Awards we've bestowed
GAPE | GOPALS | Contests | Special
Prizes, honors and awards we've won
International Puzzle Parties
Gatherings for Gardner
Celebrations of Mind
Praise and fanmail
In the media
Kadon Enterprises, Inc., was incorporated in the State of Maryland on June 18, 1980.
The company was founded in the Fall of 1979 by two married couples: Dick and Kate Jones, and Don and
Nosi Burnham. Kate Jones has been the President from the beginning to the present time.
Dick Jones is Chairman of the Board. The other members of the Board are Kate Jones and
Rita Krauth. Shareholders include the officers and several of the long-time helpers. Dick and Kate live in Kadon's world headquarters.
Kadon's goal is to make and sell good and true and beautiful things at decent prices.
The games and puzzles are a celebration of Mindthe uniquely human capacity to observe,
learn, invent, imagine, reason and solve. The products should bring pleasure to the widest
range of individuals, from child to adult, from beginner to expert. The style and concept
of the products should be universal and timeless, each idea presented in its purest form. Each
product must be worthy of the customer's time and money.
The company's first product, and the reason for starting the business, was the game
Quintillions. This set of mathematically related geometric shapes can be arranged in a huge number of different patterns and played as interesting strategy games besides. Its game/puzzle nature inspired the creation of dozens of other "recreational mathematics" models over the years. The term gamepuzzles came into use early as the distinctive name for this medium. Kate does most of the design and development. From 3 to 6 new products are introduced each year. See the full Chronology and the alphabetical index of first publication dates. As the company grew, compatible ideas from other inventors were also developed and added to the product line. Kadon pays royalties for exclusive license to produce such games. Our inventors are acknowledged throughout this website, and most have profile pages included. Any products not specifically attributed are the work of Kate Jones.
We've added a special Archives section just to track our developments through the decades, from concept to product to marketing, including annual celebrations of games that reach their 25th anniversary.
The symbol used in this website's background tiling and for the hotlink icons is the "W" pentomino, one of the 12 shapes in Kadon's flagship product, Quintillions. It is now also our registered trademark. Kate chose it as the company's logo for its distinctive symmetrical shape, and because it is the only pentomino with not more than 2 squares adjacent in the same line. In October 1999, the large yellow logo on the homepage was given an extra treata Flash movie by Chris Palmer that shows the puzzle pieces in the W and makes them dance into interesting patterns designed by Kate. For Kadon's 20th anniversary in 2000, Kate created a special Logo Puzzle, dividing the W into 20 puzzle pieces. This limited edition was discontinued in October 2004, with a new 25-piece 25th anniversary logo puzzle introduced in 2005.
In the meanwhile, George Sicherman had found this marvelous arrangement of 29 Ws as a jagged diamond, so of course it served as our icon for Kadon's 29th anniversary in 2009.
For our 30th anniversary in 2010, we embedded the number 30 in a special, limited edition of Poly-5, with the W in one corner.
This website uses the W in various colors as links to other pages, for ordering, shortcuts and secret treasures, even a hidden game or two.
The name of our product line, GAMEPUZZLES, also our domain name and brand, became a full-fledged registered trademark of Kadon in January 2009, along with our slogan, "For the joy of thinking." It took only 28 years. Might have taken longer if we hadn't found Stephen Christopher Swift, Esq., who expertly handled the legal end. Several other Kadon products' names are also registered. All names of Kadon-created and Kadon-made products are proprietary trademarks of Kadon Enterprises, Inc., and names of certain other products are exclusive trademarks by license or assignment. They are marked accordingly throughout the product pages. Other games we sell through guest showcases are trademarked by their respective publishers and are acknowledged as such.
In 2014 we and a very decent publisher found each other. Brainwright, a CEACO company, has licensed three of our puzzles and are producing them in China in quite attractive plexiglass. They make Roundominoes, Iamond Hex, and Hexnut Jr., the latter renamed Plexi XL, in bright colors and including most of our intellectual content. These are being sold in bookstores like Barnes & Noble. We get royalties.
Kadon markets its own products only directly to the customer. The games are not available
through stores or other wholesale channels. Kadon's philosophy is that the games should be
produced in high-quality materials for durability, beauty and tactile pleasure. That costs
money. By eliminating middle layers in marketing, Kadon can offer the games at the lowest
price possible. The company ships to customers in every state and in 46 other countries (last
count). Kate also hits the road for about 40 art shows a year. The annual printed catalog has been replaced by a free online printable edition,
available in printed form for $4.00.
The majority of Kadon's tiling sets are made of acrylic sheets, in opaque, transparent, and frosted mirror colors. Solid hardwood maple and some baltic birch plywood are the favored materials for the boardgames.
The in-house production tools for most of the gamepuzzles are the company's 25-watt Synrad and 50-watt Universal lasers with computer-controlled motion tables, run by Thomas Atkinson, curator of the Star Toys Museum. The laser tables (one 24x24", the other 24x48") and control software are from
Kern Electronics. The fine woodworking is done by Dick Jones. Heavy-duty cutting was performed for us until 2015 by the laser shop with whom we started out in 1979, Laser Applications Inc., who have grown from two guys in a small garage in 1979 to being the biggest and best chain of laser and waterjet shops in the nation. And even though Kadon was their oldest customer, they eventually outgrew us, sending us in search of a new supplier. In 2016 we found Wilke Enginuity, Inc., who were willing to take on our strange product and who share our high-quality obsession. We also cherish our other good, reliable, long-time suppliers. We stand behind all of our products, for guaranteed satisfaction. Replacement parts are always available.
Awards we've bestowed
In honor of Kadon's 25th anniversary in 2005, we created an award, the Gamepuzzles Annual Pentomino Excellence award, to be presented to the individual who offered the best new pentomino problem or activity in that calendar year. Why pentominoes? Because Kadon is founded on them. The game that launched the company, Quintillions, consists of the 12 pentomino shapes. Award winners:
- For year-end 2004Eric Harshbarger for his Enclosed Triplets problem.
