Notes from Puzzle Palace

Friday, February 28, 2014

Hong Kong Puzzler gathering #2 and #3

No, I'm not being lazy, it's really that both of the second two gatherings were quite short for me.  I had a house warming at my bosses for the first, and birthday party for one of the lads for the second  so my time with the guys here was short and sweet.
My boss and his wife trying to solve Cariatide.

I'll start out by saying I love it when Otis comes into town.  He's one of my real boys.  He's just great and I adore him.  Any excuse to meet up is good for me.  No, It's great!

The second dinner saw the usual suspects, Smaz, Otis, Myself, but we also had Kim and Phillip with us as well as Michael's family.  It was a nice little gathering of friends.

When I got to the restraunt, there weren't many puzzles out and I felt horribly bad for only bringing along a few metal toys.  Of course the first thing I did was give Otis an unsolved Cariatide to reassemble.  He did a bang up job of it!

Even Michaels son got into puzzling.  he was playing with the coin safe I bought a few years back and the Tdof I picked up last year.

 Yes, there is something wrong with this photo.  Can you guess what it is?

Michael Explained to us how to solve this puzzle.  I'm not sure of the name, but I kept calling it a peppermint twist.  Mr. Strijbos sells them for  interested parties.

 Kim and Phillip were given a go at the Berrocal and it took two to reassemble it.

The obligatory ring on hand shot.

The boys are almost done!

All and all, this gathering was very short for me.  Only an hour or so.  I didn't get to spend as much time with the guys as I'd have liked, but I had that other thing to go to first.

So on to gathering #3 of Otis' stay.
We met at a restaurant in Wan Chi where we had taken Hendrick before.  I was working over there and Michael very kindly worked out that I would be able to find it easily.  When I arrived both Otis and Michael were already there.  Beer was ordered, a glass downed and then the party could begin.  

 Of course, Otis asked for another Berrocal and this time I brought along Christina.  I had an ulterior motive with this one.  It was stuck and I needed help moving the parts.  Otis dutifully took her apart.

Again the obligatory ring photo.

I also brought along a few other puzzles.  Oskar's Writers Block made by recent toys.  (which was solved with the aid of a toothpick and a lot of laughter)

 This one is simply called Metal Art. It's like a snake, made by a company in Taiwan.  Hendrik showed it to me at the toys fair so I had to pick up a copy. It works like a snake, but can be disassembled and reassebbled-Oh wait, Oddzon made one of those in the early 2000's didn't they.  Well, this one is metal and very heavy.  It's a highly recommended puzzle if you can find one.  (by the magpie in me)

Puzzle's brought.  3 people, small gathering.  But the puzzling doesn't matter as much as the company does.  I can't wait for the next time Otis comes to town.  He's said maybe April, maybe May....Next time...Zoraida and David.

Hong Kong puzzlers gathering #1

This post is long overdue but between preparing for conferences, going to them, and getting sick upon my return, I've been unable to post.  With the permission of Otis, I have reprinted his post here. Forgive my laziness, it's been a hell of a month.  

My name is Otis Cheng. A puzzle lover who start from twistypuzzles. I don't know if it is allowed to write a post about our recent puzzle gathering in Hong Kong and posted here. Anyway we do have twistypuzzles in our post so...please tell me if there's a problem. Just want to share about our first puzzle gathering in Hong Kong. 

Date: 27-01-2014 08:30pm
Place: Sharp Star Restaurant

Recently we found that there're many puzzle lover in Hong Kong, but we never have a chance to stay together. This time I'm coming back to HK for the chinese new year, and most of us think it is the time. So we decided to hold a puzzle gathering at 27th night at the "Sharp Star restqurant". We choose this place because Rox, Smaz & I had been here before, eating & playing puzzles as well. The meal is good & the boss of the restaurant even attracted to play puzzles with us last time. So we decided to hold our first "HK puzzler gathering" here. 

Puzzler introduction. From Left to Right: Victor Lam, Mr Wong, Mr Tang, Kyoo Wong, restaurant owner Mr Wai, Smaz, me, Rox, Saul Symonds, Ricky Ng. All are puzzle lover from......ah Hong Kong :D 

We're having our gathering and the dinner at the same time. But it's not easy to book a table while close to Chinese new year, and some of us can't be there too early due to work, so we decide to have the dinner at 08:30pm. a bit late. For those who can attend earlier, we met at a Mcdonalds nearby & play puzzles first. As you can see, we have much different type puzzles. 

