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5th meeting of the Triche's 10 years PUZZLES
Let's go !
Thanks everyone to have come...
For the 10th anniversary, in the annual puzzle meeting
We wanted to interview several francophone people in the puzzle world
I'm going to introduce everyone
In front of me, Christian [Blanvillain]
You are mathematician -Yes
"Semi-pro", let's say
...and designer of several puzzles
More about it later
...who's a big designer -1.83 meters
Maurice Vigouroux, one of the most talented craftsmen, who's been doing this for many years
Gregory Benedetti, who is also designer...
...since less time than Stéphane ? -No... about the same time... 5 years
They are yougsters -Did you make as much ?
No, not far, but he's extremely prolific ! -I've got a job that allows it ! [he is retired]
Guillaume Largounez, who is collector
extremely skilled with complicated puzzles
Who solved things whose designers were believeing not to be solvable
It's not the same job : some manufacture, some play
...and Philippe [Cichon], who manufactures puzzles and also wooden objects
I am not designer. I am closer to Maurice
...and I am interested in many subjects
mechanical music especially.
I introduce myself [Jean-Baptiste Jacquin]
volunteer in the Triche association since 10 years; amateur of puzzles since many years
..and I run a webshop of puzzles called Arteludes.
To begin with, since people watching the video don't know everything
A simple question : what is a 'mechanical puzzle' ? [french : casse-tête]
Guillaume, what is a mechanical puzzle ?
It is an object... The difference between a riddle and a mechanical puzzle
A mechanical puzzle is an object that must be solved with the hands.
It may be entangled pieces to be disantengled It may be a puzzle to be assembled
Or it may be a kind of labyrinth like this one with marbles hidden inside...
In English, it is more precise, it is a 'mechanical' puzzle.
I think he said everything.
It's important to say that it is a riddle, and when we get this with a physical object, the puzzle is a success
I completely agree. When it is an obvious, straight path, it is less interesting.
We [French] distinguish between 'jigsaw puzzles' and '3-D puzzles'
The English word 'puzzle' stands for both
thus when we talk about puzzles [in french] we may also mean mechanical puzzles [casse-tête]
But in French, a [puzzle] is a jigsaw puzzle
for 4 years old children
...but there are very difficult ones
...even 4 years old children manage it, while we don't
You know the joke about Johnny Hallyday ? He's making a jigsaw puzzle
He says "I'm very strong : it was written 'up to 4-years'...
...to solve it.
There are also the impossible objects.
It seems impossible, then we realize that it is possible
They are also puzzles
It is a riddle too
A tennis ball inside a bottle...
A supposed rule says that if we break the bottle the objects inside must work
If there is a Rubik's Cube inside, breaking the bottle we must be able to play with the cube.
The only trick must be : how did it get inside ?
If there's a deck of cards, we must be able to play with it
...which makes things difficult... to get a deck of card through a neck this size...
Just a matter of skill
Each one of you has a speciality
Maurice, let's begin with you !
Youngest first !
How long have you been making puzzles ? -I don't know... for 50 years...
and maybe more...
How did you begin ? -I think I began with a Tangram
Then I became interested in puzzles in wood Because I was able to make them
...to reproduce what I was finding in the shops
-...and it beacame part of your job -No.
It was not part of my job.
It was a hobby.
I like challenges : when Guillaume asked me to make the Tiros, first, I said no.
Then I told myself : let's make it.
The Tiros is an extremely complicated puzzle. In the begenning, it was rather an abstract idea.
Yes, it's over there
Which one is it ?
No, on your left
There, down your hand, no
They all look the same !
It's in wood
The Tiros is this one
And besides him, nobody solves !
Oh yes : him and the folks he taught
Yet I'm not sure !
Noooo, we're three ! There are Aaron, and Goetz too.
So, three people in the world can solve this object -But very few have bought it.
What does it mean, to solve it ? To do it, or to undo it ?
Both. And to undo it is already something !
For this kind of puzzle, the goal is before all to undo it. To redo it is "level inhuman".
"Level Guillaume !"