- For year-end 2005Bryan Bouwman, Brian Goble and Garrett Price of HipSoft LLC for their superlative Puzzle Express suite of RealArcade games where you fill train cars with polyominoes. Their award fit the theme.
- For year-end 2006Blue Balliett for her mystery novel, The Wright 3, where pentominoes figure significantly in the plot about a Frank Lloyd Wright building. Her award was inspired by the theme.
- For year-end 2007Karl Wilk for his tour de force polyominoes solution, The Pentomino Clock. His award was a real clock with his solution forming the face.
- For year-end 2008Kenneth Blackledge for his beautiful, original Ten-Yen alphabet. His award carried forward the theme.
- For year-end 2009Kenneth Blackledge for his elegant, original Poly-5 alphabet. His award matched the theme.
- For year-end 2010Jan Zoon in the Netherlands for his incredible, 45178-piece polycube construction of Notre Dame cathedral. His award was a custom-made set of large and small mugs with a picture of his achievement.
- For year-end 2011Derrick Niederman for his ingenious wordsearch puzzle series, PathWords, published by ThinkFun, where each word is the shape of a polyomino. His award was itself a playable word puzzle/plaque.
- The award for year 2012 was won by an international team of 8 puzzlistsGeorge Sicherman, Aad van de Wetering, Aad Thoen, Helmut Postl, Livio Zucca, Green Man, Jenard Cabilao and Odette De Meulemeesterfor a series of spectacular Yin Yang arrangements where each half of the pattern was formed of multiples of the same pentominowith the contrasting dot being a copy of the opposite pentomino. Here is the description of the project. And here is the unique award we created for them.
- For year 2013we celebrated Solomon W. Golomb with a lifetime award on the 60th anniversarythe Diamond Jubileeof his introducing polyominoes as a new genre of mathematical recreation at the Harvard Math Club in 1953. Sixty years of their care and feeding, and the authorship of the definitive book, Polyominoes (available from Kadon), makes Solomon the veritable patriarch of polyominoes. His work inspired the very founding of Kadon Enterprises, Inc., and its ever-growing product line of combinatorial puzzles and games (the "Gamepuzzles"). Solomon's award is a highly playable puzzle challenge as well as a unique display trophy.
- For year 2014the award went to a mysteriously named Italian puzzle inventor, "LordMinimal Impossible", for an ingeniously designed pentomino set which when assembled into a 6x10 rectangle displayed a secondary solution painted on top, where every painted pentomino was a different color. So every actual pentomino displayed its squares in multiple colors. LordMinimal's intention was to produce a puzzle with a unique solution, and that he did. His award was a bit more devious.
- For year 2015the award went to Carl Hoff and Peter Grabarchuk for their "Untouchable 11" challenges, fitting the 11 hexominoes that can fold into a cube onto various sizes of rectangles without touching, not even at corners. Their award includes a "Scrunchable 11" challenge.
- For year 2016we came across a most unusual achievement published in Games Magazine, October 2016: "Pent Words", a 10x10 crossword puzzle by Grant Fikes constructed out of pentominoes, where every horizontal row contained words across and all 20 pentominoes contained a separate embedded word. While the 10x10 crossword had multiples of some pentominoes and did not contain all 12 shapes, Grant's award is an 8x8 square of exactly the 12 pentominoes plus a 2x2 square. For all the words to line up correctly it has one solution. We hope Grant will have no trouble restoring it from the scrambled arrangement we made.
- For the year 2017 we made an instant selection of a winner: Livio Zucca's exhaustive search for every 4-way symmetrical pentomino array with no holes... a project of great visual beauty. We wondered that no one had ever thought of finding these. Livio and his team of solvers, collaborating on Facebook, tracked down the full answer: 73. His award is also a playable set of the 12 pentominoes and a little extra.
- For the year 2018we again had an immediate winner with Raf Peeters and his adorable Penguins on Ice shape-shifting pentominoes that carry their penguins to the right spots in a whole series of different challenges. Raf's award also has movable parts, forming a square with the letters that inscribe his plaque. The manufacturer for whom Raf designs, Smart Games based in Belgium, received our special industry award this same year. See below.
- For the year 2019the winner was a most unusual manifestation of the pentominoes: a dissection puzzle of 9 different diagonally cut shapes that could form all 12 pentominoes and all 5 tetrominoes. How could 5 squares equal four squares? There's the ingenuity of our inventor, George Sicherman, where each tile is equal in area to a whole number of squares, with a total coverage of 20 squares. We were so impressed by this
phenomenon that we eventually decided to produce it ourselves, with a large number of other puzzle challenges George helped to develop for the set we named Shardinaires-9. George's deluxe award shows a unique framed solution of his initials, one on each side of the display tray.
Also in 2005, Kadon created an occasional industry award, the Gamepuzzles Originality, Perseverance and Leadership Salute, to be presented to some other game company in recognition of its long-term dedication to providing consistently excellent, mind-challenging games and puzzles and popularizing them in the mass market.
- The first recipient was ThinkFun, Inc. (a Binary Arts company), on the occasion of their 20th anniversary in 2005. Their unique prize had 20 parts.
- The second award was presented in 2009 to Looney Labs, Inc., on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of their creation of Icehouse, a dazzlingly original game that revolutionized how games can be played without taking turns. Their unique award echoed the shape of Icehouse pyramids.
- In 2015, ThinkFun, Inc., on their 30th Anniversary, were again the most deserving and admirable game company on the planet, and we presented them with a special GOPALS award and certificate.
- In 2018 we were thrilled to present this industry award to Smart Games for their outstanding product line of well-made, interesting, and highly playable puzzles and games, and their track record of over 25 years of creating inspirational and educational toys. This award also spotlights their fabulous Penguins on Ice puzzle made of shape-shifting pentominoes that look like ice floes with penguins riding on them. The unique award designed for Smart Games is also playable, rearranging the inset polyomino letters of their plaque into a square. Smart Games is also that rarity: they offer replacement parts! Check out their story.
