Neil's Puzzle Building Blog
6Dec/110

Cast H&H

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Hanayama Cast Puzzles

In my latest shipment from Puzzle Master, I received this from the Hanayama Cast series of puzzles. Cast H&H, like its name suggests consists of two pieces shaped like the letter 'H' which are entangled around one another. The goal is to separate them and then put the puzzle back to its starting position. Thanks to Puzzle Master for sending me this puzzle to review.

Cast H&H boxed

Cast H&H boxed

This is another puzzle designed by the prolific designer Oskar van Deventer and is ranked 5/6 on the Hanayama scale (9/10 from Puzzle Master). As usual, the puzzle comes packaged in the familiar Hanayama Black and Gold packaging, which I realise I keep talking about but never show. So to rectify that, I'm using a picture of the puzzle boxed here!

The starting position

The starting position

I really like the look of this puzzle. It's finished with a highly polished chrome material, and the curves really do make this a great looking puzzle from any angle. There's something about the sharp lines in the centre, along with the wavy lines of the puzzles profile that makes you want to pick it up. And when you do, you realise just how smooth and tactile a puzzle it really is. As you've come to expect, one of the pieces is stamped with the puzzle's name, and the Hanayama logo. If nothing else, this allows you to keep track of one piece's location and orientation when trying to solve the puzzle.

Now if you happen to have someone who dislikes the clinking of Metal on Metal while you try to solve a puzzle, then I'd suggest not playing with this while they're around. It's very hard to keep this one quiet, so maybe best to play with this one on your own. I found it fairly easy to get turned around when trying to solve this one, and as such it took nearly half an hour to separate the two pieces. Given that it's not any easier to put it back together, I spent probably the same time again to get it back to the start. Along the way, I managed to re-solve it while trying to re-entangle it, possibly more than once!

The range of movements between the two pieces is surprisingly high. It's possible to slide the pieces along their centres, rotate one piece along the outer curves of the other, rotate it in the top or bottom gap that would be the top/bottom of the letter H and also rotate the pieces entirely within themselves. That may sound like gobbledygook, but if you've played with the puzzle then you'll know what I mean. (And if you've not, then get one and you'll understand!)

The two Cast H&H pieces

The two Cast H&H pieces

This fairly large number of possible moves with very similar looking pieces leads to the ease with which you can get turned around while solving this one. But it's not that easy. The shape of the pieces are very cleverly constructed so that a move that may be possible with one end of the pieces, isn't possible with the other. Frustrating, but certainly gets you thinking as to how you can maneuver the pieces where you need them.

Some 'helpful' text

Some 'helpful' text

No solution is included with the puzzle, again as to be expected from the Hanayama puzzles, but if you're really struggling then head over here to download one. Since I'd not noticed it before, even the box tells you there's no solution to be found. After all, we all love the feeling when we solve a new puzzle, so why spoil the experience!

This was a very enjoyable puzzle to work on. Just the right level of frustration, but not so much that you'll not be able to solve it and be forced to go looking at a solution. As always, the Cast series puzzles are not expensive, and with the holidays coming up, these make great stocking stuffers!



15Jul/111

Cast Coil

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Hanayama Cast Puzzles

Cast Coil is the newest of the Hanayama cast series of puzzles, and was designed by Edi Nagata of Japan. Thanks to Puzzle Master for sending me this puzzle to review. The objective of the puzzle is to separate the two pieces of the puzzle by sliding and rotating the pieces around each other.

Cast Coil

Cast Coil

At 1 1/3 inches x 1 inch, this is a compact little puzzle, which carries a good weight to it. The Silver and Gold pieces provide a good contrast and make the coil design stand out. There seems to be a rather divided opinion on the look of this puzzle. The aged appearance of the metals used gives it a rough and pitted feel, that many puzzlers don't seem too happy with. Personally, I think it looks great. I really like the aged appearance and think it suits the puzzle. To see what others are saying, read Kevin's review here and Brian's review here.

When I first tried to solve this puzzle, the pieces were a VERY tight fit, to the point that quite a lot of force was required to separate the pieces for the first move. That does seem like a temporary issue however as the more the puzzle is played with, the easier the pieces move. Now that I have solved the puzzle many times over, there is a slight gap between the pieces which was not there initially. The first move is still a little stiff, however that helps to keep the puzzle in the starting state, so isn't entirely a bad thing.

Cast Coil pieces

Cast Coil pieces

The two very similarly shaped pieces have a number of notches cut out at strategic points on the inside of the puzzle to allow the square pieces to pass each other. The only real differences between the pieces are the locations of these cut away sections, so keeping track of them can be a little challenging. Initially it took me around 20 minutes to solve this puzzle, as there are a number of dead ends on the path towards the solution. There is one move which still catches me out, and even though I now know the sequence of moves, I somehow manage to get stuck at the same point fairly frequently.

Given that most of the moves in this puzzle are rotational moves rather than linear moves, it adds a unique element to the puzzle. The number of possible moves are limited thanks to the shape of the pieces, but rather than making things easier it seems to make things harder as you find yourself wanting to rotate the pieces and being blocked. In all you need around 7 distinct moves to separate the pieces, so once you know the path to take, it can be opened very quickly.

I really enjoyed this puzzle, and think it provides just the right level of challenge. Hanayama rates this as a level 3/5 puzzle, and Puzzle Master 7/10 - Challenging, which I have to agree with. I'd highly recommend picking this puzzle up as it's a clever design and a fun puzzle.