August 14, 2012

IPP32: Puzzle Exchange and IPP Banquet

After a late night of puzzling, I woke up bright and early Friday morning for the Edward Hordern IPP Puzzle Exchange. In case you're not familiar with the Puzzle Exchange, it works like this: you bring a number of copies of a new puzzle (not commercially available before the exchange) and exchange it with everybody else for the puzzle they brought! So it is a great way to get a bunch of new puzzles for your collection. Usually people either make their own puzzles, or hire somebody else to make them specifically for this event.

This year, there were around 80 participants. I didn't participate this year, but I did assist Chris Morgan with his exchange. Each exchanger is permitted to have one assistant who helps him schlep his puzzles around and keep track of who he has exchanged with. While this might sound like a pain (it took about 5 hours), the upside is quite nice: it gives you the opportunity to meet a lot of people and check out all the puzzles in the exchange and see which ones you might be interested in purchasing later at the Puzzle Party!

They placed all of the puzzles on a table so you could get a sense for what was in the exchange. I took a number of pictures so you can see what was there. Some pretty interesting puzzles! In this photo you can see Bram Cohen's Holistic Ring, a puzzle ring that requires all the bands to move simultaneously when assembling or disassembling. To the left of the ring, is Tim Udall's exchange Open Window, where the goal is to take the four pieces out of the frame and put them back in. It was made by Tim, and designed by Tom Jolly.

Going around the table, you can see Cubes in Space, an anti-slide puzzle exchanged and designed by Hirokazu Iwasawa (Iwahiro). The goal is to place the cubes in the hexagonal box such that the cubes won't rattle around inside the box. It is possible with both 12 cubes or 8 cubes, though 8 is much trickier. This puzzle was in the design competition last year. The red, white, and blue pieces near the bottom of the table are from Nick Baxter's New*T puzzle. The goal is to use the pieces to make three different sizes of the T pentomino. He was kind enough to give me a copy, so I look forward to trying it out. Thanks Nick! On the right hand side of the photo you can also see Tanya Thompson's exchange, Mini Perplexus IPP32, which was designed by Michael McGinnis, the inventor of the Perplexus. Michael incorporated various elements from the IPP32 logo, including the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building into the puzzle, which was very cool!

In this next photo, you can see a very large Washington Monument puzzle named Monumental Challenge exchanged by Andy Manvell. Below is Full Bloom, by George Miller where the goal is to arrange the white discs such that there are no gaps in the tabs as you go around the ring. To the right is George Bell's Lomino Cube 4, which had a number of goals to build things with the L-shaped pieces. Above the Washington Monument near the center of the table is Stephen Chin's Mouse House, a cute little puzzle where you're trying to find the mouse. It is a simplified version of his design competition puzzle. He was kind enough to give me a copy of this one, which I will definitely enjoy tormenting my friends with. Thanks Stephen!

In the bottom left of this next photo is Sandfield's ReBanded Dovetails exchanged by Robert Sandfield, designed by Robert Sandfield & Kathleen Malcolmson, and crafted by Kathleen Malcolmnson. I love puzzles by Sandfield and Malcolmnson, so I definitely wanted to try to purchase one of these at the Puzzle Party on Saturday! To the right is a sequential movement puzzle named Acrobat designed by Diniar Namdarian and exchanged by Goetz Schwandtner. The goal is to exchange the position of the two acrobats by rolling them around and twisting them, while avoiding the white holes. Above this puzzle is Pioneer Pyramid by Roxanne Wong, which is a variation that Roxanne designed on an old sequential movement puzzle. The goal is to roll the balls around to get them to match on each edge of the pyramid.

In the center of this photo you can see another collection of disentanglement puzzles by Markus Götz named More Serpentine Strings. This is a sequel to his previous exchange, Six Serpentine Strings. Above that is Matt Dawson's exchange, A Plugged Well, designed and made by Brian Young. The goal is to unplug the well and find the barrel of oil! That sounded like another interesting one that I wanted to purchase the next day. To the left and toward the center of the table somewhat is Try-Cycle Puzzle exchanged by Laurie Brokenshire and made by Vinco: it is a variation on his Flat Trick puzzle with some coloring constraints in the assembly.