- In 2021 it was our very great pleasure to present this award once again to Looney Labs, Inc. to commemorate their 25th anniversary of the founding of their company and their creating and designing amazing and delightful games such as pyramids and their famous Fluxx cardgames. Andy and Kristin Looney have created a whole new culture of joyous game play. Their pyramid-filled award and certificate celebrated both their quarter-century anniversary and their consistently excellent products.
Kadon occasionally sponsors awards to winners of certain puzzle-solving competitions, particularly those that use Kadon products. We were pleased to present prizes for these achievements:
See these Kadon contests still open to the world.
- The 50th Pentomino Challenge, on a Belgian website for topnotch solvers, 2012.
- The Second Annual Doris Championship, 2012, involving students in Serbia, Romania and Hungary.
- The Third Annual Doris Championship, 2013, involving students in Serbia, Romania, Croatia, Slovakia and Hungary.
- The Fourth Annual Doris Championship, 2014, involving students in 8 countries.
- The Fifth Annual Doris Championship, 2015, involving students in 10 countries.
- The Sixth Annual Doris Championship, 2016, involving students in 10 countries.
- The Seventh Annual Doris Championship, 2017, for students in 8 countries.
- The Eighth Annual Doris Championship, 2018, for students in 6 countries.
- The Ninth Annual Doris Championship, 2019, for students in 7 countries.
- The Ten-Yen 3-Layer Problem, solved in 2013 at the University of Latvia by Prof. Andrejs Cibulis and his doctoral student, Juris Cernenoks.
Kadon may also present an award to deserving enterprises that have stood the test of time in creating and crafting beautiful artifacts or events that bring joy to many people. See also special anniversary awards we presented to certain show organizers.
- In 2014, we were excited to find a company that was celebrating its 50th Anniversary of making wooden Christmas ornaments, toys and useful objects: Käthe Wohlfahrt of Germany. They were exhibiting their wonderful wares at the Christmas Village in Baltimore where Kadon also had a booth. We couldn't resist presenting them with a specially designed 50th Anniversary set of our versatile Poly-5 puzzle.
- The year 2011 was the Maryland Renaissance Festival's 35th anniversary. In its honor, Kate designed a special version of the (now-extinct) 35-ball Giant pyramid puzzle and presented it to Jules Smith, general manager of the festival, along with the Award of Appreciation signed by the Gamery's crew.
- The Maryland Renaissance Festival celebrated its 40th season in 2016, and we designed and presented to the management a special award honoring the family Smith, five brothers and their father whose incredibly hard work through the decades has made the Festival an enduring success. We've been with them for 33 years and look forward to many more.
Prizes, honors and awards we've won
Kadon's exhibits at art shows across the country have won prize ribbons through the years, including in:
- Miami Beach, FL (1996, 1997)
- Sanford, FL (1988)
- South Miami, FL (1990)
- Key Biscayne, FL (1996)
- Hinsdale, IL (1991)
- Indiana, PA (1990, 1993, 1996, 1998)
- Binghamton, NY (1985, 1988)
- Akron, OH (1993, 1994, 1995)
- Ft. Wayne, IN (1990)
- Englewood, FL (1998)
- Greenwich Village, NY (1998)
- Pittsburgh, PA (2011)
- Akron Arts Expo, OH (2011)
- Warm Mineral Springs, FL (2012)
- Akron Arts Expo, OH (2014)
- Salt Fork Arts and Crafts Festival, OH (2019)
- West Palm Beach Fine Art Festival, FL (2020)
In October 1999 Kate was awarded a certificate for outstanding performance for "the most improved booth" at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Here's a panoramic view of the interior.
On September 27, 1997, Kate received a Speakers' award in Hershey, PA, at the American Game Collectors' Association annual meeting, for a talk and discussion on game design and marketing.
Two of Kadon's present-day games were chosen by Omni magazine in 1983 as among the ten best new games of the year: Proteus and Kaliko.
Games magazine has reviewed so many of our games through the years that we've given them their own section, Games Magazine selects, in the Product Index. As of December 2013, our games have appeared on the "Games 100" list of best games 52 times.
Kadon is frequently invited to set up a round-the-clock game and puzzle display, always a popular attraction, for the entertainment and stimulation of attendees at the annual conventions of American Mensa, the high-IQ society.
- On May 2-4, 2008, at the regional gathering in Gaithersburg, MD, Kadon had a large and well-attended display, and Kate also gave a presentation as part of the program of speakers organized by Susan Wenger. Kate's topic was "A Grand Unification Theory of Life, the Universe, and Nearly Everything," accompanied by graphics of various gamepuzzles sets to illustrate the major points of the talk.
Kadon's Quintillions set was selected as part of a traveling museum exhibit of puzzles appearing in major cities and is among the puzzles visitors are allowed to play with hands-on.
Another museum exhibit, in Brussels, Belgium, invited Kadon to exhibit jumbo versions of some puzzles for hands-on play, and we sent five-fold enlarged models of three different Pyramid puzzles, Throw a Fit cubes and Square and Fair dissection, all of which Dick handcrafted. From all accounts, they were very popular with visitors.
Kadon was selected as the official puzzle supplier for the 1998 Mind Sports Olympiad in London.
In October 2003 the Maryland Renaissance Festival gave Kadon a special award for its unique 28-page Shakespearean catalog, published for 18 years. Products are described in iambic pentameter, with sly topical references hidden here and there. Here's a close-up of the first page.
In November 2003 Kate was an invited speaker at the Fall 2003 S.N.A.P. Math Fair Conference in Edmonton, Canada. SNAP stands for Student-centered, Non-competitive, All-inclusive and Problem-based. It is hosted by math teachers and included student exhibits. Kate's talk was on "peripatetic pentominoes", with examples of the many ways these lovable geometric shapes show up in mathematical recreations.
