Puzzle 92 - Great London

By Custom Puzzle Craft

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Puzzle 92 - Great London
1254 pieces!

This puzzle is by far my most time consuming effort to date (note: later topped by Puzzle 149). From start to finish I figure I spent about three weeks on it, obtaining requirements from the customer, designing the 50 plus figurals, and cutting the puzzle. The puzzle has a really impressive look about it when completed. The primary cutting style is Creative, while the indices are cut in a denser Long Round, per customer request.


The piece to the right is an edge piece and went near the upper right corner of the puzzle (see puzzle picture, above). The two pieces to the left belong together and are located on the left hand side of the puzzle, just above mid-line. This trick "did cause some assembly problems" ... but in retrospect I placed the two pieces belonging to the left hand side of the trick too close to the left hand side of the puzzle so the conflict was discovered more quickly than I had "planned" since the "blue stripe" edge pieces drew attention to the problem created by the trick. More tricks to come!

"Great London" Figure Pieces

Here are the Figurals from the Great London puzzle. Ones that have appeared in other puzzles are noted. A "C" means derived from image provided by the customer.

Shown are:

1st row - Movie camera (C), Star-Trek Enterprise (C - different model than the one in puzzle #34), a Dalek, the monument at Trafalgar Square (C), Snowflake (repeat), A Golf Club with shortened handle, and two "Jurassic" puzzle pieces (they go together ..... at least they appear to..... they have a thin blue line running though them, not visible in the photo, but the pieces really go in distant locations),

2nd row - Crop Circle (repeat), Rat (repeat), two commuters, Walk Signal icon, a Soccer Shoe (C - football to the Brits), River Thames text.

3rd row - The Millennium DOME (four pieces), Greyhound (bus company logo), Houses of Parliament with the Big Ben almost lined up with a subway junction for the clock's face (C - four pieces), a Jet Airplane [need model #].

4th row (kind of) - Customer's initials (F. P.), a Bowler Hat, 747 Jet Airplane (C), Concord Jet Airplane viewed from the front (C).

4 1/2 row - Queen Victoria (C), a Flower (repeat), St. Paul's Cathedral (C), A Scorpion (repeat, slightly improved).

5th row - Egyptian figure (from a painting of Nebamun in the British Museum), "M M" for the year 2000 near the Millennium Dome, a Pump Shoe (C), an Ice Skate, a Bone, Tennis Racket (viewed at an angle) with Ball, Swirl Star (repeat).

5 /12 row - an interestingly shaped Fish from the River Thames (see under the Ice Skate), Dolphin (repeat).

6th row - $ sign (C - the piece that I accidentally didn't include with the puzzle shipment), Euro sign (C), Yen sign (C - with the colored bars being two transit lines), Anchor, another Fish, and another Fish all indigenous to the River Thames, the Tower Bridge (C).

7th row - British Pound Sterling sign (C), At sign (C), Sailboat (repeat), flowers (from a photo I took outside my apartment), a Bee (repeat, but rear legs a bit shorter than I wanted), a Seagull (repeat), Transit symbol (C - not quite lined up with the color bars the way I wanted), a Foundation Logo, and finally the British Telecommunications Tower (C - formerly known as the Post Office Tower).

Not shown - a Railroad Car, Flames representing the Great Fire of London of 1666 and a Trick (to be shown after assembly by the customer)

The Customer Wrote:

Hello dear sir.....


Just going to sit down a peer...Will report back in detail later tonight.

First Impressions


The size of the average piece is quite small. This is excellent. The quality of the cuts is astonishing, and I am VERY impressed. I did not think after #34, that you could do any better, but you have. The feel and smell of this puzzle as you first open the box is inspiring. I definitely will go with LONG ROUND ONLY on DALI. This will make it unique in its difficulty. The star attraction… THE DOME, but I can only find two bloody bits!!! The 2 strip pieces fit perfectly, and frankly, I like this idea….. Maybe on DALI we can expand this concept, but I suspect your MULTI-PIECE trick is such an idea. My eyes are peeled. I like the way you lined up the LINES with figurals and pieces… The “BE” inside the BEE, is a very nice touch, as is the Man with case with the Transport logo on his bag. Obviously an employee. They greyhound is for White city Stadium, famous for racing, There is no Greyhound Bus Co. (here at least)

