Sunday 14 April 2024


[Thanks Tyler for the improved Roman Numerals!]

I collected the Gill and the Dutch contingent (Wil, Rob K and Louis) from the airport and we headed back to the house for some re-acquainting and some puzzling before the pizza’s came out of the oven and the puzzles disappeared while the pizzas were nommed… in relative silence. After the pizzas there were ice creams and then the puzzling resumed.

Will had gifted me a new puzzle box from JCC with some lovely intricate decoration and a prominent heart on the top… it was clear that it would have something to do with the solution, but it stubbornly resisted any attempts at getting it to do anything interesting… for quite a long time. Finally I found something potentially useful to explore before making a bit of progress, but it still took a while for me to stumble across the right thing and open the box to find a very compact mechanism housed inside the lid of the box – very neatly designed giving the right amount of puzzling and leaving plenty of space for the obligatory loaves of bread.

I’d printed a couple of copies of Mowens’ Paino Box for folks to have a bash at and Louis duly spent a while dismantling one copy entirely… stopping and starting it a couple of times as there’s a really sneaky bit after the first five or six pieces. Once he’d bashed through that wall, the rest yielded appropriately. He spent a while admiring the design of a number of the pieces (they really are intricate!) before working through the reassembly, occasionally stopping to reverse a few steps and insert a piece that should already be in there already… judging by Louis’ reaction it works quite well as either an assembly or a disassembly puzzle.

After some coffees and plenty of puzzling, I dropped the guys at their AirBnB and went home to crash.

Next morning I got all my stuff together and collected the boys on the way to the hall to get set up. Chris was already there and the Brass Monkey mobile with Mike and Rich in tow arrived just as we got there… Sam and Dale were having a chat in the carpark – great to see Sam again after quite a long break. It’s great to arrive and find a bunch of friends already there keen to get puzzling and chatting.

I left the lads setting up the tables and chairs while I headed off to grab some cold drinks and some fresh milk and by the time I got back I could tell which tables Steve had set up: there was a neat square of tables around the edge and two tables pushed together at a jaunty angle in the centre.

I’d taken along Planet with a Ring I & II for folks to compare (and more likely contrast!) and several folks seemed to enjoy them over the course of the day.

Having recently received a copy of Loris, I decided to take all of my Frank Chambers puzzles out for a play too and they seemed to go down very well indeed, albeit I don’t think I actually saw anyone solve Loris… let me know if I’m wrong! Ring Box raised a LOT of laughs, with almost everyone solving it under the table for some reason and some folks having something to say about certain others' enthusiastic resetting techniques. If you know, you know…

I had a lot of fun toying with Rich while he tried to solve Peter Hajek’s Matchbox – if only he’d just asked the question he wanted to, somebody would have given him an honest answer! (Probably…)

Juno’s Tetracircles got quite a lot of interest. Rob had made short work of both sides the night before and during the course of Saturday several more declared victory over it… leaving me gently sobbing as I haven’t managed either side in what seems like ages… one of these days!

Fraser brought along his own twist on Kohno Ichiro’s Three Cubes puzzle… with articulating pieces which adds another few degrees of freedom and a whole lot more puzzling. He was dishing out copies left, right and centre and I suspect that everyone ended up with their own copy – thanks Fraser!

[I won’t bore you with yet another description of the pig rolls, but they were good!]

Kyle had brought along a prototype for the new MW Puzzles pinball machine that’s been teased on Discord a bit… I think some folks made a little bit of progress, but I got absolutely nowhere – saving all the joy in the hopes of managing to grab a copy for myself at some point… it looks absolutely brilliant in real life.

Phil had brought along a few copies of his new version of Spinning Tumblers (v2) so I gave the man some cash and put a copy aside to play with later… when later came (on Sunday) it thoroughly kicked my R’s – and I have yet to make much meaningful progress… when I do manage to solve it, I’m sure you’ll hear about it!

Jesse’s Fibonacci box got a fair amount of interest, albeit given the indeterminate state it’d spent most of its time in, nobody managed to open it, until Sunday when Louis sat down with a sheet of paper and drew an exhaustive map of all of the states it can be in, and from that we determined the start and end positions and the all-important numbering system, which gives it its Fibonacci-ness – albeit only after I managed to seriously confuse things by being absolutely certain about the start of the series, only to find out I was wrong after Louis’ map suggested otherwise and the internet confirmed I was being a numpty.

Wil was selling a few interesting goodies including his latest exchange puzzle, copies of the EPP booklets, JCC’s new Heart Box and a really interesting new Indian-style puzzle lock. I’d managed to solve the lock the night before but during the course of the day I convinced myself I needed to add a copy to the hoard: it looks really familiar and indeed some elements work the way you might expect, but there’s a wonderful twist that puts a smile on everyone’s face when they find it…

Predictably we decamped and there were fish suppers and a bunch more puzzling at my place – and even some attempts at dexterity, but it might have been too late in the day for that… there was a lot of chat – some it puzzling, before everyone headed their own separate ways and I dropped the Dutch folks back at their home from home.

Next morning I collected them after breakfast and we puzzled furiously (I’ve already told you about Louis’ proper go at the Fibonacci box), I had a play with the Criss Cross Cube that Rob had given me on Friday evening and managed to work through a fair chunk of the simpler challenges before the harder challenges slowed me down quite a lot. I suspect the wizard levels are going to keep me amused for quite a while.

I spent a while on Phil’s latest toy, not getting very far at all – that one is going to take a bit more Think (c) and probably a bit of Listen (not c) as well.

Gill cooked us some gourmet hotdogs for lunch that went down very well before I dropped the lads off at BHX for their flight back to AMS… another excellently puzzling weekend – thanks to all who joined us and provided amusement.


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