August 12, 2011

Berlin Puzzle Party

On Sunday was the actual puzzle party where buying and selling of puzzles occurs. I was looking forward to seeing what puzzles would be for sale, I had my eye on a few from the puzzle exchange, but you never know what you'll find. As soon as 9:00AM hit, folks went rushing into the room to try to snap up puzzles before they sell out.

Since there wasn't a particular puzzle that I was after that I thought was going to sell out, I  first did a quick sweep of the room to check for anything particularly rare that I was looking for. Any interesting puzzle boxes, for example. There was one table that was selling a bunch of Karakuri Club boxes, but nothing that I was interested in buying.

I did stumble across a puzzle by the mysterious Roger called Alles Roger at Marcel Gillen's table. I immediately recognized it since I had seen it in pictures a number of times before. Roger's puzzles are quite hard to come by and the price was good, so I purchased it immediately. Check out Oli's blog for a review and photo. (At the end of this post there is a picture with all of the puzzles I got.)

I went by Pavel Curtis's table and picked up a copy of his newest puzzle, also his exchange this year, called Edgewise. Per his usual style, it is a multi-level puzzle where each step leads you on to the next. This one is in the form of a 25 piece jigsaw puzzle with letters written on it and no edges, which presumably makes it pretty tricky to assemble. I have really enjoyed his work in the past, so I thought I would check this one out as well.

I bumped into Dick Hess who was also walking around, and inquired as to whether he had any of his exchange puzzle for sale. Fortunately he did, so I ended up purchasing that as well. As I mentioned in my previous post, they are two wire puzzles where the goal is to get the cowboy back on his steer (invert the position of one piece). Clever idea! I looked forward to trying it out.

Someone was selling this brass puzzle that looked kind of cute: it was a brass cylinder with a coin inside, and the goal was to free the coin. I played around with it a bit and eventually discovered the solution, it is a fairly standard trick but nicely done! I didn't end up buying it. In this photo, you can see Namick Salakhov from Azerbaijan playing with it.

Another puzzle I tried out and didn't end up buying was this exchange puzzle by Marcel Gillen. It is nicely crafted out of aluminum, and the goal is to separate the two pieces. It had me a bit stumped at first, but after playing around with it a bit I figured it out. I didn't end up getting this one because I found it a bit too easy to stumble upon the solution without knowing what you did, which I find less satisfying than one where you really have to think to find the solution.

One place where I spent a lot of time was lusting over this beautiful table full of puzzle locks. On the right hand side were a bunch of antique puzzle locks that were way too expensive for me, but still fun to look at. Rainer Popp and Friedhelm von Knorre, who gave the talk about puzzle locks on Saturday, were manning the table and let me try out a few of these antiques.

I figured out the first one that I tried pretty quickly, and Rainer suggested that I check out another one. He said it used a common trick but was very well executed. Sure enough, it stumped me for a good while! With a few hints from Rainer, eventually I figured it out and was amazed by how well hidden the secret was on such an old lock. Sorry, but I didn't get a picture of it!

On the left hand side of the table were all of Rainer's locks, which were extremely tempting! I would love to have his full set of locks, but it would pretty much blow my puzzle budget for quite a while, so I resisted. Hopefully I can be satisfied with trying copies that other people purchase for now!

I mentioned to Rainer that I particularly enjoyed solving his T4 lock, and he was quite surprised that I was able to solve it without looking at the solution. He said for that lock most people had to look at the solution, so I was pretty proud to have figured it out. It was fun talking with him about my approach for solving it and how I figured out the one main tricky step. It sure is a tough lock, but I really love that design!

I shopped around a bit more and bought a few more puzzles, but I think I mentioned most of those yesterday. Here's a photo with everything I came back with:

Starting in the back row on the right: Grid Sticks Cube 4 by Sandor Bozoki, Piggy Box Puzzle by Stewart Coffin made by Saul Bobroff, Drunken Dancing Ballerinas from Stephen Chin, and Houdini's Torture Cell by Brian Young. Next row: Double Pyramid by Vaclav Obsivac, IPP31 Puzzle Gift by Markus Gotz, a random wire puzzle, Crazy Bottles by Jean-Claude Constantin, and Edgewise by Pavel Curtis. Third row: Columbus Egg by Anker Stone, Alles Roger by the mysterious Roger, The Rodeo Riders by Dick Hess, and Laby Box by Jean-Claude Constantin. Last row: Z-shift by Peter Hajek and The UTC Puzzle by Kohfuh from Nick Baxter.

Quite a haul! That should keep me busy for a while!

After I finished at the puzzle party, I headed back over to the design competition room to try to finish making my way through the puzzles and cast my votes for the best puzzles of the year. Here's a photo of me in the design competition room, puzzling away.

Next up, the awards banquet!

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