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Games and Puzzles



The Royal Game of Ur could be made so it can be stuffed in an Altoids tin. My dad suggested using coins as dice. Canadian quarters often have red images, poppies or maple leaves. This works rather nicely; you shake them in your two cupped hands. On the other hand, it will take time to acquire these coins, even if you are in Canada. I was fortunate to get small stones from a beach in the Gimli area, some dark and some white quartz. I recommend getting something consistent, not rough stones - but I don't know what to use. You can make a board out of just paper, which can be folded up. Don't worry about a board being too small; it works for this game. I wouldn't bother putting rules in the tin. I have marked the special positions by using red star stickers.


picture coming


I created a new game, called bilsang.




I was pondering the old Korean game four field kono. This is an awful game with an intriguing type of capture. Actually I forgot and misinterpreted the capture; I thought you jump over an opponent to land on a second opponent. So what if you combined (my interpretation of) the four field kono capture for some pieces plus other pieces that do capture by jumping over, like checkers? You make holes in formations, then have the pawns take advantage of that.
This quickly switched to chess knights and a bunch of pawns on each of the two teams. I never did try four field kono capture. The pawns have unique rules. The board is smaller.
I tried several different setups and board dimensions, but just wound up back with the original idea, which is a 7 x 5 board and a Dablot Prejjesne setup.
The gameplay for bilsang is interesting, and I played it many times. However, the ending is dreary, and surprisingly even. The game needed a goal other than attrition. I tried getting pieces to the other side of the board, or planting yourself on the centre cell, or an attrition points system. As of writing, the goal is to take a ball from the centre position. You aren't really taking it somewhere; the game ends when one player can not take possession of the ball and resigns.

Bilsang (I never could figure out if these names are capitalised) is a meaningless word. I had the name kicking around forever as a folder name for a game that is long gone and forgotten. I remember it as being exciting but a failure in the end. I've run through so many game ideas that I can forget what I've done. This might be similar to the original rules for bilsang. A glitch in the matrix there.


I made it with blue plus mostly clear turquoise glass pieces, with blue and white dice as the knights. Those pieces are pretty.
All this goes on a tightly-packed 5 x 7 inch little board now made with paper.
The ball was a dime. The hidden dime is awkward and extra work to move around. I changed this - now called a crown - to an invisible piece. When your piece has a crown you turn it upside down. A die which would normally have a 1 on top would have a 6 on top.
Posterboard will be used for the board.


The board is a 7 x 5 grid. Each of the two players have 15 pawns and two knights. The crown begins in the centre cell.

The knights move and capture like chess knights. Pawns move two spaces orthogonally (not diagonally). If a pawn jumps over an opponent's piece, that piece is captured. A pawn can jump over a friendly piece. The two types of pieces have different types of capture, as though they are from two different games.

A player must move one of his pieces during his turn. If a piece lands on the crown or captures a piece that has the crown, the moving piece now possesses the crown. When a piece that has the crown moves, the crown moves with the piece.

A player wins the game when the opponent can not take possession of the crown and resigns.

What gameplay is like:


Setup. Note the ones on top of the dice, and the invisible crown in the middle.



Blue's turn. One of the blue pieces has the crown.



white's turn



blue's turn



white resigns


How good is this game?

My opinion has wobbled, but sometimes I say it is my favourite game. I keep playing it over and over and over, so it clearly works for me.


Saturn wire puzzle. I would love to have this under my Christmas tree.

It's out of stock at puzzlemaster.ca. It has a higher difficulty rating.


The Hottest Board Games at Essen 2019

a video from Actualol




Are you considering putting bilsang under the tree? Please understand that I will do a slicker and slicker job of making this easier for you to do. I'll get images, put the rules in a Microsoft Word document, and provide construction tips. I could even be convinced to ship it to someone.

I'll let you decide how sensible it is as a gift. I find it very replayable and cute, and I want to make it a gift. At five inches wide, it should fit inside a stocking.


I'm getting the Garfield Minus Garfield book for a friend.

Garfield Minus Garfield

I'm also getting a Slylock Fox book.


It turns out there is a comics theme this year. There is a family tradition of wrapping some presents in coloured comics.

In the past I have said I wouldn't mind having newspaper comics collected and put in a package. I'm doing that for myself this year. I cut out pages of unread black and white newspaper comics into four sections to make something like a little book. Later I switched to making pages consisting of only two individual comics. It's eccentric but harmless, and makes me happy. This seems like something I would have liked as a kid.

Would I recommend this to others? If you have someone who likes newspaper comics but hasn't read them and is willing to accept the unusual presentation, then this could work. It's free, novel and requires some work, which someone might appreciate. Ten weekdays will provide material for a 100-page "book". Would you bind it somehow? I plan not to.

This is growing on me. It could be good specifically for that person who just doesn't want you to spend money on them for more junk, more stuff that has to be stored. Note that this is disposable. I'm putting it in a nice little Christmas cardboard box with no additional packaging.

farmer, boat, fox, chicken and corn riddle

This could be made on hand-drawn cutouts on something paperish.

Con: This is a single-use riddle that might not be used once. You do a bunch of work, and people just look at you funny.

Pro: People won't be buried in their devices. It is a cute riddle, and in theory multiple people could try it. You could make it with little Sally, to be given to Mark. Even if Mark has no use for it, it's a nice project for Sally.


It has become tradition for me to put a group of four of these Tunnock's bars from Scotland under the tree. Wrap the group in a red ribbon and don't put a label on it. These sweets are nice, but it's the look that makes it extra appropriate for Christmas.

It occurred to me that I could give a book on black holes ( here if you are curious) as a gift. It would be nice to wrap in mysterious pure black, with no label, no information. I really want to do this.

However, I don't know who to give it to, who would have a use for it. Also it would have to be age appropriate.

Language and Culture


Is gift a verb? Is present a verb?


Arg. I missed something:

"If I could go back in time I would set aside a day or two to look into the beginning of civilization in Mesopotamia, the epic of Gilgamesh, watch the video regarding The Royal Game of Ur, and play the game online. Apparently there is even Sumerian music out there."

Music, film, television


5 Subtle Ways Pros Can Tell if a Drummer's "Legit"


How Kubrick, Spielberg, and Inarritu Stage their Scenes

Staging and blocking.