Click on images to see enlargements.
8th May 2002
More photographs of my collection have been added here.
It's been quite a while since I last added anything new here, mainly due to starting a new job at the beginning of the year. This is hopefully set to change with more pictures from my collection, and more details of my own designs
8th November 2001
More photographs of my collection have been added here.
There are full details of my major puzzle designs and how to order them at
PuzzleCraft. Own your own Watson's Wormhole!.
1st November 2001
My Books page is now updated. Pictures and details of many of the puzzle books in my collection.
31st October 2001
One of the best-kept-secret mechanical puzzle sites must be the
Twisty Megasite, run by an ex-patriate
Aussie from Wee Waa (really), living in Eire. As the name suggests, it's
mostly Rubik-esque puzzles, but any collector should visit, if only just
to see the standard of the site itself. I am humbled! He has advice on
mantaining and repairing puzzles, manufacturing hints in rubber and
plastic and an exchange forum.
I also came across the puzzle shops section of Toy
Hot on the heals of my recommendation (see below) of Kadon's Kate
Jones's naming convention for the 166 hexacubes, Ed Pegg does the same.
It is the best way of identifying the pieces. I am in the middle of
checking the ones my friend Fred
has made for me so far, as I currently have more pieces than he thinks
he's made for me! Checking 130-odd hexacubes is a nightmare!
| Another new puzzle from Binary Arts is
That-A-Way, a totally novel approach to edge matching puzzles, which
do tend to get a bit monotonous after a while. This breathes new life
into that old chestnut, and is wonderfully brain-twisting, not
surprising therefore to see Serhiy Grabarchuk's name in the list of
credits. There are ten ways of arranging pairs of arrows pointing N, S,
E or West on domino cards. Arrange the ten cards to match the range of
target diagrams. Puzzles vary from Tricky to Nightmare. This is really
worth a look, and you can play online, or even print out your own set
with their permission! This diagram is a challenge of my own design,
using the 10 cards to form a capital M.
|| While looking for a UK outlet for That-A-Way, I found Happy
Puzzle who sell all the Binary Arts range by post-free mail order,
as well as many other puzzles for all ages. They also do custom-printed
foam cubes. I placed an order via the net on Monday, and the goods
arrived Wednesday. The website did require me to reconfigure my cookie
options, though. |
26th October 2001
I had a puzzle-buying day on Wednesday, visiting the fairly new Bluewater
shopping mall near Dartford, just outside SE London. It's built in an
old quarry! There are several shops selling puzzles, but nothing worth
travelling too far for.
New from Binary Arts is ROADSIDE RESCUE, a new sliding puzzle. With
their earlier sliding puzzles, including Rush Hour, Rail Road Rush Hour,
and Safari Rush Hour, the object was to move one piece to somewhere
else. With Roadside Rescue, the object is to move as many as three
different pieces to somewhere else. Some of the pieces actually overlap
each other, definitely the work of arch slider Serhiy Grabarchuk. John Rausch and Nick
Baxter also get mentioned on the packaging. John and Nick have
on-line versions of some of Serhiy's puzzles. I will be adding photos of
some of his from my collection soon.
I also bought a Geo Loop from Binary Arts. It's not new, but I've never
had one. It consists of a loop of 24 hinged triangles. The loop can be
twisted and folded into many interesting shapes. I wondered if all 35
planar hexominoes could be made. They can. It took me over an hour. The
cross is the most difficult, followed by any of the others which can not
be traversed sequentially.
Discovery Store I got a new cube assembly, Crazy
Cube. It consists of 4 identical mirror pairs of octocubes, for a 4x4x4
partly sequential assembly. Not very difficult but quite pleasing, and
I also visited Village Games in Camden Lock. Pentangle have recently
started producing Hybrid, the 14 piece version of the Altekruse Puzzle.
All pieces are the same, but the assembly is noticeably different from
Holey Cross, the 12-piece version, widely available in the UK from Lagoon
Another new puzzle from Pentangle is
QED, which Barbara in Village Games told me has a new trick to it. I've
found a little secret, but haven't decided how to exploit it yet. It's
big in size and price, but quite beautiful.
I also bought this
nice idea, probably designed by Jean-Claude Constantin, an 8-piece
edge-matching cube assembly.
Also new is Tiffany, the latest in the Transposer series, from Albatross
Games UK. 8 hexagonal disks show
different two-sided arrangements of holes and up to four colours. The
cards must be stacked so that only one colour shows on each face of the
stack. The disks are a little small and fiddly, less then 2.5 inches,
much smaller than the triangular version. Not yet mentioned on their site.
Finally from Village Games I bought a table-top skewed Soma Cube. It
probably has a single solution, much harder than the standard cube with
its 240 solutions. Visualisation is a lot harder, with the skewed
pieces, beautifully cut from exotic hardwoods..
If you're in London make sure you visit Village Games, open weekends,
closed Mon/Tues. Say hello to Ray and Barbara. See location instructions
on my UK Suppliers page.
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, some of which are shown.
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
site has compact pictures of the 131 non-planar hexacubes.
(Follow Polycubes - Hexacubes - 131 pieces). I spent a
couple of mind-twisting hours correllating Kate's names with Andrew's
images and produced a 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 from Fred's set.
12th October 2001
||I discovered Frank Potts' Pottypuzzles a new web-only UK
puzzle supplier. Frank has numerous disentanglement puzzles, and some
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 Osho's Puzzle-In
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 Osho's
latest victim as he laughed uncontrollably. I long to be able to
recreate this structure and send a picture of my success. The picture here is an incomplete solution.
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,
4 domino tiles, a couple of L-tricube pieces and an inverted T
tetracube. This latter (the piece with the three holes in the picture)
must be moved to the top of the playing area.
After many hours, I got it to one row below the target.
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
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.