The puzzle comes very nicely packaged and consists of two rather beautiful shiny metal shapes which look like deer antlers (hence the name Elk) it even has the face on it. It is surprisingly robust and a decent weight. The two pieces look absolutely identical (apart from "Hanayama" on one hub and "NOB" on the other. The NOB is there because of the designer (Nobuyuki Yoshigahara) who recreated this from a classic British design. The pieces are interlocked and the aim is obviously to disentangle them - the exit point is pretty obvious, it has to be between the 2 antlers of each piece - so how difficult can it be? Surely not worthy of the hardest possible score!
I just love these 2 piece puzzles! They look so easy and they certainly are easy to understand but can be really tough. Here is an article discussing the merits of 2 piece puzzles and their difficulty. The Cast Elk is certainly really easy to pick up and play with for a few minutes at a time. In fact, Cast Elk is one of my absolute favourites so far. I have read of people taking several hours to solve this one and thus, I picked it up with some trepidation. Because the pieces are so similar there is no real way to formulate a plan. Initially you wander about exploring the limits of the possible moves. I kept finding myself with no obvious progress and after 30 minutes gave up with a view to possibly downloading the solution.
Later I came back to it having had a brainwave! After trying to implement my brainwave I realised that the pieces have subtle differences and from this I tried my technique in 4 different positions (yes the successful one was the last one!) This got me to a position which was one step away from the solution and suddenly it was apart!!! Putting it back together was trivial as you just reverse the process. The whole thing took me about 45 minutes.
|Two near identical pieces!|
If you want a high difficulty cast puzzle then this one is great - I highly recommend it.