The Mcdonald gathering start from 6pm. We have 5 of us here. Play & discuss puzzles there and we don't know how the time passed to 08:30pm.

Anyway I should talk about puzzles. I'll start from twistypuzzles type as this is Octo Star Cube. Designed by David Pitcher. First shown in 2013 by 3d printing. But the one in the pic is a mass-produced version by Calvin's puzzle aka nowstore. Octo Star Cube is somehow like a bandaged version of "eight direction turning 3x3" cube. you got to turn the middle layer to a certain place to allow 45 degree turning. So there'll be shape shifting. As this bandaging idea is contained with this puzzle, so it'll be slightly hard I think. We popped once during the gathering, but it's not so hard to assemble it. However the little triangle pieces is very thin so I accidentally broke one during break in.

chinaminx. A design which is very close to Hungarian Supernova. I eventually got this one at the same day of the gathering. So the restaurant is located in ShamShuiPo, a rather old district of Hong Kong. Sometimes we can dig some old stuff out here. And at that day I found this puzzle selling in a small booth at the street. So bad one tile is missing, and it's not really clean & neat. But consider the price is cheap enough I think it's ok, especially while I'm a dodecahedron avid. 

I don't know the name of this puzzle in English, in chinese it's called "四大天王". Interlocking puzzle. This is designed by Mr Gong Yong Ming who is from Shanghai of China. This puzzle is combined with a holey box and 4 different wooden pieces. Each piece have different "leg". And so they're stuck inside the box. You can turn, slide or pull up & down every pieces, in order to achieve the aim: Take out all four pieces. This is somehow a prototype. So I give this one away to Rox while I still have another one in Beijing.

Fortune Cat Puzzle. A Cartoon 2x2 cube it is. This puzzle is produced by a china company which is not allowed to shown here, as the mechanism of this puzzle copies the patented ES 2x2x2 design. Anyway this puzzle is actually not bad in turning, and having a nice outlook. So I brought 8 of them to the gathering and give each puzzler one as a present.

Fortune Cat Puzzle. A Cartoon 2x2 cube it is. This puzzle is produced by a china company which is not allowed to shown here, as the mechanism of this puzzle copies the patented ES 2x2x2 design. Anyway this puzzle is actually not bad in turning, and having a nice outlook. So I brought 8 of them to the gathering and give each puzzler one as a present. 

Cast U&U. Newest cast puzzle. Brought to us by Kyoo Wong. This puzzle is not even start to release to the market. But Kyoo brought us a few as he is the producer of hanayama. So consider this as a kind of "final test by puzzler" before it is officially released. As you can see Cast U&U is combined with two U shape screw, each of it has two bolt at the end. Your aim is to take them apart. This puzzle will be rated as level 4 difficulty by hanayama. But none of us except Smaz solved it that night.

Saul trying to solve U&U.

Smaz show us a puzzle he got recently. It's called Hufeisenpuzzle, designed by Jean Claude Constantin. The whole thing is in the pic, only 3 pieces. The objective is to use one among three of them, to hold another two up. Of course none can fall or it is considered as fail. This is a gift from Hendrik Haak to Smaz during the HK toys fair at January. 

So the time came to 08:30pm, we head to Sharp Star restaurant to meet another 4 of us. We wait for a while even we had booked a table.....but fortunately not so long waiting. When we are told to go in, we didn't seat tight and order the meal, but to take out all of the puzzles we brought there! We played all puzzles even while the meal is up~So tight it is. Well but this is Hong Kong. We get used to the crowd anyway.

I don't know if anyone will be interested but still I'm showing the meal we have. They're really tasty for Hong Kong people. A little pricy but for nine people is still not bad. Especially the owner Mr Wai is a very kind person and interested in puzzle as well. That's why we choose here for the gathering. For the meal, we had goose, fish and pork something. It's really hard to translate the name of the meal into english......Oh we ordered some Tofu and vegetable as well coz Saul is a vegetarian. I think the meals are really good. But most of us are not concern on the food but puzzles.

So I'm talking about puzzles again. The first one will be a twistypuzzle as well. The transparent version ofTime Machine. Designed & made by Smaz. There's only one in the world coz Smaz only make one of it. So bad the inner 2x2 doesn't have transparent version so he has no choice but to use black 2x2. Smaz show this to everyone and everyone think it's amazing puzzle. 

As the offical dealer of hanayama cast puzzle, Victor Lam of course he can get the newest cast puzzle. So he brought me the newest one I don't have: Cast Twist. designed by Oskar Van Deventer. As we know Oskar designed this puzzle in 2004 and called it "Snake Ball". Up to 2012 he brought this puzzle to IPP and attract the attention of hanayama. So at the end of 2013 hanayama produced this puzzle under the name Cast Twist. 

