Sunday 28 August 2016

These Cast Puzzles Are Easy....

Or Are They?

Hanayama Cast Diamond
Todays' post will need to be a quickie....I am on call again today and could be asked to go in to the hospital at any moment and so need to write about something that won't take too long. August has been a bad month for me with the on call rota - I have done the full 2 months worth of on call duties in one month! You would have thought that as the fool that writes the rota, I could avoid that situation but no....most other people have children and so wanted lots of annual leave in August and the only way to fill the 3 rotas and still allow all the requests I had received was for me to do more in that month. I'm getting far too old for all this!

Recently my friend Nigel returned home from the IPP in Japan and brought with him the 3 latest Hanayama cast puzzles for me to play with. After a little PayPal had flitted across the intertubes, my new toys arrived and I decided to try and space them out a bit and not greedily solve them all at once. I have to say that I really liked the new packaging:

Cast Huzzle?
I asked on my Facebook page why Hanayama had called them a Huzzle and got a very interesting response from my Friend Taroh who is a native Japanese speaker:
はずす: (pronounced "huh-zu-su") means 'to take apart' in Japanese,
and puzzle is written ぱずる: (pronounced "puh-zu-ru")
Hanayama combined the two words together to make up a portmanteau that describes a puzzle you take apart.
I started with the easiest of them - the Cast Diamond which was a design by Scott Elliot who specialises in designing rather beautiful shapes that interlock in unusual ways. The 3 latest puzzles are not available in the West just yet but keep an eye on the PuzzleMaster page, the Hanayama UK page and Hendrik's store for updates as I am sure they will be arriving soon. The Cast Diamond is a level 1 on the 6 point difficulty scale and I would agree with that rating.

There are 2 beautifully made shiny and identically shaped pieces with one being silver and the other black (my pictures don't do them justice). The Diamond is the only Hanayama puzzle I know of which arrives with the 2 pieces completely separated (the Cast Loop by Vesa Timonen arrived with the pieces interlocked but in an incorrect configuration).  Looking at them, it is obvious straight away how they are supposed to be linked together - there is a cutout on the back of each half diamond to accept the conical tail that protrudes above each half diamond. How to physically get them to lock together is another thing entirely! I picked mine up the evening they arrived and within 30 seconds I managed to solve it:
Solved - Front
Solved - Back
Perpetually perplexed!
Was I disappointed that I solved it so quickly? Not particularly - I would expect that after 6 years of playing with these toys that I would manage a level 1 fairly fast. A lot of the pleasure for me is in having the set in my collection and also the "worry bead" aspect of fiddling with it idly whilst watching TV or reading. I have stated quite a few times before that for me, a good bit of the fun is torturing my colleagues and watching other peoples' thought processes. At work later in the week, I gave this to one of the nursing staff and she also solved it in about a minute - the look of joy on her face was a delight but that quickly changed when I took it apart and told her to do it again! I had noticed that she really wasn't paying much attention to what she had been doing and suspected that it had been a fluke. This was confirmed when she completely failed to assemble it a second time even after 15 minutes of trying! We ended the operating list with me having a huge grin on my face and she was muttering under her breath about "damned consultants"! Ho Ho Ho! Of course my usual victim is David W (name omitted to protect the innocent), my anaesthetic assistant on a Wednesday and Friday. I have spent the best part of 5 years torturing him and am pleased to say that he has actually got quite good at many types of puzzles (he finally solved the Symmetrick puzzle after 3 years of trying on Friday). I fully expected him to solve the Cast Diamond in under a minute but was delighted that it took him a good 15! He was delighted that he managed it and very surprised that it took so long.

I would suggest that the Cast Diamond is a perfect puzzle for all of you collectors out there - you need to own it for completeness and you also need to own it to enjoy the torture of your non-puzzler friends and to watch the joy on their faces when they do manage it.

Cast Infinity
The next one I tried was the Cast Infinity - you can see the reason for the name in the photo above (It could easily have been called the Cast Eight). The Infinity is at the opposite end of the difficulty scale at a 6 out of 6. I have to say that I think that Hanayama got the rating wrong with this one - I would put it at a level 3 or 4. The aim of this, like the other "Huzzles", is to take it apart into 3 pieces - 2 inner rings and the outer frame. This puzzle is fully chromed and looks and feels wonderful.

There is an interior maze inside which needs to be navigated by lifting and dropping the pieces and rotating them back and forth. The puzzle could have been a level 6 had there been blind ends to navigate but I found the pathway to be very straightforward and even logical. I managed to disassemble it into the 3 pieces in about 5 minutes (it took that long because of my habit of constantly retracing my steps to ensure I remembered what I had done). The construction is fascinating and it is certainly a pleasure to navigate. The feel of the pieces and how they slide is a delight - this has been a really nice worry bead for me over the last week.

Very clever design
I scrambled the pieces and left them for ½ an hour before attempting the reassembly and again found that it was not too difficult. The pieces will physically only move if put back in the correct place at the beginning and after that it is just a matter of following the pathway back to the beginning.

Don't be put off buying it though - it is a nice one for a quick play and will also be good for torturing your friends. Hopefully it will also be available soon outside Japan.

Cross your fingers for me that I don't get called in!


  1. Nice post Kevin. Infinity is next on the cards for me....

    1. You will enjoy infinity! I. Now really struggling with the cast cake. Supposed to be level 4 but they definitely got that rating wrong!

  2. The enigma!!! Is really hard

    1. Yes it is. The ones that are easy are the ones I mentioned in this post.