Thursday, 31 August 2017

IPP37 Sunday – Puzzle Party! ... and the day after

Wake up early with excitement before the alarm goes off, shower and head downstairs for breakfast, leaving Gill still asleep. I have breakfast with Scott and enjoy a great mix of fantastically technical chat and brilliant wit (his) – I really enjoy our chats tremendously!

After breakfast we all gather outside the hall and wait patiently to be allowed in at the appointed hour. I make a bee-line for Perry’s table – the only thing I absolutely HAVE to get is whatever he’s selling this year – you’re never going to be disappointed… I duly acquire a gorgeous slice of wooden cake, knowing that he’ll have sold all he’s brought along well before the end of the puzzle party. 

Next I head to Mine’s table where he’s still setting up so I wander around a little bit… realising my schoolboy error when I return to find an orderly queue of puzzlers waiting to be served one at a time by Mine… I join the back of the queue and then narrowly miss out on a couple of trapped coin puzzles, although I do manage to bag a couple of them, along with some classic Mine tray-packing puzzles… I’m well chuffed. 

Wil has managed to get me a copy of Hanayama’s new Cast Dot puzzle – he’s only got a couple so he’s being a little cagey with them – and I’m grateful. 

Tomas teases me with a Pentangle Burr set and a Gartenschlauch that I’ve been trying to get a copy of for a while… but I pass on them…

Dimitry has some lovely hand-cast puzzles and I decide it’s time to pick up a real Treble Clef because his prices are jolly reasonable!

Alan still has a few copies of Perry’s Brass Balls left and I wonder aloud just how many of those he must have had because he’s been selling them at pretty much every IPP I’ve been to now…

Kotani-san has some terrific new packing puzzles and I end up stocking up on the new ones (I love his little cube series!) and picking up a few interesting acrylic assemblies and a disentanglement…

Jerry and Eric are running order lists and I put my name down for a good few items from both of them… and when the puzzle party is winding up Andrei gives me a copy of a prototype 4-piece assembly puzzle he’s had on his table for folks to play with – Thanks Andrei!

Later that afternoon I attend David Goodman’s Soma workshop where he introduces us to a number of new puzzle and game concepts with a Some cube… several of us display superb incompetence while a few star pupils seem to manage to assemble just about anything known to man with those strange pieces…

We hover around the lobby and bar area bantering with various knots of puzzlers before meeting the girls when they arrive back from their trip to Montmatre and the Sacre Coeur. 

We dress up for the awards dinner and I get a chance to wear my new wooden tie courtesy of Kathleen (Ta!) and feel like I’m one of the cool kids. :-) 

When the awards are announced there are a number of shout-outs for puzzlers in attendance:

  •  Mike gets a huge shout-out for his Rocking Horse Puzzle,
  • as does Brian for Tweedledum and Tweedledee,
  • Andrei for Tripla (the one little puzzle I have been religiously carrying around in my pocket the whole of IPP and inflicting it on anyone who hadn’t seen it yet…) and
  • Stephan Baumegger for his Moulin Rouge which had been in the exchange as well as in the Design Competition

… all of whom earned Top Ten Vote awards.

..and then Jerry’s Burrnova gets an Honourable Mention from the Jury… 

After the awards are announced and the host and his helpers are thanked profusely, I have one more bash at Peter’s Down the Rabbit Hole – this time I make a tiny little bit of progress, but I’m still nowhere near solving it and Peter just taunts me with it…

A couple of us examine Frans’ host gift, a lovely combo of Juno’s bigger assembly and Brian’s latest Louvre puzzle – Steve and I see if we can find the key piece and then experiment with how far we dare push it out, knowing that it’ll probably collapse if we tug it a little too much… in the end, in spite of Nick’s encouragement, discretion get the better of us and we leave it all assembled for Frans…

Outside the room Pavel is running a group-solve of his latest set of word / pun / anagram / puzzles – I can’t help myself and I join in the games managing to help with a couple of the clues…

Among all the wonderful laughter and stories there’s some wonderfully good news that I’d contrived to miss when I solved Adin’s nonogram – a wonderful antidote to the previous day's sad news…

We're up early again for my now-customary breakfast of croissants with bacon, followed by pain au chocolat with coffee - great way to start the day! After breakfast we head out to the Trocadero on the Metro for a fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower - today's touristing. 

We take plenty of classic touristy pics before a gentle stroll across the gardens down to the base of the tower itself... after a bit of queueing and a couple of elevator rides we find ourselves on the top of the world looking down on the streets of Paris – glorious! (Actually some of us had a little more queueing than others at the security checkpoint: Frans forgot he had a box-cutter in his trouser pocket after helping out with some last-minute package service back at the hotel!)

Frans spends a fortune buying Gill and I a glass of champagne and pretty soon everyone is up there toasting one another and a successful IPP37. There’s plenty of posing for the obligatory pics, more than a little silliness and an awful lot of laughter.

When we eventually head down we re-group at ground level before heading off along the Seine in search of some lunch – we settle on a suitable riverside establishment and are soon joined by Dick and Alan Slocum and his lovely wife who duly join us… there’s lots of good-natured banter and more than a little not-so-subtle talk of hosting an IPP – and if Dick hadn’t been the third random individual to raise the topic in less than 24 hours I might not have smelled a rat! :-)

After a really fine salad(!) and a wonderfully cold drink we headed off in search of a Metro and wound our way back to the hotel. 

Back in the lobby I had a lovely chat with Gary and Saul about life, the universe and metal forges before Gary showed me pics of his awesome puzzle room – and I feel a little honoured to have been given a peek at it… my what a collection of books he has in there!
We have an early evening debrief meeting to make sure that we’ve captured all the lessons to be learnt from things that have gone right and from those that might not have gone as well as we’d hoped… I’m still not sure what some people expected our intrepid host to do about the occasional rain, the temperature in the catacombs or the length of the queues at the Eiffel Tower!

Dinner is at a Lebanese restaurant within walking distance of the hotel and we managed to prise Frans away from the French contingent in order to join us for a meal… we have a super dinner – seriously brilliant food!! …and I manage to finally open a box that I’ve been carrying around with me with since the puzzle party.

There’s a bit more chatter in the lobby before an hour’s intense packing puzzle and we’re more or less ready-to-roll in the morning… as long as we can rouse ourselves!

It’s been a long, happy gathering of friends, tinged with a bit of grief at the passing of a good friend, but plenty of happy memories shared of times spent with him… and lots of new happy memories to carry us through another year apart… Frans - you did yourself proud - 37 was a fantastic IPP!

See you all in… next year.