Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Hanayama Cast Quartet

Cast Quartet
The Hanayama Cast Quartet came from Puzzle Master. I had been putting off attempting this one because of a number of blog posts stating how very difficult it was - Gabriel failed to open it despite his enormous puzzling experience! Brian, with his almost superhuman puzzling skills managed to open his but even he had to give up and get the solution to reassemble it! So with these ominous words ringing in my ears I decided I should have a go too. Not, I tell you, to compare myself to these seasoned puzzlers (I am still very much an amateur!) but more because I had really enjoyed my other high level Hanayama's and also because I am an eternal magpie and am terribly attracted to shiny things!

This one came in the usual immaculate Hanayama packaging and was assembled into the initial state (this puzzle can be disassembled into 4 individual pieces and an alternative assembly is also possible to try!) The difficulty level is 6 out of 6 on the Hanayama scale and 10 out of 10 on the Puzzle Master scale - this means it is about as difficult as it gets - Gulp!!! The puzzle is manufactured from the same black chromed metal as the Cast Equa I reviewed earlier and it looks absolutely lovely. My long suffering wife says that whilst it looks lovely, the sound of it has driven her to distraction (she absolutely hates me jingling constantly!) Dimensions are 5cm long and 3.2cm wide and deep, it is also a good weight in your hands. There is no solution provided with the puzzle but if you wish (YES you will need it!!!) then download it from here.

When you first pick this one up it appears that all the pieces are identical but in reality they are not - they are actually 2 pairs of identically shaped pieces and within each pair 1 piece has the maker's name stamped and the other has Quartet stamped on it. Initial attempts rapidly lead to the conclusion that this is not going to be a quickie! One movement is possible on either of the pairs (one easily and one with more difficulty) and after this you meet a dead end! At this point it dawned on me that being systematic may be important - I decided to try each of these movements with the other pieces starting in different positions. I decided to try each of these movements with the other pieces starting in different positions but now moving in different directions! Many things are possible and they all seem to end up more or less with the same impasse! At some point during this laborious trawl through multiple orientations and directions I managed to get 2 pieces rotated - AHA! progress at last! Again I could go no further and this time I struggled to put it back the way it came! So far I had been at it for about a week (not continuously, you dope! I do eat and drink and unfortunately have to work! about 3 or 4 hours in total).
OMG! This is a part of the solution!!!
I put it down for a while to try and preserve my marriage and played with some of my other toys - the quieter ones!! Every so often the Siren's song would call me and I would idly jingle about but always with no real progress and a mean look from "She who must be obeyed"! Recently "SWMBO" went on a trip to visit her parents for a few days, leaving me alone and free to play to my heart's content!! Unfortunately, I still had quite a lot of work on but could play with it in front of the TV at night without getting the laser stare. I believed that my systematic attempt had exhausted all the simple rotations and orientation changes so I tried other moves but could get nothing to work at all and I started to think about looking at the solution. before doing so, I left it in my pocket for a day and when I took it out there was a completely new configuration I had not seen before. It took me quite some time to fathom exactly what had happened and to get it back to the beginning. This time I started again and managed (with some difficulty) to achieve this new position and now started to look for more moves. The pieces did seem to be more freely movable but not in any particularly useful way. I was quite determined to remember the moves and so really struggled to get any further. Finally, I bit the bullet and, like Brian, just went for it, deciding to worry about the reassembly later. From this point I think it took me another half an hour to get it apart. What a tremendous sense of achievement!! I think this has been the hardest one so far.

Cast Quartet Pieces
There is an alternative reassembly which is possible and it is pretty easy to achieve - it took me only a few minutes. This assembly is particularly attractive and is possibly how I will store it long term.

