Puzzle explorer:Wade Philpott

Wade Philpott (1918-1985) was born in Sunnyside, Washington, as Chester Wade Edwards. He was adopted by his aunt and uncle, Viola and George Philpott, in 1921, and his name was changed to Wade Edward Philpott. He graduated from Ohio Northern University with a degree in engineering and became a Registered Engineer in Ohio. His work included design of printing calculators and business machines.

In 1941 Wade married Myra Given, and they had two daughters. In 1947 he was left paralyzed in a shooting, and during his hospitalization he became interested in recreational mathematics. From 1951 on, residing in Lima, Ohio, he researched tiling puzzles and jumping solitaires, two of which were produced for sale—Multimatch and Sweep.

Multimatch I
Multimatch was a name Wade chose for the set of 24 square tiles based on MacMahon's Three-Color Squares, originally proposed by the British mathematician, Percy MacMahon. Wade's research broke new ground in identifying all the symmetrical shapes that could be solved according to MacMahon's twin criteria of matching edge colors and forming a uniform border color. Wade also pioneered the use of computer search programs for identifying all possible solutions to a given puzzle shape.

In 1982 Philpott arranged with Kadon to market his original cardboard version of Multimatch. Later, Kadon also produced the set in handcrafted, lasercut acrylic as Multimatch I, the first in a series of four edgematching puzzles bearing the name "Multimatch."

Wade's findings for Multimatch turned out to be applicable as well to a shape-matching set, Kadon's Snowflake Super Square. The booklet for the latter includes a section with Wade's figures.

Multimatch III
Another puzzle set that Wade investigated exhaustively was MacMahon's Four-Color Triangles. This research was incorporated into Kadon's Multimatch III and, by extension, into Trifolia, a shape-matching variant.


Leap
Wade's "Sweep" puzzle had been produced by Hallmark as part of a series of mind games. When Hallmark discontinued their product, Wade was able to offer it to Kadon, who reworked and expanded the concept and added several games and other puzzle themes and published it under the name Leap.

Wade's puzzle for Leap is a peg solitaire variant for the 6x6 grid, and his findings were significant enough to be included in an anthology, The Ins and Outs of Peg Solitaire, published by Oxford University Press.

Wade explored fully how a 6x6 array of checkers, making orthogonal jumps only (horizontal or vertical), could be reduced to just one piece in a minimum number of jumps, and with the starting hole being any one of the 36 spaces.

The crowning touch was Wade's discovery that the last move could form the longest possible "sweep"—the largest number of sequential jumps with one piece, namely 10, and all the permutations of these.

Kadon produced Leap until 2005 in a beautiful handcrafted wood format and a softpack vinyl mat version. In 2006 Leap became one of a trilogy of game systems for the Six-by-Six set, on a larger, handcrafted and laser-engraved wood board. Softpack Leap continues to be available as a stand-alone game.

Other research
In his years of association with Kadon, during the remainder of his life, Wade also performed computer searches for solutions with pentominoes (Kadon's Quintillions set) and documented sequential-move solutions that Kate had worked out for Kadon's Colormaze puzzles.

Wade's written works include articles published in the Journal of Recreational Mathematics, computer programs, manuscripts of research into domino and other puzzles, search programs for various puzzle solutions, and correspondence with individuals in the field of recreational mathematics, such as Martin Gardner, Harry L. Nelson, Joseph S. Madachy and Kate Jones.

Most of these papers are in the Library archives of the University of Calgary (Canada) as part of their Eugene Strens Recreational Mathematics Collection, accessible to other researchers worldwide through their Website. Kate was instrumental in finding this excellent repository for Wade's legacy and pioneering work. Some of Wade's unpublished findings, especially an extensive series of domino puzzles and many pentomino figures with unique solutions, Kadon will be including in future products.

Wade Philpott was a warm, brilliant and inspiring man. The years we knew him, and had the benefit of his enthusiasm for and his expertise in mathematical puzzles, were too few.



To
Six-by-Six
To
Leap
To
Multimatch I
To
Multimatch III

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