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London Puzzle Party
Posted on 04 Oct 2007

I went along to the London Puzzle Party at Camden Lock last night, which is an event run, once a month, by the wonderful little shop full of mechanical puzzles called Village Games.

I've never been along to these before, but I guessed I might like the community, after all I look with envy at the Gathering for Gardner and Burning Man events in the USA.

I arrived at the shop in Camden, to be greeted by Ray the owner, he very kindly showed me some of the most popular puzzles and took me on a tour of the books. Ray tells me that he cannot compete with the likes of ebay and amazon on the books, and therefore is not going to restock any of the shelves with books when these ones disappear.

Ray showed me where the evening event was taking place, and I took my place at the table.

Martin very kindly introduced me to all the people round the table, and he explained that his passion was the sliding block puzzles. Martin has some amazing pictures of his collection online.

John arrived soon afterwards, with his pockets full to bursting with little wooden blocks in odd configurations, his passions are the cube puzzles and number theory.

The owner of Grand Illusions shop arrived next, his name is Tim and he travels the world in search of interesting gadgets. This evening he had brought along

  • a yo-yo in the shape of a cone
  • a device that gives you the impression your eyes are over 10 inches apart
  • a smooth mirror, which when a light is shone upon it, reflects a picture onto the wall

Robert is the resident genius, he is a wonderful 81 year old chap who hasn't missed a single one of these events.

David Wells was there, author of some of my favourite books, I showed him a wonderful little thing on knot multiplication

Simon who is the resident Go expert talked to me about the London Open and a possible get together for kids who liked the game. When pressed, Simon recommended a book called In the Beginning which will have to be sought out.

I sat for most of the evening scratching my head over various interlocking 3-d puzzles that were thrust into my hand, I think I solved about 2/3 of them, but I wouldn't want to be in a competition against any of these chaps.

When time was finally called, I was accompanied back to the station by Frank, who explained to me that his passion was impossible objects. One of his favourites is the corkscrew opener (with cork) inside a bottle, as these objects go naturally together.

Suprisingly though, it isn't the puzzles themselves that seem to light up this room, it is the interest they all have in other people, how they solve the puzzles, what alternative solutions they might give, and any new ideas.

Thanks to Ray for organising this event, it was great fun, I recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys Recreational Mathematics and Puzzles.

04 Oct 2007 |


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