Gamepuzzles Annual Polyomino Excellence Award for 2006 — to Blue Balliett

Kadon etablished a special annual award to be presented to the individual or organization that published the best new pentomino or polyomino idea of the year. Each award is a unique custom design.

For the year 2006, we were delighted to present the award to Blue Balliett for her mystery novel, The Wright 3, in which pentominoes figure significantly as clues to the solution. The Wright 3 is the second in what we hope will be a long series of bestsellers featuring three bright and personable young heroes—12-year-olds Calder, Petra and Tommy— and the small set of pentominoes Calder always carries in his pocket. The ingenious way in which the author weaves the puzzle pieces into the puzzling plot makes reading the book an extra pleasure. Illustrator Brett Helquist's cunning drawings hide an additional puzzle.

Warner Bros. has the movie rights to Blue's first book, Chasing Vermeer. Blue's stories may do more to popularize mathematical thinking in schools than all the textbooks of the last 50 years. Thank you, Blue!

Blue's award was designed as a one-of-a-kind artifact that is itself a multiple-level puzzle. The color triangles in the stained-glass "window" on top, alluding to the window that's part of the book's mystery, can fill the spaces in hundreds of different ways.

The award itself was a puzzle to assemble from the disassembled parts. We salute Thomas Atkinson for programming the elegant proportions and for lasercutting the components:

And the three pentominoes—F, L, and W—(Frank Lloyd Wright, naturally) can be stacked to form countless different sculptures. The wood blocks came from our Quintillions set. A leaflet included with the award gave a starter collection of towers. We reproduce it below. It is astonishing to reflect how just 3 pieces can be in 6 different orders on three levels, and each can be in 24 different positions within a matrix or in infinitely varied positions off the grid, and their stackability is subject only to the law of gravity. Just 3 pieces! Infinite combinations!

A classic certificate accompanied the playable part of the award. We thank Michael Keller for the elegant typography.