Saturday 18 May 2024

Spinning Tumblers v2

Phil’s first Spinning Tumblers was a nice puzzle – not massively challenging – things largely did what you wanted them to do - you know – it was fun!

Then Eric stepped it up a notch with Psycho Disks, where some things didn’t quite do what you wanted them to… sometimes. It definitely added some confusion.

Now Phil’s taken things to a whole new level. You may think you know what to expect, but trust me you don’t!

Sure, the family resemblance is still there – the form factor is pretty much identical, most of the disks spin, most of the time, and sometimes you’ll even feel like you can controls things… but just when you think you’ve got it sussed, Phil throws you a curveball and you’ll find yourself having a “what the heck?!” moment.

I spent a while going backwards and forwards and struggling to make head or tail of things… I’d come up with a theory and then have it totally blown out of the water a few minutes later… there are elements that behave in ways we’ve seen before, and then there is just plain weirdness that makes almost no sense…

I’d spent absolute ages plugging away at it while learning very little so I took it across on my King’s Day jaunt hoping I’d get some quality puzzling time… and then Ali duly sat down and solved it in front of me in a matter of minutes – I was somewhat gobsmacked, but when I had a look at what was happening inside there, my admiration for both Ali’s solving prowess and Phil’s puzzle-design-chops grew ten-fold.

The family lineage may be clear, but the guts of this little beastie are next generation… after I’d snapped a pic of my serial number (04 for the record) Ali carefully put it back together and rather kindly left “things” quite near the solved position, which was nice of him… the friendly customs man at Schiphol on the way home managed to undo that kindness, so when I got home and tried to open it up again, I found myself having to start from pretty much from scratch – serves me right, I guess!

Armed with a little knowledge of what I’d seen inside there, I managed, with a fair amount of struggling(!) to finally get STv2 open once again… there is so much more to the second version - think of the first one as your genial nan, and the second one as the wolf in nan’s nightclothes salivating while waiting for Little Red Riding Hood.

Phil, you beat me – I suspect I’d still be wandering in the woods if Ali hadn’t helped me out a bit (OK, a lot!) on this one! 

An elegantly simple, excellent design, beautifully made as usual!!

 

Sunday 5 May 2024

King’s Day 2024

The alarm goes off at 5:30 last Saturday morning and I’m happy - this is one of my favourite weekends of the year: Wil throws a brilliant get-together at his place in Venlo on this Sunday each year (pandemic permitting) and I get to spend a weekend with my mates puzzling without having to do any of the organising myself!

I get to the airport a bit early as there’s a lot of building work in the terminal and there have been some horror stories of massive queues for security… but I find myself getting sent through the priority lane (for no good reason) and I manage to bypass even the little queue there was… of course my bag gets pulled for checking because I’ve brought Phils latest little brass wonder to puzzle on over the weekend. It gets a swabbing and another run through the x-ray machine before I’m allowed to hit Starbucks for a very leisurely coffee and croissant accompanied by some Nikoli puzzles to get the brain going – I’m not sure it works.

The flight is uneventful and after a bit of a detour through immigration I grab a train leaving within minutes of getting onto the platform. I send up the bat signal to let Louis know which train I’m on and he finds me in the usual spot… at this stage I should probably comment on the massive crowds all wearing orange for King’s Day – I look severely under-dressed without any orange clothing whatsoever – it’s easy to spot the tourist!

I check in and ditch the baggage and we head to Louis’ place where Steve and Ali are in full-on puzzle mode – resplendent in their orange t-shirts… I feel even more unpatriotic! Louis puts on a massive spread for lunch before we settle into some communal puzzling.