In April 2008, Kate was the featured guest speaker at the Ted Lewis Workshop on SNAP Math Fairs, a conference of math teachers hosted by the SNAP Mathematics Foundation in Banff, Canada. The foundation helps schools to organize math fairs where students create exhibits of math-based puzzles, an exciting new way to teach mathematics and problem-solving. SNAP stands for Student-centered, Non-competitive, All-inclusive and Problem-based.
In March 2010, Kate was a presenter at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Game and Puzzle Collectors (AGPC, formerly American Game Collectors Association), held during a cruise in the Caribbean, with visits to Cozumel and Belize.
In May 2011, at the annual conference of Project Renaissance, Kate was a guest speaker on the subject of "Making Sense", where she used puzzles as a paradigm for how the mind works to solve anything and to make sense of the world. Here's a synopsis of her talk.
In May 2012, at the annual conference of Project Renaissance, Kate was a guest speaker on the subject of "Minds of the Future", which traced the evolution of consciousness and projected a possible future. See the PowerPoint version.
In June 2012, at the annual Atlas Summit of The Atlas Society, Kate gave a presentation on Singularity to Infinity, which traced the cycles of existence from being to the evolution of consciousness to infinity. See also the PowerPoint version.
In May 2014, for the 21st annual conference of Project Renaissance, Kate was a guest speaker on the subject of "Breakthroughs in Method, Ours and Theirs, in Teaching, Learning, and in Enhancing Human Development". Her talk included parts of two earlier presentations, enhanced with the latest insights in meme theory. See the PowerPoint version (5.2MB).
Gabriel Fernandes has a great blog for reviewing puzzles, and for his 200th blog he selected his "Top 10" puzzles of the previous 100 reviewed, including our Trifolia. Read also his full review of Trifolia and glowing review of Cubits, Gabriel's No. 1 choice for his "Top 10" puzzles for his 300th blog. In his 400th blog, he included our Roundominoes in the "Top 10". Read its beautifully presented review. It's lovely to see recognition of our collaborator, Puzumi, and its enthusiastic founder, German Calas.
In June 2015, the Australian journal, Game & Puzzle Design, in its very first issue, published an article by Kate Jones on "Symmetrical Pentomino Pairs", treating this very fun topic with utmost scholarly formality, footnotes and all, and even had it peer-reviewed. We thank Editor-in-Chief Cameron Browne for making all the drawings look wonderful.
The 2017 Joint Mathematics Meetings were held January 4-7, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia. We had a nice compact exhibit of our most mathematically interesting puzzles, and at the mathematical poetry reading Kate presented a little verse with line lengths of 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and 21 words to match the famous Fibonacci sequence.
The 1st Annual Megistian Aenigma Agon puzzle competition was held September 1-3, 2017, on the Greek island of Kastellorizo, organized by Pantazis Houlis, a world-class designer and collector. Kadon's entry was our little MiniMatch-I, and it won the Apollo Award in the aesthetic category.
The 2nd Annual Megistian Aenigma Agon puzzle competition was held September 1-3, 2018, on the Greek island of Kastellorizo, organized by Pantazis Houlis. Kadon's entry this year was our splendid but often difficult Ochominoes, and it won First Place, the Archimedes Award in the logical category.
The 3rd Annual Megistian Aenigma Agon puzzle competition was held August 18-20, 2019, on the Greek island of Kastellorizo, organized by Pantazis Houlis. Kadon's entry this year was our beautiful little StarHex-I puzzle as its world premiere, and it won the Archimedes Award, first place in the logical category.
The 4th Annual Megistian Aenigma Agon puzzle competition was held June 26-28, 2020, on the Greek island of Kastellorizo, organized by Dr. Pantazis Houlis. One of Kadon's entries, Hex-Pave, won the Silver medal, Hephaestus award for "Quality Puzzle" in the "Blue Agon" category of scientific and/or mechanical puzzles. Our other entry, Shardinaires-9, garnered the Prometheus "Well Thought" puzzle award. We're thrilled to have won an award each year so far at the Megistian competitions.
The How To Homeschool organization awarded us their seal of approval as one of the top 60 resources for homeschoolers for 2020-2021. Their information goes to over 150,000 homeschooling families.
International Puzzle Parties
Kate is regularly invited to participate in the exclusive International Puzzle Party, held annually in various countries by turns. We've attended many of them since 1983.
- In 2002 we attended IPP22 in Belgium,
- In 2003 we participated in IPP23 in Chicago. Kate designed a special puzzle for these occasions.
- IPP25 in 2005, celebrated in Helsinki, coincided with Kadon's own 25th anniversary, and Kate made a special, very limited version of the Silver Anniversary logo puzzle honoring IPP as well.
- In 2006, IPP26 was held in Boston, and so Kate couldn't resist designing a special, limited-edition Boston T-Party puzzle for the occasion.
- Our most eagerly anticipated puzzle party was IPP27, in Australia, August 2007, our first trip south of the Equator. Naturally, Kate designed a special, limited-edition "down-under" puzzle, Sudo-Koala, blending Sudoku puzzle themes with koala bears.
- IPP28 was held in August 2008 in Prague, the Czech Republic. A record crowd of 400 strained the resources of the organizers and the facilities, especially the food services and entertainment, which meant standing in long, slow queues several times a day. Bus and walking trips around Prague and vicinity showed the city's antiquities and ornate architecture. Striking was how clean the streets are kept and how good the beer is. For this occasion, Kate designed a special Prague Czecherboard puzzle.
- In 2009, when IPP29 returned us to San Francisco, Dick and Kate drove cross-country and combined revisiting favorite places like Carlsbad Caverns and new delights like Monument Valley and Arches National Park. Kate posted travel notes on Twitter, reprised here accompanied by selected photos. For San Francisco, Kate designed the Lombard Loops puzzle as a tribute to famous twisty Lombard Street.
