The first official day of the IPP 32 started on Thursday and many more puzzles were arriving. There was an organised tour of DC however Jen and I weren’t on the list. Originally our youngest son was coming with us, and at 14, being stuck on a bus and having to do something organised probably wasn’t going to be the best idea, so we’d not booked any of the trips. As it turns out he decided he didn’t want to go after all, so it was just Jen and I but we were too late to get on the tour. Instead we ended up doing some more sight seeing ourselves, and took in the Air and Space Museum, Native American Museum and the Art gallery.
Heading back to the hotel in the early afternoon, I spent some time in the design competition room playing with a few more of the entries I’d not played with the night before. I plan to write about each of the entries I played with so I’ll not talk about them here, just stay tuned for more posts coming soon. I did manage to solve over 50 of the 80 entries without the solutions, but there were a few I didn’t even play with. Given that I love puzzle boxes I started with those, and from there played with the puzzles that looked interesting to me. With so many puzzles to play with you really have to make some choices and perhaps even ignore some. For me I mostly passed by the twisty puzzles, as it’s not something I really enjoy (or am very good at) but that still left a lot of excellent puzzles to spend my time on.
Also in the Puzzle Design room was the Holbrook Puzzle Collection Exhibit. This included a number of superb puzzles from the Holbrook Collection. Rather than try to describe them all, just have a look at the photos below. There’s some superb puzzles in there, and also some great IPP history.
When the puzzle room shut for the day, I took the time to have a quick shower and freshen up before the Founder’s reception. I’ll be honest, it really wasn’t what I was expecting. Given the cost of the ‘dinner’ I expected a sit down meal with some sort of formal event organised. Instead, it was a buffet style finger food with sliders and salads. Not only that but the drinks were not on the house, and had to be bought separately. Now at this point you’re probably thinking that I’m some sort of tight Scotsman. That is far from the truth as anyone who knows me will tell you, but when you’re being asked for $4 for a glass of coke, and you don’t even get a full can for that, you can tell that things were a bit steep. Even the main bar downstairs wasn’t nearly as pricey. That said, it was more of a meet and greet with only a few words from Jerry Slocum and Chris Morgan who was this years Host.
There were even more great people to spend time with and talk to at the evenings Founder’s reception. This was the end to the first official day of IPP, and I found myself introduced to many more giants in the puzzle world including the founder of IPP, Jerry Slocum himself, Marcel Gillen, John Rausch, Robert Yarger, Eric Fuller, Tom Lensch, Gregory Benedetti, Laurie Brokenshire, Stephen Chin, James Dalgety, Scott Elliot, Rocky Chiaro, Robert Sandfield as well as meeting up with my good friend Derek Bosch and his wife Michelle who had made it in late the previous night. I realise now that despite having my camera with me all the time, I really didn’t take that many photos of all the great people I was meeting. Fortunately Rox did, so you can see all the people photos that she took instead! Of course there were many people who I know from the local puzzle meets like Stan Isaacs, Abel Garcia, Marc Pawlinger, Bram Cohen to name just a few.
It was fascinating talking to Marcel about his puzzles, and relating my experiences with his rolling pins to him. To hear him talking about the problems working in metal and that he now creates puzzles using a CNC machine and MDF! Having seen his exchange puzzle from this year’s IPP, you can be assured that even though he’s no longer making puzzles in metal, he’s still making great puzzles! The thing that really amazes you when you talk to some of the people who have been in the business of collecting or designing for a long time is that everyone is very open and approachable, and really wants to help you. The number of people who gave me advice or help is incredible, and everyone interested in what I was doing and making.
As people started to drift off myself, Peter Wiltshire, Allard and Derek Bosch with our respective other halves grabbed a few chairs and had a seat. It turns out Peter is a pretty good magician and had a few tricks up his sleeves to keep us entertained. His presentation and patter is superb, and it really took me back to they days when I used to do magic too. He had a particularly fun trick with the key from his minibar in the hotel room (or so he was telling us). A solid wooden bar which had a hone in one end and a chain passing through the hole with the key looped through the chain. Passing it behind his back the hole moved from one end of the bar to the other then back …. ok so not the real magic. The real magic was when the hole moved from the end of the bar to the centre of the bar. At all times, the chain could be pulled through the hole showing nothing tricky was going on. Peter had shown me the trick the night before and I’d been puzzling over how it was done all night. I had a pretty good idea, and from the position I was sitting in at the reception I was able to see the full mechanics of the puzzle. When Peter had finished the puzzle, he turned to me and asked if I’d had a good view of it that time, so he knew that from the position I was in I could see what was going on. That shows a lot of trust as normally a magician will not give anyone the advantage of seeing how a trick is done. It turns out I was right as to how it was done but Peter’s presentation keeps the secret perfectly.
As we were sitting one of my friends from back in California Marc Pawlinger wandered over with his son. The funny thing is that Marc lives just a few miles from me, however seems we only manage to meet up at puzzling events! Peter had another great trick with a little mouse which he showed to Marc’s son and got a great reaction. So much so that he had to show it to the adults as well who also really appreciated it. Peter also had a really nice card trick that he showed us. Both Derek and myself thought we knew how it was done, but it turns out we were both wrong. I thought I saw something as Peter was showing us, but despite being close to understanding the method, I was a little off…. That had to puzzle me until the Sunday night where Peter showed me how it was done. Thanks Peter!
With the reception over, a few of us drifted back downstairs to the bar area to continue conversations, and eventually end up in the puzzle design room again playing with more of the competition entries. There certainly are a few die hard puzzlers out there who you could find in the design room pretty much any time it was open. I’ll not mention names as you know who you are…
Next up is the day of the Puzzle Exchange.