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Monday, 7 February 2011

Midlands Puzzle Party (Feb 2011)

Well, like I mentioned in my previous post I did attend a puzzle get together in Birmingham on Saturday! And now I have so much to write about that I don't even know where to start!

The Midlands Puzzle Party (MPP) was organised by the guys on the Revomaze Forum as a way of getting together some like minded people for a day of puzzle filled fun. And one forum member (Allardwza) was even kind enough to host it in his home.
We all started arriving at the house in Birmingham for around 10:30 in the morning, and some of us had travelled further than others. Several of the guys attending lived nearby, myself and another forum member (Alimorris) drove a couple of hours North to get there, and one very determined puzzler (a-maze-ing) flew over from the Netherlands to attend!

A little time was spent doing the introductions, and putting real names and faces to forum user names, but we all settled down to do some puzzling pretty quickly. When I arrived there were a great variety of puzzles already on display as Allard (our host) had put some out, plus Nigel (Barcared) had already arrived and brought some goodies with him too! Everyone brought some puzzles with them that they wanted to share with everyone else. Because I couldn't decide what to take and what to leave behind I simply decided that I would take pretty much everything, then I couldn't go wrong! A very generous forum member (who wanted to remain anonymous) also donated a variety of puzzles to the event that we were allowed to keep if we liked them!

This is what the table looked like after we had all arrived:

As you can see from the photos our host and his wife (Gill) were keeping all of us very happy with drinks and cookies throughout the day! After a good few hours of puzzling and chatting away, Gill was even kind enough to make us some really nice burgers for lunch!

At around 14:30 Chris Pitt arrived. For those that don't already know Chris Pitt is the creator of the Revomaze series of puzzles. Everyone had loads of questions for him, so much so he barely had a chance to eat his lunch in between giving his answers. All sorts of things were talked about regarding the Revomaze series. We talked about where we thought Revomaze stood as a company, what we thought of the puzzles, how they could be improved, gave our views on new stand designs submitted by forum members, and also discussed the upcoming new Revomaze puzzle; The Revomaze Gold Extreme. I won't go into too much detail on these topics now, but if you are interested then I suggest keeping an eye open on the Revomaze Forum for any news and updates.

Chris Pitt also brought along lots of goodies for us to take a look at any try out:

That is the entire Revomaze series thus far, including the special editions, a Blue Extreme with a cutaway sleeve and the original puzzle that Chris made as a prototype!

I think I should add a special mention for Paul (illusion_fx) who has decided to pick up the Revomaze Silver Extreme as his first puzzle! At the time of writing this only around 30 or so people worldwide have actually solved the Silver, and it has been worked out that none of those have done it without ever solving another (easier) Revomaze puzzle first. So Paul spent quite a bit of the day puzzling over a Blue Extreme that someone had brought with them to try and make some progress that he was lacking with the Silver. He also spent quite a bit of time grumbling, but that was understandable. Quite simply, the man is mad...or determined.........but probably mad.

Just because lots of talking was going on doesn't mean that we all stopped puzzling though! While everyone was chatting Nigel showed me a great puzzle chess set made by Franco Rocco in Italy which I really loved:

The board is made up of 16 pieces that slot together magnetically in one particular way, and the 32 playing pieces are assembled into two cubes (one for each colour) which have to be taken apart for play. The board was put together by Nigel and Louis while I took apart one of the cubes into it's 16 pieces. I then spent the next half an hour or so reassembling the pieces back into their cube form. A brilliant puzzle but pretty expensive. This was another great thing about the MPP, I was able to try out puzzles that there is no way I would be able to obtain.

Another example of this would be the Super-CUBI, a puzzle by the Karakuri Creation Group in Japan:

This epic puzzle box requires (I believe) 324 moves to open! I didn't get around to properly sitting down with it to try and solve it this time, but I will make an attempt to do so next time if Nigel brings it along again. I could understand if he didn't however as this puzzle is also quite valuable.

One of my favourites from the day was this Karakuri puzzle box brought along by Chris (bluesign2k):

This is the Karakuri New Secret Box I-3. Just like the Super-CUBI all six panels can move but this box is only an 18 move puzzle box. I loved the fact that it was made entirely from wood, plus the walnut colour is stunning!

Allard also let us try out the full series of Karakuri Small Boxes which I found to be really good fun. I won't post the pictures here though as there are eight of them, but they can be found on my Flickr page for anyone who is interested.

Chris also brought along his Sonic Warp puzzles:

These are the Isis, Ramisis, Copernisis and Kuku. I thought that all of them looked pretty good although several quality issues were mentioned. I will probably only review the Isis as it's currently the only one that I know how to solve.

I also finally got to solve the other two Popplocks that I haven't written about yet, the T4 and the T5:

I'll write a proper review for these two separately later, but needless to say I thought they were both brilliant puzzles.

Even though the MPP was meant to have finished by around 16:00 we all ended up leaving at around 18:00, which really says something.

There was no way that I was ever going to be able to write about every puzzle that I saw today, but I did take a whole load more photos which you can find here: Flickr Photos

I think all that is left for me to say is a huge thank you to everyone who attended! Especially for Allard and Gill for letting us into their home and feeding us. Also a big thanks to Nigel for arranging it and to the kind forum member who donated those puzzles to all of us. And of course thank you to everyone else who was there for bringing some of their puzzles along and for being such great company. I think I can safely say that because we left a whole two hours later than planned that an absolutely amazing time was had by all! Hopefully we will all be able to meet up like this again a few months after the Gadget Show in April to repeat it.


  1. Hey Oli - great write-up and good pics mate! Thanks for making the trek across to the midlands and see you in April!
    [...and you are still going to blog about that 'E' thing, aren't you? ;-) ]


  2. Great writeup! I'm jealous that you got to meet Chris Pitt, it would be interesting to speak with him. I look forward to your writeup of the other Popplocks, do you have a favorite? I really liked T4, but that's the only one I've solved so far.

  3. Thanks guys!

    Allard, it was a pleasure, I had a really good time! And I think I'll have to do a proper post for the Elusive 'E' after all of the trouble it caused me!

    Brian, it was great to meet Chris Pitt, he's a really nice guy and very full of ideas! Looking forward to meeting him again at the Gadget Show in April. The Popplocks are brilliant aren't they? My favourite is still the T3. But the T4 is a close second, it's just a shame that one of the steps is so difficult to find!


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