|I'm late because of this!|
|Can you see the similarity?|
Neither can I but it is there!
So you see I do have a good excuse. I was therefore needing a fairly quick puzzle to solve and write about for you. In my last batch from Puzzle Master, I had ordered a couple of the easier Hanayama cast puzzles, so I fetched one to solve as quickly as possible for this blog post. This one is the level 2 out of 6 (or 6 - Tricky, on the Puzzle Master 5-10 point scale) which I think is a reasonable assessment. Opening the usual beautiful packaging reveals a really lovely metal puzzle in an antique brass finish. It is 6.7 x 6.7 x 2.5 cm in size and seems rather finely made. The name Cast Cricket obviously comes from the fact that it is formed from the major parts of the game of Cricket. It consists of 6 cricket bats joined at the handles in an odd star-shape and linked into a wicket structure complete with Bails preventing it lifting out the top. For the Americans amongst you, see this article for a description of cricket. The aim is to find a way to remove the 6 bats from the wicket. Preventing it are a number of knobbles on one side or other of each bat (one of the bats looks like a skateboard with wheels on it at both ends) but to help you there is a gap in the central wicket and a notch in the centre one. Like all the Hanayama puzzles, it does not come with a solution and if you want one then it can be downloaded from here.
This puzzle only has an average rating on puzzle master of 2 out of 5 stars but I think this is due to one particularly scathing (and unfair) review of 0 stars from one person who felt it was too easy and fragile. The other reviews were much more favourable. This is an easy puzzle but not everyone wants something that takes months and if you don't want an easyish puzzle then why are you looking at a Hanayama level 2? Gabriel reviewed it back in 2012 and really enjoyed it whilst acknowledging the difficulty level.
The original design apparently goes back to 1898 and the guys at Hanayama liaised with James Dalgety, the owner of the amazing Puzzle museum who has a precursor of this puzzle.
So, exhausted from my travails with Eitan's star, I picked this one up deliberately hoping that the level 2 on the box really meant that I would be able to solve it in just a few minutes and then write a quick review for you. Unfortunately it was also time to prepare dinner so "she who must be obeyed or else there'll be pain and burning" said in no uncertain terms to "put that bloody thing down" when I came into the kitchen all flushed with my earlier success! I had seen that look before and decided to obey - instantly!!!
After dinner and washing up, still flushed with my previous success (or was it wine?) I picked it up again. It really is beautifully crafted and does seem a little more finely made than others in the series - I definitely don't think this is suitable for young children as they may well be able to bend or snap it. I took the photo at the top of the post straight away so that I would have a known starting point to return to and procceded to fiddle. It quickly becomes apparent how the pieces slide together and how only certain knobbles will slide through the gap at any one time. It is also possible to use the gap to turn the whole thing about and switch sides of the wicket. This was all very interesting but I seemed to be going around in circles! It also was not immediately obvious where the exit point was so I carried on fiddling.
After about 10 minutes I found something new was possible if you held both pieces just right (this is the Aha! moment) and then suddenly there are similar looking moves possible but using parts of the puzzle that had previously not been accessible. Within another 60 seconds, I had the 2 pieces in my hands and a big smile on my face! I know! I have a pretty good collection of really rather expensive puzzles and after 15 minutes of playing with this rather simple and definitely cheap puzzle, it was solved BUT I still had a grin. This confirms to me that I am not a pure collector, I am primarily a solver and seeker of the "Aha! moment". Anything which gives me that moment of discovery and satisfaction is worthwhile for me.
If you are after a "quickie" for yourself or a fun little toy for your newbie or non-puzzling friends than this is ideal. You cannot really go wrong for $13!