Tag Archives: IPP

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!

‘Knot’ Your Typical Celebrity Sighting!

Last week, the 32nd International Puzzle Party (IPP) was held in Washington, DC!  Never heard of IPP?  Neither had I until joining ThinkFun and getting the inside scoop on this exclusive community of puzzlers and their annual gathering.

IPP is an invitation-only event for serious puzzle collectors only.  Founded in 1978, it provides a venue for the exchange/sale of puzzles, books and related items, as well as for fun and fellowship.  In short: puzzling fun for puzzling enthusiasts!

Frans de Vreugd is an IPP Member and the inventor of Gordian's Knot!

Why is the IPP community so near and dear to our hearts here at ThinkFun? Our co-founder AND Head of Inventor Relations are both members of IPP, along with several of our wonderful puzzle inventors!

After IPP events concluded this weekend, Bill and Tanya welcomed many attendees to tour ThinkFun headquarters and see where the magic happens – here in the office I had a major Celebrity Spotting moment when I met Frans de Vreugd, the inventor of our Gordian’s Knot brainteaser puzzle visiting from Holland!

Want big fun? Super-size your games!

We’re all about the value of hands-on play here at ThinkFun, with games and puzzles designed to challenge players to think with their hands, encouraging tactile learning and building new understandings and strategies by manipulating pieces.  But why should the hands have all the fun?!

This week’s giant office-wide craft project to create two massive game mats for the Destination Imagination Global Finals got me thinking about the other ThinkFun games that have been super-sized over the years!

Back in February, Giant Swish was unveiled at the TEDActive Conference with an entirely new way to play!

Giant Swish in action at TEDActive!

Any time I mention big games, I always hear, “Wouldn’t it be AWESOME to make a giant Rush Hour game?!”  It’s been done!  At the 2007 International Puzzle Party (IPP), puzzle-lovers from all over the world came together to take on a massive Rush Hour challenge – I must say I’ve never seen such cheerful people stuck in gridlock !

Giant Rush Hour is a crowd-pleaser at the International Puzzle Party!

This photo shows a huge version of our River Crossing game being played by none other than Andrea Gilbert, the game’s inventor!  This large hands-on puzzle was featured at the Delft Science Museum in 2006.

Andrea Gilbert, the inventor herself, attempts a River Crossing challenge!

Slightly less fancy, but no less impressive, is another fantastic version of River Crossing – this one constructed by a teacher and his students in Mumbai, India!

Students in Mumbai, India construct a massive River Crossing game!

When Solitaire Chess was still in the development process, ThinkFun created gigantic versions of the game based on the most current prototypes!  During a company event, employees teamed up to try their hand at the test challenges and experience the game play in a BIG way!

ThinkFun employees puzzle over a Solitaire Chess challenge!

During this same 2009 company event, we tested out another new game that hadn’t yet been released… any guesses what this one became!?

I'm "knot" giving any clues...!

Here, a creative teacher in Vermont turned her students into candies for human Chocolate Fix!


Finally, here are the 2 most recent additions to our Giant Game collection, both featured at our Destination ImagiNation booth!  Check out Human Hoppers and Live Action Solitaire Chess!

What is it about playing a large-scale version of a game that makes it more engaging?  For our single-player games like Rush Hour, blowing them up into massive versions transforms them into collaborative, multi-player challenges – great for team building and encouraging effective communication!

Have you played a giant version of a game that’s been more fun than the original?  Please share!