Something will go here one day soon...Gaiety, merriment and dancing, etc.


Regular visitors here will have noticed the refurbishment is taking longer than expected.  This is mainly due to me getting very hooked on tracing my family history, which seems to have more skeletons than a medieval plague pit, and as many black sheep as a farm with several black sheep. 

Read about it here.


Puzzle news

 Recent Puzzle News. . . . The Collective Burr. . . . Berlin Puzzle Party. . . . San Francisco. . . . Very Old Puzzle News. . . . Old Puzzle News. . . . BurrTools Tutorial. . . . Pentacube Pile Up. . . . Post-Prague IPP European Tour. . . .Martins First Big CRAPP. .Links coming soon.


Pictures from my collection here, and other bottom-of-the-barrel scrapings from the puzzle world...




“The greatest puzzle is a single sheet of blank paper and a few moments. One can fold it, tear it or just ponder its fearful opportunity.”


September 10th 2017 - Is this a coincidence?  We have heard a lot about hurricanes in the last month, especially Hurricanes Jose, Katja and Maria.  Interestingly these are the names of the wives of three of my oldest puzzle-collecting friends...

September 9th 2017 - Two sets of photos, firstly my acquisitions at the 2017 International Puzzle Party in Paris.


Then, the first instalment of a big project.  I have finally decided to try and photograph my entire collection, purely to help me know where things are.  The photos are not meant to be artistic, just bookmarks to help me navigate The Puzzle Room.


August 31 2017 - A copy of the puzzle I designed, Watson’s Wormhole, used in the 21st International Puzzle Party is currently being auctioned.  The price is 33 Euros at present.  The last one that I am aware of being auctioned sold for $915.  Picture courtesy Jacques Haubrich.

Watsons Wormhole 

August 2017

We are just back from a week in Paris, then the 2017 International Puzzle Party, followed by a puzzlers’ tour of NW France.  Photos are slowly appearing here.  Click on “Paris 2017”.  More story here.

1st November 2016 - Here’s an interesting film.


1st November 2016 - Some years ago I created a list of little clues that mighty reveal you as a collector of mechanical puzzles.  I have just compiled a similar tongue-in-cheek list of characteristics you might look for if you are a puzzle collector seeking a life partner/ girlfriend/ boyfriend/ chatelaine etc. 

Must be prepared to sacrifice one full room of the house.

Must be prepared to have somebody else select the destination for your summer holiday.

Must be prepared to wear the same clothes all week on holiday, to keep luggage to a minimum, so that maximum space in the luggage can be used for puzzles.

Must enjoy spending most of that holiday in the hotel lobby.

Must be prepared to have a house full of strange objects, and occasionally even stranger people.

Must be bilingual, native tongue and recreational mathematics lingo. Should be competent in use of metagrobology terms or be committed to learning them.

Must be prepared to have non-culinary items in the kitchen, and non-sanitation items in the bathroom.

Should not have any acquisitive hobbies, unless for items of very small size.

Should be highly competent in the dusting and care of small treasured items.

Ideally should have considerable private income to afford the purchase of suitable christmas and birthday gifts.

Must be prepared to pose next to various unusual objects with recreational mathematical overtones, while on holiday or with friends.

Must accept that your partner 'doesn't get out much'.

Must be familiar with the detection and eradication of any wood-eating pests.

Must be keen to have tessellating tiles on the kitchen floor.

Must be able to fully dismantle and reassemble a Rubik's cube.  In the dark.

Should be able to remove a wine bottle from a bottle puzzle, then open it with a left-handed blunt cork screw.

Catering skills preferred.

Any more suggestions here please.

5th August 2016 - I noticed that with a tiny bit of effort and imagination the logo for the Olympics could be redesigned as an ambigram, Rio 2016.

8th June 2016 - Here’s a real life puzzle.  I think I know something.  How do I find out if you already know the same thing, without having to tell you if you do not know it, and without arousing your suspicions?  Suggestions?

26th April 2016 - It was with very great sadness that I heard that our very good friend Robert Reid died earlier today.

picture mosaic 3

April 2016 - I will be updating this more frequently, but after I have completed the full upgrade.  See the box to the right.

17th December 2015 - I’ve never seen a Star Wars film, but the new one is partly filmed at Puzzle Wood. There’s a maze of pathways winding through the gulleys of mossy rocks, via twisted roots of yew trees, and bridges, lookouts and other things you can find on your way round.

25th July 2014 - I have just discovered that clicking on many of the photos on this site no longer takes the viewer to a larger version of the picture. This is due to some change made by Flickr who host my photos.  I am investigating the cause, but I do not think the solution will be quick or simple. This link takes you to a roughly chronological directory of all my photos (54,000 of them!) and this link takes you to an index page.  Either of these options should help you find what you are seeking. Oh, the puzzles are here.  (Spring 2016, total site revision undersay.)

