Back in February I wrote about my first time attending a regular puzzle gathering that takes place on the first Wednesday of every month at the Lockside Lounge in Camden, London (check out my blog post), which is right next to Village Games. I had a great time there, met some really nice people and saw some really awesome puzzles. So when I heard word from Ray & Barbara (owners of Village Games) that the next one coming up on the 7th of September would be their 100th gathering I knew I would have to be there!
I arranged to head over straight after work and meet up with my good puzzle friend Ali outside Village Games so that we could have a little browse through the shop before joining everyone for the puzzle festivities in the Lockside Lounge. I knew that I should take a puzzle with me to share with the group, but I didn't want to take a bag and I was worried about carrying anything delicate in my pocket on the train, so I opted to take one of the Aluminium Burr's from Wil Strijbos as there was no chance of that breaking on the journey.
When I met up with Ali outside Village Games the first thing he did was hand me his new copy of the 4 Steps Visible Lock, which was the Jury Grand Prize winner by Robrecht Louage at this years International Puzzle Party (IPP31) in Berlin. Needless to say I was really happy to be able to get my hands on this puzzle as I just loved the look of it when it came up as one of the IPP entries. I'll write a proper review of that later, but this sort of set the tone for the evening where I would be passed great new puzzles from left, right and centre!
Now here's some photos from the evening. A huge thank you to Laurie for letting me steal his photos as I managed to forget my camera! At least I managed to remember to take a puzzle eh?
Robert Reid has attended over 90 of the 100 gatherings!
There was plenty of food being handed around during the whole evening, including a couple of really nice cheesecakes home-made by Barbara. Although I have to admit that food took a bit of a back seat to all of the puzzles floating around.
At one point I was handed the Tri Again puzzle to attempt to solve, which I managed to complete after about 10 minutes or so. During that time a guy leaned over and said "I designed that!". And that's how I met Frank Potts! Again I'll talk more about Tri Again in a proper blog review as it was a puzzle I hugely enjoyed. It may even have become one of my new favourite burr puzzles!
Another couple of puzzlers that I had the pleasure of meeting were a couple of 'long-term afflicted' puzzlers; Laurie and Ethel Brokenshire. Laurie also treated several of us to a few close-up magic tricks that I really enjoyed. I can understand why it is said that puzzling and magic are closely related. I may have to learn some magic for myself when I next get the chance.
The next several hours were spent doing lots more chatting and puzzling, during which I tried out several of the exchange puzzles from this year IPP. One of these that I tried very hard to solve was Laurie's exchange called 'Bi-Cycle' which was a interlocking put-together puzzle made by Vinco. Despite my efforts I was not able to solve this puzzle before I left, but as Ali picked up a copy there I'll definitely be giving it another go at some point soon! I don't like being bested by a puzzle.
Another puzzler brought along his copy of the 51 Pound Box designer and made by Eric Fuller, which is beautifully made although not very difficult. I'll try and get some photos of that to write about it too. I really wish that I didn't forget my camera! I won't be making that mistake again.
All-in-all I had a brilliant time! And if you ever happen to be free for the evening on the first Wednesday of the month then I really recommend you try and get to one of these. You'll get to meet a whole load of people that are nicer and more welcoming than you can possibly imagine. Although it's very hard to find many puzzlers that aren't! I'll definitely be trying to get myself to as many of these future gatherings that I can.
I'll most likely be adding to this blog post as I think of more things that happened that evening that I want to mention. I met so many new people and saw so many new puzzles that I was a bit overwhelmed!