I’d taken along a bunch of copies of Rik Bouwer’s KubusMix, courtesy of George Bell’s STLs (Thanks George!) as well as a couple of 3D printed Wayne Daniels Four Piece Tetrahedrons, once again courtesy of George’s STLs. The boys didn’t take long to assemble them and I reckon everyone gets a kick the first time they realise what those six strange-looking pieces in two colours might just make…

Ali had a go at my copy of Phil’s Spinning Tumblers v2 and made relatively short work of it – so I now know that I have #4. I have a quick squizz at the innards before Ali very carefully puts it back in the bag ready to open… although he needn’t have bothered – by the time I get through Schiphol security they’ve had it out and fiddled with it and when I get home I found it’s all locked up again… serves me right for trying to be cute!

Minima’s Domino and Twig are also a hit at the table, but nobody manages to find a solution for Delta Force that Tye chucked into my last order (“so that the box wouldn’t be empty!”)…

I have a fiddle with a few of Ali’s Craig Lawton 9-Layer Puzzles – they really are nicely made from nine laser-cut layers of wood and acrylic. I manage to solve one of them properly, another opens with a bit of luck but the others remain well and truly locked up… maybe next time…

Louis orders in a pile of pizzas for dinner before we head out to an escape room… in Belgium. With everyone wearing orange all day and most of the locals visiting either a music festival or a street-market somewhere, all of the local escape rooms are closed, so Louis has found one for us half an hour away in Belgium, as you do…

The escape room turns out to be a bank heist and the gang throw themselves into it as though this was their day job. We play dress-up – Louis looked particularly fetching in that red coat, break into a couple of safes, crack several passwords, abuse an ATM and defeat a Mission Impossible style laser-field to grab the gold… we did spend a while trying to get through the laser-field “properly”, i.e. Louis tried to climb over and around the beams but that wasn’t particularly successful, so in the end Steve just barrelled through it and grabbed the gate before it had a chance to lock itself. After our successful escape we had quite a long debrief in the car on the way back to Louis’ with Steve comparing his dash for the gate to the grace of a gazelle, while others preferred comparisons to silverbacks and rhinoceroses.

A few more hours puzzling back at Louis’ before he dropped us back at the hotel somewhere around midnight… I crash and get up in time to join Ali and Steve for breakfast… it’s a long breakfast with plenty of chat, including discussion of the relative merits of gazelles and rhinoceroses. Louis collects us and we head off to Venlo. (No rhinos spotted en route.)

Wil greets us like long-lost friends and he’s soon plying us with coffee and tarts (of the local fruity variety). Folks start arriving from all over the countryside and soon there’s a pretty decent throng of puzzlers filling up the house and the garden – complete with a new roof extension covering half the garden – that pays for itself later in the day when the heavens opened briefly and we were able to shelter outside without overrunning the living room.

I spread around the remaining copies of KubusMix and encourage folks to have a play and help themselves to a copy and I manage to get rid of all them, just so I don’t need to cart them all home again, you understand. Only a few folks manage to get the colouring wrong and incur a little abuse as a result.

At lunchtime there are some really scrumptious pizzas and we get to meet Wil’s daughter… later there’s more of the usual spread of sandwiches and sweet treats and plenty of coffee and coke to go around.

At some point Steve and I gravitate upstairs to trawl through the many crates just in case there’s some treasure in there. Steve gamely unpacks a crate at a time for us to rake through until he realises his mistake and finds himself trapped behind a wall of puzzles and to-be-puzzles – although in fairness to Wil, sometimes it’s not easy to work out the difference between the two – everything is a puzzle for Wil… some of them just aren’t quite finished yet.

I have a great time catching up with old friends, passing on some English chocolates and exchanging some foldy stuff for a couple of old Rockys and a Petit Four I’m missing.

Everyone has to spend a while playing with Oskar’s latest creations (it’s da law!) and I find myself really enjoying his latest Zigu-variant so I purchase a copy of Zigu-Hook as it’s really fun to fiddle with. He has all manner of new bolts and gears and toys and it’s easy to spend an hour or two just fiddling.