DAMAGE…. Well… Despite actually picking the piece out to be kept with a pile of delicate pieces and nice stuff to people, I did not notice it was a damaged section till I was showing the pieces to some friends [John's note: A piece was lightly damaged during early going and I discussed this with Fran - a decision was made to continue with the puzzle cutting]. Frankly it is so hard to see that I will not restore this piece, since I am unlikely to get as good a finish and do not want to risk ruining it. If, when assembled, it is noticeable, then I may reconsider. At least I have a spare print, so I can always do it. The Puzzle is perfection John, I would not dream of reclaiming any cash back. The decision to proceed after that initial PANIC, was (I think you will agree) the correct one. Expect my vote of confidence later in the Year when I order DALI. Can you give me a quote for DALI, LONG ROUND and 10 figurals please…. Then I can start saving. Bear in mind the SINE WAVE border all the way round. I really want to disguise the edge. My wife and son are so enthralled that they are going to buy a Print on vacation this year, and have it made into a puzzle (by you),

NOW… can I assemble this in less than the 40 Hours it took to cut?

This deserves a diary (You may publish excerpts if you wish)

Spent 2.5 hours sorting the pieces. The idea is to ease the build process.

After turning all the pieces face up, I have defined the following piles.
2. LONG ROUND (INDEX & KEY to Lines.
3. FIGURALS, EGGS and Strange pieces.
4. River pieces
5. GREAT BEAR Title pieces.

Assembly will proceed on the basis of, first the TITLE, and River. Then the LINES followed by the 2 Long Round sections, and then dropping in the WHITE. Figurals to be added on the fly.

I then assembled the GREAT BEAR TITLE section. Hmmm.. Encountered the first trick; I neatly assembled the letter U... and the realized after a while that there is no U or N in the puzzle. In fact it was a spur of the LOWER case, A which had been cut to fit in more than one place…. V Nice John. This piddly little area was deceptively hard considering.

RUNNING TOTAL 2.0 hrs. (30 min deduction due to being in AWE),
2% DONE (ETA 100 Hours)

Session 2

Lots of tricks as the river is now 90% assembled. Much harder than one would expect. The DOME finally completed. There were a couple of pieces that visually seem to fit, but when I tried, they obviously did not quite go.

2 hours

RT 4 hours, 5% completed… ETA 80 Hrs.

Session 3

Did the yellow and pink lines, and now I am beginning to find it coming together. Some very elegant and fine pieces dropping into place, but no tricks today. River complete big progress with 10% more in the bag. Really getting into the flow of it. As a result, estimate collapsing, but the long round section (to be last) may be a problem.

Time 3 hours
RT 7 hours, 15/20% done
ETA 45/50 Hours and falling.

Session 4
"OHHH, Crafty"
It is real hard to explain a lot of the intricacies of these beautiful pieces. This Creative style is astonishing. EVERY piece is different (yes I know they usually are suppose to be), but it is truly mind numbing. I spent a good 20 minutes looking for an interlocking piece, which turned out to be 4 pieces in the end. HUH! Then the Actors. Good job I know what the TUBE map looks like, but DARN, those names! The Actors Line (BLACK) has some seriously clever cutting, layering names on top of each other. Then of course comes the chopping of the 3 FONDAS Very neat. I especially like the mix of Line cut lines, and the way you avoid the "separation effect" with wrap around end pieces. My there is truly a lot of thought gone into this. Some of the junction pieces and intersection tricks are devious when looking at the piece in isolation. Quite a few figurals dropping in. NONE are obvious since they are wrapped by multiple pieces. The amount of EXTRACTED LINE cuts is about right on reflection. I thought I wanted more but it would have KILLED the puzzle. As always John, you know best. Some pieces have such thin loops on them, it scares me.

But so far the best thing is the piece density. Oh yes, Yes YES!

So Blue, Black and Dark Pink lines done. Will finish off the rest of the lines tonight (while the missus sort out photos). That will then leave the Index areas and all white pieces.

Time 3 Hours
RT 10 hours, 30/35% done

ETA 30/35 hours (finally within the Cut time)


Session 5

Oh Tricksy Tricksy.

Quickly completed the rest of the lines, but had to draft my son in to sort out the RED, BROWN and GREEN lines. I am RED GREEN colour blind for certain shades, and guess what The Red and the Green almost merge, so I kept looking for pieces that did not exist or fit together.