- For IPP31 in Berlin in August 2011, Kate designed Bearlin Variations, a sudoku/sliding block combination of 16 shield-like tiles with different poses of the historical bear on the Berlin coat of arms. Kate also built a special wood Berlin Wall puzzle for the puzzle design competition. Though not a winner, it gave a unique preview of the new Hopscotch set to come. Sadly, the Berlin photos were in the laptop that got stolen during a train ride from Budapest to Kiskunfelegyhaza. The Joneses also had a glorious visit to the German Alps and to Hungary to search for Kate's family.
- The 32nd annual International Puzzle Party was held for the first time ever in the Washington, DC, areapractically our backyard. For the puzzle exchange, Kate designed a Washington Monument puzzle made of 7 cubes inscribed with the letters L-I-B-E-R-T-Y, a kind of towering 3D Sudoku challenge plus wistful political statement. When solved so that all four vertical walls contain all 7 letter, a secret additional word can be found within the tower. For the Puzzle Party the next day, a mini-display of Kadon's prettiest and most difficult puzzles tempted attendees.
- For IPP34 in London in August 2014, Kate designed a humorously macabre maze puzzle, Escape the Plague, with 16 square wood tiles and 4 moveable border strips with connecting paths, presented in a small coffin-shaped box. London being the doorstep to Europe, Kate and Dick took the opportunity to visit friends in The Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Germany.
- IPP35 was held in Ottawa, Canada. Since Canada's flag is a big red maple leaf, Kate turned the design into a puzzle of 35 pieces, which could also form a stylized "IPP 35", and called it Maple Leaf Rag. The unique solution is not shown here, but you can listen to the rousing Scott Joplin tune while you ponder it.
- Dick and Kate attended IPP37 in Paris, France, in August 2017. Recalling the French Revolution, Kate designed the Let them eat cake puzzle to tease the collectors. It's a tough one. Afterwards the Joneses visited new-found Hungarian relatives in Helsingborg, Sweden.
- IPP38 took place in San Diego, California. Dick and Kate drove cross-country, with stops along the way to exhibit in art shows and at the MAA math conference in Denver. Since the theme was 38, Kate adapted the cool cover design of the Quintillions book for a challenge of arranging the 12 pentominoes so each piece covers a different letter in the banner, SANDIEGO2018but with only 38 units of perimeter length. The title of her exchange puzzle, thus, was 38=12. See and try it for yourself. Here's a view of our expansive display at the puzzle party.
Gatherings for Gardner
Another great event by invitation only is the Gathering for Gardner, held in Atlanta every two years since 1994. Guests are encouraged to bring something on paper to share that is in the spirit of math, magic or puzzles, inspired by the writings of Martin Gardner. Kate has attended most of them. Martin Gardner himself attended the first one, which was intended to be a one-time celebration of his work. The event proved so successful and enjoyable that a second one was planned, and by then the Gathering had become a tradition.
2006 | 2008 | 2010 | 2012 | 2014 |
2018 | 2020 | 2022
In 2006 it was the 7th Gathering, and the theme of 7 ran through many of the dozens of presentations by the distinguished scholars, writers, puzzlers, and magicians. Kate's 10-minute talk summarized 7 philosophical principles that could be drawn from Gardner's work, whose original field and degree were in philosophy.
Attendees are also invited to submit articles for the souvenir book. Some of the books are published in handsome hardbound editions by the eminent publishing house A. K. Peters. Kate has contributed three articles and a large variety of puzzle challenges. The articles are part of collections published as books. See In the Media below.
Here are the puzzles based on "7" that Kate contributed to the 2006 souvenir book. The Magic Heptominoes question offers a prize for the right answer, and this challenge is now open to the world. Everyone is eligible to try for it.
A great pleasure for Kate at the 7th Gathering was to be photographed with one of the most famous and brilliant minds of our time, Raymond Smullyan. Scholar, teacher, thinker, magician, writer, trickster, motivator, musician, and a romantic in the classical sense Ray gave a new definition to "Renaissance man". Here's the photo of Raymond with Kate and two other Smullyan admirers.
In 2008, at the 8th Gathering, the theme of "8" permeated most of the 87 presentations by an awesome group of mathematicians, puzzlers and magicians. Kate gave a 10-minute talk on "Philosophy Revisited: 8 Great Memes" (.pdf file, 434K), accompanied by colorful puzzle images projected on twin screens. Attendees also brought exchange gifts that invited thought, play and astonishment. Kate had prepared a special one-of-a-kind set just for show, Octachrome Insanity, and three little contributions for the gift bag. All played with the concept of 8:
Among the Gathering's festivities was a visit to organizer Tom Rodgers' fabulous Japanese-style home, where part of the fun was building life-size 3-D puzzles, sculptures and George Hart's interlocking construction project in the gardens, and watching authentic Japanese music and dance performances while enjoying a feast of Japanese culinary masterpieces. The largest "puzzle" built was a dome made entirely of bamboo rods fastened with sturdy rubber bands. It was strong enough for even full-grown people to climb.
This Gathering also saw the world premiere of Kadon's gorgeous Doris octagonal tiling/matching set, with a lively animated presentation by its inventor, Zdravko Zivkovic, who flew in from Serbia, and an engrossing introduction and analysis by our co-researcher, Toby Gottfried, who came in from California for the occasion. The threeZdravko, Toby, and Katehad been collaborating by email for months across the globe in the Serbia-California-Florida triangulation, in a synergy all three agreed had been most satisfying and mutually energizing. This JibJab zaniness by Toby topped it off.