Sometime after five, Wil rounds everyone up and we pile into cars off to his favourite Chinese Restaurant that's just in the throes of reopening properly after the pandemic. We must have about 16 people and they manage to deal with the challenge of feeding a bunch of hungry puzzlers who are dead-set on puzzling most of the way through their dinner… the food is as good as it ever was.

More puzzling and chatter back at Wil’s place after dinner before Louis drops us back at the hotel and I mange to crash at about 1am… I’m not built for late nights anymore!

The monkeys join me for breakfast bright and early next morning even though their flight is only late that afternoon. We chat about the fun we’ve had, puzzles we’ve unexpectedly chanced upon and solved and the relative merits of various sorts of wild animals, oddly. (rhino > gazelle)

I grab the train to Schiphol and kill a few hours with my Nikoli booklet again. Aside from a bit of a wait getting onboard the aircraft due to a delay in getting some inbound passengers off it, my travel home is pretty uneventful… even if I have to leave the sunshine behind at Schiphol.

Thanks Wil for hosting us all and Louis for taking care of us the whole weekend – that was a really brilliant weekend.

Sunday 21 April 2024

More Minima!

Just after I wrote about the set of Minima Puzzles I’d acquired, both Tye and Frederic got in touch. Frederic happily engaged in a bit of back and forth on the thinking behind the Minima series, how he approaches the design process and told me about a couple of Minima designs that will hopefully be produced in the future – some of which sound absolutely awesome! Tye was chuffed that I’d enjoyed them so much and had appreciated the effort that went into producing them.

Frederic and Tye both pointed out that there was another already in the Nothing Yet Designs shop (Minima Domino), with a further one due along shortly… so I duly bought a copy of Domino and asked Tye to hang onto it as I was about to head out on holiday… somewhere along the way Minima Twig was released and I added that to the order and when I got back home, Tye shipped them over… along with a pile of other puzzles he just threw in, “so that the box wouldn’t be empty”! (Thanks Tye - I’m still working my way through a few of those!)

Minima Domino consists of the usual form-factor box with a single 2*1 opening on one side. Two of the other sides have a small slit and there are a number of thoughtful holes to facilitate a little manoeuvring of the pieces inside the box… there are a couple of captive blocks already helpfully placed in opposite corners and your task is to simply insert the 5 dominoes into the box…

See when I said those two blocks had been helpfully placed in the opposite corners, I lied… it turns out they really make things a lot more complicated. Once again the elegance of the design shines through on this puzzle – the 5 dominoes are identical so you don’t need to keep track of different pieces – it’s all “just” about getting them inside the box.

I ended up spending some time working through the potential ways of arranging the pieces in the box in a bid to reduce the number of assemblies to try… it’s not hard to deduce what’s possible for the final move or two, but the “interesting” bit is then trying to get the preceding pieces into place without needing to move pieces through one another or indeed through the side wall of the box.(The latter is discouraged.)

As you’d expect, every little element of the design is both necessary and (just) sufficient – the Minima-family-resemblance is clear.

Minima Twig looks totally different – while the box-shape is the same as the rest of the series, the pieces (once again all dominoes) have steel twigs sprouting out from either an end or a side and there are a number of slots and holes in the box that seem to be far more about the twigs than about facilitating rotations… this one’s different!

This time you’ve clearly got two types of pieces and it looks as though you’re going to need to get a twig protruding from every hole or slot in the box… he wouldn’t give you an extra hole or two, would he?

Experimenting to try an find which piece can use which holes is quite fun… don’t be tempted to assume you’ve found all the different ways of using those holes and slots until you’ve actually solved the puzzle – keep an open mind!

Start putting pieces in and you quickly find yourself back in familiar Minima-territory - the order of assembly is critical, even with just two types of pieces. The solution path might not be as complex as some of the earlier Minima, but the A-Ha’s along the way are just as pleasant.  

Definitely a worthy addition to the canon – and clearly the funkiest looking one so far… lovely work by Tye on a super design from Frederic.

