Notes from Puzzle Palace

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Press day

Today I got over to Plaza Hollywood at 10:45 as requested only guessed it.  Wait!  This is getting to be a theme.  Oh well.  It's still good.  I got a run down on the order of events and then we sat around talking a bit and more waiting for things to begin.

Without warning the guy on stage started talking a mile a minute!  The show had started.  First up.  Kim.  He was talking about his mosaics.  And then he showed some local celebrity how to solve a cube.  She then am up and talked for 5 minutes or so about how if she learned to solve the cube her baby would be smart...Can you all imagine what I'm thinking here?  It's not pretty I'll tell you.  I've never had time for airheads, and to add celebrity status and giggles to it....Bah!  She doesn't even deserve a snap from me.  Although, I'm sure it wasn't her fault, she's there for the publicity as are the organizers.  But really?  What is the point of that?  It was very oddly done.  The organizers wanted press coverage for the event and what they got was a local who stole the show.  Once she left the stage, the media did too.  Only the organizers photographer stuck around.  The rest followed the pregnant star.  When I asked who she was, no one seemed to know.  We must not be star struck enough.

Michael and I were up next and we chatted a bit about our puzzles, not long at all.  We were then followed by someone from what I think was social services talking about how kids problems can be solved by puzzling.  A math teacher from a local secondary school came up next and he had one of his students along.

A bunch of the local puzzlers came on stage and puzzled away. 

 The whole event was followed by a grand finale with one of the guys solving with his feet!  

Fun ha?

The puzzles will be on display until 7 October and the competition is from 5-7 October.  

Box with a tree

Today's puzzle is not mine, but I had the opportunity to play with it for a while and since it got one of those big toothed grins from me when I solved it, I thought I'd let you read about my pleasure with this one.  My friend Otis brought this one down from Beijing with him and at lunch today, we had a puzzle play date.

Last year Otis came over to my office and he opened up the Little Tree within a matter of seconds.  I have to say, I was disappointed when he did it.  I wanted to solve the puzzle, but I also was saddened by how simple it was.  But he enjoyed it and as long as someone did, that's all that matters.  No, I'm not being 100% truthful.  I too enjoyed the puzzle, just not as I wanted to.  I mean, it's not fair when someone else solves your puzzle before you is it?

Ok, this back story has a purpose.  Otis enjoyed that puzzle and others from the Karakuri group so much that he had to go get some of his own, and Box with a tree was one of them.  I was glad he did,because I had the opportunity to play with it.  I watched Otis open the puzzle, and was surprised by how simple it looked.  At the exhibition/competition venue I gave it a miss.  Later when we were sitting down to lunch, I went ahead and gave it a go.  Not so easy.  I fiddled and fiddled and got no where, then suddenly out of the blue the puzzle opened.  Ha!  I knew what I did.  So I shut it up again and blast!  I couldn't replicate my moves.  The box was locked tight.  We played some more, we talked some more, we ate some more.  And all the while I tried to get that box open.   Otis to the rescue.  He gave me a few hints.  Very slowly. (I guess he thought I was being thick!)  And bam!  Opened again.  Wow!  What a tickle that was.  Back to the big toothy grin!  It's a great little puzzle, and I'm glad I had the chance to play with it.  Thanks Otis!

Warning: opened box below, proceed at your own risk. (But it really won't help you much-all the puzzle mechanism bits are very securely hidden beneath the box in the box.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

A bit of press

Along with those exhibitions comes a bit of press.  I've taken photos of it.  Michael has sent me more photos. I'm getting as much of it together as I can find.  I know I missed a few bits and pieces, but I thought I'd post what I've collected so far.  The photos at the top are added to the display cases for each of us displaying our toys.

Sunday we have another press release thing for the opening of the exhibition and for the competition so I'm sure there will be some after that as well.  In the mean time, here you go:

Now don't ask me what any of that means because 
I can't read it.  Chinese just isn't my language.  
These come out of local papers and a few local magazines as well.  There was also a nice little video coming out of a local paper that has an online edition.
A translation of that article is available here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


This isn't the first I've done and it won't be the last. I enjoy them. But it's a bit of work.
Getting the information on the puzzles. Finding the puzzles. (in my house that's hard.) Setting up the cases. Leaving work early. Ouch! That's a hard one.