Then things slowed down a tad, the way the names are cut up Very Clever! I spent hours rooting around for the "Fitzgerald" to go with "F SCOTT". Except that the name was R.F.SCOTT. And then the Monarchs JEESE!!!! So many sodding LOUIS, Louis X, Louis XI, Louis XII, etc. and never a Louis with his NUMBER.

Well After that fiasco, I spent a good hour doing a further sort on the index areas into Blue Edging, and non-Edging. This will aid assembly. There is an amazing area top right with this angular squarish stuff, a bit like the Microsoft Pipes screen saver.... would you dare cut a puzzle in that style?

Time 5 hours
RT 15 Hours, 50% Done

ETA 30 Hours (but pace will now slow done a lot now, since these remaining areas have little or no guides).

Well ALL the actual map is done... What is left is the border area and the INDEX areas.... Very Tough.. Pace will collapse. The LOG is below, but suppose the trick is pieces fitting together that do not belong? I am having some strange assembly problems.... will put more detail to it. but I suspect the LOG is me barking up the wrong tree. ONCE finished I will give a final appraisal for your site, but keep using any clippings as you feel fit. I am just SO in awe of the whole thing, it is difficult to describe, since I know few will ever order such an intricate design.

Truly a masterpiece, and a tribute to your patience and skill.



Session 6

Morning only. taking tonight off.

More elaborate cutting and a major slow down in the pace as we hit LONG ROUND. Also could not find where the "MICH" piece went, since MICHAEL CAINE was already done THEN VIOLA MICHELANGELO. Some ver naughty cuts with ONLY the British Rail symbol on a white piece. Lots of those.

Now Long Round needed a further sub sort to make it possible NOT to go insane. The small 1mm print size gives few clues to the position of neighboring pieces. Only if the beginning of a word is visible, does its approximate location in the index become locatable. The 95% indirect interlocking pieces are of course VERY hard to place, so tell tale grid lines allow me to work out their orientation. This still leaves about 130 pure white pieces. The Long round is being placed by using the BLUE edge as a guide. There are about 150 of those, and then about 200 without. So 2 more hours later, the rest of the station names and lines are complete and 75% is complete, but that is area, as a % of pieces, 60%ish. The pace of assembly is collapsing. (GREAT FUN THOUGH).

Now where is this MULTI PIECE TRICK?

I have seen a few pieces that are - well - strange. Spent all morning looking for a flower piece, only to be told by my son that it fit between the Scorpions legs. What a plonker I am! But just below the F of my initials I saw what seemed to be the bottom of a bell with the end of the clapper hanging out. Could BIG BEN (actually the name of the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster, which is known by the Bell it houses) BE THE trick?

Time 3 hours

RT 18 Hours, 60% Pieces ( 75% area)

ETA 40 Hours (up we go)

FINAL SESSION 5 hours, total 23 hours. WELL...... I am done. amazing...The long round sction ( 300 pieces aprox) seemed a nightmare, and then I went for it. Assembling pieces using the text as a clue to the alphabetical order of the index, and WHOOSH, fairly straightforward...not to say that the pieces are easy themselves....very intricate and delicate. ALL the border was indirect interlocking into the body of the puzzle.. spent a while looking for the ANDERS to go with URSULA ...only to find it was SAINT URSUALA. The EDGE was the last thing to go in, with the multipiece trick being discovered at the end when there where 3 leftover pieces with blue lines in it Very VERY nice cutting there producing a MULTIPLE solution, with perfect fit. JOHN I am convinced that you are crazier than me. WELL...A very enjoyable puzzle, probably the best that has been ever cut. You say that there is a company doing VERY VERY HARD cuts with multi solutions [ed. note - Stave Puzzles] ....NO INTEREST...There has to be a balance between difficulty, beauty and pleasure...AND YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD.

Your puzzles are destined to become family heirlooms.

Well...that is it till later this year when we crank up the difficulty with DALI…

Take care and speak to you soon.

Great London
Simon Patterson
Date Completed
Feb 23, 2001
24 11/32" wide by 19 13/32" high
Cutting Style
Creative; Bottom Text and Indices Long Round
# Pieces
Color Line Cutting
Some metro junctions and tracks
54 Figurals! see picture above
Treat Pieces
The "London Underground" logo; also one advanced trick

© John S. Stokes III - Puzzle Crafter & Webmaster

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