Being Inspired by Angus Lavery

Impossible Playing Cards

Story Highlights

  • Just over 25 years ago, I was given the very first ‘Impossible Playing Card!’
  • A playing card that had Robert Neale’s very clever ‘Trapdoor’ fold cut into it.
  • And the rest, as the cliche goes, is history.
  • So, be interested in everything to feed your creative mind.
  • One early design of mine is one I call ‘Castle-Gate’

TheMetagrobologist consistently presents exclusive interviews articles and features every month. TheMetagrobologist is a huge fan of The Elusive E Puzzle designed by Angus Lavery and was delighted to receive this article about where he gets his inspiration for some of his Impossible Card designs. We hope you enjoy this feature.

The birth of Impossible Playing Cards!

The source of creativity has been debated for centuries – and the only thing we can say for certain is that there are many ways to tap into it, but no ‘magic bullet’. What I want to share with you in this article are some of the ways that I have been inspired over the years.

Over 25 years ago, I was given the very first ‘Impossible Playing Card’… Angus Lavery

Some of you will know me as the person who really kick-started the whole ‘Impossible Playing Card’ field, but what inspired me to start, and why? If you were at IPP34 in London, then you may have heard my short talk in which I explained where the inspirations originally came from, so you will be able to skip the first section, and read about where some of my inspirations came from for some of my more recent designs. I’ll also be briefly mentioning where I got the inspiration for another of my puzzles – ‘The Elusive E Puzzle’. But in order not to give away any spoilers, I’ll be leaving out a critical piece of info!

Shane Hales Workshop

Just over 25 years ago, I was given the very first ‘Impossible Playing Card’ – A playing card that had Robert Neale’s very clever ‘Trapdoor’ fold cut into it. As far as I remember, it came from Matti Linkola of Finland. So, I can’t take the credit for being the originator of the whole ‘Impossible Card’ thing.

I thought it was very clever at the time, and didn’t think about it much further, although as we shall see, my subconscious obviously filed it as ‘Hmmm, I LIKE this!’

A little while after that, I came across a clever magic trick by female magician Terri Rogers – ‘Stargate’ which also used the ‘Trapdoor’ fold in a very ingenious way.

Again, I didn’t think about much further (My subconscious clearly filed this as well!)

A few months later I was visiting Tim Rowett the renowned toy collector. He was showing me various items that he’d picked up on his travels, and one of them was an ingenious impossible construction by the late great Harry Eng. This was an impossible construction, genuinely made out of a single, continuous piece of card.

The trapdoor card came to mind, and Stargate, and I remember saying to Tim, “I’m sure I could do something like this in a playing card…”

And the rest, as the cliche goes, is history.

But the reason for telling you this is to point out that inspiration may come from many sources, and you won’t know until later that you have been inspired. In order to maximise your creative juices, it’s important to expose your mind to many different subjects – the more the merrier!

Sometimes new designs come about as a result of evolving an existing idea to the point where it can be considered ‘new!’ Angus Lavery

You don’t have to be any good at any of them, but you need to understand that there is value in all of them. Your subconscious will pick things up here and there, and then when it’s got everything it needs, you’ll know about it! I think my subconscious secretly enjoys waking me up in the middle of the night with new ideas or solutions to puzzles I’ve been working on!

So, be interested in everything to feed your creative mind.

Inspiration can also come from a single source………

Shortly after IPP34, I was playing around with a whole load of identical elastic bands, and looping them together in a kind of macro ‘Loom-Band’ construction, and one of the things I did was loop two elastic bands together as if they were linked in two places. I’d done this many times over the years, but never made any connection to my Impossible Cards.

It suddenly occurred to me that a single elastic band is topologically equivalent to a playing card with a single slit in it and that if you could apparently link two elastic bands together, then it must be possible to link two slitted playing cards together in the same way, and Hey Presto – it is! My ‘Twin-Link’ construction was the result (see image on the opposite page).

And of course, once you set out in a new direction like this, variations come to mind – here is ‘Twisted Link’ – this is made in the same way as ‘Twin-Link’ but has an extra couple of twists on the cards as they go together. Offset variations are also possible, and others (see image on opposite the page).

Variations are easy to find, once you set out in a new direction – it’s finding the new directions that are the really tricky thing to do! All the many thousands of variations of twisty puzzles would never have seen the light of day if Rubik hadn’t first found his ‘new direction’.

Read the rest of the interview in the pages of TheMetagrobologist Magazine Issue 3.

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