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I wanted to put more here than just details of what changes I'd made to the site, so I decided to adopt a system of adding notes describing what puzzles I'd been trying to solve recently, along with extracts from emails to puzzle correspondents around the world.

I'd like to hear similar tales from others... I'll be adding to this whenever the mood takes me, with the most recent addition at the top, a style used by Ed Pegg on his truly excellent mathematical recreation site Mathpuzzle



  • 21st October 2001

    One minor recent solving success was the dismemberment and reconstruction of a small 12-piece Hikimi penguin, a souvenir of August's visit to Hakone Mountain in Japan.


    Another failure was my latest attempt to solve Tucker's Tormentor, a 5x5x5 cube assembly, with 9 truly awesome pieces


    From time to time I try to reassemble Mayer's Cube. This is a 6-piece 4x4x4 cube, from Pentangle. It needs about five moves before the first piece can be removed, then it just falls apart in your hands. It did this many years ago! Reversing this chaos is the secret to its reformation, but alas it is a secret which still eludes me. Five pieces can be easily arranged to form a cube, but the central piece must be installed first. Sadly, for the last 5-6 years the last piece has protruded above the top surface of the cube, earning it Alice's name of 'The Periscope Puzzle', from its resemblance to an angular ship's periscope. It sits on a shelf in our living room, taunting me. One day...



  • 18th October 2001

    The 12 pentominoes are easily identified by using the letters which they most resemble. FILNPTUVWXYZ. Kate Jones of Kadon Enterprises has developed an extensive and fairly logical series of conventions for naming the 8 tetracubes, 17 non-planar pentacubes, 35 planar hexacubes and 131 non-planar hexacubes. A logical naming convention is very useful to help identify each piece. Andrew Clark on his excellent Polyforms site has compact pictures of the 131 non-planar hexacubes. I spent a couple of mind-twisting hours correllating Kate's names with Andrew's images and produced this table to link the two together. My friend Fred is nearing the end of his Herculean task of making me a set of the hexacubes. I look forward to the day I can try to assemble them into a 10x10x10 cube along with a square tetracube. The pieces shown are all L-pentacube derivatives



  • 12th October 2001

    I discovered Frank Potts' Pottypuzzles a new web-only UK puzzle supplier. Frank has numerous disentanglement puzzles, and some sliding puzzles.



  • 10th October 2001

    Another constant source of frustration has been the challenge of trying to arrange the 8 tetracubes in a 3D structure I first saw in puzzle shop in Kyoto, Japan, during the summer. The straight tetracube must be stood on end. The other seven pieces must form a 3x3x3 cube with the last unit cube protruding from the centre of the top layer. The cube must then be inverted and stood on top of the straight tetracube. There are over a hundred ways of assembling the 3x3x3 cube with a central 'chimney' but I haven't yet found the one which is self-supporting when inverted. In shop I saw this interesting arrangement, and went to carefully pick it up. Needless to say, it fell apart in my hands, and I was obviously latest victim as he laughed uncontrollably. I long to be able to recreate this structure and send a picture of my success.


    I have a large version of the puzzle called Pagoda, which cowardice has prevented me from dismantling. I have a much smaller one which I recall separating and eventually reassembling in a bar in Bugibbe on the north coast of Malta a few years ago. On Friday I took the small one apart, and several pints of excellent local beer later it was still in pieces.



  • 1st October 2001

    Alice and I had a holiday on a farm in the West Country recently, and I always take my own 'puzzle party in a bag' when we go away. There was a pub at the end of the farm drive, so I spent several evenings there trying to solve Minorou Abe's 'Climb Pro 12' sliding puzzle. If you don't know the puzzle, it consistes of 12 pieces, 4 unit square pieces, a couple of domino tiles, a couple of L-tricube pieces and an inverted T tetracube. This latter must be moved to the top of the playing area. After many hours, I got it to one row below the target.



  • August 2001

    The visit to Japan. We stayed 5 nights in Kyoto, in a traditional inn, eating meals on a table about 12 inches high, and sleeping on the floor. One of the highlights was the visit to Osho's new shop in the tourist area to the west of central Kyoto. The shop is in a small market area, near the station. Osho greeted me like a long-lost friiend, even though I had only met him once, briefly, during his visit to London in 1999. I spent an enjoyable hour ransacking the shop!


    We moved on to Tokyo for the rest of the holiday, visiting every puzzle shop in the city. I also visited Hakone Mountain, home of Hikimi puzzles and yosegi work, a mosaic wood craft consisting of gluing strips of wood tightly together, then slicing them into very thin sheets for a wide variety of decorative crafts.


     


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