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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Ménage à Trois – Two Guys & a Gal (Free Me 9)


With a name like Two Guys & a Gal, you know that the situation will be complicated and you’re in for a protracted fight.  As the name suggests, this puzzle houses a lady flanked by 2 Johns.  More specifically, Lady Liberty and 2 John F. Kennedy’s.  I’m sure every puzzler’s favorite part will be Lady Liberty’s backside featuring a nice selection of gears symbolizing American Innovation.

Two Guys & a Gal was designed and made by Joe Turner.  This is the 9th puzzle in Joe’s Free Me series.  It is a sequential discovery (SD) puzzle concealing several imaginative and tricky mechanisms that need to be overcome to release the 3 trapped coins.  The puzzle was made with Cherry, Maple, Coins, and assorted hidden attractive and unattractive metal bits.  The attention to details like ensuring that the grain flows across piece boundaries makes the puzzle a work of art.

The puzzle houses an amazing 3-part journey to release the coins from their resting place.  This SD adventure uses several tools discovered along the way allowing you to continue the journey along the solution path until you finally arrive at the destination.  Of course in the beginning, it’s just you and the puzzle.  Just keep repeating to yourself: I’m just a tool.

This puzzle was so good, I couldn’t put it down.  Once I started, I didn’t stop until I had freed each of the coins and then reassembled it.  When I initially reset it, it seamed right but didn’t quite seem right.  One of the coins appeared too loose and I thought that maybe I had worn out one of the mechanisms.  After analyzing the associated mechanisms closer, I realized that I failed to properly reset it.  Once properly reset, it was back to the state that it arrived in.  So if it looks like you’re done but it’s loose, you’re not done.

From start to finish, the tools and mechanisms never ceased to amaze and delight me.  I can’t wait to get my hands on Free Me 10 next year! {insert seed of rumor here - done}

 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

PPing in the Big Apple - NYPP 2024


After a long hiatus, I’ve finally gotten back to PPing.  And what better way to start than with the 2024 New York Puzzle Party (NYPP).  There’s nothing like a good PP to brighten your day.  The best part is reconnecting with all the other puzzlers you haven’t seen in ages.

The NYPP used to be held in February to align with the World’s Toy Fair, but has now been moved to the end of April to celebrate the end of tax season.  No more sloshing through wet snowy drifts in the middle of the Big Apple, but no one is complaining.

The best part of NYPP is seeing all the puzzle displays and getting the opportunity to play with new puzzles.  There is always a nice variety of puzzles and puzzly things to fiddle with.

Geared Mechanisms

NYPP 2024 was held on 20 April.  My goal this year was to ensure that nobody bought one of the Completely Broken Soma copies that I brought, and I’m proud to say that I successfully accomplished my mission even though the best part of NYPP is the opportunity to buy/sell/trade puzzles.  That reminds me that I need to post another Completely Broken Soma warning update.

Of course the best part of NYPP is the schedule of presentations.  This year’s speakers covered a variety of topics:

Josh Rosenfeld
Giving Puzzly Gifts – Josh Rosenfeld, ODES UNBOXED:
Josh shared the story of his journey in developing personalized puzzles tailored to the recipient.  A journey starting with a birthday puzzle adventure through hundreds of gifts later as a business.  Josh’s presentation centered on his approach to developing these gifts and highlighted 5 stages:

  1. Identifying what you want the gift to convey.
  2. Crafting the giving of the gift.
  3. Building a world for the recipient to inhabit.
  4. Shaping the puzzles around what a person loves.
  5. Revealing meaningful rewards.


Henry Segerman
Geared Mechanisms – Henry Segerman: Henry started with an update on his work with Holonomy and its application to puzzles.  He started with the pursuit of complexiturizing the flat 15 puzzle until it morphed into “something that you don’t want to play with”.  Several holonomy examples were shown, demonstrating that a moving piece following a complete circuit will have a different orientation at the end of the circuit from when it started.  Examples included the Dodecahedral Holonomy Maze and the Continental Drift Puzzle.  Henry did confess that the next generation 3D rotational holonomy puzzles are not fun to play with.  Sounds exactly how I market my puzzle designs.  After the holonomy update, the main portion of the talk was on geared mechanisms.  Best of all, Henry had table full of examples on display that could be played with.

Michael Cahill
Games Magazine Archive – Michael Cahill:
Mike picked up where he left off at the last NYPP that I attended (back in 2020) with some more game show trivia.  This year, Mike gave an overview of:

  1. The Devil’s Plan – Korean game show featuring a reality competition based on strategy games.
  2. The Floor – Time based trivia show.
  3. Generation Gap – Cute game with a psychologically damaging endgame.  Mike pointed out that this game scarred family relationships for life.

The main portion of the discussion focused on contests that went awry and one in particular that was put out by Games Magazine.   Mike researched this by going through old issues of Games Magazine on archive.org after seeing a news reference to a large contest payout due to an error in the execution of the contest.

Glenn Iba
Waffle Puzzle – Glenn Iba: I believe that the title of this discussion was Cuyler Cannon but my faulty memory failed to produce a reason why.  The discussion centered on the process of creating a program that could solve the daily Waffle Puzzle.  Glenn provided a step by step approach on how such a program is constructed.

Haym Hirsh
The Soma Renaissance – Haym Hirsh:
Haym provided an overview of the multitudinousation of the Soma cube developed by Piet Hein in the 30’s that has spawned and continues to spawn Soma variants with no end in sight.  Haym fessed up to contributing to this pandemic but cast blame on others as well including Theo Geerinck, Oskar van Deventer, Lucie Pauwels, Frans de Vreugd, Brian Young, Rick Eason, Martin Watson, Volker Latussek, Andreas Röver, and even that Soma mangler, Ken Irvine.  As fascinating as the Soma history review was, it was overshadowed by Haym’s mastery of hand puppetry.

Dick Esterle
Still Amazing, The Windy Windy Twisty Route – Dick Esterle:
  Dick presented some material that he had shown at G4G.  The presentation provided a Glimpse of the geometry that Dick uses to create puzzles as well as the Amazing Geometry Machine


I must confess that at one point I was that annoying audience member making those clack, clack, clackity, clack sounds during one of the presentations as I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to cram 3 simple (but oh so complex) pieces into a box.  One of those, looks simple but not possible, puzzles.  The fact that the 3 pieces, Curvy, Bendy, and Wavy were not too steady on their feet caused them to tumble down in a rather noisy fashion.  Undeterred by venomous stares, I continued to clack away.  At least I assumed that there were venomous stares since I sat in the back and could only see the back of everyone’s heads.  However, I did manage to get most everything back in the box.

Curvy, Bendy, and Wavy Packing Puzzle