I had left this one until last (amongst my last delivery) because of the difficulty rating and because the last time I had a play with a friend's copy, I managed to completely confuse myself and gave it up after making only one move (which may well have been a wrong one!) It is rated as a level 10 (mind boggling) by Puzzle Master or the top level 6 out of 6 by Hanayama themselves. It was designed (yet again) by the great Oskar van Deventer and won an honourable mention at the IPP 22 in Antwerp (very fitting since Oskar comes from Holland). It comes packaged in the usual nice Hanayama black box, its' dimensions are 7.6 x 3.9 x 3.9 cm. Made of cast tin (galvanized with gold and copper), it has a nice weight and looks like a cast iron chain that you might find on a ship. The individual pieces are numbered 1 to 3 and look identical. Closer inspection reveals that each of them is very slightly different from the others and these differences are obviously key in the solution. The other nice feature of this puzzle is that it can be solved in three different ways depending on which piece is the centre of the trio. Talking of solutions - if you need it (you might!) then it can be downloaded from here.
Other bloggers have reviewed it before: The great Brian Pletcher reviewed it and really enjoyed it - he initially solved it using some force and when he looked up the solution realised that he had gotten it wrong - As always DON'T USE FORCE! This puzzle is smooth as butter. He says:
"the mechanics are interesting and the solution is simple and logical but not trivial to discover"
It was also reviewed by Oli on his blog and I am sure he will be mortified to be reminded that he needed to look up the solution (I am sure that now he is so much further along in his puzzling career then he would have no problem with it now!) Much more recently Moises also reviewed it and had to resort to dreaming techniques to solve it! The feedback reviews on the Puzzle Master product page are almost all 4 and 5 star reviews.
So what did I think? I had been expecting a really difficult challenge based on my previous 10 minutes of play with it. Also I think I should embarrass my friend by telling the whole world that despite owning it for about 4 months now, he has still not solved it! That is terrible Neil!! You know who you are!!!
I sat down one evening with it and jingled away for a while, much to the annoyance of Mrs S! Within a few minutes I had seen how to change which link locks to each other. The movement is very sweet and requires absolutely no force whatsoever. I was able to make the chain into any order of links that I wanted but every time I tried to remove the first piece, I was blocked! At this point, I figured it was time to actually study the pieces and establish what could be done with the different features. A lightbulb went on and immediately off again as one attempt failed due to an incorrect orientation. I returned it to the starting point and tried again but moved things in different directions. All of a sudden, I was able to do something unique to two of the pieces and then the exit was immediately revealed - the first piece slid off! It is trivial to remove the last piece.
|3 links in the chain|
Should you buy it? Absolutely yes! It is rather attractive in an industrial way and provides a mixture of thought and fiddling to solve. It is certainly pretty tough but I personally would have rated in one point lower on the difficulty scale. However, the experience of other bloggers and friends belies that. I have been handing out to a lot of people and all enjoy trying (none have solved it). Definitely buy it for you collection or for a challenge.