I sit here waiting for the people to arrive so we can set up. A nice young lad came over and introduced himself to me. Poor guy. He now has to put up with my security issues. See the puzzles they want me to put out are:
a) expensive
b) irreplaceable and
c) favorites and/or special in some way

No locks on the cabinets?!? HELLO!!! I've demanded that since day one. The boxes are plexiglass for heavens sake. Did they think I would just leave more than double my annual salary there for the taking? I guess when all you do is play with a 3x3x3 you don't care. Me? I care.

Let's see what happens. In the mean time I sit here and stew. It's a shame because unless something is fixed. I'll walk away. They didn't ask for your everyday puzzles. They want my grandfathers whiskey bottle, they want Gundam, they want the heads, they want Jumbo and my think like a man, they want Uwe's balls for crying out loud. In other words they want the best. Dilemma. What to do? Mark some papers and calm down. Then think.

Well that worked, and Michael did to. He's very calming. Maybe his voice is soothing, or maybe he just knows how to reassure me all will be ok. Or maybe it just goes to a long standing friendship and having resisted him on more than one occasion. Whatever the reason his heart or his shoes...(insert melodramatic cartoon screech) wrong movie! By eight o'clock we set about setting up. (I'll jump to the end here.). By midnight we finished. And you thought I was joking when I said it took a long time.

There was the usual in solved puzzle that needed to be fixed. There was the usual panic when we thought a piece was missing. The standard changing of the cabinets. In the end it all looks pretty and fits together nicely but to begin with it sure doesn't.

Michael finished his cabinets early. He had two and I'm guessing because they were his own design he was able to sort the order in his head nice and early. Me? I've had other (work!) things on my mind and thought I was doing good to find all but three of the puzzles they wanted to display. That only took Miss N and I an afternoon. Another four hours to be exact. Luckily for me the organizers had an idea. Not a great one, but all I needed was a start and I was off and running. It all worked for me after that.

In the end I put together five cabinets. Michael had two. And AJ and judochen had one. When I left there were 190 puzzles on display.

If you have nothing better to spend your time on and you happen to be in Hong Kong from 28 September through 7 October, come over to Plaza Hollywood in Diamond Hill and take a look at what  we put on display. Who knows, you might see something you've never seen before.

You can see a video of the puzzles on display on my YouTube channel.
More photos are available on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Snow Mystery

Today's puzzle was made by Leslie Li at Very Puzzles.  It is a rather simple design and honestly not much of a challenge.  This one has two sides and 6 arms on the snow flake.  the disk in the center rotates around as do the 6 arms.  You mess up the puzzle by turning the arms and the middle disk around.  Eventually the arms will not match the colors along the center.  Then you simply put it back together. 

This is not a hard puzzle to solve, it's just a repetitive one.  To be honest, I think it's harder to mess it up than it is to solve it.  But the ease of puzzling is not what appeals in this case.  This time it's the look of the puzzle for me.  You have to admit it is very pretty!  I like the symmetry of the puzzle and the colors.  I mean it is pastel!  Now who doesn't like pastel puzzles?  
As this puzzle is a bit delicate  I wouldn't recommend it for younger puzzlers.  I have a feeling the arms would snap off.  I'm not sure what holds them in place, but I don't think it would stand the test of a child.  The puzzle itself is only 10.75mm thick.  
This puzzle reminds me a lot of the 'Magic Disk' puzzle I picked up from Hendrik a few years back. This one has a plate between the colors, and has two disks per color that spin.  Other than those minor differences, the basic principle of the two puzzles are the same.  Both are a nice addition to any collection, but remember. They are not at all difficult to solve, and both appear to be quite easy to break if mistreated-but then who would mistreat a poor puzzle!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Puzzle books/apps-Grabarchuk family puzzles

Every now and again I forget to put a puzzle in my bag but I've always got my iPad or phone with me. How sad that I've become so dependent on technology that I would write that?  What you see here are the games I have downloaded and the books that I have purchased. I'm writing about them because I met the Grabarchuk family at an IPP (I think it was Berlin but as usual can't remember.) and I thought they were very lovely gentlemen.  I purchased a puzzle book at the time on an 'honor system' i.e. I paid and hoped it would get mailed out before the end of the year. As luck would have it, I had the book rather quickly and enjoyed attempting some of the puzzles in it.

