Notes from Puzzle Palace

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hong Kong Toys and games fair

The toys fair was a bit late this year, or maybe my term started early. Either way, I  didn't have much time at the fair this year. I managed to spend 11/2 days at the fair this year.  Not long at all.  I must also admit to not seeing any booths other than those of my annual 'friends' and I even missed a few of those.

I have this horrendous schedule this semester: 18 hours of teaching!  Monday's in particular suck.  I teach from 3:00-10:00 pm!  Who signs up for a class at that time of night? 11 of my students that's who. Silly fools. This class meant I couldn't see any of the fair or my friends on the first day of the fair.

Tuesday morning I woke bright and early and headed over to bring Hendrik a few puzzles that had been delivered to my house the week before and my pocket wifi so he could be connected while he was in town (we just can't live without internet can we?). I didn't stay very long as I had class at noon so off I ran again back across the harbour to go teach.  I managed to get back around 3 in the afternoon and the first stop was Uwe's booth.  Jing and Adela were there as well so it was hugs and kisses all around.  Uwe wanted me to go get some KO cubes for him and took me for a little walk down the aisle.  He thought I could walk up, get some samples and be done with it.  Sadly, it doesn't work that way anymore.  I'm fairly well known now.  Back to the booth to meet up with Hendrik and we then went off to say hey to Mr. Tangle.  This year Guido was in town working the booth with Uwe so we had to say hello to him as well.

Uwe is bringing out a bunch of new egg shaped puzzles, they should hit the market within a few weeks.  Shiny!

Because I arrived so late in the day, that was it.  Nothing else to do or see.  What a girl I am.

That night we had dinner with Meffert's, Puzzle Master, Ventura toys, and a magician friend of ours.  Hanayama had the table next to us so it was a big puzzle dinner.
The place we ate is famous for a dish called beggars chicken.  It has to be ordered 24 hours in advance, and when it comes to the table, you have to open it yourself.

We had very nice conversation and talked for around 3 hours.  When it was time to go, Hendrik and I walked  over to TST east to meet Michael and Ayi for a drink or two.  That as usual turned into way way too many....I got started on the B52's and that was all she wrote.  Someone ordered tequila... Might have been the whiskey, could have been the gin... I vaguely remember switching venues, and watching the sun come up.  It has to happen at least one night of the fair.

Wednesday saw us returning to the fair to pick up a few samples and say hello to a few more friends.  It was a rushed day because Hendrik and I both mucked up on his departure date. Yes he was leaving Thursday.  At one minute past midnight!  How did we miss that?  We packed up his bags, said our goodbyes and I took him off to the airport.

This year I didn't collect many samples.  I did see some new boxes that are coming from mimi toys again and expect that Otis will get me samples of them before the year is out.  My photo of this years toys include those brought from the GZ day.  Sorry guys.  I really had no time this year.  Next year I'll have to just call in sick.  Oh wait!  I did that on Wednesday and I'm glad of it.  No time with Hendrik if I hadn't, and friends are the best part of the fair.

As always, it was great having friends in town for the fair.  I love this time of year.  I get to see some people for a few minutes and catch up, others I spend days with.  Both are equally important to me.  See, I don't think I really collect puzzles, I think I collect boys!  And there ain't nothin' wrong with that!

GZ Boys and Toys

I have been remiss in not keeping up to date with things.  But who can blame me?  I've had a very busy month.

January is the HK Toys and Games fair month and as always, I had visitors from out of town. Once again my Hendrik came to stay.  I knew we would have to have a party for him. This time I managed to convince him to get a visa for China and off we went.

The weekend was pretty dull as far as boys and toys go.  I had things to do so we didn't spend a lot of time with the guys.  A Saturday night party was planned and i have to say, I'm very  proud of Hendrik.  He survived a boys and toys and did it with great gusto!

We met Ming and had a late lunch, then headed over to Mr. Fok's warehouse.  After gathering at the old one, we headed off to the new place and took a look around.  Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Mr. Fok announced that if we would assemble them, we could have a new puzzle.  We set off!  7 people, almost 2 hours later, and we were finally able to assemble 6 puzzles. One for each of us.   Truth be told, Hendrik and I didn't do much assembling.  I put the pieces in together and Hendrik did all the screwing.  As for assembling the actual puzzle, we really struggled with that part.

After assembly we went to a restaurant near Mr. Fok's old warehouse for dinner and puzzling.  There were around 20 of us there.  Many had flown in from far parts of China.  I'd like to say it was to see me, but I'm pretty sure I am no longer a guest of honor.  I've been one of the boys for too long.

I had jokingly told Ming before the dinner that Hendrik only ate pizza, and he offered to go run buy some for his dinner.  :)  See, we aim to please.  In the end, he even managed to use chopsticks!