Good definition : level Guillaume !
How many moves to get the first piece out ?
150 moves minimum
Those who don't know puzzles are a bit surprised !
A move is just one hit : this is one. - OK!
You must find 150 like that
2, 3, 4... and it doesn't come out -I see, until 150 for 1, OK.
Puzzles difficulty is sorted according to the number of moves
Some have very few moves, other have much more.
The trouble is when you find false paths You must go back and start again
Guillaume said 150 MINIMUM.
If you take all side paths, I don't know how many moves it takes
Usually, we stop... and call Guillaume.
It takes 3 to 20 hours to solve such a puzzle
If it's Guillaume, yes !... But for mortal people, it may be 3 to 5 years !
No, usually, we give up after 20 hours.
Maurice, you created part of the puzzles around here.
Could you tell us how you learned to make them, and how you proceed ?
I learned by myself. I didn't go to school. I didn't learn woodworking... nothing.
But you already had craft skills... What was your job ?
I was a salaryman, but it was not much of a craftsman job It was a metalworking company
You knew how to make an accurate work with machines it can help with puzzles
In the beginning, no. I made my first puzzle with a handsaw and a plane
I had nothing else !
When we see the quality now... bravo ! -The tools are an important part.
My first puzzle was done with a handsaw and a plane... and a chisel
And now, what do you use ?
I've got a combined machine. But it needs additional tools.
Maurice uses traditionnal machines and created a whole part of his tools...
- according to the needs... When we made the Daedalus many things had to be created !
The Daedalus is this one. It's in marblewood and is a creation of Gregory made by Maurice.
So if we want to make puzzles, what do we need ?
You need a minimum.
It depends if it is for the market or as a hobby.
[Stéphane] may have made 2000 different ones.
No, a bit less... 1300 or 1400. But each time it is a unique one.
My tools are limited. With a circular saw I cut a raw square bar from a plank
Then, with a thickness planer, I improve the accuracy and get a proper surface
I don't have the crafsmanship of Maurice, I proceed by joining and gluing, like for these pieces
I cut the right length, I glue, and I sand
The quality's not as good, but it's just a unique copy for personal use
I don't have the needs of a commercial production
It depends if you start from a raw piece of wood or from a squared board
If you want to do everything, you need the tools to make square bars :
A tThicknesser, a planer, a bandsaw
To edge, to square, to trim...
Then you need a tilting circular saw because there is not only cubes
...you can do woodturning, with a lathe
There are not much -This one, for example ? [Bicone]
You need a table for the saw, to make angles
With a router, you can cut notches... a shaper... There is no limits
How do you make the grooves ? [Daeldalus] -With the router
As he said, the biggest work is sanding, gluing... the surfacing works
The problem with gluing is when the piece falls, it breaks
Now, in each intersection, I include a dowel -Yes, it strenghhtens
It takes time. I'm lucky not to bill for the time...
If I was paid, I would have already resigned !
The main thing is not to work on machines but on cradles
You put the piece on a stand that guides and directs
I suppose that Maurice works like that. -Yes That's what he calls making his own tools
You make the cradle that will present the pieces always the same way
There are all kinds of tricks
It is the same for cabinet makers
Something that I loved when I first saw your games is the woods used
...their quality a variety
I don't know if it can be seen, but you have surprising woods
Thomas, you're not an expert, but I am amazed at the colours
Nothing is dyed -Everything is natural
...Except the plastic -This is how the wood is
The yellow ? Maurice ? -This is difou
The bright red ? -Padauk
The black ? Wacapou ? -No, wenge !
The marbled one... is marblewood
Pure black... easy ! -It's ebony !
Then we have european woods
...with maple -It's the white -cherry, light brown, and walnut for the dark wood
This one, Gregory ?
Satine bloodwood from Guyana, you don't see it but it has wonderful shimmers
It's extremely slippy... pure joy
And it makes shock noises when played with... It sounds like a metal or a hard plastic... awesome
And that... I don't even know what it is
There is tulipwood, ziricote and... -and kingwood.
