Friday 29 August 2014


This puzzle came to me courtesy of Hirokazu Iwasawa ("Iwahiro") and is called Aroma. 

Iwahiro has a number of well known puzzle designs to his name including two IPP awarding winning ones; the  "ODD Puzzle" and Square In The Bag.

 I obtained this during the IPP34 puzzle party and I should have asked him why it bears such an unusual name, but I didn't.

Aroma was Iwahiro's IPP30 Exchange Puzzle. Made of a very hard and solid type of plastic, and I mean this one is really very very solid, the puzzle is sized around 7.7cm x 6.7cm x 2.3cm. Fit and finish is very good. Tight tolerances.

It is a co-ordinate motion puzzle and the object is to fit the 3 identical pieces flush (sideways) into the hexagonal frame. I played with the puzzle while on the flight back to Singapore after IPP34 in London. I thought it would take me longer to figure this one out but several minutes was all I needed. Not difficult but a nice fun solve.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

IPP34 - Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition

All IPPs, since 2001 have featured a puzzle design competition, the aim which is "to promote and recognize innovative new designs of mechanical puzzles"

This year's IPP34 in London saw a total of 63 entries from puzzle designers around the world. Unlike the other "main" events of IPP, ie the Puzzle Exchange and Puzzle Party, anyone (subject to some guidelines) can submit a design (up to a maximum of 2) for the competition, regardless of whether he is an IPP attendee or not. 

Of these 63 entries, 8 were also Exchange puzzles. I wonder why there are not more Exchange Puzzle participants who submit their puzzle designs for the competition (at least for those who are using their own original, and not adopting someone else's design)? Especially since exchange puzzles must not have been made public or commercially available, versus competition designs, which must not have been in the public domain for more than 2 years preceding the competition.

Of the handful of awards given out, the Puzzlers' Award is the only one selected by IPP attendees who have a chance over the few days of the event to review and judge the designs. The rest are decided by a panel of judges.

For photos and descriptions of the 63 design entries this year and the award winners, click here.

Below are photos of attendees reviewing the various designs. Solutions accompany the designs, so puzzlers won't get stuck. 

Winners are announced during the Awards Dinner on the third evening.

My 7 seconds of fame during the Awards Dinner

My selfie with Kyoo Wong (left) who won the Jury's Grand Prize for his Cast U&U design

Friday 22 August 2014

IPP34 Puzzle Party

Puzzle Party

The second "main" event of IPP - The Puzzle Party. Here is where attendees of IPP display their wares for sale on rented tables.

Puzzles for sale typically fall into the following categories:-

1. Leftover (or extra) exchange puzzles - great for exchange assistants who were "so close yet so far" from the 99 exchanged ones.

2. Leftover exchange puzzles from previous IPPs, some going back several or more years....hmm, you wonder why?

3. Collectors' pre-loved or unwanted puzzles.

4. Puzzles from commercial puzzle retailers. Great bargains here sometimes as they are usually a bit cheaper during IPP and you don't have to pay shipping.

5. Old, current and new puzzles from puzzle designers and craftsmen

6. Copies of the design competition puzzles

Like the Puzzle Exchange the day before, the Puzzle Party can be even more chaotic. Long queues form outside the event room while the sellers are setting up inside. The doors open at 9am sharp and everyone frenziedly rushes in to scan the room for that elusive one (or few) only available, hard to find puzzle(s). Really they are looking out more for seller than the puzzle itself. Over the course of the previous two days, news from the grapevine would have circulated about who is selling and selling what. 

The Party is like a high end flea market with puzzles strewn all over the tables. Sellers are making their sales pitches and buyers are touching and feeling everything in sight and asking lots of questions. There is polite and gentle shoving and pushing here and there as everyone jostles within the narrow aisles. Everybody is eager to cover as much ground as possible within the first half hour, which is the most crucial to securing a desired or prized puzzle.

Money change hands every second and the major currencies of US$, GBP and Euros are all gladly accepted. If you run out of cash don't worry, you can always borrow money from someone. Puzzlers are more than happy to lend to another puzzler in dire need (as I experienced at last year's IPP33 in Japan).

The excitement runs from morning to early afternoon. At 3pm, selling officially stops. The dust settles and the last sale is transacted. Most leave the room exhausted but happy with their day's haul. But some with crestfallen faces, regretting their paralysis by analysis!