Rox brought up anouther wire puzzle. It's called "Tricky Dick wood and rope puzzle". This is actually a very classic design which has many different variants. The aim is to take apart the Metal ring. I heard that this design is already been out at 1999. But the one we're watching is by Mr Puzzle from Australia. 

I didn't expected to see this one at the gathering. Rubik's 2x2. If you look closely you'll see this one is not a sticker version usually seen from Rubik's, but tiles. Oh yes this is the New version of Rubik's 2x2 cube. Using sphere core inside, and tiles outside. Ricky Ng brought this to us at the gathering. Ricky is a wire puzzle lover but still want to learn about twistypuzzles at the age of 60+. 

Kyoo Wong brought us his binder clip puzzle. He like to make these cool stuffs recently. I don't know if these can be sorted as puzzle or not, may be impossible object? Anyway Kyoo told us it is not so hard to make one. Just search keyword "binder clip puzzle" and there'll be many websites teaching us how to make one. The first time to make one will take some time but after that it'll be easier & quicker. There're a few cool sculpture showing here.

20 cent Box brought by Rox. So strange that there's not much information about this puzzle on the web. So the only thing I know is that it is designed by Jean Claude Constantin. The aim is straight forward: to take out the 20 cent inside. The puzzle provide with a wooden made key which can insert in a hole at the bottom of the puzzle. But till then nothing I can do. There's another hole at the front which is smaller, I think this hole must be useful or else it won't exist. Well I didn't solve it at last during the gathering.

Kiste Mini. Means "Mini box". Another design by Jean again. Jean is known as his great design and personalized Wooden type puzzles. But he didn't make many wooden box puzzle. Most of his puzzle box is rather easy for beginner. The one showing is one of them. Each side of the box is flat. There's a image of a lock hole in front of the box. From the top you can pull up a little but still stuck. After several times of trying I successfully open the box. After that I think the box is easy enough, if you can think of it in a total opposite way. 

I didn't photograph all the puzzles as there're too many of them. But we all tried each of them suring the gathering. We learn from each other, as we usually focus on one specific type of puzzles. So we learn much during sharing out view of puzzles and playing different puzzles. We even exchange some of our puzzles!

Mr Wai, who is the owner of the restaurant, he is a magic lover. Somehow the item of Magic is similar to puzzles. Which seems like impossible but actually possible. So he came several times during the gathering, and play different puzzles with us as well. Sometimes he'll show magic to us. We decided to have the next puzzle gathering at his restaurant again in the future. 

I brought my Eitan's Star to let everyone to play. As most of them are not actually twistypuzzles player, they didn't dare to turn it......So I scramble the Eitan's Star and then they feel free to try it then. Saul seems very interested to it, he tried to solve it but, it's too hard for a beginner to start from Eitan's Star anyway. 

Mr Tang brought us his design. A metal puzzle. Which contains a long box, a even longer screw a metal ball and a few caps. There's a hole through the top and the bottom of the metal box. So if you put the ball on the top of the box, it will fall out at the bottom of it. After that Tang insert the screw to the box horizontally. So the ball will be blocked by the screw and stay at the top. Later Tang put on a few caps at the top, bottom and the end of the screw, and do some secret movement. While he took out the caps again, the ball drop off from the bottom, while the screw is still remaining inside. Actually as a puzzler all of us figure out where the trick is but not exactly the solution. Finally Tang show us where the tricky part is. What a nice design. So bad he only made two. 

Actually Tang himself produce puzzles too. He invented "progressive Tangram" and mass produced them to the market. As you can see in the pic, nice puzzle it is. He gave each of us one at the gathering. Thanks!

It's really nice to have such a puzzle gathering in Hong Kong this time. As a puzzler who start from twistypuzzles only, and then broaden his interest to different type of puzzles, I'm feeling lucky that I can meet so many nice puzzlers and have a chance to communicate with them, even in such a small city like Hong Kong! I hope we'll have even more puzzle gathering in the future. And I got to force them to play twistypuzzles! :D 

So the above is the whole situation of our gathering. Hope you like it. And please forgive my poor english.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Last Chance

Today is the last day to bid on that Apothecary Chest!  If you want it, get in there and bid!  I'm out of the bidding.  Once again I need food before toys.  I need plane tickets and all that nonsense.


Just a few more photos of a beautiful puzzle.