...to illustrate the variety and the effects
We're dealing with artwork, rather than games !
Concerning woods, I am far from this quality
The last I made is in ipe
I've got friends who built a terrace, and they had offcuts
ipe is good... they call it green ebony
It is strong, quite steady... the drawback is that the glue doesn't hold
Reinforced with dowels, it's ok.
So, we ask you not to throw your old bits of terrace !
Since you are talking, I'm going on with you : prolific designer...
My best puzzle !
Stéphane, how many puzzles have you designed ? And how many have you made ?
I never had the time to count exactly, and lately, David Rousseau, a friend who's a good designer asked me the same
So I counted roughly, it's around 1300-1400.
I started in early 2007, a bit more than 5 years ago.
So long ago ? -Yes, we met in december 2007, didn't we ?
Thus in 7 years you made 1400 puzzles, that's about 200 per year
One every two days !
No, it's different, some days I make two, some days I do something else
And there are variations : we start with an idea, then other versions follow
Yes, it's about 3 or 4 a week since 5 years.
On the table, you made this one...
...I don't know the number, maybe other designers made more than me
You are too modest !
A reference is given by Ishino's website in Japan...
I'll give the links on the blog
...where many people send their creations
Currently I'm at 340. I saw that he put 5 more one hour ago
There was a time when we sent a file and he published it 2 or 3 days after
now, there is a waiting list or 80, including 40 of mine
I send less because sometimes he sends me a mail asking me to slow down
I have yet between 150 and 200 that I haven't sent, because we must go easy
And Yavuz Demirhan, the Turkish, sends a lot too
Erhan Çu-..., no ?
The designer who... er, Yavuz.
I don't know his nationality -Turkish
Nowadays, he's producing... -yes, he sends a lot of files
Talking about production, I'd like to know how you get your ideas
and thus create so much. Because one may already seem a miracle
What helps a lot is the presence of the Burrtools software
that was developed and improved by Andreas Röver, it's a terrific tool.
Without it, there would have been much less products on the market
I mean, without being on the market...
Burrtools is a free software
...that allows to modelize any puzzle piece that moves along orthogonal directions
It can't with this one
No, yes, no
All games except Gregory's !
That's about it
If it turns or has bizarre moves, it doesn't work.
It's limited by any tilted plane or rotation
All moves like translations one way or the other, it's ok
It is a tool for any volume dissection along a pre-defined grid
If we choose, as here, a cubic grid, the software can check for solutions and solve the puzzle
But if we choose less conventional grids, to dissect into regular tetrahedrons or octahedrons instead of little cubes...
...the software is still nice because it shows if the pieces can be positionned properly
...but it won't disassemble the puzzle
...it is mostly an aid for cubic dissection.
...and also for the assembly, because, the pieces being given, it tells if they can be put together
Yes, sure. It's its main purpose.
Before all, it allows to solve them when they are too difficult !
There's a good 3-D interface. We enter the puzzle it plays, and we can follow it.
Does it solve that one, with 150 moves ? -Yes
It's the first one to have solved it : the computer
I think it's limited to 277 moves
No, it's been upgraded.
It's the number of pieces that is limited, I think
I've never reached the limit
Oh ?! And what about the 330-piece puzzle ?
No, it's the computer that's limited here.
Let's call Météo France !
And MrPuzzle's one ? Has your computer solved it ? [Coming of Age mkII]
No ! You told me that yours did in 2 days...
14 days it took ! -...I stopped mine !
The flaw is that sometimes, there are shortcuts using rotations. It doesn't see them.
It says that 54 moves are needed, then we realize that if we turn it, it can come out in 10 moves
That's why it is necessary to make the puzzle and handle it to check for rotations unseen by the software
A job for Guillaume
It doesn't exempts from prototyping
And you include specials moves on purpose to prevent people from cheating with the computer
That's the point ! At least I'm sure there is a rotation : I design it. That's the way it must work.
Among my 156 puzzles left, I've got 40 ones with rotations I don't send them to Ishino
I sent some once, and each time, many explanations are needed
So I put these ones aside.