At dinner we all chatted and ate as usual. Beer too of course.  As usual, Rox got pretty drunk pretty early on so she doesn't remember all who were there but I'll give it a go.

Witeden brought along his new 2x2x2 megaminx and handed one out to Hendrik.  A lucky draw was done for two more and your girl managed to get one.  Yipee!  We were also both gifted a transparent Mixed up Cube.

Da Yan, Mr. Fok, Ming, AJ, Michael....The usual suspects.

Ayi came down and brought his newest metal puzzle along, Gan brought his, goodness, my brain is addled after all this time.  There were many many more.

I had made some hinged cubes for everyone and brought long a burr and a wire puzzle for the first two people to assemble them.  A good 10 minutes worth of fun that was.  Those boys are quick!

DaYan gifted us a copy of his new pyraminx and signed them for us.

Hendrik very kindly passed out some of his exchange puzzles to the organizers and a few puzzlers that were there.

As usual, as we ate we puzzled.  There were loads on the tables.  After most of the food had gone, conversations started up and people started to move around.  Hendrik taught us a rope trick, Michael gave speeches, Ayi took photos.

Eventually we decided to leave and ended up in the usual KTV club.....Now I have to say, this was probably the best time I have ever ever had in a karaoke club!  I wont bore you with details, but fun it was. We went the distance.  Headed back to the hotel around 3 in the morning, and after just a little bit....I was sound asleep.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The first puzzle of 2015.

It's hard to choose a first puzzle of the year.  I have so many that I have picked up over the past year, and so many more that I have not played with.

This past weekend has found me cleaning out all of bugs childhood toys and games, and playing many many more with her.  We've taken on a new set of games.  Big kid games.  But I still can't get the kid to puzzle with me.  She's just not like her mom in that respect.

I've spent the last 3 hours catching up on blog posts that I haven't read over the past 4 or 5 months.  My god you boys do write!  And I adore you all for it.  Thank you for keeping a girl from death by boredom tonight.

So my puzzle?  Hinged cube.  I was given this as a gift from a very dear man, and have subsequently decided to make some for my friends.  I have this boys and toys coming up and I want to bring along a little something for my friends.  The object of it is to form a cube our of the 8 pieces.  I'm sure the boys will make short work of it.  They are much better at solving puzzles than I am.

Many moons ago Mr. Fok had produced a bunch of small cubes that he handed out like candy to us puzzlers.  Most used them to make soma cubes, or easy burrs. Me?  I tossed them in a bag and didn't look at them again until I was given the hinge cube.  I decided that these would work perfectly with a bit of electricians tape and an exacto knife.  5 hours later and I have puzzles to hand out to the boys.  Simple, not well made, but a token.

Why?  Well, I've a trip to GZ for work (what else) and my puzzle friend from Germany is coming over for the fair.  We decided to have a boys and toys in his honor and what the heck, the guys often give me gifts-it's my turn.  (Ok, so I bring them toys every now and again when I travel and they get puzzles when I come back from IPP but....)

So I set up an assembly line as can be seen above. 8 cubes, a bunch of electricians tape and 10 minutes later we have a puzzle.  5 hours later, we have 30 puzzles.

 Now I know this puzzle design was patented in 2013, but I used electricians tape, not hinges, and I've no intention of selling it, and I don't expect any of these puzzles to make it past the night I give them out, and while the patent shows some hinged puzzles, there are many more it doesn't show so while I'm no patent expert, I wonder about the validity.... Anyway, as I said I'm not selling them and they are truly disposable puzzles.  After about 10 twists, they will fall to bits in the boys hands.  But hey, it's the thought that counts, and who knows....maybe they will come up with a better design, or better yet, a new puzzle!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Yet another year in the life of a puzzler

I usually end the year with a silly poem or song over on Twisty puzzles, but this has been one heck of a year for me.  It's been full of ups and downs and I simply haven't had the heart to write anything these past few months.  But I have finally come out of my slump and will endeavor to sum up my puzzling year in one nice long post.

January started off with the Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair as always.  This year I not only went to the fair, but I was also pleased to host Hendrik Haak when he came for a sourcing trip.  I'm not sure how that happened, but I am pleased that it did.  I got to see my city through his eyes, and managed to cement a friendship.

February saw me traveling for work and little by way of puzzles.  I did go to a HK puzzlers dinner in honor of our friend Otis being in town for the Chinese New Year.  He did me the honor of letting me reprint his post for my blog.

March was brought in with another couple of small puzzle parties held in HK.  But the highlight of the month was my completion of my Berrocal Mini's, the purchase of Alexandre, and Many More Horses.  It was a wonderful month for me.  Expensive too!!

April was a month filled with work getting ready for the next two months of work and puzzle heaven!  I purchased no new puzzles that month, I don't even think I played with any.  I was saddened beyond belief when my best friend and long-time partner passed away.  Puzzling was not a priority.