In March 2010, at the 9th Gathering, the theme of "9" showed up in many of the dozens of presentations by the amazing group of scholars, mathematicians, magicians, puzzle designers and philosophers. Kate's 10-minute talk was on Nine Fine Lines of Thought and summarized the history of the Universe from the Big Bang to the present in 9 haikus, a total of 153 syllables. Intarsia designs illustrated each haiku, projected on large twin screens. Kate had also prepared two special puzzles as exchange gifts for the attendees. Both had a theme of "9"feel free to print them out for yourself and try them:
You can also play the Star-9 Challenge in the New York Times Numberplay feature published on December 29, 2014, with a nice applet that figures sums for you.
Special thanks to Elijah Allen and Eric Bare for help with the Kadon display two floors up from the conference hall. The exhibit was open only during breaks, for about 20 minutes at a time, and visitors made the most of such short bursts of access. It was great to meet in person customers we knew only through correspondence, and to greet again friends of many years, and to see their kids become our next generation of fans.
A high point of the presentations was the introduction by Zdravko Zivkovic of his newest edgematching puzzle set, MemorIQ, based on hexagons with 4 colors. MemorIQ was published just before the end of 2010.
At the end of March 2012, for the 10th Gathering, the theme of "10" or "X" was central in many of the dozens of presentations by the eminent group of scholars, mathematicians, magicians, puzzle designers and philosophers. Kate's 5-minute talk took the form of 10 couplets of iambic pentameter to encapsulate 10 stages of the cycles of infinity, in Ten Powerful Thoughts Iambically Defined, with a bit of humor and embedded references to Martin Gardner's work. The presentation was illustrated with ten of Kadon's puzzles having an aspect of 10, such as 10 pieces or 10x10 grids or 10-fold symmetry. Or you can view the entire PowerPoint presentation in its original form.
Kate's exchange gift on this occasion was a paper version of the ten-piece Bowties set (get it?10 pieces, X shapes!). You can download it for yourself, cut the pieces out with scissors, and play:
- Bowties (.pdf, 199kb), special print edition
One of the most colorful presentations was by Zdravko Zivkovic, inventor of Kadon's MemorIQ and Doris, introducing his newest tiling set, Grand Bowties, which also had its world premiere at the Gathering. Zdravko had brought his older daughter, Teodora (age 16), to present an interesting supporting theme, of the value of mind exercise both for children's development and for older people's brain health, and how fun and challenging puzzles best serve these needs. Zdravko has been organizing puzzle-solving tournaments throughout Serbian schools and is branching out his mission into Romania and other Eastern European countries.
Read a more detailed report by our friend and fellow polyform enthusiast, David Goodger. David's talk was on polyform puzzles and new results.
In March 2014,
for the 11th Gathering in Atlanta, GA, the themes were the number 11, parallel, and John Horton Conway, and one or more of these showed up in most of the 105 presentations. Kate's 6-minute talk on this occasion was on 11 Unexpected Parallels done in a galloping verse format accompanying PowerPoint illustrations, with a Conway quip at the end.
One of the 11 entries was the world premiere announcement of Joe Marasco's new game, RunnuRound. Another described the 2013 Gamepuzzles Annual Pentomino Excellence award officially presented two days later to Solomon Golomb as a lifetime achievement award on the Diamond Jubilee of his introducing pentominoes to the world in 1953. Kate had designed the award as a playable puzzle, using pieces that look like the letters in the word POLYOMINOES, which just happens to have 11 letters and anagrams to "Yipe, Solomon!" If you'd like to try your hand at solving its puzzles, just print out and cut out the shapes here:
For this year's gift exchange, Kate had designed a playable puzzle based on the 11 hexominoes that can fold into a cube after their cells are filled with the numbers 1 to 6 so each row is a "magic" sum of all equal or all consecutive totals. You can print it out, solve the magic sums, cut out and fold the cubes, then use them to solve 3D figures with magic sums:
In March 2016, for the 12th Gathering, the theme was 12, so of course the 12 pentominoes were the significant standard bearers. Kate gave a 6-minute PowerPoint presentation on Twelveness in the form of a Fib verse, a poem of 12 lines representing in numbers of words the digits of a Fibonacci series: 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 144. Interesting that the 12th term is also 12 squared. Here's the entire poem in printable .pdf format. And here is the actual presentation on YouTube, technical glitches and all.
For the gift exchange, Kate provided copies of the latest Renaissance Festival catalog, composed in Shakespearean iambic pentameter and with a special page about Martin Gardner.
The Twelveness PowerPoint composition made reference to three celebrities in the Gardner universe: Lisa Menna (magician), Kenneth Brecher (physicist), and Sir Richard Guy (British mathematician). September 30, 2016, was Sir Richard's 100th birthday. He was an inspiration to us all. Hear a super special birthday tribute song, lyrics written just for him by Blanche Descartes and performed by the Robert Schneider Barbershop Octet. Produced by Robert Schneider. See also an awesome series of 15 interviews with Richard Guy presented by the Gathering for Gardner Celebration of Mind. Here's a great tribute page for Richard's 100th birthday by the Mathematical Association of America. Postscript: We were saddened to learn that Richard Guy passed away on March 9, 2020, at the age of 103. He will never be forgotten.
In April 2018, the 13th Gathering4Gardner made much of the number 13, noting that the name "Martin Gardner" contains 13 letters. Kate's 6-minute presentation (see it on YouTube) showed 13 puzzle sets by Michael Dowle, each with 13 tiles and 13 symmetrical solutions. The poetic text accompanying it led to the world premiere of one of those "lucky stars" as Kadon's new Cookie Jar puzzle. G4G also has a growing 2018 recap page with other interesting links and all the talks.
Kate's exchange gift was a colorful 20-page brochure of the contents of the talk, including the text of the poem. Or see the entire PowerPoint visuals as a slide show. Dozens of fascinating speakers kept the audience in a state of mental excitement for four days. Special guests included Erno Rubik (he of Rubik's Cube fame), the great Richard Guy (legendary 101-year-old mathematician), famous magicians Max Maven, Mark Mitton, Mark Setteducati and Lisa Menna, and M.C. Escher scholar, Doris Schattschneider. Sidney Weaver, a young woman of rare talents, wowed the gathering by solving a Rubik's Cube with her bare feet. Kadon had a beautiful, colorful display of our puzzles in the vendor room, inviting customers to view and buy during breaks in the program. Bestsellers this year: Quintillions, Cookie Jar, Ochominoes.
