Notes from Puzzle Palace

Friday, November 27, 2020

A final plea

 Less than 50 hours left. If you or any one you know loves Crystal puzzles, Go fund this.  Let's make it happen! 

Neuschwanstein castle!

Happy Thanksgiving all.  Back next week.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Crossing over to the darkside

 Ok.  I've gone and done it now.  I've crossed over!  Jigsaw puzzles.  Ugh!  What made me do it?  I need help!  Get me out of this madness zone.  I'm on the fifth one now.  I need intervention!

 I've had a few Rubik's jigsaw puzzles for a very long time and have just now gotten around to solving them.  The first is the Rubik's Royal Brain Teaser.  Not at all a Rubik's cube, rather a rather poetic use of the name to sell a jigsaw puzzle. It was made by Springbok consisting of 400 pieces. This one has jewels on a rope going around the puzzle.  Challenging?  Not in the least.  But fun to put together anyway.

My next puzzle was the double sided magic. This one was produced by Milton Bradley during the 80's Rubik's craze and at least has some sense of Rubik'sness attached to it.  It has a looped rings magic on one side, and the magic with the rings unlooped on the other.  This one has 300 pieces.  While it has fewer pieces, it was much more challenging than the first because of the number of black pieces.  All black.  No hints there.  And don't let the 'double sided' fool you. It is easy to distinguish the two sides aided by the cutting technology of the 1980's.  You simply feel the difference and go with it. 


The next puzzle I did was called the Rubik's zigzaw.  This one is much smaller with only 131 frog shaped pieces.  It was a fun one to do.  I got tripped up on it while piecing together the outer edges.  Once I found my mistake, the puzzle itself was a piece of cake to finish.  NOT!  This one has 3 dimensional cubes on it and did cause confusion because of the repetitive pattern.  

The final Rubiks branded puzzle is a double sided tile puzzle that needs to fit into a hexagon.  I gave up on this one. Put it in the frame and mounted it on the wall.  If you ever come to Puzzle Palace, please feel free to open the frame and solve it.  

We no come to my next bit of insanity.  On a whim in Barcelona, I bought a 42,000 piece puzzle entitled "Around the World".  It has sat under the desk in the breakfast room for the better part of the year while I worked up the courage to open it.  Yesterday the day has come. I expect it to take me around 6 months of puzzling to complete it.  It arrives in 7 bags of 6000 or so pieces.  NO, I did not open them all and mix them up.  I'm not a jigsaw type person and therefor not a purest.  6000 pieces is still a lot.  I could open them all and assemble it on the floor in the void but oh my poor back.  No, I think I'll stick with the smaller chunks. When completed, I'll post again with a photo of it in situ. It will be permanently mounted to the wall on the bridge.  Until then I'll go back to regular blog posts about normal type puzzles.

Saturday, November 14, 2020


 I've backed many kickstarter projects over the years.  My most recent one that was completed was from Two Brass Monkeys.  But I'll not discuss that one for a month or two yet...

I've just found these two and thought why not.  The first, A-Puzzle-A-Day reminds me of the Philos birthday puzzle although, it doesn't come with the 3 1/2 inch floppy disk.  The man obviously bought a laser cutter and wants to use it.  Should I tell him tape will stop the burning of the edges of the wood?


The second Neuschwanstein Castle is dear to me.  I love the crystal puzzles and would really like to see this one come to be produced. I've assembled 380 of these since moving to Florida in August of 2018 ( I left a collection of well over 200 assembled puzzles in Hong Kong when I left but that's a story that won't be told here) and really would love to put this one together as well.  Sadly, with 16 days left, I don't think it will make the funding goal.  The price is in Hong Kong dollars which probably put most people off.  The HK$ is pegged to the US$ and the exchange rate is 7.8:1.  The puzzles are not as expensive as they look.  I ordered the early bird tier iv because I realized this drops the price of each puzzle to under US$15.  I can't buy them at that price here in the US.  I believe I even paid more for the larger ones when I bought them direct.  Even the castle by itself is well priced at US$31.  Add to that the option of getting a blue duck and a yellow apple on the higher tiers and I'm sold!  

The other problem with this kickstarter that I see as being a non-issue is completion once the funding period is over.  Lately there have been a lot of Hong Kong based Kick starters that have not been completed once the money has been handed over.  I don't see this as a problem at all.  First, Jeruel is a well established company.  They started out making kinatos in around 2002.  The company has really come along since then.  Now they make smart eggs as well as the crystal puzzles.  If this kickstarter is to be completed, I know they will produce this.  I think this is all part of the new bandwagon I see with other manufacturers.  I guess it helps with the initial molding costs.  Speaking from experience with my own puzzle, the amount they are looking for sounds about right.  

For those who don't know, Jeruel makes the crystal puzzles that are sold in the US branded as BePuzzled.  They have licensed their products to University Games.  In Asia you can find the under the Beverly brand name.  Along with Hanayama, they are the premier producer of these three-dimensional jigsaws. 

Add to that the fact that I count Lawrence Lau among my friends and I can guarantee he will follow through if the kickstarter goal amount is reached.  He is a kind and honest soul.  I feel honored to have met him so many years ago at the HKTGF.  