As soon as it gets complicated, he demands lots of explanations.
Since I'm a bit of a monomaniac, I'd like to come back to my initial question :
How do you get your ideas ? How do you design them ?
The first difficulty is to find the shape.
What's interesting is finding new shapes.
With more than 2000 puzzles published, it is more and more difficult to find new shapes...
...except if we use large dimentions.
Within 12x12x12 units, we can find new shapes, but in smaller spaces, it's difficult.
On the other hand, that's all I am doing.
I have another approach : I use very classical shapes but I dissect them in a completely different way
To create from nothing is... I rather see myself as a designer than as a creator
...like someone designing pieces for Renault or Airbus
...because we start from existing volumes, we dissect them along existing bases
I feel like a designer, rather than a creator.
To change the shape is an approach, interesting indeed, and to use hyper-classic shapes, and cut them otherwise is another
Yes, it's original. Even for this one. -The Blind Burr ?
I designed one these days. I tried to get the most possible moves -not specials ones-
I had sent one... and there was the Diplodocus, where I added one unit, level 6
These days, I achieved a level 8, and it's not easy to top
What's the level ? It's the numer of moves... -To get the first piece out, yes.
It must have 16 or 17 moves, and 8 for the first piece, with this shape.
I spent some time to find, it looks easy but there are limits...
There is a Japanese who worked on this shape -Yes, I saw, but the level was low, 3 or 4 moves
There are not many more moves here...
There is also...
These ones are very hard to find !
I use to do this. With Yavuz Demirhan, I publish a shape. I try to optimize, but sometimes we miss
The next week he makes a variation to add 1 or 2 moves
Now I've got quite some things ready where I start from an existing shape, and I add extra moves
It reminds me Free Pause, by David. He'd made the Pause in the box, 75 total moves, with level 25
It's huge !
I added 25 moves, I got to 102 moves. -Now it's inhuman !
I sent it to David, for him to send it, but he's got no time now.
Christian, you haven't talked much, that's a mistake !
Since we are into numbering and cutting, let's talk about dissections
A bit like splitting hairs, but here, we're splitting squares
Splitting squares into 3
Here is the puzzle -There, show it
The problem I had to solve was how to cut a big square into 3 small identical ones with the least possible pieces.
Here is the solution I have found. It uses only 6 pieces.
I wanted to publish it, and I did some research on the Internet.
I saw that this was a very ancient problem. More than 1000 years.
The first solution had 9 pieces. It was from the persian mathematician Abu'l-Wafa'
It can be seen in mosaic on some mosques
Then, in the course of centuries...
With these 6 pieces, we can make a big square ? -Yes, that's the puzzle.
I know what I'll do this afternoom !
For me, the puzzle was to find this dissection. For you, it'll be to check that it is right.
It's the same for all of us. The big pleasure is to create them.
The interesting part is that, to show that there is no solution with less pieces is certainly the most difficult demonstration.
While an counterexample is enough to show that it is false.
I am intrigued by that cube. You started in 2-D, but now, you're working in volumes.
This is a cube dissected into 12 identical pieces. But it is not my invention. I just made the model.
I used the work of a mathematician, Jin Akiyama
He already did the mathematic dissection ? -yes
I started from this, and I asked myself how to turn it into a puzzle.
I looked into technologies. This is 3D printing. I put a magnet in the middle, and it works.
It looks very easy when it is assembled. But if you put all the pieces in front of someone...
The pieces are identical except for the symmetry
That was a square into 3, this is a cube into 12.
It's a dissection into identical pieces ? -Yes, I had mailed it to you. Now I've made the puzzle.
It's more difficult than it seems.
After a good look, I thought I could reassemble it, but...
So I published that solution [of the square] at the EPFL after having checked that it did not exist [Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne]
and from the background history, I took all the solutions that looked the nicest and made a puzzle out of them.
All together, they make this cube.
Here, we have 9 squares cut into 3, thus 27 layers. it's in acrylic, it's nice and insteresting.