The 2020 biennial Gathering had to be postponed tentatively to 2021 due to the Covid-19 virus pandemic. The continuing pandemic further postponed it to April 2022. In the meantime, the Gathering4Gardner Foundation organized some fully online events: a G4G Fundraiser, and an annual Celebration of Mind for Martin's birthday starting around October 21, with guest speakers on the 21st of each month. See our special puzzle for Martin's birthday, shown on the G4G website. Then see our 5-minute video on YouTube, outlining our G4G fundraiser participation by donating a share of all orders received on our website between November 8 and 30, 2020. It's quaintly in verse.
The 14th Gathering4Gardner, postponed from 2020, finally took place in April 2022, as a "hybrid" event combining about 200 in-person attendees in Atlanta and a large number of virtual participants from all over the world via Zoom. Four days of special presentations combined actual and remote speakers, many on the theme of "14". Kate's remote 6-minute talk was on "StarHex-14, the beauty of polyform puzzles",
delivered as sonnets (traditionally 14 lines each). You can also read it here. Kate sent a supply of a paper version of StarHex-14 as a gift for attendees. You can print and cut out the pieces for your own enjoyment, or order the fine acrylic version.
Celebrations of Mind
Martin Gardner passed away on May 22, 2010, at age 95. His fans world-wide hold annual Celebration of Mind parties on or around his birthday, October 21, in dozens of countries. There is even a YouTube channel for videos of many events. The large biennial Gathering for Gardner conferences continue in Atlanta. Martin Gardner's legacy endures. We're sad to report that the moving force and organizer behind the Gatherings for Gardner, Thomas Rodgers, passed away in Atlanta after a short illness, just ten days after the tenth G4G. The foundation he created continues his work.
2010 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 |
2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021 |
The first annual Celebration of Mind in the Maryland/Washington D.C. area was hosted by the Mathematics Association of America at their headquarters in Washington on October 21, 2010, in collaboration with Bill Ritchie and ThinkFun, Inc. Attendees gave short talks about Martin and how he had inspired four generations with a love of recreational mathematics, magic and puzzles. Look for Kate Jones's and other G4G Celebration videos on YouTube. Read also the background (.pdf) of our connection to Martin and his two games.
On October 21, 2012, we dedicated the entire last day of the 2012 Maryland Renaissance Festival season as a Celebration of Mind (.pdf) for Martin Gardner's birthday. Hundreds of visitors had a chance to play and think and hear about "Polyform Puzzlesthe Combinatorics of World and Mind".
October 20, 2013, was the last day of the 2013 Maryland Renaissance Festival season, and our pavilion again hosted a day-long Celebration of Mind for Martin's 99th birthday. Our evolving theme: "Polyform PuzzlesPortals to World and Mind." We had designed a special souvenir puzzle for visitors and customers. You're invited to print it out and work it, too.
In 2014, we dedicated the entire last weekend of the Maryland Renaissance Festival, October 18-19, to a Celebration of Mind and the Centennial of Martin Gardner's birth. Our continuing theme was "Polyform PuzzlesGateway to the Universe". This year's special souvenir puzzle for visitors and collectors was a 10x10 Latin square based on the number 100. You're welcome to print it out and play with it, too.
For 2015, the last weekend of the Maryland Renaissance Festival, October 24-25, was again dedicated as a two-day Celebration of Mind at Ye Olde Gamery. This year's theme was "Polyform PuzzlesA Renaissance in Puzzle Art" and the special souvenir for visitors and collectors was a copy of our new 40-page Renaissance catalog, written in iambic pentameter and with a page explaining about Martin and recreational math. Customers received a little gift, a dexterity puzzle spinner (based on a classic folk toy idea) made from spare Bear Hugs disks and teddybears. The disks had little W's (our logo) cut out and were inscribed with "Celebration of Mind 2015".
In 2016 we again hosted a great crowd of visitors for the annual Celebration of Mind honoring Martin Gardner's birthday at the Maryland Renaissance Festival's last weekend, October 22-23, our 33rd season. The theme again was "Polyform Puzzles: A Renaissance in Puzzle Art". Our gifts to guests included a copy of the Twelveness script and link to the full, illustrated PowerPoint presentation Kate gave at this year's Gathering4Gardner in Atlanta and at the Bridges Conference in Finland. Customers also received a copy of the BuzzBears disks inscribed with "Celebration of Mind 2016". Splendid fun, and all because of something Martin wrote in 1957.
In 2017 the last weekend of the Maryland Renaissance Festival coincided to the day with Martin Gardner's birthday, October 21, and our theme for the annual Celebration of Mind was "Dissection Puzzles: The Art of Combinatorics". Record crowds of visitors learned about Martin, math, polyform puzzles, strategy games, playable art, problem-solving and recreational thinking. Some visitors arrived just to partake of the Celebration and stayed for hours, exploring all our games and puzzles, and choosing just the right items to buy for their families. Our gifts and handouts included a fact sheet about combinatorics, highlighting the Archimedes' Square and its new monograph, and copies of attractive literature about Martin supplied by the Gathering for Gardner Foundation.
In 2018, the last day of the Maryland Renaissance Festival, October 21, played out exactly on Martin Gardner's birthday, and our annual two-day-long Celebration of Mind was hosted by the great crew of our pavilion, Ye Olde Gamery, while Kate and Dick were absent on a trip to Budapest. Our theme this year was "When are you?" about historical games and puzzles. Hundreds of visitors came to play and learn about Martin Gardner and recreational mathematics. As a souvenir for customers, Kate had written a short story about time travel. You can read it here: When are you? All the characters are real; only some of the events are fictitious. Many other Celebrations of Mind were held throughout the world, inspired by the Gathering 4 Gardner Foundation.