I’m definitely keeping an eye out for any new designs in this series.

Sunday 14 April 2024

MPP LCI

[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.

 

Thursday 4 April 2024

A horse with a warrior

The fist time A horse with a warrior came up for sale I missed out in the lottery, so when the Karakuri-clan announced they’d be making another batch I tried again and managed to snaffle one the second time around.
 
This little guy is very much a statement piece - somewhat larger than your average Karakuri creation - it’s very obviously meant to be a Trojan beast of burden. 

While it’s clearly a horse, it’s definitely not so much of a horse that it’s lost its Trojan roots - those remain very clearly visible… and when you start playing with it there are several nods to that nature along the way. 

Kasho-San has introduced a number of wonderfully playful elements into the solve to remind you of the mythology, and possibly even nudge you along in the right direction. 

There are several pleasing steps along the solve, one or two surprises along the way and some really cool puzzle elements… and just in case you think you’re prematurely finished, there are one or two hints (including  a window into the beast’s soul and it’s very name!) to keep you going until you finally finish this solve… remember that if you haven’t found the hanko yet, you aren’t done…


Friday 29 March 2024

MiBinity I

 ….when your mate drops you an email and tells you he’s designed a three-piece burr with a level 25 solution, you do the right thing and say “Yes, please. How much is it?” 

Then you wait patiently for a travelling puzzler to hand deliver it and confirm your instincts are good: Jack’s done a stunning job of bringing Michel’s design to life.

Front and back have Michel’s logo nicely laid out in walnut - handily giving the bones of the three pieces - which start coming apart in a nice rhythmic fashion as you begin the solve. 

Given the designer and the name of the puzzle, there are plenty of clues to the n-ary nature of this little guy, and it doesn’t disappoint. You’ll find yourself traversing a predictable pathway before having to go back on yourself before you can finally escape. 

Take the pieces apart and the interacting pathways are clear… and while disassembly is fairly straight-forward, in a Belgian sense, I found establishing the proper starting position to be the real puzzle! (It’s probably just me…!) 

Reassembled once more it looks great - and really doesn’t look like a flat three-piece level 25 burr.

Nice one chaps!!



Thursday 21 March 2024

Unsafe Deposit

<Excuse the short hiatus - we’ve been exploring Fort Lauderdale and enjoying some Caribbean sunshine! Blogging came second…>

I’ve written about Alan Lunsford’s little sequential discovery puzzles in the past- but until recently I hadn’t been able to get hold of a copy of his Unsafe Deposit as it usually contains a small bunch of coins and come countries are a little sniffy about folks posting their currency around the world…

In a bid to get his puzzles out to a wider audience, Alan has come up with an international-postage-friendly-version, which from my attempts to reintroduce some coinage after I’d solved it, suggest that he hasn’t just replaced the coins with 3D-printed tokens, he’s also taken the opportunity to change the design up a little…

Unsafe Deposit is about the same size as the previous two little guys I wrote about - there’s a pretty clear goal staring at you through a square window in the one side, a few slots and holes spread around a few of the other sides, and a hex screw blocking one of the slots that may have some treasure hiding inside it…

At the start, there appears to be very little that you can do - I spent quite a while totally convinced there was literally nothing I could do, until I summoned up the courage to do what I thought I shouldn’t… and it turned out I actually should very much have… so I was off…

As you progress you’ll find treasure or tools, you decide… there was a lovely flow to this solve early on, until there wasn’t and I found myself with a proverbial brick wall that wouldn’t budge. (I did take some comfort from seeing one or two other puzzlers at least temporarily halted by that particular stage - it’s a delightful change of gear, as it were and forces you to think(c) just a little more…) 

Once that hurdle is overcome it’s a short sprint to the finish line and retrieving that coin/token that’s been waiting patiently for you all along. 

