Tag Archives: brainteaser

Meet the Daily Puzzle Inventors!

Meet Oskar van Deventer and Wei-Hwa Huang, the inventors of Daily Puzzle, ThinkFun’s newest brainteaser!

Oskar van Deventer

Wei-Hwa Huang


Daily Puzzle wan’t born overnight… here Oskar and Wei-Hwa share the story of how they collaboratively developed this innovative puzzle over the course of several years!


Oskar:  In July 1986, I designed a single-digit three-leaf version of this puzzle that could make 0-9. There was no black background. I added a single-digit two-leaf version for making 0-3, again without the need of a black background. Together, the five leaves could make 00-39, enough to make all days of a month.

Wei-Hwa:  Nick Baxter and I were visiting Oskar at his house in the Netherlands (October 2003), and Oskar was telling us about the many puzzle ideas he had.  One of the ideas was this “digital” version of the classic “calendar cubes” puzzle (which, if you haven’t seen, is a set of two cubes that you can use to display the numbers from 01 to 31)… but Oskar couldn’t actually find a working arrangement.  We went to bed that night, and in the morning I had a working arrangement for Oskar.

Oskar:  When Wei-Hwa visited me in October 2003, I showed this puzzle to Wei-Hwa and asked him to improve it. Overnight, he developed a two-digit four-leaf design that took advantage of the black background. This puzzle was shared by Tanya Thompson at the International Puzzle Party (IPP) in 2008 as “Daily Puzzle.”


Wei-Hwa:  At this point I thought — well, the “calendar cubes” puzzle has a lesser known cousin which spells out the first three letters of the month.  Why can’t the same equivalent happen for our puzzle?  One night later I had the basic design for the month names.  The challenge was quite different, of course, because this was about giving the pictures a “look” of a segmented digital display while not actually being a consistent set of segments.

Oskar:  In March 2009, I asked Wei-Hwa to also design a Monthly Puzzle with JAN-DEC which I prototyped.  Wei-Hwa made some detailed improvements on the letter design, rounding and sharpening where needed, and that version became Tanya’s IPP gift for 2009.

During the next two years, ThinkFun worked to find the right form and price for a mass-produced version that combined the two puzzles.  The first deluxe version looked superb, but it was too expensive and it did neither fit in a toy store nor in a stationary store.  Then ThinkFun simplified the design, reducing the cost and achieving the current great looks of the puzzle!

Hooray for teamwork - we are so proud of this final product!

Oskar shared the following message when he received a case of Daily Puzzles last month – love the idea of personalizing the puzzle with a special date for a gift!

I cannot describe how happy it makes me to see this puzzle finally to the public. When I made the original design in July 1986, I was already convinced that it could make an attractive and compelling puzzle to a wide audience. Now, over 26 years later, it is finally happening. Thanks to the additional innovations by Wei-Hwa, theming by George Miller, and some great and subtle industrial design work by ThinkFun, people can now buy it!

Only after receiving the samples, I realized what a great birthday gift this puzzle makes. I can open the package and change the date to a personalized one. Tomorrow, my sister has her 43rd birthday. So I have hers set to SEP-08. I am sure she will like it.

I am thrilled to report that Daily Puzzle is nominated for a People’s Play Award from Time to Play!  Here’s a campaign video Oskar created to help spread the word – please take a moment and VOTE NOW!

Meet the Top Dogs at ThinkFun!

The humans here at ThinkFun are thrilled about the release of our newest dog-themed brainteaser Stenzzles, but no one is more excited than the furry stars themselves!  Also available in Tropical and Sports themes, Stenzzles is an innovative new puzzle that challenges players to replicate a colorful image by layering cards in the correct order and orientation.

When looking for the perfect models for the Dog Collection, we decided to go with local talent.  Five of the pups featured in this new game are members of the ThinkFun family, and I’m thrilled to introduce them here!

Louie the Dachshund examines his Stenzzles likeness…

Aren't my legs longer than this?!

 Buster the lovable mutt kicks back with a game of Turnstile

Ramsey the Labrador has been part of the ThinkFun family since his puppy days!  Here he is only weeks old…

Take your pup to work day!

Weighing in at 102 pounds, Cargo the American Bulldog has brains AND brawn!

Solitaire Chess gives me a headache!

Meet Akira the Akita – this is a dog with serious fashion sense!

Akira knows better than to chew on a designer ThinkFun shoe!

Ready for another fun fact?!  Stenzzles was invented by Ron Dubren… also the inventor of Tickle Me Elmo!  In this post you can see Ron with a prototype of the game at Toy Fair in February.

We love seeing photos of YOUR playful pups too! Please email your pictures to info@thinkfun.com and we’ll add them to our online album!

15 Puzzle Aids in Stroke Recovery

An incredible email we recently received from a stroke survivor – We are thrilled to hear our game is helping in his recovery and has earned a place in his family’s Earthquake Kit!

Dear ThinkFun,

Thank you for inventing the “Fifteen Puzzle” game.

As a 5-yr stroke survivor I find this, aided by other physiotherapy, continues to help.  It is a game that I enjoy because it is quiet and does not disturb or distract others; and does not require batteries.

I had a similar game when I was younger, about 60 years ago.  I have been looking for a similar one to my childhood one – lost long ago.  Your Fifteen Puzzle is the closest.

Planning for a recently completed, lengthy airliner trip and boat cruise prompted my efforts to again locate such a toy game that would keep me 1) amused, 2) my mind active.

I don’t where we ‘found’ and bought your puzzle game, but have had it for more than a few years now.  I do enjoy playing it and when its not out being used I keep it as part of our family earthquake kit along with a deck of playing cards.

Keep up the good work with your other toy distribution!

Jump Start Creative Thinking with Brainteasers!

In many classrooms, the day begins with “Morning Work,” an assigned activity to kick start the day.  I don’t know about you, but “Morning Work” doesn’t sound like a particularly exciting way to dive into the day.  Think about tweaking your terminology and see the response you get when “work” time is transformed into a Thinker’s Paradise!

Looking for ways to ignite your students’ minds in the morning?  Get their brains in gear with a fun brainteaser challenge!  Here’s a great example that would work well for a 4th Grade classroom:

Stacking the Dice Puzzle

Suppose seven dice are stacked as shown, and you can see all the exposed faces, including the Back view shown in the upper right corner.  Find the sum of the pips (black dots) on the hidden faces of the dice.

Bonus fun fact: The dots on a die are officially called “pips”

Want more?  Here is a fantastic collection of brainteasers sorted by grade that work well as solo or collaborative warm-up exercises in the classroom!  Once your students have completed several, have them create their own modified versions and challenge one another!

How do YOUR students begin their day in the classroom?  What do you call this time?  Please share your ideas by commenting here!