August 9, 2011

Trip to Berlin

Well I'm back from my trip to the 31st International Puzzle Party in Berlin, and I had a great time! Sorry for not blogging while I was over there, but I was too busy trying to pack in all the puzzling that I could. Also, sorry for not updating the blog in a while: I was quite busy with the wedding and honeymoon, but I'll be posting regular updates again now.

The flight to Berlin was pretty long, but fortunately my lovely wife loaned me her iPad so I was able to watch Battlestar Galactica the whole way over. This was entertaining enough that I was able to stay awake for the whole trip, which I think is key to avoiding jet lag. I try to stay up till midnight or so in my destination, then with a full 8 hours of sleep I'll be on the right time zone.

It turns out that Jeff Aurand, a good puzzling friend of mine was on the same flight to Berlin, as was John Rauch! So we had a good time chatting while we waited for our flight out of JFK airport. Unfortunately, the flight was delayed by over 2 hours, which isn't any fun on an already long trip.

We were supposed to arrive around 10:00 AM in Berlin on Thursday, but ended up getting there closer to 12:30 PM, which ended up working out OK since we arrived late enough that we could check into our rooms right when we arrived. I was sharing a room with Stephen Chin from Australia, and he arrived a bit earlier than I did. Brett Kuehner and his family had also arrived, as had Jim Strayer and his wife.

I was starving, so ended up getting some food at a Vietnamese place with Brett (left) and Jeff (right) that was really good. The hotel was in a great location, there were a number of places to eat nearby, though I ended up eating at the hotel most of the time since I didn't want to miss any puzzling!

When we got back I was thrilled to find that the design competition room was open! I didn't expect it since the party doesn't really get started until Friday. This is my favorite part of IPP since I get to play with a ton of new puzzles! I'll be doing a separate series of blog posts on the design competition puzzles, so I won't go into any detail on that here. So after lunch, I camped out in the design room for a good 4 hours, headed out to grab some food with Stephen and then went back to the design room until they kicked me out.

After that, it was getting to be pretty late, but I wanted to stay up a bit later to hopefully reduce the effects of jet lag the next day. A bit of a tradition at IPP after the official activities have ended is to hang around in the lobby and play around with puzzles, so that's where I headed next.

Here's a photo with Frans de Vreugd showing his collection of Chinese cricket puzzle to William Waite and Tomas Linden. They were really nicely made and had such well-hidden seams that it was actually quite difficult finding how it opened.

None of them had any tricky locks, they just had sliding panels that were very well disguised. Here's a photo of two of them from William Strijbos who sells them. They are so perfect and intricate that it seems like they must have been carved by some computer controlled machine, but it is still quite cool. I didn't end up buying any, but I definitely can appreciate their beauty.

George Hart brought a few of the designs he printed on a 3D printer (Maker-bot) and I took a crack at assembling them. Sorry it is a bit hard to see what is going on in the photo. I need a new camera! The one in the lower right wasn't too tricky, but the one in the upper left was tough! The pieces wind around in an unusual way, it was difficult figuring out where they needed to go, as well as holding them in position while you add additional pieces. Once you get the last piece in, it clicks into place nicely and holds everything in place.

Stephen brought out some of the great things he's been working on. Here he is demonstrating a design he built by Stewart Coffin called Expanding box, which he turned into a sphere on a lathe. It looks quite cool and has a nice expanding motion. He actually tied a string on the inside to prevent it from being expanded all the way, so you can enjoy the movement without worrying about it collapsing on you. On the table you can see a bunch of pens he made too!

Eventually I ended up heading to bed at around 12:30, what a long day! Tomorrow was the tour of Berlin and the Founder's Reception that kicks the weekend off.


  1. What a nice trip Brian
    I also have a plan to Berlin this year. But, I curious about chinese cricket puzzle. :)

  2. Indeed, it was a lot of fun! Contact Will Strijbos if you're interested in the cricket puzzle boxes!


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