Once again, there’s a lot going on inside this little cube, and I really love the fact that you think you know exactly what to do, until Alan throws a monkey wrench in your path and stops you dead… definitely one to toss at fellow puzzlers with a “Here, you’ll like this one…”

Sunday 3 March 2024

Minima Series (#1-12)

This week, dear reader (for there can surely only be one!) I bring you thoughts on a most excellent little set of puzzles – the Minima Series, designed by Frederic Boucher and made by NothingYetDesigns.

I missed out on these when they were initially put up for sale (in my defence they didn’t last long!) so I was very chuffed when I spotted a set on Puzzle Paradise at a reasonable price. One or two of my puzzling mates had said some encouraging things about them so I was intrigued.

NYD have done a great job of making up the boxes in frosted acrylic – all neatly marked with their appropriate identifiers. The pieces are all in their own little drawstring bags and there’s an instruction card for each of the dozen little terrors. Most of the instructions just ask you to place all of the pieces inside the box and remind you that rotations are allowed. (A couple of the later puzzles impose some restrictions on where certain coloured blocks need to be placed.)

Diving right in, I figured I’d start at number one because, clearly, that would be the easiest one, right?

M1 has just three pieces to be placed inside the 2*2*3 box (the boxes are all 2*2*3 – it’s just the openings that differ between them) – the pieces take up 11 voxels so we have one spare voxel inside the box when we’re done… given the shape of the openings, there’s literally only one place those pieces can be inserted, sure there are a couple of places where a bit can be temporarily parked outside the box, but they’re all going in through that single little opening…

I end up spending some time thinking (literally) outside the box while exploring the different assemblies that might fit inside the box, and then trying to reverse pieces out of the way using the imaginary holes in the right places… that doesn’t immediately lead to a suitable solution so I go back inside the box and begin exploring all of the potential rotations that might be possible with that combination of holes… and then some pennies start dropping… and M1’s solved.

A brief break to enjoy a little dopamine hit (hey, I’ve got to take all I can get, this solving thing doesn’t happen that frequently!) and I’m onto M2…

I make steady, albeit slow progress until I get to M4 which proves to be a bit of a blocker for me… but that’s nothing like M8, it turns out – that one keeps me thoroughly stumped for a long time – and it remains the only one in the series that I haven’t solved for weeks.

You’d think things might get a little samey after the first half dozen or so – but they don’t – Frederic’s put together an excellent set of challenges that never gets predictable – to the point that going back to the start again a week or two after you’ve solved the lot of them will still provide some amusement – and in my case – another serious challenge.

I really love this set of puzzles, and so far, everyone I’ve inflicted them on has had the same reaction: “How the heck can this simple little thing be that difficult?”

Saturday 24 February 2024

MPP XXXXXC

 

Yes – our fiftieth actual in person MPP! That’s pretty cool for a bunch of guys who started getting together in my dining room because we thought it’d be cool to meet up and share our puzzles with other nutters.

Louis and Mieke arrived on Friday evening fresh from an escape room and a city tour of Oxford. After dinner we settled into some gentle puzzling – Louis had brought over a copy of Michel’s new Mibinity puzzle so I had to have a go at that. It’s a really neat little 2D n-ary design that’s been beautifully made by Jack… I take all the pieces apart and examine them and then realise that finding the right starting position turns out to be a bit tricker than I thought it would be… it does go back together again reasonably quickly so that others can have a play the next morning.

Louis has a bit of a play around with my Krasnow Clutch Box which I’ve managed to get into an awkward configuration, but between us we can’t reset it so it stays in the “to be solved” pile.

Next morning we gather our bits and head off to the new venue and try to work out where everything is. We find the tables well-concealed and Louis and I set about putting some out while the first few folks start arriving. When I get back from the shops to collect some fresh milk (there’s always a half empty somewhat sour bottle of milk in every hall we hire for some reason) I spot a familiar old face we haven’t seen in a while – it's great to see Chris after quite a long break.