Last year, I saw they had posted on Facebook that they were giving away  the Christmas puzzles and I thought why not.  I downloaded it to see what it was all about.  I'm glad I did.  It was good fun and a nice way to get into work.  When Valentines day came along they again posted a free book and I again downloaded it.  Another nice fun bit for the train into work.  I later decided to do an internet search can see what else they had available and found a bunch over on Amazon. I started making purchases because I'm first and foremost addicted to all things puzzling.  But really, this was another attempt to get the bug interested in puzzles. I mean she loves books as much as I do and I thought she might want to have a go at these.  I was pretty pleased when I brought my iPad to Disney one day and she and her cousins spent all the ride wait time playing with the puzzles in the books. I loved it because the beginning of each of the books are easy enough for kids to work out, but become progressively more difficult as you work through the book.  So not only are these good fun for the kids, but I enjoyed them as well.  I don't own a Kindle, but I do have the kindle app on my iPhone and iPad and they work pretty well on both.  Heck, Bug has even downloaded some to her phone to play on the bus.  Can't go wrong when that happens.

As for the games, I've enjoyed them a lot as well. More puzzles, but these are made specially for the iPhone/iPad.  They play a bit nicer and are interactive.  Again, a nice bunch that started out as installing the lite versions then going all out and buying the real ones.  You can see that I still have a few lite's up there, I just haven't gotten around to purchasing the full version of the missing apps yet.  One of these days when I run out of other puzzles to play I will.  Same goes for the missing books.

In the mean time,I highly recommend these to any who are interested in a nice set of graded puzzles.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


You see that pile of rings down below. They all come from the slightly puzzled minds of Bram Cohen and Oskar van Deventer. Seven they have made so far and I'm sure that's not the end of them.

I got my first one in 2009 and haven't looked back. In 2010 I bought a few more and then this year I went to Oskar with rings on fingers hoping he would be able to tell me which one I was missing. Sure enough-he said the dark blue and the pink! Nice way of remembering which is which. Color coding. I love it. I'm a big time color coder myself!

The rings in order of the photograph but not the order of design are:
Top row: Take five, Cross Rings, Six to Three, Weave Six
Middle row: Weave Five, Holistic Ring
Bottom row: Sixth Sense

The green ring I bought for bug in 2009. Green was her favorite color then so I thought it might get her interested in puzzles. I should have known better. She was only interested in taking it apart to see if mom could put it together again. I'll tell you, it was a real pain to do. All of these so far have been a real pain. They aren't your usual for or six band rings that's for sure. If you want a bit of a challenge, then you won't go wrong with these rings.

The red one I got last year and it is relatively easy (compared to the green and the yellow.) This one is a bit loose so I had no choice but to solve it. When I snipped the connector band it just fell into a mucked up state.

Not all of these rings have been taken apart yet but eventually they will be. As you can see, the one I'm working on now is that big yellow one. Not by choice though. When I took them out the other day to make a YouTube video I accidentally bumped it and it fell off my desk! So now I've a bit of work to do before I can wear it again. and let me tell you, this one is a royal pain! I worked it for just over three hours yesterday and managed to get two of the bands lined up. Ugh! You'll note the thread on them...I don't want any more accidents that will take me hours to fix. I'd rather take them apart on my own terms.

The white ring was Bram's exchange puzzle this year. But for anyone who is interested in purchasing it, this one like all the rest are available on Oskar's Shapeways page.

All in all I'd say if you're up for a challenge these are the way to go.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Well this is very frustrating for me.  I had completely typed up this post then set it to auto publish and then poof!  Off into space it went.  Oh well, it doesn't matter.  I want to talk about this little puzzle and you want to read about it so I'll just start again...
This puzzle was made by Andreas Rover and exchanged at IPP32.  The name of it is Triade.  Now I know that has to be a play on words, but just exactly how it plays I'm not sure.  The tri bit is obvious.  There are three pieces many of which are triangular.  The ade?  I'm not so sure about.  A drink?  As in Kol-ade?  Wrong spelling I know. 

