Sunday 18 August 2013

Cast G&G

Cast G&G - sorry it's really hard to photograph!
This may well be a little less lucid than my usual and may be a bit shorter due to fatigue - I spent all day yesterday on-call and writing several rotas too during the day. Unfortunately literally seconds after putting the light out at night, I got called in and had to work half the night. I slept late but an elderly man like me takes a very long time to recover!

Look a wood version!
Back in July I wrote about one of my Puzzle Master acquisitions, I mentioned my dwindling supply. Well I was very bad and placed an order for a whole bunch more so I would have some more reasonably priced puzzles to write about. This one, the Hanayama Cast G&G had been of particular interest to me since it had fascinated me when it won the Jury Grand Prize at the 2012 International Puzzle Party (IPP) in Washington DC for the designer Jin-Hoo Ahn. Firstly, the fact that it had won such a prestigious award really made it stand out and also the fact that it was a member of my beloved disentanglement group (from which you have seen me write so many reviews). Another reason for my fascination is that after discussing it with a friend from across the world, he made a copy for me in wood and sent it to me to play with long before the Hanayama version came available. Solving the wooden version confirmed to me what a great puzzle it is and that I would need to get the metal version too when it came out. He also made me a spare version which I gave to a great friend who organises the Midlands Puzzle Parties - I hope you have enjoyed it Nigel?

As puzzles go, and surprisingly for a Jury grand prize winner, it is not rated as terribly difficult - Hanayama rate it as a level 3 out of 6 and Puzzle Master as 7 (Challenging) in their scale of  5 to 10. Certainly, it is much less difficult than many of their wire and string disentanglements. As with all the Hanayama puzzles, it is beautifully packaged and the puzzle is firmly held onto supporting card to stop it jingling and getting scratched in transit. It is a perfectly portable size at 6  x 4.2  x 2.5 cm and feels nice and solid in the hand. It is a very reasonable $13 in price. Like all the puzzles made by Hanayama, it is beautifully plated in silver and gold metal and the gold piece also seems to be coated in a lacquer. I am not sure of the reason for the lacquer but it is not terribly robust and as you can see from my photos it very quickly chips somewhat spoiling the look (if not the puzzle experience). The instructions are to take it apart and put it back together again (obviously)! There is no solution supplied but it can be downloaded from Puzzle Master here.

Now I really thought I had it solved from my experience with the wooden version - and am pleased to say that when I solved that in about an hour or two. So when I got this one I had a good look at it to relearn the starting position (I noted that the Hanayama and G&G were uppermost) and I handed it to a friend whom I work with who was drooling at it (I have been torturing him for nearly 2 years now) and he spent a rather pleasant hour before handing me the two pieces. It is not a straightforward disentanglement puzzle because many of the more obvious moves that you would like to make are blocked by the presence of 2 protuberances on the corners on each side of both pieces. It is necessary to make sure that the puzzle is oriented the correct way to allow the movements to occur - fiendish idea!

Cast G&G Pieces - notice the state of the lacquer
Of course, I congratulated him and enjoyed the flinch when I handed the pieces back and said "very clever of you, now put it back together!" He spent the rest of the day on and off trying to do just that and failing dismally! :-) That is a big result for me, for Hanayama and Puzzle Master! I took it home and spent about an hour putting it back together! I really struggled! I do remember that it was fairly tough but I did not think that it would be quite that hard! But as I get older, I do realise that my memory gets worse and worse such that every morning I wake up with a new woman! She insists that we're married but I have no recollection of that and I'm sure I would not have done anything so silly! Sorry to Neil and Jen, who got married yesterday (17/08/2013) for that comment! Congratulations to you both by the way!

Now the observant amongst you will have noticed that the conformation of the picture at the top of this post is different to that of my wooden one and if you've gone to Puzzle Master to look at it then you will also notice that the pieces are incorrectly orientated! Literally, I only noticed the difference as I was writing this review. Yes! I'm not very bright! I spent an hour putting it together (and memorising the solution) only to do so incorrectly. What I have done is found an alternative assembly. My version has a much simpler solution than the original! So I broke off during the review to try and find the correct solution and it is MUCH tougher (I might even give it a rating of 4 Hanayama and 8 Puzzle Master. It has taken me an extra couple of hours to get the correct solution properly off pat.

The correct starting position
Maybe I should take more photos like this?
I definitely recommend this puzzle! Ideally you need a wonderful craftsman friend to make it for you in wood! But failing that, I absolutely suggest buying this puzzle, it is beautiful, it is tough to reassemble and even has 2 assemblies of different difficulties, it is cheap and much more importantly, if it is good enough for the design competition jury, then it is good enough for you. Buy it - you won't be disappointed.

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