Notes from Puzzle Palace

Friday, May 18, 2012


Today I bring you not a puzzle, but a thought. Why does anyone need so many puzzles? What causes one to collect and play with puzzles?

I've had this conversation with others in the past. My friend AJ Lu once asked me what caused me to buy some puzzles and not others. We were talking then about handmade puzzles, not the mass produced ones. I tried to explain the "wow factor", but it might have been too much beer or maybe not enough of a mutual language that caused a bit of a breakdown. But thinking on it now, how does one explain the "wow factor". What exactly is it that causes one puzzle to be better than the next?

I joke about a puzzle being pretty, but that is as good an explanation as the next. I had another conversation a couple of years ago with a beautiful man with a lovely personality and a gorgeous white beard (Stan you know who you are) about the oddity of me liking puzzles. I see it as being a strange thing because I don't like math. I hate it. I have the singular distinction of having failed freshman algebra 6 semesters in a row. (Well, it was really 5 only, I got a D- in semester 6, but it was what I needed to graduate and to this day I swear the instructor felt sorry for me.) Stan, bless him, tried to make me feel better by telling me it wasn't math but geometry I liked. (Gee, I'm a tree-yep. Failed that one too.) And when I read Oskar and Tomz's and Carl's posts over on TP I have to admit that I am more often than not lost and confused. And I won't even begin to explain my lack of understanding of Andreas' puzzle family photos....

It takes me ages to solve a puzzle, they have to talk to me for me to understand them. They have to look pretty for me to bring them in the house. Maybe I am just a superficial girl after all.... Or maybe, just maybe I have a plastic fetish. Shoes? Not me. How much so? I am craving a weekend in Guangzhou with the boys. Sadly Miss N. is about to go on holiday so that is out for a while. But not to worry. I've a trip coming up and I will find a way....

Want to hear more of how much so? I'm going on a couple of work related trips. What is the first thing I do after booking the hotels and paying the fees? Ask if there are puzzlers there who want to meet up. Then start searching for puzzle shops in the area.

Even more of this fetish? I applied for a conference in Shantou China. Why? It's the puzzle factory of the world. Imagine my disappointment when all I could find was a couple of 3x3x3 cubes with different logos and the whole Meffert's line up! Not a KO cube to be found! So now what? Well, in June I'm off to Canada. 3 stops, Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa. All of which I have found what looks to be places I can get some toys....fingers crossed. August finds me in China again just before IPP and you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be toy hunting when I'm not speaking...

And speaking of that...IPP! Heaven! Toys and friends old and new. This year I'm super chuffed! I had the idea for my exchange puzzle and through a lot of help from a friend, it should be good to go. Add to that a young puzzler I adore who is coming for the first time and it will be a fantastic trip.

So have I answered my initial questions? I think not. I think it's a sickness, albeit a good one. I need help. I really do....

I bought the 3x3x3 cubes with the different logos because I simply couldn't go to the puzzle factory of the world and walk away with nothing now could I????

And for those of you that were wondering what the rest of the jigsaw like puzzles look like.....

Nope, no problem here...nope, I'm not going back to an auction site that I can only look at photos on....


  1. It's not superficial and girlish!

    I also love some puzzles for the look - my wooden ones for example. I do enjoy the solving but it is the craftsmanship and look that I enjoy and display on my shelves! The metal puzzles also are quite lovely but for me it is the solve and the engineering I love (especially those from Mr Strijbos). As you know, my current "fetish" is the twisty puzzles. These, I find less than beautiful (although the engineering involved in the more complex ones is incredible) but the solution process is astounding to me.

    Because of this I seem to have gathered together a pretty huge collection and am so proud of it. We all have our varied reasons for collecting and as long as I am not boozing, doing drugs, chasing women or playing golf then the present Mrs S is happy!

  2. As always Kevin, you made me chuckle. No drugs, I don't chase women, and golf? Never! boozing and boys....I'll leave that for the puzzle parties. :-)

    This all started when I read that post over on TP. I mean, I have been collecting these toys for almost my entire life-give or take 10 years-but from what I read, that man in Russia did that all to himself in less than 2 years??? I repeat...WHY?

    1. Looking at his room and collection, I assume he must be VERY rich. So the collection may not be a financial burden to him. My issue is that they all are boxed and pristine which is fine for a collector but many are too similar to each other and it looks like they are not solved! Puzzles are there to be solved primarily and not displayed in a cabinet.

      I would love to own a significant chunk of his collection but the boxes can go!


    2. I totally agree with you, Kevin. The puzzles in boxes were always something that I didn't understand. If someone doesn't plan on playing with the puzzles, why not collect something else, then? It's a crime...

      Cheers ;-)