I’ve taken a few spare copies of Oskar’s Zigguchain, George’s Trapdoor Octahedron and his version of Rik Brouwer’s tRIKube. Steve settles down at the table and begins to assemble tRIKubes in the wrong colour combinations and we end up jousting for a while as I try to disassemble them as fast as he’s assembling them – in my defence, the fit is snug and getting a grip on the right pieces is tricky… he tries the same thing on the Zigguchains but the odds are a bit more in my favour on that one. I manage to get rid of all of the copies I’d taken along and then realised I hadn’t kept a tRIKube apart for myself so end up printing another copy on Sunday.

On the topic of giveaways, Mark K had sent over a bunch of beautifully made little hardwood puzzles for Steve to dish out to all-comers – and he kindly set aside a set of them for me… I say kindly – he gave me a pile of bits and didn’t tell me what puzzles were in there… just an extra puzzle really.

When Frank arrived, he set out a table of books from his Potty Puzzles days and several folks ended up adding to their libraries… he also brought along a couple of custom-made plush toys for the Two Brass Monkeys – complete with their faces printed on the front…. Not at all terrifying for any children who might chance upon them – no siree! They did generate an awful lot of mirth in the room though… job done! :-)

I’d taken my copy of Mike’s 234 Cube along for folks to time themselves on (for science!) and many people had a bash with 7 people actually recording a time (for science!) – the sheet ended up with some amusing answers to the question of puzzle experience – among them “Yes”, “Rubbish at them!” and “No, but lucky” – the latter against the best time of 51 seconds by one S. Nicholls… I think my first attempt took more than 45 times that! (It’s true what they say about my dimness…)

I’d also taken along my recently acquired set of Minima puzzles and ended up encouraging several folks to have a bash of some of them – they really are an amazing little set of a dozen puzzles where the aim on almost all of them is merely to get a few little wooden bits inside an acrylic box. When you hear they’re designed by Frederic Boucher, you’ll understand these are quite challenging… there was lots of agreement about how weirdly hard they were for something that looks like it should be so simple.

It was great to see Adin again and Tamsin decided that it would be wise to bring her daughters along for some puzzling – they seemed to have a grand time, although that may have had more to do with the hall’s wi-fi than the puzzles. Hopefully the puzzlers and their plushies didn’t scar the poor kids for life!

Around noon we wandered up to the High Street for some brain food – with pig rolls winning over kebabs by about 12 to 3 – we missed you, Ed!

After lunch it was back into the puzzling – the Karakuri Christmas presents had a pretty good playing with, with several opportunities for answering the question “Have I finished?” with “Have you found the hanko, yet?” – the answer was always “No…”, but they got there in the end. When you know, you know.

I managed to spend a while chatting with Mikael before foisting Mike’s 234 Cube upon him – and I know this makes me a really bad person, but I was relieved when he didn’t just bang it together in a couple of minutes – thank for making me feel a tiny bit less silly, Mikael! You’re welcome back anytime! :-)

Dan had brought along a couple of variants of GPK’s Numlock… including a stupidly long version that will probably take a lifetime to open properly – we don’t think he assembled that one “properly”…

Louis had brought along his copy of Mail Call and it got a lot of attention – I’d had a chance to play through the first part of it on Friday evening, before resetting it for folks on Saturday, and then on Sunday I got to play through the last section. For my money, the first and last bits are absolutely excellent – seriously good – and if the middle bit were a little less complicated, it would be almost perfect… YMMV.

Sometime after 5pm we tidied up the hall and tried to put everything back more or less where we found it before heading up to the house for yet more puzzling and the traditional fish supper, which didn’t disappoint.

After supper there was a lot more chatting and a bit less puzzling than usual, although there was still a hardcore bunch who insisted on cramming in as much puzzling as they possibly could – everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves … and there was cake in honour of the golden anniversary. What more could you want?

Another great puzzling weekend with my mates – awesome sauce!

 

Fun, Fun, Fun!