I attended my first IPP earlier this month and had a terrific time. First and foremost, the people are just fantastic: generous, imaginative, super smart, just great people. The huge support and welcome I received as a newbie just floored me with outright puzzle gifts, advice on how to get the most out of the event, suggestions on who to talk to for help on my puzzle ideas, encouragement to participate in the Puzzle Exchange (more on that in a bit). What a wonderful way to be introduced to a whole new level of puzzling!
Second, the events were mind-bogglingly great: a puzzle competition, a puzzle exchange, and a puzzle “bazaar”. There were over five dozen puzzles in the puzzle competition and I had a chance to play with all of them. I liked one from VIN&CO so much that later I bought one. I will make a nice icosahedron out of these some day, I swear:
Next came the puzzle exchange in which one hundred participants all bring one hundred copies of a never-before released puzzle and exchange it with the other participants. I was blown away not just by the cleverness of the puzzles but also by the professional quality of their manufacture and finish. The craftsmanship was unbelievable and there were several I hope will reach the marketplace so I can buy them. Stan Isaacs’ was based on a tiling problem posed in the as-yet-unpublished Volume 4 of Donald Knuth’s “The Art of Computer Programming” series: “Find seven different rectangles of area 1/7 that can be assembled into a square of area 1, and prove that the answer is unique.” I was able to buy a copy of it later:
On the last day there’s a kind of puzzle “bazaar” in which puzzle sellers and puzzle buyers go completely nuts. Errm, I plead no contest. There were puzzles there that I’ve been looking for for ages, like Wil Strijbos’ Lotus Puzzle. (Even cooler than finally procuring the Lotus was having an extremely informative conversation with Wil about manufacturing puzzles and he gave me some very helpful advice – thanks Wil!) Here’s a picture of the puzzle along with the reason for its name:
At dinner, I had the amazing good fortune to sit at a table with Sven Baeck who runs Mallorca Puzzles and he had brought a super rare, super cool Roger D puzzle, “Gartenschlauch”. Given its rarity and its price I figured this was probably the last time I would actually be able to work on solving one so I got to work, dinner be damned! I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of this:
In summary: Pure. Puzzle. Euphoria.