Alternative Assembly
Of course, at this point I needed to try and put it back together and apart from the last 3 piece positions, I had absolutely no clue how to go about it. There had been so many twists and turns and un-linkings that I could only put the pieces together and have a bash. Each time, I got to something that looked promising (i.e. nearly finished) but was definitely not any position I recalled during my disassembling odyssey! After a further 2 days, I gave up and tried using the PDF solution in reverse. I have to say that the pictures are good enough quality to help you undo it but it is actually quite hard to tell the pieces apart on the pictures to be able to use it for reassembly! In the end I had to use a YouTube video to manage it (even this proved tough!) I have managed to do it several times now and still get a kick out of it because it is still so difficult.

If you are after a seriously tough puzzle then go for this one, it looks great and will keep you busy for a long time. BUT, if you easily get frustrated then avoid it - as Brian said "it is almost too tough".

26 comments:

  1. Wow, I kinda starting to feel proud, because I figured it without any help. Taking it apart went fast, then I read Brian's review, and I decided to work on it only when I am traveling to work. I estimate I found the way back in 10-12 hours. Anyway, why I write this comment: there is a pretty "ortodox" solution, it is short, consisting only of "nice" rotations, and in all states the pieces are perpendicular or coplanar, the steps are easy to perform and understand, etc. I checked a solution on youtube, it was somewhat shorter than mine, but that was based on an extremely spagetti-like confoguration. The puzzle is great imo, finally I found a hanayama, that kept me busy for a really long time.

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  2. It took me quite some time to get the thing apart, once the sweet spot is found it mstly falls appart.

    I still have not gotten it back together.
    been trying re-assembly for 4 months now.
    and nearly 3 weeks with solution pdf.

    this thing is as stated, almost "too hard"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you tried YouTube? This is the "font of all knowledge"

      Kevin
      Puzzlemad

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  3. I had a similar experience where I got it apart but reassembly was not happening for any weeks. The solution document is rather confusing and seemed to make matters worse, if that is possible. Eventually I ignored it and figured out how to reassemble it myself. However, this has only been accomplished once.

    The original version of this puzzle used square frames. Apparently Hanayama or someone decided this was just too easy so they squashed them into rhombi, I must admit this is part of what makes the paper solution so hard to follow.

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    1. Even now, if I haven't picked it up in a few weeks, I struggle to solve it! This is one mean mother of a puzzle!!

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  4. I got it apart but I still haven't gotten it back together. They are jammed tight and won't come apart. I even threw it on the floor a couple of times. I went to the store to buy another but they are sold out.

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    1. Try some oil or WD40 to loosen them a little bit so that you can at least move the pieces around. I suspect that a bit of force won't do any harm - you have little to lose at this stage.

      Then go to Youtube! There are several very good videos showing the reassembly - you are right it is very tough.

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  5. The problem is I put two on backwards and I can't undo it. I had a few friends try to fix it and they can't either. I'm going to order one off ebay. I guess I will just stare at this one till I get another.

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    1. Luckily they're not too expensive!

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  6. I wish there was a puzzle doctor that we could send our puzzles to so they could be fixed.

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    1. The expensive wooden ones can be sent back to the craftsman or they can give instructions on how to fix. Unfortunately with the cheaper mass produced puzzles It's not an option! Easier to buy a new one!

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  7. Quartet is a real nice one! And I am happy owner of Hanayamas handmade brass prototype..! :-)

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    1. Wow Thomas!! I did not know that the prototypes were available! How did you come to own that?

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  8. Is it weird that I solved this in five minutes? No joke, I was really just messing around with it and then all of a sudden I heard a clang as one of them fell to the ground. Then ten seconds later I had the whole puzzle solved. But I had heard how difficult this puzzle was so I was literally in shock when I solved it. Now to try to put it back together. Good luck to the rest of you!

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  9. Pwitty; Played around with it for a few hours and it literally fell apart in my hand, I noticed a few interesting positions of pieces along the way. One that caught my eye was the two pieces that have the imprints on them were in the same plane as each other rather than being perpendicular.
    A few rotations of one piece and then another and the first piece fell into my lap. I have tried for an hour or so to get all four back together but every time i get the fourth piece onto two other pieces the whole puzzle locks up.

