Sunday 11 January 2015

Cast Dolce

Cast Dolce
Yet again, I have spent a fair bit of the weekend doing the much hated DIY! This meant little puzzling time and work meant I had very little opportunity during the week to try anything new (apart from my latest twisty, the Rhombic Triacontrahedron - yes 30 sides). So this morning after being sent out to do the weekly food shopping (my chore as Mrs S does most of the rest of the household chores), I decided to try one of my stash of Hanayama puzzles that I got from my last Puzzle Master foray.

With very little time available, I chose the one of the easier ones I had, the Cast Dolce which is rated by Hanayama as level 3/6 and by Puzzle Master as level 7 (Challenging) on their scale of 5-10.
This one was designed by Akio Yamamoto and adjusted by Nob to make it trickier. The aim is, as with most of them, to "take it apart and then put it back together". There's a bit of other philosophical stuff on the box which can happily be ignored.

The reviews on the Puzzle Master product page are mostly 4 and 5 stars and other bloggers have enjoyed it:
Tom Cutrofello (who usually only reviews puzzle apps enjoyed it and reviewed it here.
Gabriel reviewed it here and interestingly he found an alternative single move solution which I have not yet been able to repeat.

This puzzle is simply gorgeous - it is a nice size (12cm x 4.7cm x 4.7cm) and made of both silver and gold anodised cast metal in the shapes of the male and female symbols - the flash in the photography shows up every fingerprint and speck of dust, it looks much better than my photo really shows. This puzzle is shiny enough to appeal to anyone like me, with advanced magpie tendencies! The packaging that it came in was the standard black box and, as always, is beautifully displayed!

The first thing I always do with these is take my photos, for my records and for the blog (just in case I can't put it back together again in time to post my review) and this also serves the useful purpose of giving me a record of what the starting position is. This time, however, the photo was not helpful at distinguishing what was the start position. So, after a little exploration, I realised that there was a groove at the tip of the female symbol and a ridge on one side of the inside of the male one and in the start position, these could interlock like this:

Groove and ridge
If it can interlock like this then its at the start
Having established where the start had to be, I began looking for possible moves and was surprised that there was very little that could be done beyond twisting the pieces about. One of the complaints on the product page was that the moves were "too precise and not smooth". This made me worried that I would need force to solve it. But I needn't have worried! Finding the first move actually took me about 15 minutes and when I did find it it did indeed seem to require a bit of force (in both directions). I really thought that this was either the wrong move or I was missing something because, by and large, these puzzles are so beautifully made that force is just not required. So I just stayed at that point for a while longer looking at the nuances of the required movement. The crucial thing I noticed was that, as expected, it did NOT require any force at all - when the pieces are placed absolutely perfectly then it slides like a hot knife through butter. It is quite precise but only because it requires a certain angulation and a change in the angle during the move - it is actually quite forgiving once understood - very clever!

Once I had established that first move, it has a really nice little sequence that simply fell into place for me and kept me occupied for just another 5 minutes. I suspect that less experienced puzzlers might take a fair bit longer. Overall this puzzle is a very pleasant, tactile thing to play with and really is silky smooth. Eventually you separate male form female like this:

Separated the male and the female forms!
After taking my photos, I left it for 10 or 15 minutes and tried the reassembly. As usual, I had forgotten what I had done and, most crucially, had forgotten how things were oriented for the initial interlinking. Luckily there are no blind ends and after a bit of swearing under my breath about me and my rapidly advancing dementia, I managed to get that first link made. Thereafter, it's just a matter of following the only possible path to the beginning and checking that you have done it all the way by putting ridge in groove as stated above.

All in all, I really enjoyed this one. It is not hard for an experienced puzzler - the level 3 (PM 7) is about right and it is a truly sweet sequence of moves (about 12 in all if you include the positioning moves). I will be taking it to work for some of my colleagues to play with (the Hanayama puzzles are absolutely perfect for handing out to non-puzzlers), and it will be interested to see how people cope with it.

Now I need to get back to some of my Twisty backlog and really MUST try to solve the Bermuda cube (Mars) which has singularly stumped me for nearly a year!

This has beaten me for so long!


  1. the bermuda set is awsome, I am now on Saturn! 3 puzzles to go!

    1. Yep! I probably need to buy a few more in the set! But looking at the Mars version, I really don't know where to start!

  2. I had completely forgotten about that alternative solution. Had to re-read my review to see what you were talking about, hehe. To this day, I'm not sure if it's just a design flaw that mine happen to have or that it's possible to do with every copy. Will have to see if I can repeat it again.

    1. I certainly cannot do your one move solution! Been trying for a while now!

    2. It requires some force, and may not be possible on every copy. It was the first way I solved my puzzle, though, so my copy must be "loose".

    3. I think you're right, George. It must be that some copies are looser and have different tolerances. This sometimes happen with some Cast Puzzles.