Notes from Puzzle Palace

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One night in Guangzhou.....

Ok I want you all to start singing to the tune made famous in the 80's by Murray Head.

Now that I have half of you smiling and humming along, and the other half searching google.....
guard cats
That's exactly what we just did. One night was enough to recharge my (puzzle) batteries and make me feel like me again.

Michael (aka SmaZ) and I left for GZ after my class on Monday. This meant a late arrival in GZ, but the professional (keener) in me wouldn't allow me to cancel classes. Upon arrival we headed straight to the warehouse of Mf8 (Mr. Fok-who I've been told has a different name in Putonghua) and chatted for a bit.  I snapped a nice photo of some rock candy I saw sitting around.  Sadly, I couldn't get photos of the cats by the puzzles. Silly things left every time I tried to snap a picture of them.  I really enjoyed taking photos of his guard cats! as well as new puzzles. We sat and chatted for around an hour before heading out to dinner with a nice little group of puzzlers-13 of us in all. Ming even brought his girlfriend who is WAY too pretty for him. Throughout dinner the puzzles kept coming out. By the end of the night we had no less than 50! on the table. Everyone always brings something they have been enjoying and I bring some if my recent finds or my favorites from IPP. Sadly, this trip followed immediately after the first 1/2 marathon I've run with my husband and I only had time to grab a few gifts and a bag that was on my desk. My contribution this time was pretty sparse and it only highlighted how long it's been since I've had a boys and toys! (And how much I missed them!)

Of course, no buys and toys can be called such without copious amounts of beer, but this time I had a surprise in my bag! Oyster Bay! I needed a bottle for the train ride and...well, it needed finishing! All had a glass of my (second) favorite wine and the fun began.

Food is almost as important as puzzles (and beer) and the meal lasted a whopping three hours, but when you are with such great company it seems like only minutes.  It was great to see and play with AJ's new puzzles.  Although the blue one doesn't work as well as he wanted, but I have a feeling he'll come up with a solution for it soon enough.  A few Hanayama puzzles were brought out onto the table to be twisted and separated as well as a few brass puzzles I brought along.    
the Hanayama toys
a broken lock
 Ming brought out out a pile of the Hanayama mini puzzles that have recently come out.  He managed to find them somewhere at a good price and was passing them out to all who purchased them.  Nice guy gave me a number that I don't have.

Ming's girlfriend managed to take apart a lock puzzle that was exchanged at IPP, but she pulled it a bit beyond the spot of solving.  No problem, 2 puzzles.  They got it back together again and the play  carried on.

After dinner Mr. Wong, Michael, Ming and I went on to have a 'second dinner' a 1/2 dozen bottles of beer and a lot more puzzle talk!
puzzle purchases

The next day we met again and spent a long time running around looking in a place I'll call "Mannings" because I'm just not sure of the name of the place but I sure enjoy going there. It's 7 floors of wholesale shops.  4 of which are girly things and toys!  Heaven.  I purchased a few toys there, but not my usual haul.  It seems I've got most of what I've been looking for.  Can anyone tell me how that happened?

We ended up back at the Mf8 warehouse for a bit of talk before our last dinner together.  Mr. Fok very kindly gave Michael and I a copy of Eitian's star and a sweet desert cake.  At dinner he brought out a couple of his new puzzles.  The crazy puzzle was molded a few years back but had flaws so it's being redesigned.  If I understood write, it should be coming out within the next half year.  The other holey puzzle shown here is on the way as well.  A couple of nice little toys to play with so save your pennies!

As always, it was hard to leave.  I'm hoping the next trip isn't as far apart as this one has been.

Rock candy

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Booze Crate

Today's puzzle is a nod towards my  affinity towards adult beverages.  I would not recommend this puzzle for those under 18.  

I bought this puzzle off eBay a while back and promptly forgot I had it.  When Wil came in January and we started to take out my toys, he discovered it and wanted to have a go.  It got left on my desk and has been staring at me ever since.  I got tired of the accusing looks so I picked it up and took it with me for a session of testing.  

The puzzle has 4 layers to it. Each with five pieces.  It is a plastic packing puzzle with the theme of alcoholic beverages.  One side of each tile is blank while the other has a drink outline raised slightly on the opposite face.  To make it a bit more difficult, each piece is slightly irregular.  The one segment shown here is only a sample of what is in store for the puzzler.  Odd shapes and sizes.  I like that it is nicely contained in it's own box complete with cover so the pieces won't easily be lost.

When playing with this one, I dumped it out on the side table and rotated pieces around during those in between times.  Over all, it took me around 30 minutes of play time to actually solve the puzzle.  Not too bad.  I must say, the difficulty level was greatly reduced once I flipped all the pieces in the same direction.  I would say it's a nice little challenge that you should try out, but like many of my puzzles, this one isn't easy to find.  Maybe the photo below can help you make your own, or you can try your luck on an auction site near you.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lunatic 3D Maze

I purchased this one a while back now.  July 2012.  It was a kickstarter project. (A worthwhile cause if you want one.) I decided it would be fun to have a hidden maze puzzle made of wood...does this sound familiar to you?

I got the puzzle after a long long wait and it was no fault of the designers.  I simply forgot to send the money for shipping and kept on forgetting the shipping money.  One morning I woke up in a cold sweat and ran straight to the computer to fix my mistake.