The puzzle as I said is made up of three parts with lots of triangular bits in it.  there are some long bits and a whole bunch of short bits of this shape.  All of which can be stumpers in the puzzling process.  The pieces aren't identical though, and as far as I can tell they aren't mirrored.  This was a bit of a think to take apart, but to be honest that part of the puzzle was really a walk in the park.  When it fell apart in my hands, I knew I was in trouble.  Why?  Because now I have to put it back together again!  Ouch!  

And ouch it was.   This was a real pain of a puzzle.  I have to say I'm glad Andreas put it in a nice strong bag because I had to put it away again to go to a meeting as always and didn't have a chance to pick it up again for a few hours.  Sadly by that time I couldn't remember which way was up.  Now I told you it was a stumper.  

This has been on my desk for 3 days in a state of disassembly and I've made it my new thinking puzzle.  I'm sure it isn't that difficult if I set my mind to it, but I need something to fiddle with when I'm engaged in work and this is pretty good for that. I seem to have two bits in the right position (at least they look like the photo on the left) and I'm just playing with the other trying to get it into place.  Wish me luck all!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Virus 1

Like Spiderman, Virus is a sliding tile puzzle.  This one has fared better over the years though than Spidey did. Virus was made in 1999 by Arleco Toys and Games c.c. and is just an all around better puzzle. There is a greater challenge, and more ways for those legs to get twisted and turned around.  
The material on this one is a bit better as well.  It is still made of rubber, but this one hasn't dried out and lost its elasticity so it's still playable.  A real bonus!  This puzzle is a 15 piece slide tile puzzle with a double puzzle.  First, you need to untwist the virus's legs, then you need to get the spiderweb below aligned. Not quite as easy as it sounds.  I solved this one when it first came into the house 12 years or so ago and hadn't looked at it since.  I fiddled a bit so I could write this blog.  I'm not so sure I would encourage people to go hunt one down if they don't have one, but if you come across a virus it's a good nostalgic type puzzle.
I haven't seen one of these for sale in any shop or on eBay in quite some time.  When they first sold, Hendrik had them available at his shop. They are no longer there, but you might be able to send him an email if you are really interested.
Tomorrow, I go back to some IPP puzzles.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Open Window

Todays puzzle was designed by Tom Jolly and exchanged and made by Tim Urdall. I looked at this one a couple of times and passed it up because I thought it would be too hard. It looked quite similar to a puzzle I just purchased from Eric Fuller and we all know how that one worked out for me.

Yesterday I decided I needed to go get some new puzzles to put in my bag. This one caught my eye so out of the suitcase it came and into my bag it went. Yes, the IPP puzzles are still in the suitcases but this time it's for a better reason than just me being lazy. I've friends coming over in the next month and as long as they are still in the suitcase it's easy for me to bring them along.

Back to the open window. I took it out this morning for a bit and fiddled but got nowhere as is my usual case. I went round and round with nothing happening. And then this afternoon when I finished my self criticism I pulled it out again and went in that same round about twice. Then I actually thought about the puzzle I slid the pieces round a bit more and then I looked at the bits to see what was going on. Ah ha! Got it. OPEN THE WINDOW! Just like at the old farm house. Great puzzle!

The puzzle is simply a frame with four squares inside. One is just a place holder. The other three have grooves along the side and bits added in. Take it apart and then put it back together again. That's all there is to it.

I think there might be one over on puzzlers paradise. Of so, I'd snag it up if I were you. It's a fun one!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Spiderman twisted puzzle

Today's puzzle is all about twisting and sliding.  This puzzle was first made in 1997 by Dov Nesis and laer copyrighted by Marvel comics in 2002.  This one was released along with the movie of the same name.
 It's a great idea but rather poorly executed.  Spidey is hooked to his web and the object is to tangle it all up by sliding the tiles around and then of course to untangle him.  I got this puzzle back in 2002 and as you can see by the photos it hasn't fared well.  The rubber that his web is made of is nothing more than substandard.  If I remember right, he didn't last a year before the web started to deteriorate.  Within a couple more years he lost 3 of the 4 connections and when I pulled him out of the box to get puzzles for the exhibition I saw that he's beyond repair.  The rubber is of a type that it has all but dried out over the years.  It is now almost brittle.  It's a shame this happened because it is a great little puzzle and a fantastic idea.  It would be nice to see a company make another along these lines with better material.