I really hope this one goes off. It would be even better if I could get an advanced copy to trial.  I can't wait to see what he has in store for next year.  I'm still pushing for a Santa Claus and his sleigh.  

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Viruses Times Three

Today's puzzles are brought to you by the Corona Virus that has been crippling the world this past year.  Whether you had a day without toilet paper and other necessities, became unemployed, or lost a loved one, this past year has affected us all.  It's been one heck of a ride so far and I for one have had enough of the worry of catching a disease there is no cure for.  Living in the US is worrisome. The President thinks that because he had the best medical treatment available and was 'cured' that the virus is under control.  He refused to lead by example and by doing so, has endangered the lives of many Americans. At the time of writing this post, over 9,570,000 people have contracted the disease and 237,000 people lost their lives.  We spend our lives sheltering in place (here at Puzzle Palace, we are fortunate to live on a golf course and have all these puzzles and games to entertain ourselves with), not going out to eat in restaurants, no more concerts or sporting events, no family gatherings, and the obligatory dreaded masks.  If we all do our part and follow WHO and CDC guidelines we can eliminate this virus. 

Which of course brings me to my first puzzle of the day:  Eliminate the Virus.
This puzzle was obtained in 2020 from I have no idea where.  Ebay, Amazon, Taobao?  Maybe it was one of many puzzles that have been sent to me to try. I don't know if it came from China or Taiwan.  I've purchased so many puzzles that I just can't keep track anymore if it isn't written down when it comes in.  The puzzle is a logic puzzle that uses coverup pieces.  It has 6 clear pieces of plastic that are used to shoot disinfecting spray at the many viruses on each of the 60 challenge sheets.  This puzzle is very similar to many others produced over the years.  SmartGames has a number of them from Raf Peters including Down the Rabbit Hole, and the Go-Getter series. 

The best part of this puzzle is not the puzzling itself, but rather the instructions.  They are a public service announcement.  I would like to say this is reminiscent of what I would see on TV when I lived in Hong Kong and assume it is from China.  The only problem is, there is no Chinese on the instructions.  I'd also like to think this puzzle was produced prior to the discovery of COVID-19 but again, I can't be sure.  

The first 15 puzzles have lines drawn as to where to place some of the tiles.  Puzzles 16-24 give the position of two sprayers, 25-30 give the position of one sprayer, 31-35 give either one or two sprayers in a shadowed sort of way  and the final 16 have no clues at all.  

George had a crack at it this morning.  He saw how solution one was done, jumped to puzzle 36, and now he is attempting 60.  All in all, it's a fun puzzle variation on a familiar theme.  I wouldn't go hunt it down purposefully, but if you find it, it is appropriate to the theme of 2020. 

Following on from there, we have Anti-Virus.  Again this puzzle has 60 challenges but this time with 11 pieces that need to be shifted around to get the red virus out of the board.  This puzzle was designed by Oskar van Deventer in 2003 and was brought to market in 2008.

This puzzle was originally designed by Oskar using plastic sheets, and exacto-knives. He then designed one that was tin cast in a laser cut mold!  Ah the technology he used.   The puzzle was put on Jimmy Stephens website as a puzzle called the Bulbous Blob.  Later Oskar designed the wavy board that was ultimately used and George prototyped this one for him. It was delivered to Smart Games and the rest is history.  

As with Eliminate the virus, I really enjoyed the instructions for this puzzle.  It makes one wonder if Oskar could foretell the future.  I later learned through looking at George's stl files that there were googly eyes on the pieces and to me they looked more alive. 

Unlike most puzzles of the 'remove the piece' type, this one has pieces that move on a diagonal instead of the normal left/right, up/down moves one would expect.  I revisited this puzzle this past week and have found this difference in movement to not work well with my simple brain.  I'm just not used to it.  I originally got this puzzle when it first came out and because of my lack of other entertainment I worked my way through the challenges.  I wonder if I found it easier then than I do now.  Perhaps if I were to go through all 60 challenges again I would find the moves to be easier.  And I wish I had access to this giant version! That would look so cool on our coffee table. 

The final puzzle of the day is Anti-Virus Mutation. This one was based on Oskar's original puzzle but re-designed by Raf Peters. Instead of 11 pieces, it has only 6.  It is sold as a travel game, and the case for it makes it much easier to take on the road.  The other major change is that the pieces can be moved in that left/right, up/down positions.  It is no longer a diagonally based game.  This makes it much easier for my simple brain. 

Oskar tells me that since the date of release that Anti-Virus has sold 450,000 units at the end of 2019 and Anti-Virus Mutation has sold more than 50,000 pieces between 2016 and 2019.  Who knows what this year will bring for these puzzles.  

Smartgames has this as an online game that can be played here.  You can sign up for free and play for 6 months.  Now that is what I call a deal!

Below is a video of the storage solution we have come up with for this type of puzzle.


Tuesday, November 3, 2020



Today is election day in the United States.  I implore all Americans to go to the polls and VOTE.  Uber and Lyft are offering 50% off rides if you can't get there on your own.  People all over the US are volunteering to drive people to VOTE.  

This is a very important election.  Get out and VOTE!  

Here's hoping for change at all levels.  The "swamp" was not drained, it was fed.  Do your civic duty.  If you don't know where to VOTE, click here and enter your home address.  It works! 


Help make a change so we can get back to puzzling without worry.