In 2019, the last two days of the Maryland Renaissance Festival, October 19-20, were again dedicated to a celebration of Martin Gardner's birthday. This year's Celebration of Mind at Ye Olde Gamery had the theme of "Pentomino/Sudoku" and featured a souvenir for customers of a puzzle consisting of 5 pentominoes that could form a 5x5 square, plus 25 little birthday cakes, 5 each of 5 different styles. You can see it here: 25 Cakes Challenge. You're welcome to print it out for yourself, cut out the pieces and solve it. More about world-wide Celebrations of Mind is on the Gathering 4 Gardner Foundation site.
In 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maryland Renaissance Festival was closed. Our annual Celebration of Mind went virtual as we distributed online a souvenir puzzle on Martin Gardner's birthday, October 21. You can print it, cut out the four pieces, and keep creating symmetrical shapes. Then see how you do with the word puzzle.
And here is a gift copy of our latest poetic presentation, adapted from a formal article about our puzzles that appeared in the scholarly journal of ISPE, Telicom. See it on your screen or print a copy for yourself: A Periodic Table of Polyform Puzzles.
In 2021, the Gathering4Gardner extended its own Celebration of Mind festivities to monthly live virtual presentations to make up for its cancellations of actual gatherings, and on March 21, 2021, Kate presented "A Periodic Table of Polyform Puzzles" as a 24-minute slide show with music and rhyming narration. It's our fanciest production to date. You can see it on G4G's YouTube channel. It includes a half-hour interview with Kate on the history of her puzzle business.
The Bridges Organization and its conferences were founded by Reza Sarhangi (1952-2016) in 1998, and he devoted his life to making it the wonderful celebration of math and art that it has become. He tragically passed away in May 2016 after a heart transplant operation even while preparations for the 2016 Bridges conference were underway. He leaves a legacy of passionate enthusiasm and a fantastic community to continue his vision.
Please support the scholarship memorial fund in Reza's name.
The goal of the Bridges Organization is to foster research, practice, and new interest in mathematical connections to art, music, architecture, education and culture, including mathematical poetry.
The 2015 Bridges Conference on Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture and Culture was held July 29-August 1, 2015, at the University of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD. Our beautiful puzzle, the Grand Snowflake, was selected for inclusion in the Art Exhibit. Dozens of fascinating presentations by eminent scholars filled several days of intellectual excitement. At the mathematical poetry reading, during the open mic session, Kate presented her Singularity to Infinity, summing up all existence in 10 couplets of iambic pentameter. Conference organizers were The Bridges Organization and the University of Baltimore.
Bridges 2016 was held at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. The sadness of Reza Sarhangi's recent death was a palpable undercurrent to the wonderful proceedings, with many tributes to this beloved Bridges founder accompanying the presentations. Dick and Kate attended the August 9-12 programs of fascinating and riveting talks. A small display of our puzzles in the lobby attracted young and old. Our Pentarose set was part of the Art Exhibit of over 100 works by artists from all over the world. During the mathematical poetry session, Kate read Twelveness, her Fibonacci verse celebrating pentominoes and reprising her presentation of this piece from the 2016 Gathering for Gardner (G4G12).
Bridges 2017 was held at the University of Waterloo in Canada, July 27-30, 2017. A great slate of speakers presented talks on a mind-stretching variety of topics to do with math, geometry, artistry, innovations and research. A high point was the keynote talk by Damian Kulash of the fantastic group, OK Go. Two of Kadon's largest sets were on display in the general Art Exhibition: Rhom-Antics and Bear Hugs. Kate presented a short paper on "The Surprising Versatility of Edge-Matching Sets" about our new little MiniMatch-I puzzle. Or see it as a PowerPoint slide show or the formal proceedings entry. A small selection of our puzzles were on display for play and purchase for several days, and were a well-crowded activity area during the Family Day open to the public on Sunday. During the math-poetry session, Kate read "Stomachion, the Quest" about the six-month research project analyzing the 1072 solutions of the Tricolor Stomachion (our Archimedes' Square puzzle).
We were not able to attend Bridges 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden. Instead, we participated in an associated event, the Joint Math Meetings, in Baltimore on January 16-19, 2019. The art exhibit included one of our poster-size images of Arc Angles. For the math poetry session, Kate contributed a few math-inspired limericks. It was sweet to be able to attend an event only 30 minutes from home. Kudos to our hearty crew, Elijah Allen (our resident mathematician) and Krystal Goodrich, our many-talented new associate.
Bridges 2019 was held at the Johannes Kepler University and other venues in Linz, Austria, July 17-21, 2019. Speakers from universities all over the world presented talks on a great variety of aspects of math and art. Kate presented a talk on The Surprising Symmetry Pairs of 24 Di-Oct Ochominoes Tiles, accompanied by PowerPoint illustrations of symmetrical pairs and beautiful solutions. One of Kate's posters, Intarsia, was also on display and was donated to Dr. Kristof Fenyvesi of the University of Jyväskylä in Finland as a fundraiser for Hungarian students to be able to attend future Bridges events. A small collection of our puzzles formed an interactive play area, and on Saturday we moved it to the University of Art and Design as part of a Family Day and Math-Art Expo for kids and their families. This event was also the world premiere of our intricate new gamepuzzle, Shardinaires-9, a dissection puzzle by George Sicherman, with additional challenges by Kate Jones and Elijah Allen.
Bridges 2020 was originally scheduled to take place in Finland, then moved into the virtual realm and was reorganized to happen entirely online, live from August 1-5, 2020. A small showcase of Kate's combinatorial sets appears in the Mathematical Tiling and Tessellation section of the conference website. Our gorgeous Triangule-8 poster and its description were shown in the Discussion section of the Art Exhibit (scroll down). In the event that this Bridges documentation is removed, you can see it in our archival showcase.