If anyone has one of these that has survived the past 10 years in better shape, I'd love to see photos of it.  I don't think I have any of this one prior to its decline.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bowling alley in a briefcase

I read about this great little puzzle on Jerry's blog and decided I wanted to try it. I saw one come up on an auction site (maybe Baxterweb?) anyway, I didn't bid high enough and continued to search. Much to my surprise and pleasure, when I looked at the table and spotted one. Without thought I grabbed it up and made my purchase.

Now with this one I had the advantage of seeing the internal bits on a webpage so I had a general idea of what needed to be done. Not that that helped me any. My exchange partner had played with this puzzle at Gathering for Gardner this past year. He fiddled with it at IPP32 but didn't get it open. One of the renegades kept telling me he was missing a vital step and would never get it open. And all that information went into my head when I tried to solve it.

Did any of that help me? Not really. I have a slow learning curve. So I ended up doing the same move I saw John do over and over and over.  Did I solve it?  Nope.  So like the Armadillo~back in my bag it went.

A while later, I was able to solve the armadillo puzzle and this gave me a bit of a kick to go try this one again.  Yep.  A lot more silliness before I was to the point of opening. Yep.  John was missing a vital step.  Yep.  It was a total accident that I found it.  And yep.  I can open it again.

This is yet another great puzzle by this duo.  How people come up with ideas like this is beyond me.  But I'm sure glad they do.  I wonder if I need to start finding someone to design my next IPP exchange puzzle or if I can rely on my own simple brain to come up with an idea before the deadline?  Any takers out there willing to help a slow girl?

The case of the sacred armadillo

This is another of those 'briefcase' puzzles made by Kathleen Malcomson. It's a lovely little puzzle made out of a business card case a few bits of things inside and one big clear marble. Another really fun puzzle to have in the collection.

So it's a sacred armadillo. And any one who has ever lived in the south has seen one of those. The little buggers often show up right where you want to park your car. Then there is the dilemma of what to do: run the sucker over or get out parked wonky move the sucker then repark the car. And blast it all because they are alive you can't run them over. I'll admit that on more than one late night the urge to drop kick them comes to mind as well. So where is all this verbal diarrhea coming from? Armadillos of course. They roll up into a ball when frightened and this puzzle has a big ball in it.

The first thing I did when I got this puzzle was put the enclosed sheet into my solution box because I was afraid I might peek. Then I started rolling the ball. Nope. Nothing. I put it on the floor and spun it in circles. I shook it. I swung it around. I had great fun with it. Short of blowing (Kevin) I did all I could think of. And then I dumped it in my bag and forgot about it until yesterday.

It was bugs birthday and she wanted Disney with mom (walking wallet again) so when she was riding those awful roller coasters (mom had to hold the shopping this time) I sat down and pulled this one out.

Since I'd done all the silliness earlier I started over again this time with the intention of being serious in my solving techniques. Fast forward half an hour and I had made no progress. Back to being silly. And AH HA!!! There it was! Clever little thing. I had a big smile when bug came back from her rides.

The solution was simple enough that I could solve it again and again. Very clever that Kathleen is. She fit a cute little puzzle that had a bit of a stumper and a whole lot of fun, into a tiny little business card box. Next up...bowling alley in a briefcase.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Decartes and Xbopocm b meuKe

And if those names mean anything to you, you're brilliant!  Both puzzles are designed by B. KpaCHoyxoB And that is a mouthful too.
As with many others I've been reviewing this past couple of weeks, I purchased these at IPP.  Here I go again with the 5 ducks (aka the toilets) That puzzle knocked me for such a loop I had to have these as well.  I was sharing Dave's table again this year and Turned around and there was Vladimir.  I snagged up about 6 puzzles or maybe more and dumped them under the table before heading out to puzzle hunt.