May was a bitter sweet month.  I was still recovering from the loss of Mr. Brett, but had a series of puzzle parties set up that I was to attend.   I started the month with a few days in Northern Germany with a good friend and then moved on to Helsinki for the Finnish Puzzle party.  I was then pleased to have a few days with Tomas Linden and his family before heading off to see my professor.  Of course I picked up more puzzles than I should have, but then I've never been very smart when it comes to buying toys.  From Finland I headed across the water to Warwick for a conference and very kindly, Allard and Gil Walker put me up and even had a small party for me.

The first of June I flew off to Amsterdam for yet another conference, but first I had to get in a bit of puzzling.  I managed to get in a day with Nanco, a visit to Recent Toys and a rather enjoyable evening with Maarten Bos, all while managing to work!

From Amsterdam I headed south and spent a few days with Oskar and José.   Another set of wonderful hosts.  I was then placed upon a train and made my way back to Amsterdam for yet more meetings before being picked up by Hendrik for yet another trip south.  This time we went to Wil's house and then to visit with Geert.   During the trip, I even saw my first ever football match!  What fun!  

Between the work and the puzzle parties, I really must say a big thank you to all my friends that I saw during May and June.  Without you all, I would have never managed to deal with the grief I felt upon Mr. Brett's passing.  You all helped ease my pain with much laughter, and yes, I'll admit it-a bit too much alcohol.  I'm afraid I drown my sorrows a bit too often that month.  My sincere apologies to one and all if I was out of line.

Surprisingly, July was a real non-event.  Upon returning home from my month long European trip, I had work to do, and of course IPP to get ready for.

August was of course highlighted by my IPP trip.  This year there was an MPP thrown into the mix, and a visit to James Dalgety's.  I also took great pleasure in joining a top secret puzzle hunt set up by Steve Miller.  (Go check out his newest project!)  The end of the month saw Louis and Sue Puzzleman visiting HK and a nice time was had by all.

September was back to the grind and an attempt to video record my IPP puzzles.  I managed 1/2. Bad bad Rox.

In October we had the annual Guangzhou Boys and Toys.  This year though was extra special because DaYan, Smaz, and I all went to Nanjing for my other brothers wedding!  This was followed closely by my first ever Dutch Cube Day!  I hope it won't be my last.  I also had great fun working a different kind of toys fair with Hendrik and meeting fellow Twisty Puzzle moderator Konrad.

Upon my return in November, there was yet another boys and toys in Guangzhou.  After which Ron and Hanneke came to spend a few days in Hong Kong.

December?  Well, it was Christmas and all.  We took a holiday to Thailand, I worked, I moped around.  I did nothing.  Ok, I got my Karakuri Christmas presents, but have yet to play with them.  Ah yes, and my darling bug did buy me a few wire disentanglements for Christmas.....

And now it's January again and in one short week the toys fair will begin.  I sadly have to work insane hours this semester (18 per week!) so I'll only be attending for a few hours each day.  But this year should be fun again as I've got boys coming in!  Three months in 2014 with no puzzle events, no new toys purchased...I'll have to do better in 2015.

A couple of Dutch cubers

After returning from my last trip to Europe I was invited to GZ for a night of puzzle competition and yet another dinner.  This time I brought Mr. Man along with me for the ride.  We left Saturday morning and met Smaz in Shenzhen and took the train up to GZ.

What was the occasion? Ron van Brucham and Hanneke Rijks were visiting from Holland.  They were in Japan for a speed cubing competition and had contacted Ming to see if there was a competition being held in China at that time. Ming being Ming immediately set up a competition.

We arrived and went to Mr. Fok's warehouse and waited for Ming and co. to come over.  From there we headed to his new warehouse and had a long play with a few puzzles, good chat, and even better company.

We headed back to the old warehouse to pick up Uwe so we could have dinner and more chat.  Another boys and toys....You know the drill.  Food, puzzles, drink....

When dinner was over we all headed to our hotel and had a good sleep.  The next morning Mr. Man, Smaz, and I went shopping.  We had lunch and dinner with another puzzler and headed back to HK.  A very short in and out trip but well worth it.  Another friend made.

Jump ahead a day and Ron and Hanneke showed up in HK.  As always, I was willing to play tour guide and we got together for a walk around some art gallerys and such.  I had a dinner arraigned for them and the HK puzzlers showed up.

The next day I planned a trip to the Hanayama offices and of course we walked away with a few toys and another nice afternoon was spent with Kyoo.  That is always a pleasure.

As usual we had a nice evening and at the end I walked them back to their hotel.  Chung King Mansions!  My first time to step into this place.  I'm afraid all the stories I've heard scared me off.  the next day we met and I took them off to the airport.  As always, it was great fun having visitors.  And even better making new friends.