Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Hanayama Cast Equa

Cast Equa
My next puzzle in the Cast series is the Cast Equa. I got this one from Puzzle Master where they have the whole series! I was rather attracted to this one because it has a particularly lovely finish and is a very nice shape - quite different to everything else I've seen - it is supposed to mimic an astrolabe. This is yet another puzzle designed by Oskar van Deventer.

Cast Equa is rated as a 5 out of 6 by Hanayama or 9 out of 10 by Puzzle Master (Gruelling) - I think this rating is correct, it is a pretty difficult puzzle but not too horrendous! I find the level 6 puzzles almost impossible without some kind of assistance.

It comes nicely packaged in the usual Hanayama black box and mounted onto a card with ties to ensure that it doesn't come apart before you have unpacked it. The puzzle itself appears like a globe structure with a central part that moves around within the external frame. It is a lovely dark chromed colour and the fit is perfect. Dimensions are 4.6cm diameter and it is a good weight in you hand. There is no solution provided - this is a pretty tough puzzle and you might actually need one - if you do then download it from here.

I initially took this out and had a very quick fiddle with it and could see that it consisted of 3 parts - one outer frame and two inner interlocked rings. It was not clear how the 2 pieces in the middle were to come apart from each other (let alone out of the outer frame). The 2 central pieces seem to rotate fairly freely in certain directions but are restricted in others by 2 small metal tabs. I put it in my jacket pocket before heading out on the London tube for a trip into town and jingled as I wandered around (annoying the hell out of my wife!! - Again!!!) Whilst sitting in a cafe I took it out and was horrified to see the pieces had separated within the frame - I didn't know how it had occurred and spent a few panicky minutes trying to set it back to the start. I managed this and then deliberately started again (at least I now knew how it began).

There seems to be a huge number of possible moves for this puzzle but they are really quite restricted due to the metal tabs. I found that I quickly got stuck into a position that I could not escape from. I was able to slide along the arms of the frame but could not move the pieces onto any of the other arms. The only different thing I could do was to take one piece and rotate it the other way around! Unfortunately this got me nowhere - although it did give me an idea for a possible approach to a final solution. I spent about 30 minutes stuck in this position whilst traveling on the tube until I got a sharp elbow in the ribs from "she who must be obeyed". I was completely flummoxed by it - everything I tried ended up up back at this point. I stuck it back in my pocket and continued with my trip. Lo and behold, when I took it back out it had managed to reset itself - I have a magic jacket!

The following day I started again whilst out and about in central London. This time I had noticed something special about the frame and using this I was able to get a little bit further. I still struggled with getting locked into certain positions but was able to back-track and then work out an alternative forward move. I reached a point where I was able to utilise a peculiar feature of one of the inner pieces and and got very excited but again got stuck!!! After some back-tracking I discovered another forward step and again tried to use that peculiar feature - YESSS!! This time I managed to get one ring off followed by the other one. They were both interlocked and it was a simple matter to finally disassemble the whole puzzle.

Cast Equa Pieces
 Solving this one gave me a real sense of achievement - it was really pretty difficult and there are a large number of possible moves ending in dead ends. If it hadn't been for the "magic jacket" then I could have spent weeks on it! Putting it back together was just a matter of reversing the process but was still quite fiddly in places!

I have given this to quite a number of friends and they have all been very intrigued by it and had a good play. Some have had it for an hour or two and really got nowhere with it. Most have given up in disgust. I think this is more a sign of the difficulty of this puzzle rather than the design. I don't think anyone could solve this in a single sitting of an hour or two. If someone took it away for a few days they might stand a chance - not really a coffee table puzzle apart from the look being quite attractive. It has a fairly decent longevity to it.

I really loved this one - I would venture that this is not one for a beginner, but for anyone who is fairly au fait with the Hanayama series this is a great addition to their collection.


  1. My Equa has jammed into some funny kind of position. Can I borrow your magic jacket please? :D

  2. I have tried the magic jacket with other puzzles and it didn't work - I suspect it is limited to just one puzzle per jacket!!!

  3. Equa is one evil puzzle...

    To make it even more interesting, there are TWO very different solutions.

    1. Really? I didn't know that!

      Maybe you could send me a description, series of pics or even post a video of the second solution!



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