Now the whole kickstarter process is very easy to do for those of you that haven't ever done one.  You simply choose the amount you want to pledge (and the reward that goes with it) and click the send button.  the money is collected through Amazon payments and not charged until the project is completely funded.  This is both good and bad.  Good because you know you will get the final product, as in this case.  Bad because if it is unfunded the project doesn't get off the ground and you may loose out on a good deal.

Ok, so on to the puzzle.  The one I chose is 2 inches square with a maple burl exterior and a clear coat finish.  I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it appealed to me to help someone start a puzzle project. I thought the wood I chose was quite pretty and since it is square, it will sit very nicely on my puzzle shelves.  The button to order was pushed very quickly.  The difficulty level is rated as medium and I would agree with that.  It took me about 20 minutes to solve.  There's a bit of tapping that needs to be done to get the ball around some of the corners and into the next section of the maze.  Over all it's a fun little puzzle to hand around.

I had passed it off to a friend, and without knowing it must have had it close to solving because the ball bearing inside went for a nice little roll.  Not to worry though, we found it and shoved it right back inside again for the next unwary puzzler.

My only compliant about this is the tape Marcus used to hold the ball bearing inside.  I'm not sure what it is, but it is super sticky and now I need to work out how to take the glue off my anyone???

The designer now has a new kickstarter coming up. go check it out and give a think to pledging!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A star in a box

This was another IPP exchange puzzle that tickled me and was kept outside the boxes.  Sadly, I haven't had time to give it a proper play  until now.  I brought this one along for one of my marathon puzzle solving sessions over a testing weekend and managed to do a fiddle job of it.

The puzzle consists of 5 different pieces inside a plastic frame.  The object of which is to make a star.  There are 8 different possibilities, but sadly I only managed one. Each of the different possibilities has the lines from the star in a different place, and each of the wooden pieces has lines drawn in a different position on either one or both sides.

It's a real nice idea for a puzzle, but since there are no real instructions on the packaging, so I was going on memory of this one.  I may have the object of the puzzle all wrong, but I'll give it a go to explain what I did.

At one side there is an opening.  This opening allows for the pieces to slide partially through, but not all the way.  I think the object of the puzzle is to wiggle the pieces around until you can make the star shape.  If I'm wrong, someone please let me know.  The base of the puzzle has a couple of notches in it that hold the tips of the star just perfectly.  A rather nice touch that helps in the positioning of the bits. There is also a piece of paper in there that can be removed which shows the 8 solutions.  If you remove this paper, the puzzle and all its solutions are quite easy to do so I'm sure that isn't what needs be done.

I am hoping this is a dexterity puzzle that needs the wiggles, but if not, could someone please tell me how to do this puzzle right?  I'm lost and confused (as usual).

one possible solution

Saturday, February 2, 2013


I have said before that I enjoy puzzles of all types. Today's blog post is confirmation of that. Since I started taking this blogging thing seriously I've posted mainly on mechanical puzzles but I've also shown a few other types of puzzles that have tickled my fancy. Quite a while back I became interested in meta-puzzles. The first I did was "The Runes". This was an amazing journey into a different type of puzzling for me. I'm sure I enjoyed it so much because we worked on it as a team.

When we finished this meta puzzle, we went in search of another. Puzzle Boat by the makers of Panda Magazine was the next one we tried. Sadly though, we stumbled across some inconsiderate fool who posted all the answers. So much for that.

When finished, some of the fellow Runers started up "Puzzle Brains" and I've attempted every puzzle they have put forth...although almost none successfully. That hasn't stopped me from renewing my annual subscription yet again.  I enjoy the banter on the forum, and look forward to each episode. Too bad Mr. Postey doesn't like delivering it the first time around.  I'm pretty sure he's figured out what the magazine is all about and he's just taking the issues for himself.

Panda Magazine is always good for a few weeks worth of on and off puzzling and not too expensive if you buy them six issues at a time. My plan is to go back and finish them when I eventually retire. (Yeah right!)

March of last year I purchased the Black Letter Game and enjoyed the start of it. It was a novel idea to send an artifact through snail mail that needed to be deciphered before the answer was submitted. My only complaint? The mailing time was...well, slower than a snail! I was working on this with a group of friends from back home and by the time I got my artifacts they had usually come very close to finishing the puzzles; if not already done with them.

A couple of years ago I enjoyed reading a Scholastic series entitled "The 39 Clues" with bug. This series of 10 books was at just the right puzzling level for a child. I quite liked the webpage that went along with it, but was not at all pleased with the cards they wanted us to buy to be able to play the games. It sure added up quickly, and when Scholastic announced a new segment to the game of a further 10 books, I was happy to not tell bug. This was a classic example of milking people. Something I really hate and because of that, I don't feel at all sad about not buying the next 5 books or the next 200 cards in the series.

Recently Kick Starter has had a new venture pop up.  The Maze of Games.  With my love of puzzles, I had no qualms about pledging on this one.  Reading about it, it seems that it might be something along the lines of one of those "choose your own adventure" books I read as a kid.  If I'm wrong, it still looks like it will be one good puzzle.  Besides that, they have some amazing puzzle designers working together on this project.  Go take a look and support it today.  It will make a nice early Christmas Present for you, and won't cost as much as a Karakuri box!  In the mean time, they have a couple of puzzles up on the site right now for you to play through.  Fun stuff that!

Put down that box or that twisty puzzle or that aluminium thing you've been playing with this week and go pick up a pencil.  Try on something new!  You probably won't regret it, and you might even like it.

Just a heads up Sue, I've another one for us to try!