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    1. I suspect that you have been very lucky in taking it apart and now you are finding out just how difficult it is in your attempts at reassembly!

      Good luck with it!

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  10. i put my puzzle back together...backwards. can anyone help me to figure out how to put it back together properly

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    1. I am surprised that it is possible to put it together backwards! I would not have thought the pieces would fit without using a huge amount of force in the process. This is so complex that I doubt anyone could help untangle it from that unique position - you may be better off buying another copy for yourself - luckily it is a very cheap puzzle. In the meantime you have a very unique and difficult challenge - it may take you months or years to figure it out (as long as you didn't force it).

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    2. Can you show a photo of what you mean by "backwards"? (maybe send it to Kevin o that he could upload it here...) Becuase given the many symmetries it has, I doubt there's anything like "solved but backwards", so maybe I'm completely lost in what you mean. Which I obviously don't like since I love this puzzle :)

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  11. Well i managed to solve it and put back together took me 4 days to put it back together and after few hour of clinging and rotating i managed to put it together backwards but it isn't so hard to rescue it. I even tried to find a .pdf for reverse resolve (i.e. putting it back ), But what i found out is that Pdf version is somewhat different from my puzzle. So i was left alone in the dark. But then if you really look at it and let yourself to set in your mind you eventually find a solution like i did.

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  12. This was my first Hanayama puzzle I bought few years ago. It looked so cool when I saw it. I think I thought back than, well, let's get the hardest level and chek our chances.

    And it is a pretty hard nut but it also depends on how you approach solving the puzzles in general.

    If you just turn and twist it arround in your hands without much attention it can get some results but it also doesn't make things much clearer, especially with the hard puzzles.

    And thats exactly how I first approached the puzzle. I just twisted it in my hands and eventually, in like one or two hours, it just fell appart. And than the next day I just twisted it again randomly and managed to put it back again somehow in few hours, not long.

    Than it took me few months to put it back together after breaking it apart again really fast that day again...

    But I didn't know how I did that.

    It was in the storage box for last year or two after I reassambled it last time, and I didn't wanna touch it cause I know it gets messy. And I waited until I get to feel I could manage to face it again with enough patience and mind clarity, when I feel I am ready.

    So, just few days ago, I happen to take it again. And approached it with carefull patience without expecting much result. Each time I made a move I remembered what I did so I could put it back the same way in reverse. And little by little it started to give encouriging results. At every positon I tried all the moves possible, those that look easy and naturaly going, and than remembered the most promising one and continued in that direction. Every time I discovered a new promising move I remembered it and added it to the previous ones and repeted tham all to remember them so not to get stuck in any moment. So, at any moment I could just turn it all in first reassambled starting position.

    And in few days, after playing with it for an hour or two each day, I manage to put the puzzle appart and remembered all the moves. So, now I can put it appart and put it back together without any problem, in just a minute. And it feels great.

    I knew that there are solutions on the net, but didn't wanna touch them ever and it feels great because of that.

    These puzzles are great because not only you practice youre hands and brain but you also get to know yourself, how you react being faced with a hard problem, how is your patience going and many other aspects of your self you get to discover just by playing with something like this.

    It is great challenge. ThnX Hanayama :)

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    1. Well you just described the perfect approach to solving a new puzzle! I wish I had the skills and discipline to do that every time. Hopefully your next choices will give you as much pleasure.

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  13. I can get this one back together but 1 thing is wrong. I can't rotate the final pieces to make the square. So I have 1 square and one that is almost a square.

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    1. I can only assume that you have forgotten a move with one of the pieces, or put one in the wrong way around. I suggest that you download the solution or start again. I'm afraid I cannot remember how to solve this one - it was a long time ago!

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  14. I tried to assemble it 3 times and got the same result. I do wonder if they changed which pieces have the stamps on them. That's the only thing I can come up with or I'm just screwing up

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    1. I suggest having a look on the YouTube for a video of the solution. That will give you a more visual idea.

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