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Overview of the 12th Puzzle Parley

We just got back from the 12th Puzzle Parley and had an amazing time. For those not familiar with the Parley, it is held every other year and is a weekend of non-stop “everything wooden puzzle”; cutting workshops, informational panels, puzzle history talks, puzzle sales and,of course, puzzling! This year, as in previous years, it was held at the Hawthorne Hotel in downtown Salem, MA. What better location than the founding city of Pastime Puzzles? The topics and workshops were excellent, everyone was in a festive (and puzzling) mood, and most importantly, the wooden puzzles on display were fantastic.

There was way too much to try and summarize in a short blog post everything that happened, as the events were pretty much non-stop for 3 days, but here are a few highlights of the weekend:

1) Anne Williams, one of the foremost puzzle experts in the world, gave an excellent talk on the history of Par Puzzles. She had some great stories and interesting facts about the company from the early days to becoming one of the most well known brands in the puzzling world. As a bonus, John Madden, the current owner of Par Puzzles was in attendance and it was great to meet him.

2) Steve Richardson, the co-founder and current owner of Stave Puzzles, gave a great keynote speech about how Stave started, mistakes that he was able to turn into opportunities, and how they have grown to be one of the most well known puzzle companies today.

3) One of the traditions at the Puzzle Parley is for any puzzle cutter to participate in a puzzle exchange. Each cutter makes the same puzzle for each of the the other cutters as part of the exchange. There were close to 20 cutters that participated this year. Each person that cut a puzzle got up in front of the attendees (there were around 100) and gave a short talk about the puzzle. They ranged from how it was cut to the impetus behind the design. It was amazing to hear all of the different cutters describe the process and the myriad designs that resulted. They ranged from traditional cuts to incredibly elaborate trick puzzles with multiple ways to assemble, but only 1 correct solution! It was a great way to learn about all of the different styles.

All in all, it was a great social and learning experience and we look forward to attending again next time. If you missed it, you will now have to wait until the summer of 2016 for the next one…however, the annual AGPC conference will be held in 2015 which should be something to think about attending as a large portion of the group are puzzlers and attend both events. (If you aren’t a member, consider joining at…www.agpc.org.)