Even more July 2014 - I have lived in and around Greater London for all my life (so far...).  I have seen all the usual tourist sites, and I love looking for the bizarre, unusual and off-beat alternatives to The Tower of London and Buckingham Palace.  If you are anywhere near the entrance to Heathrow Airport, and have an interest in maps, here is one for you.  I quote from the Ordnance Survey site, which has more details:

    “You may know that the origins of Ordnance Survey go back to a triangulation survey carried out for King George III and The Royal Society between 1784 and 1790. The survey was determining the relative positions of the Greenwich Observatory and L’Observatoire de Paris, and measuring the distance between the two observatories. Major General William Roy FRS RE, carried out the survey under the authority of the Master General of the Board of Ordnance, and Roy’s first action was to measure a survey base-line across Hounslow Heath during the summer of 1784.


    “The two terminals of this base-line are marked by contemporary military cannon set in the ground muzzle upward. The north-western portion of the base-line is now occupied by Heathrow Airport.  As a result, the north-western terminal now lies just north of the Northern Perimeter Road of the Airport, adjacent to Nene Road. It is approx. 200 metres east of the northern entrance to the tunnel which provides access to Terminals 1-3 of the Airport and also within 150 metres of the Bath Road, the route of the ancient Great West Road. King George III and other dignitaries of the time would have travelled between London and Windsor Castle using this road, and would have used it to visit William Roy and his survey party as the 1784 survey work progressed.

The other end of this baseline is a 30 minute walk from our house. Pictures here from the local museum, and another link here

Viewing time is about 30 seconds and there will not be a queue.

July 2014 - A word of warning.  The media has been full of stories about increased security for international flights recently.  While I was able to sweet-talk the security lady at San Francisco airport in 2009 into  accepting that the ten-inch long, finger-thick nails in my rucksack were a harmless disentanglement puzzle, it did make me more aware of the risks of  hand-carrying sharp, dangerous-looking or difficult to open puzzles in carry-on luggage. 

Give thought to how you pack new puzzles for the flight home.  You do not want to have to dismantle an 18-piece burr or million-move secret opening box while the whole queue looks on.

I always used to put the heavy items in the carry-on stuff in case the hold  luggage is too heavy, but I give it more thought now.

On a very different subject, over the years I have designed many mechanical puzzles. Most of them exist in a single prototype here at home. One of my IPP Exchange designs was copied without my authorisation and sold extensively across the US, and it put me on my guard. Just lately I have decided that it is pointless having these ideas stashed away, and I plan to photograph and document them. That will also help prove my copyright.  Watch these spaces... If you are looking for new puzzles to make and sell for a commission, or for future IPP Exchanges, do come back.


June 2014 - Alice thought that I should check that you know that if you are visiting London this summer, London buses will not accept cash payments after 7th July 2014.  Passengers must have Oyster cards, tickets bought in advance, or be able to use swipeable contactless bank cards. Read thisand this


June 2014 - The three acrylic objects on the left are quite chunky, about half an inch thick and 5-6” across.  I don not know if they are meant to be a puzzle, but a friend managed to make a symmetrical shape from them. Any comments would be welcome. Imagine them made from 5, 6 and 7 hexagons.


April 2014 - A few recent stories from the press around the world that should interest puzzlers, gadgeteers and mathematicians coming now.

My grateful thanks for all the above stories, to all the usual contributors including Patty O’Dawes, Laura Vaverages,  Les S. Calyay, Mayor C. Boku, Jackson Timbers, Jenny Tay-Lear, Lynn Gweeney, Sally Forth, Scarlett Billows, Nell “Blue”i Dnto, Annette Kirtin, Klaus Trefobick, Noah Vale II, Emma Ryeskan and of course Anthony from Latvia.  We still call him Riga Tony.

March 2014 - Any puzzle friends visiting England this summer are welcome to contact us for any local information or other help we can give.

If you are having trouble forgetting how to open your favourite trick box, why not try a secret-opening bee hive.  Researchers in Canada presented bees with a series of artificial flowers that required ever-more challenging strategies, such as moving objects aside or upwards, to gain a sugar syrup reward.

If you are thinking of entering the trendy (!?) world of wearable computers, you might find out here that the concept is nothing new.  Back in the 17th century, one pioneering designer in China created a functioning  smart ring.  Developed in the Qing Dynasty era (1644-1911), the ring features a 1.2cm long, 0.7cm wide abacus that sits on the finger.  Also available in inches.