The first: Decartes was a nice one.  I didn't have any idea what it should look like in a solved state, and only purchased it because I liked the name.  I was on my night of puzzling/movie watching and played half heartedly with this as the movie was actually starting to get good (I basically stoped watching tv and movies and such in 2006 when I decided to start studying again-I've missed out on a lot so even the old ones are good to me!)  As I was fiddling, I was shocked to see that I had solved it!  There was a twist to this puzzle that I really liked.  I would highly recommend it to fellow puzzlers and non puzzlers alike.  This puzzle has 5 pieces to it: 4 irregular shaped pieces and one perfect square.  A real challenge to the brain when you first look at it.

The unpronounceable puzzle is a different story.  There are only 4 pieces and they are in very strange shapes with not all the edges being square.  There is also an added bite taken out of the frame.  I had dumped this into its bag when I purchased them and didn't look at it after that at all.  When I pulled it out to play, the bits had fallen out of the frame so I had the joy of solving two puzzles. One with the added bite and the real solution.  Believe it or not, the real solution was solved faster than the transporting solution.  The angular bits really threw me and I certainly wasn't thinking as I should have been.  I would have to guess for me to find both solutions took around 30-45 minutes of puzzle/movie time.

One of these years I might look at the watch I wear.  But life is so much more fun telling time via bathroom breaks, in between candidate times and distances between train stops.  Isn't it?

Karin's Rose Burr

I was getting my wrists slapped yesterday and had to run across town to let someone do it. I couldn't let the afternoon end on a sour note because it was Friday night GTA social and I didn't want to go to that in a foul mood. So I hit upon the perfect solution. Puzzle hunt!

I went to another of my favorite districts for puzzles. And find I did! Of complete disinterest to most readers I found a few more 3D jigsaw puzzles: a panda, a Japanese cartoon character, My Melody, and Hello Kitty. Hanayama has released Dumbo in its crystal puzzle range and that one came home with me. (we all know that bug who hates puzzles, loves the Hanayama crystal puzzles). A notched six piece burr with a jingle bell inside was out into my bag as well.

And then I found this. I've no idea what it is though. I saw it the other day on an online site from across the boarder that sells loads of rubbish toys and electronics. It caught my eye because it was a bit different and I felt the need for something a bit different. (as if I didn't get enough at IPP).

It's a disease I tell you. A real sickness. This need to go puzzle hunting each week. If I don't fine anything new that's ok. But when I do. Oh joy! Happy girl. Today. I was out restandardizing for that weekend testing...that I do and when done, I needed to pick up a little something for bugs birthday (the kids decided she wants to try caviar for dinner. Not my daughter is she?) and I has to run through a book store and a place I know that sells puzzles. I found one too! Not a puzzle puzzle, but a pretty nifty game for the iPad that has a puzzling aspect to it. Or maybe it's just a cool game that I'll loose the pieces to in a few months.

Oh sorry back to the puzzle. It has three loops to it and the object seems to be to take them apart and then put them back together again.  Piece of cake.  Only 3 pieces.  A with most puzzles I get made across the border, the quality isn't great.  It almost fell apart in my hands.  Putting it back together was a bit more difficult.  It took me quite some time to work out the direction of the bits.  All three pieces are identical.  For a while I thought one piece was reversed and this caused me great trouble.  I struggled over this for around a half an hour before something clicked in my simple little brain and there we have it.  Solved once again.  Another fun one to play with.

*Thanks to Mhuti for another puzzle named.*

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Black Square and Procrustus

I bring you two more puzzles from my long night of packing puzzles. Both of these puzzles were made by Vladimir Krasnoukhov. The Black Square puzzle is one of those 'add a piece' puzzles. Procrustus is one that requires you to place the pieces in a different configuration. Black square has five pieces, Procrustus has four. Ok. So now that you know the differences (aside from color that is) I'll tell you the similarities.

There's only one. Both puzzles are DROP DEAD EASY!!! I did Black Square first and it took me less than three minutes! Are you as shocked as I am? Even more shocking was the time spent on Procrustus. It was less than thirty seconds! I kid you not!

