Sunday, 2 March 2014

Cast Coaster

Hanayama Cast Coaster - hard to photograph!
Todays blog post will be a short one - I am on call yet again and may be called in at any moment! I am definitely getting too old for all this working in the middle of the night business - last Tuesday was horrendous and it took me until Friday to recover!!!

I am finally coming to the end of my last Puzzle Master delivery and I have to say it has really been fun. I got a whole load of toys that have been marvelous fun to solve and have kept me in torture equipment for my friends and work colleagues for ages! In fact seeing the bottom of my Puzzle Master stash is a bit depressing and I think I might have to order a whole lot more - I will explain to the present Mrs S that I have to get more for the sake of my loyal readers! OUCH! My that burns!

As you all know, I am a big fan of shiny things and that very very mad bad girl, Roxanne, has been trying to entice me into buying some Berrocal puzzle statues. She's even gone so far as to give me some links of auctions that are starting soon! Help me - they are soooo shiny and soooooo gorgeous!! I really would love to get some but unfortunately my budget is blown just now! In the absence of being able to own any Berrocals I will have to limit myself to slightly more affordable shiny things. This time I am discussing the Hanayama Cast Coaster and it definitely is very nice and shiny.

It was designed originally by a member of one the very famous puzzling families, Serhiy Grabarchuk. As a little aside, the Grabarchuk family have been trying to set up a Puzzle social network based around one of their apps, Puzzlium, which may be worth a look if you are that way inclined.

Hanayama have packaged it beautifully and decided that it is a level 4 on their 6 point scale or level 8 (Demanding) on Puzzle Master's 6-10 scale. I personally think that it may be slightly easier than that but Gabriel thought slightly higher in his review. Brian reviewed it here and enjoyed it - he certainly thought it is unlikely to be solved by chance. Jerry's review found it extremely challenging and required him to find a solution after a couple of hours of fiddling! On the Puzzle Master item page the user reviews are all 4 or 5 stars and very positive descriptions.

It is flat and looks very like a cup coaster and a very nice weight to it. Dimensions 6.4cm diameter and 0.5cm thick and have I said that it is very shiny? There is a blurb on the box about coiffure which can be completely ignored and all you need to know is that you need to take it apart and put it back together again! No solution is provided but it is easily available from here.

Taking it apart is very simple - just pushing on the outer loops will cause it to click apart (it really does fit together beautifully) and pieces will start to move away from each other. At a certain point the whole thing comes unlooped and leaves you with three interlocked rings rather resembling the unsolved state of the Cast Ring. When it fully separated, I realised that I had only been holding 2 of the rings and the other had just dropped down. The upshot of this is that straight away I had lost my visuospatial knowledge of the orientation of the pieces and knew that it was going to be a bit of a struggle!

3 Shiny triangles - it might be like this a while!
In for a penny, in for a pound! I jingled it about a bit to properly mix up the pieces having first checked that she, with the dangerous laser gaze, was nowhere nearby! As Brian said, there is no way this is going to solve itself by chance! After a little idle fiddling it became obvious that I needed a strategy - brain power is not my strong point so I fiddled a bit more and got nowhere at all. After this I decided to examine the pieces and at that point there are a few interesting features of one of the rings which will help. BUT it won't help if you had not examined the solved puzzle before scrambling it! Luckily for me I had been careful to note a special feature - I remembered that one ring had 5 over and the rest under. If that makes sense to you then you are on your way to the solution. Unfortunately it didn't help with the other 2 rings and didn't help with orientation. But it was a start.

Over the next 10 minutes of investigating I found a part way point:

Does this help? Only a bit
From here to the rest of the solution took another 30 minutes because it was very tough to find the position where the next ring starts let alone the direction it should go. It is a tricky little bugger because it won't just slot into place without moving the first ring a bit and I kept losing my halfway point as I tried and it also seems to arrive in the solved position from an unexpected direction! After about 40-45 minutes it was back together and I had a warm satisfied glow!

At $13, this is a really nice puzzle - its lovely to look at, could actually be used as a coaster, and a nice challenge without being too horrendous. I intend to carry this with me at work for a few weeks and torment my colleagues - yes that would be you Steve!!! He's quite bright but don't tell him that!!

Spot the guilty puzzler!!!

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