Not to be dropped on the ground ! -It takes some time to rebuild.
With this, we can make a big square, since 9 makes a big one.
We can cut into 3 once, twice, thrice, and four times.
Two books talks about these dissections : Plane and Fancy, and Swinging and Twisting.
I'll write an article with all the references.
This one was given to me by the guy who wrote these books : Greg Frederickson
I was very proud to get this in the mail by surprise !
We'll try to make everybody talk : Guillaume !
How long have you been collecting puzzles ?
I started as a child, as there was a tangram at home, and one or two puzzles of this kind.
And I started again one day. I had the idea to look for puzzles on the Internet, and I indeed found some.
It was 2 or 3 years ago.
How many puzzles did you get during these 2 or 3 years ?
Thus, between 50 and 100 new games per year. Not bad !
Let's talk about the world of puzzle collectors. Are there many people collecting puzzles ?
I don't think so. The ones I know are mostly in foreign countries.
...USA, Netherlands, United Kingdom...
I think it's because this is very little known, and very few are manufactured.
In game shops, there are usually 2 or 3 puzzles, always the same.
What we see here is a restricted market, where everyone knows everyone.
It is maybe growing, thanks to Internet.
Now, it's mostly by mailing. You're the only puzzlist whom I know in Lyon.
A little question related to collecting : is it an expensive hobby ?
Are these expensive or cheap objects ?
I use to say that in order to collect puzzles...
...either you have to be rich. Or to know people who manufacture puzzles.
I know people who manufacture.
What about asking puzzles for your birthday, saint's day, chistmas...
This is convenient : for chistmas, I send a list of wanted puzzles.
It doesn't work well, because they have to order in hong-kongese dollars...
...or to make the order in czech. They don't manage it very well.
About prices, it starts from several euros for small puzzles...
...until, for luxury models, several hundred euros.
...which doesn't cover the time spent, I think.
Right. It must be told.
For those who mass-product it covers the time spent.
Yes, those that we find in the markets, coming from Thailand...
but for those, like you, who make puzzles in precious woods, and in little numbers, it doesn't.
And while I created this one in one night [the Blind Burr]...
I woke up, I drew a sketch, and it was settled.
While for that one [the Daedalus], it took me 3 months.
...plus 2 or 3 months for Maurice to find the techniques allowing to make a fully functionnal puzzle...
Three months ? He told me two days !
How much is it ?
90 euros, this is a piece in precious wood.
Except that, clearly, it should be a lot more.
There are no more.
There are very few, and there is an incredible working time in it.
To give an idea, this costs 70 euros [the Bicone]
This one [the Nickel Box], you sell it... ? -140.
But these are very precious woods. Ebony and others, that are very nice.
You have brought some of your favorite puzzles.
Yes, this one indeed [the Nickel Box].
Because I like puzzles with many moves.
I am also fond of labyrinths. And this is like a labyrinth in 3 dimentions.
Because after some moves, we have to find our way among several possible paths.
I like to be lost in it. All the more when the object is beautiful and nice to handle.
And I like puzzles that last long.
If you solve a puzzle within 5 minutes, that's over. You put it down, and you try to find another one.
While a puzzle that makes you play for hours gives you value for money.
Puzzles are made to puzzle people ! They can take a long time, and that's a good thing.
But there needs to be a progression. If you are stuck in the same place for 10 hours, it won't do.
Among puzzles with 150 moves, like this one, some are boring, but some are interesting...
...because as and when you explore, you discover new things...
...and you re-use them after. -All these things in this small volume !
And since the solution is defined by the computer we don't know in advance if it is interesting.
It must be made, and once you play with it, you discover.
You say 'how boring !' ...Or you say 'how cool !'
My other favorite is this one [the Bicone]. It is not in precious woods. Only regular woods.
There is maple, ash, plum...
It's made by czech craftsman Václav Obšivac, I surely pronounce it wrong, because of the accents.
...nicknamed Vinco -makes superb puzzles
and this is a mix of woods. He manages to do extraordinary things with ordinary woods.