I lie. There are two similar things about These two puzzles. The other is they are both really good puzzles. Seriously. Sometimes simple is fantastic. After I solved them I handed them over to bug and she fiddled around for quite a while trying to work them out. Maybe twenty minutes on each one. These are two fantastic puzzles for the novice puzzler. They are easy enough done that my coworkers who I could coerce into playing solved them in less than ten minutes and one of the guys even asked me today to borrow the square one so he could use it in a workshop he was running.

When I can get one of MY co-workers to ask for a puzzle it's a winner in my book!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rectangling of the triangles

This one is a bit of a funny. I purchased this puzzle at IPP in August on a whim and a pass by a very nice man. See, as much as I hated 'the toilet' (little ducks) last year, I equally loved it. As such I vowed to go back to Vladimir's table and buy more at IPP. I got home and tossed it into the box with the rest of my IPP purchases and thought nothing more of it other than I need to buy bags to store it in because the packaging it came in, while great for traveling isn't great for storage.

I got home, made my way to my favorite wholesale street and bought my bags for those puzzles without good packaging. Then promptly left for a conference. This puzzle was in my initial carry along, but when I did the packing it didn't make the cut.

While in NZ I met with fellow puzzler Paul Dudding. As I was dipping into his bag I pulled this puzzle out. I fiddled for a bit but something else caught my eye and I handed the puzzle over to my research partner and best bud Mr. B. now he's not a puzzler so this really wasn't a nice thing for me to do. But I'll give him credit. He played around for about twenty minutes before giving up again.

When I got back home I spent a night playing with all these packing puzzles I purchased and this was but one I pulled out of the pile. Now I like my version better than Paul's. His was wooden. Mine is acrylic. Smoother edges and less danger of slivers.

It's a nice little puzzle because there is more than one challenge and because you need to think a bit to solve it. There are four challenges on the instruction sheet provided.

Me? I started with what appears to be the easiest make 4 triangles.  Yep.  That was easy.  It took just a few minutes.  Next...a few more minutes to make 3 triangles.  The last two puzzles?  I lost patience and the movie Matt put on was actually good for a change.  I got lost in 'Love and Other Drugs' and forgot about puzzling.

As Mr. B. was playing with this puzzle he said it would be a great one for Mr. Kok who came along on the trip with us (different presentation)  That got me thinking.  Now I've got to go get a few of these made for some math teachers I know.   Yep.  It's a good un.  Worth the pittance I paid for it.  Worth the price to get more.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Little Game Hunter

Well folks, I bit the bullet and bought a Stickman! Or I should say I was given permission to buy one.  At IPP32 I had the great joy of meeting Mr. Stickman himself.  He's not only a great builder, but a great lad as well.  Any one who met him will attest to his ability to make a person laugh, put down a drink and build one heck of a puzzle!

We started talking I guess the night before IPP and I liked him as a person.  Not just a builder.  But then I guess I like all the Renegades.  They are a fun bunch of boys.  Any way, I saw this one over on the renegade forum and read Brian's blog and  Allard's blog about it and kind of fell in lust.  I have been silly because I didn't know how to get in touch with Stickman and didn't think to leave a message or ask over on the forum (Yes, you can call me daft-I've done so many times)  Well I feel like there was some kind of divine intervention going on over at IPP this August because there he was, in the flesh, and there was not only one elephant, but two in the competition area.  (A puzzle and a spare) So one night over a beer and a cigar we started talking about my wanting to purchase one.  And that lovely man said yes!  So home with me

came my latest edition to my collection.  Now this was a bit of a hoot  really.  See Mr. Stickman told me that each elephant had a name and the name of mine was??? To be given at a later date.  :)  He didn't send the little book along so he didn't know.  Well a lot of back and forth and about 2 weeks later, I finally found out my elephant's name is Jumbo.  (Apparently he's well hung.  They must be tucked up inside, because it sure doesn't look like it from the photo above now does it?)  

In the mean time Robert sent me this nice little note over on Renegade and also tucked it into the envelope with the puzzle book when he mailed it.  (What fantastic service!)  It seems that Jumbo is a secret agent for the CIA...Shh....don't tell anyone.  We don't want him to get in any kind of trouble.