In the center of the next photo you can see a grid-like puzzle in a plastic bag. This is String Rectangle by Saul Bobroff, where the goal is to wrap a string through the grooves in the grid, such that all the grooves are filled. I got a chance to test this one out for Saul a few months ago, and it was pretty fun seeing the different patterns that you could make! Below this is Perplexing Palace Puzzle by James Dalgety. The goal is to free the Queen by sliding the pieces around, but there are some interesting tricks in store (this was also in the design competition).

On the left of this next photo is a puzzle that looks like the Capitol Building named Capital Politics. The goal is to get the two red and two blue pegs to set evenly down into the building. When it starts out, the politicians are fighting and when you press one down, it pops the other one up. That fits quite nicely with the Washington, DC theme! To the right is a puzzle lock designed by Vesa Timonen and exchanged by Nancy Alliegro. It looked pretty neat so I planned to purchase one of these as well. Nancy said that it will be available from Bits and Pieces in November.

In this final photo we have a large puzzle presented by Allan Stein of Puzzle Master that looks like a hockey stick named Slap Shot Puzzle. The goal is to remove the puck from the stick. It will likely be available from Puzzle Master at some point in the future. Above and to the left is another puzzle that looks like the Washington Monument named Washington Monument by Brian Young. This was another one I wanted to try buying, since Brian creates some very unique and interesting puzzles.

Phew! If you didn't get tired reading that, I sure got tired typing it! But we're almost done for this entry. (Sorry to the folks whose puzzles I skipped, I don't remember the names of all of them.)

After the exchange, I headed to the design competition room where I bumped into somebody who happened to have brought in a copy of Lee Krasnow's Barcode Burr. Not only that, but they were afraid that it had jammed up and were looking for somebody to try solving it! I was pretty much beside myself, since this is one of the puzzles that I have always wanted to try: I love puzzles based on the Gray code (many puzzles are), and this one has particularly interesting geometry and just looks amazing.

The owner said that he was only able to get three moves, and wasn't sure if the fourth was possible. I tried for a little while and found it pretty easy to get the first three moves, but the fourth was very elusive, even though I knew what needed to be done. The really tricky thing about this puzzle is the way it moves: six of the corners pull away from center, but you can't really grip them to make this move. there is a small piece that runs through the center of the cube that you need to push on from the opposite side for it to pop out. However, the fit of this puzzle was darn near perfect, so it was quite difficult to find which piece needed to be pushed.

After a good while, I finally found it! Not only was the move well disguised, but it was also very stiff. Once I had that, it was fairly straightforward to finish the sequence of 64 moves (!) and remove the first piece. The puzzle disassembles completely, but given that dinner was coming up soon, I thought it would be best to quit while I was ahead. I carefully put it back together before heading off to the banquet, quite giddy that I finally had the chance to try a Barcode Burr! Check out this video review by Neil to see it in action.

The IPP Banquet was a lot of fun: the food was excellent and I had a great time chatting with the folks at my table. Kellian and I sat with Allard and his wife, Jeff Aurand, Jim Strayer and his wife, and Peter Wiltstire and his wife. There were two performances, both of which were magicians. I really enjoy magic, so I was looking forward to it. The first magician was clearly extremely talented, though it was a bit difficult to see and hear the performance even though it was projected on the screens to the right and left. The second magician also had some pretty impressive tricks, but the pacing was a bit slow for my taste.

After the banquet was over, you can probably guess where I went: back to the design competition room to continue working on those puzzles! I stayed up until around 1:30 again before finally heading to bed.

Up next, the actual Puzzle Party to buy some puzzles!


  1. My exchange puzzle is actually named "Open Window". Tom Jolly is the designer, & I made them myself.
    -Tim Udall

  2. Oops, sorry Tim! Nice work on the exchange puzzles!

  3. I opened "Open Window" last night! Elegant puzzle!

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