Here are some shots of the Puzzle Party.

Tom Lensch

Perry McDaniel (the most well-dressed seller at the Puzzle Party)
selling his food themed Bon Bon puzzles

Henry Strout

Frans de Vreugd

Bernhard Schweitzer

Hendrik Haak (in lime t-shirt holding note pad)

Ms Kimura from online puzzle retailer Torito, Japan

Peter Hajek

Peter Schnurzel

John Hache (left)

Mr & Mrs Koshi Arai

Neil Hutchinson, Chris Pursell & Louis Coolen

Walt Hoppe & Iwahiro Iwasawa

Brian & Sue Young

Floor Puzzles

Tuesday 19 August 2014

IPP34 - Edward Hordern Puzzle Exchange

This year's IPP (International Puzzle Party) was held in London, United Kingdom from 7-10 August. Like last year's IPP33 in Japan, to make it more convenient for attendees and minimise travel, the event was again held at an Airport hotel, in this case the Park Inn at Heathrow. 

For IPP34 itself and other related, pre and non-official IPP34 "fringe" activities such as the excellent MPP that took place the prior weekend, check out Kevin'sAllard's and Roxanne's posts on their respective blogs.

The Edward Hordern Puzzle Exchange is one of the two "main" events (the other being the Puzzle Party) of any IPP. Basically its a gathering of IPP attendees who will get to exchange their own puzzle with another participant. Although the purpose of this event is pretty straight forward, ie to exchange puzzles, there are however some rules governing the exchange. Most notably:-

1. An exchanger must typically produce a minimum of around a 100 puzzles; 99 for the exchange and one for public display during IPP which is then donated to the Slocum Puzzle Collection at the University of Indiana Lilly Library. Many exchange participants tend to produce more than the 100 for post-exchange sale at the Puzzle Party or gifting. Not an inexpensive affair in terms of cost of production, shipping etc.

2. The participant's exchange puzzle must be an original design. However it need not be the exchanger's own design. He/she can commission or use someone else's design (with permission of course). Out of the 99 puzzles that were exchanged at IPP34, almost 40 exchangers adopted somebody else's design. Around 8 of the exchange puzzles were also entries in the Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition.

3. The exchanged puzzle must not have been previously in someone's collection nor commercially available prior to the exchange.

For this IPP, I was able to participate in the exchange, having been an exchange assistant to puzzle collector Diniar Namdarian during IPP33. My exchange puzzle, called "Triple Play" was designed by Goh Pit Khiam and produced in laser cut acrylic. Dimensionally 80mm x 80mm x 10mm. 

For close up photos and details of all the 99 exchange puzzles, please see Goetz Schwandtner's IPP34 Exchange Puzzles page.

Every exchange participant is allocated a table (yes, the table is really needed when all the different puzzles start to pile up). Once things get under way, participants would walk around the event room looking for someone to exchange with. Those who prefer a more relaxed approach would sit at their table and wait for others to show up (but this I think is boring). Everyone is given a list of all the exchange participants to check off against, to avoid possible double exchanges or mistakes. Trust me, after a while, it can become a bit confusing and chaotic.

My 99 Exchange Puzzles ready to rock and roll!
Most exchangers would have assistants to click photos, carry puzzles and help with translations where necessary. I went ahead without one, to my regret...I found myself scrambling a bit trying to explain my puzzle to the other party, get photos taken, running back to my table to replenish my inventory etc. After the exchange, one IPP attendee had come up to me to express his interest in being my assistant for next year and I took his offer without hesitation.

The whole session goes on for a good half a day from 9am till around 2pm. Really, some stamina is required for this I might add!

I managed to get some photos with a number of well known collectors, designers and puzzle craftsmen.
Ad van der Schagt

Vladimir Krasnoukhov

Lee Yee Dian

MINE Uyematsu

Allard Walker

John Moores

Simon Nightingale

Wil Strijbos

Robert Sandfield

Marcel Gillen

Neil Hutchinson

Serhiy Grabarchuk

Bill Cutler
Well, after nearly 5 hours, here is my exchange haul from IPP34, which thankfully was all able to fit into my jumbo suitcase which I had specially brought with me!