So how does the puzzle solve?  Well I'd be telling a fib if I could answer that.  When I got home from IPP I managed to make a video of each of my puzzles from the exchange, then I had to put together a presentation and run off again so I didn't really have a chance to play.   I've managed a few moves while showing him to reporters over the past few days, but other than that, he's just sitting on my shelf looking pretty.  He'll be in an exhibition starting the end of the month, so I won't get much of a chance to even look at him.  I'm going to attempt to do something with Jumbo in the next day or two...I really want to know where he stores his bits)  If I manage to get past those first few moves I'll let you all know, but in the mean time, don't hold your breath!  You all know me.  Quick to buy, slow to solve.  

Monday, September 10, 2012


This puzzle was exchanged by Bill Cutler at IPP 32. It's another packing joy. These things are beginning to grow on me. They really are. This one appealed to me not because it has four pretty colors, but because of the backstory that was told during the exchange and the 'in your face' albeit tactful way of asking the exchangees political leanings :)

There were four different parties you could belong to: red, blue, yellow, or green. I'll let you work out which is which. The puzzle starts out with 32 pieces of the four colors with no two of the same color touching. Your goal is to redesign the voting districts to give the party in power a bigger voting block. Gerrymandering is common practice back home (elsewhere too I'm sure but am too lazy to look it up) and almost always ends up with odd little pointy bits sticking out along the edges. The color I chose is now in charge and has a bigger block.

So I opened the package and dumped the pieces all over the tray table on the plane. Oh big mistake! My timing that is. I dumped just before the in flight feeding frenzy and since I do vegetarian in flight no sooner had I dumped than I needed to put the darned thing away.  They always deliver special meals first don't they... Now I can see you shaking your head thinking there goes Rox on a side trip agian, but this time I promise you there is a reason for this.  See I packed my watch because I had my phone and I was getting tired of beeping and having to take everything off again and again (this was the boomerang flight by the way) since we were in flight I shut off my phone and forgot to put it on airplane mode before I shut it off so I couldn't use that. Meals are a sense of time for me.  So after I finished my salad and carrot sticks I redumped and started again.  And then I redumped and started again.  And then I redumped and started again.    And then I redumped and started again.    Ok, you get the idea.  I was getting no where fast.

I heard the rustle of bodies as the next feeding frenzy was upon us yet again and I bagged up this puzzle yet again.  As I ate my rabbit food and watched Big Bang I began to get a sinking feeling yet again.  I hesitated but a moment and then opened the instructions.  I knew it! I was right!  The kind of puzzle I really hate!  ONE SOLUTION ONLY!!!

Needless to say, the puzzle has not been solved, but it did entertain me on that 8 hour flight home from New Zealand.  It's a good colorful puzzle and one I'll work on again because I am sure it is only a matter of moving one or two pieces around just a tiny bit...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Der Mond

I saw this puzzle on someone's blog ( a while back and decided I wanted one. That's the problem with blogs. I read them and then I see things I like then I have to go buy them. Not the best way of doing things but it keeps me in puzzles anyway.

So this one is pretty clever. More clever than I (aren't you just do tired of reading that?) This one is a moon. But it's also a cross. There are only seven pieces to it. Not too many. Easy enough to solve right?

Well, yes and no. See I brought this one on the flight with me thinking I would solve it rather quickly. After all, it's only seven pieces. But as with all puzzles I think are easy-this one wasn't. We got into Doha and I still hadn't solved it. Maybe it was too much wine in flight and too little sleep. Maybe it was too much Big bang Theory. Maybe it was just a hard puzzle. During the first 13 hours of the trip home I kept coming back to this one and just couldn't do it.

After the layover from Hades, I picked this puzzle up again on the last leg thinking those curvy bits would yet again cause me major headache. Much to my surprise I solved the puzzle almost as soon as I dumped the bits out.

My overall verdict? It's a walk in the park. I say this because after the second attempt at solving it I had to dump it again and again. See, I don't trust myself to think a puzzle is easy and have it be so. I need to keep testing myself. Well, I've done this one quite a few times now so I officially deem it to be easy!