck making one of her scrappy wreaths and a few folks ended up sitting around the table chatting with her… until pretty much everyone was outside around the table just chilling and chatting, with nary a puzzle in sight…

We had supper out there, and chatted some more and literally just ended up chatting and laughing out on the deck for the rest of the evening… until folks needed to head home – a really lovely end to a super day’s puzzling with friends, once again – thanks for another memorable MPP, folks!



  1. Ah, Roman numerals... A couple of years ago, I asked some experts at the local university. They informed me that there is no standard for Roman numerals. Timekeepers and media outlets may form their internal standards, but there is no universal standard. So, XXXXVIII and MIL are fine for 48 and 1049, apparently. That's bonkers! Feel free to carry on with your very own standard -- it may catch on, and overtake the media standards. We could call it ODARNS: One Day, Allard's Roman Numeral Standard.

    1. Aww Naawwww - now I don't know if I should be delighted or disappointed that I'm not actually breaking the rules! That's brilliant - thank you Tyler! Onward to making ODARNS a real standard....