Something will go here one day soon...Gaiety, merriment and dancing, etc.
What is a Conversion Kit, you may ask? All puzzle collectors have one. It’s the set of puzzles that would most quickly grab the attention of a puzzle non-believer and hold them engrossed until they had solved most of them. It’s a sort of ‘Puzzle Party in a Bag’. They are the puzzles that I leave on the table in my local pub, which attract the attention of other customers. They are nice to look at, intriguing to try and solve, nice to handle, and very frustrating. They are the puzzles that seem to have a label on them which says, “Pick Me Up”.
I believe they are a set of puzzles that will challenge and stimulate people who don’t knowingly like mechanical puzzles. Such a puzzle should have a very obvious goal, so that if someone sees it and is attracted by its appearance, only a few words are needed to set the would-be puzzler on their way. Apparent simplicity, blended with a high, but not impossible, level of challenge are two requirements.
See below for an example
They must also be puzzles that I like, so that I can enthuse about them with no effort. They should be a varied cross-section of puzzle types, as some people may hate one particular type, but love another.
They are the puzzles that make you feel really good the first time that you solve them. Ideally they should still be a challenge on subsequent tries. They should cover a wide difficulty level, so that there is something for an inquisitive child, and also for a time-hardened problem solver. I think these are the criteria Binary Arts (now ThinkFun) apply when they decide to market a puzzle. My selection above is deliberately intended to be a little bit more obscure than those, but still available if someone wants to try and get one of their own. There should not be too many pieces, or, put better, there should only be very few pieces, so that it is easy to become immediately familiar with all of the puzzle. It also makes it easy to check that nothing has been mislaid at the end of the session.
]Another thing that attracts non-puzzlers is a modern modification to an old favourite, something that they had as a child perhaps. Big versions of puzzles are especially good items in a Conversion Kit, whether they are large sets of bent nails or a table-top burr. It’s also important that these puzzles are durable and don’t damage easily if handled a bit roughly. Ten or twelve items is probably about enough for 4-8 people, so that there are always enough to go round with some left over.
A Typical Puzzle Conversion Kit
I started this web site in about 1998. As of Autumn 2016 it is getting its biggest ever refurbishment.
My goals are to include more current information, more pictures, no dead links, consistent format and typeface, better readability on more screens, and to get rid of characters that display badly. But no free beer.
It is a bit untidy and experimental ...but just wait...