Mr Puzzle - We've got puzzles!


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Mr Puzzle - We've got puzzles!


Story by Nan Dwyer published in The Gold Coast Bulletin on Tuesday 3rd December 2002.

Life is always filled with little twists and turns. But as Nan Dwyer reports, the more puzzling the better for a brain-bending couple from the Coast.

It's no wonder Susan Young finds life puzzling. Susan and husband Brian, spend most of their waking hours considering challenging concepts and possible solutions.

Issues of world peace, environmental sustainability or whether their electricity bill has been paid are not their prime focus... although such matters undoubtedly surface in the course of discussion.

Rather, they deal in the practical complexity of mechanical puzzles.

They are those three-dimensional brain teasers that drive some people to distraction and become an obsession to others.

Instant Insanity, Nail Biter and Tricky Dick are just three of Brian's master mind creations.

Animals such as kangaroos and crocodiles, buildings such as towers and bridges are fashioned from interlocking timber blocks, metal, rope and wire to confound the intellect and challenge the most dexterous player.

An invitation to the Youngs for dinner might mean you first have to unlock the mystery of the salt and pepper shakers or how to take the top from the wine bottle.

It can be baffling and thirsty work for the uninitiated.

From first waking moments to late at night, the Youngs talk puzzles.

Sue may offer a concept and then it's up to Brian to plot the three-dimentional design and engineering talent to bring the project to fruition.

"We do tend to eat, sleep and dream puzzles," says Susan.

"An idea may take as long as two years to become a reality and Brian gets more and more exicted when he see the concept coming together."

"He sits up very late at night and would proabbly go without food altogether if I was not there to remind thim that he has to eat occassionally."

Their house is full of ideas drawn on scraps of paper, notes and calculationsto thwart the would-be puzzle solver.

Brian has more than 2000 puzzles in his collection, some more than 150 years old.

He has devised more than a dozen mind-bending concepts and designs for reporduction ad distribution throughout the world.

He also produces anual Limited editions that are as keenly sought after by international connoisseurs as any other works of art.

This year's Limited edition, launches at Art & Soul Gallery, Boonah, is among his most ambitious projects.

It is a complex puzzle based on the legend of Ned Kelly with the ultimate goal to find Ned's skull, which can only be revealed in a marathon of moves and the use of tiny tools planted within the puzzle layers.

Although Sue and Brian spend most of their days developing ideas together, Sue says she cannot visualise the technical and inventive moves needed to make a puzzle an instant success with buyers.

Every year the Youngs travel to gatherings known as Puzzle Parties in the US, Europe or Japan, where puzzle inventors, buyers and enthusiasts discuss, swap and buy mechanical puzzles of such varying intricacy that it may take hours, weeks or months to unlock their secrets.

Sue is currently organising the first Australian and New Zealand Puzzle Party, scheduled the take place on the Gold Coast in May.

There are also moves afoot to stage the 2007 Internatinal Puzzle Party in Australia and establish this country's reputation as a puzzlers' paradise.

"These puzzle parties last five days as enthusiasts pour over the latest concepts and renew friendships and business connections," says Susan.

"The Gold Coast stands to benefit economically from its recognition as a venue for these gatherings."

Brian's own obsession with puzzles began as a four-year-old, when a favourite uncle gave him a present of two twisted metal ties that needed a precise movement to snap them apart.

It took a long period of concentration on the part of the pre-schooler, but Brianeventually worked his way to a successful outcome and was instantly hooked to a lifetime addiction of puzzle art.

Sue's job as a computer programmer took her all over the world as she helped Hyatt Hotels establish new ventures.

It was when Brian accompanied her to Chile and took note of the variety of puzzles in a local market that he saw the potential to harness his life's interest into a profession.

The past 10 years have een devoted to establishing his reputation as a 'puzzle master'.

As well as developing his own concepts, Brian is often asked to build the designs of international puzzle makers such as Japanese mathematician, Junichi Yananose or the Russian, Lenoid Mochalov.

But the pair are not beyond appreciating the finer points a puzzle can bring to daily life.

Sue wears a puzzle ring of delicate rose petals and has silver bracelets and necklets that hold their own individual mysteries.

It just goes to show a puzzled life does have considerable advantages.





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