He uses only local woods. In his website, we can see them cutting down the plum tree used here.
These are puzzles made with outstanding skills.
The mechanism is always simple. It is the craftsmanship that is stunning.
Thanks... with a bit of luck, that will promote some of them.
Gregory !... Creating puzzles is not your job. You have a completely different one.
I am teacher for special needs. -In social matters.
But I have a degree in mechanical design... I have worked for Airbus for some time
It's not the first time I turn the PC on to work on a 3-D software.
Speak to the camera, please -It's OK, the sound is here
You are well known in the game world, you take part in international meetings
Yes, I went two times
Can you tell us about it ? Because in France, we are a select group
It's not exactly my world, they are rather well-to-do people
It's a meeting ?
Yes. Every year, there is a meeting between people who are members of a kind of "fraternity"
And they alternate between Asia, America, and Europe. They change every year.
2 years ago it was in Berlin, the first time I went. Last year it was in Washigton...
This summer (it takes place in early august), it is in Narita, in Japan.
It lasts 4 days. There are lectures on various puzzle related topics, for example the Burrtools software...
In background during these 4 days, there is the puzzle competition
It is a design competition. It's not necessary to be present in order to present a puzzle.
Is this one [the Blind Burr] ?
Yes, in Washigton. It ended into the top 10 favorites.
...which I completely understand. And this one too, but in Berlin [the Ambigram Burr]
It takes place in background, with a large open room it's a lot like the organisation we have here.
Do they ask one or several ?
We can present only 3 different designs, but we must send 2, in two different countries, in case they get lost.
One is sent to the organizer Nick Baxter, in the US, and the other to the local organizer. In Japan this year.
Only two ?
There are few loss. But there are breakages. Especially with frustrating puzzles.
This one was broken, and this one was broken twice.
They're hefty ! -They are monsters !
It means that they played with. -Indeed, it means they played with them.
It is complicated, because it is in honour of *** Yoshigahara, a Japanese who has made unusual and intersting designs.
That's why innovation is rewarded.
There are three criteria : aesthetics, something subjective indeed...
The fun in solving the puzzle. Very subjective too...
And innovative. And this is very difficult...
...because you need a huge knowledge about puzzling in order to know if you are innovative or not.
The first time I saw a puzzle in my life was in 2007...
All I can do is proposing, hoping that nobody did the same before me.
Have you got books about the subject ?
No, I look on the Internet, I bought some puzzles here and there...
There are many books on the subject. This way, you know if you are innovative or not.
It's more complicated than that... to have a view of all creations before... it's difficult.
Are you sending some this year ? -This year, I'm taken up by my work, I did nothing worthy !
I've still got time, but... -The 15th of june
It must be sent before the 30th of june, I think. -No, the 15th.
It's 15 days shorter, in addition !
Usually I'm very lucky, because it comes fast...
...and then, the puzzle comes into the real world very fast too !
I think we are not all as well provided for !
You brought the prototype for this one 3 years ago [the Daedalus] -Yes, 2 years ago, here.
I brought a prototype that didn't even work.
We worked together by mail and phone during 1 or 2 months.
While this one was created in one night. [the Blind Burr] And 2 days after I had mailed it to Maurice, he phoned me...
Saying "I've made a proto... there are several woods, various sizes, I'm sending them for you to choose"... Great !
Is it one like that, that went to the competition ? -This one went to Washigton... and back.
...Intact. -Broken... I repaired it there.
After that, we made a batch for sale, but in purpleheart. -We changed the woods.
Do you know the mouldmaker profession ?
Mouldmakers are the people who make the moulds used for prototypes...
If you don't mind, Philippe, we're going to finish.
The Triche is beginning to fill up. The last questions are for Jean-Baptiste.
You are mad about puzzles. You run a web shop.
We saw that the manufacturers don't earn a living with that. What about you ?
Absolutely not !
I earn just enough to buy other puzzles for myself.
That's about it.
We're going to stop here, because the Triche is filling up, and people want to try them.
Thanks everyone. It was very interesting. I learned a lot of things, so... thank you !