Sunday 8 May 2022

Cast Dice - A Fiddly Little Bugger

Cast Dice
It says level 3
Over the last year, I have watched on Facebook as various puzzlers show off the latest of the Hanayama cast puzzles/Huzzles. I watched with interest but never seemed to get around to buying them and by now I think 5 or 6 have been released and I am way behind. I can only blame the pandemic as I just never seemed to find the time. At the end of last week, I suddenly got the motivation to ask my usual Hanayama supplier (Nic Picot in the UK runs the Hanayama puzzles UK site and I usually buy from him due to the ease of having him in the same country as me. If you are in North America then I can recommend PuzzleMaster or if in Europe then either my friend Hendrik or Tomas and of course in Australasia then you cannot beat Brian and Sue Young. All are personal friends and are very trustworthy suppliers.

I asked Nic about the most recent ones and he had all apart from Cast Planet in stock and I placed an order for what he had - they arrived 3 days later much to the disgust of Mrs S who is thinking about where they are going to be stored and also about how jingly they will be whilst we watch TV. A couple of days later Nic told me that Cast Planet will be in stock shortly and it is currently in my porch waiting for me to open the post. Yay!

Part of my motivation for buying these is that they are almost invariably really fun challenging puzzles which are beautifully made and also because I need something lightweight to work on for a bit. My work life seems to be out of control and I struggle to find time for any serious puzzling - Mrs S has actually complained that I am hardly ever home which I am surprised about as I thought that would be a good thing for her. She only shouts at me for being in the way when I am at home! 😱

Of course, thinking that these may be a bit of puzzling light relief may be a bit silly - the Cast Hourglass  has been sitting on the desk next to me for 2 years in a position where I cannot seem to go forward or back! But at least I may have a little light relief with the easier ones here.

I started initially fiddling with the level 2 cast snow and after 2 evenings of exploration have to shamefacedly admit that after a little click occurred with a simple movement, it is completely locked up with only a little wiggling possible, I must have forced a move with minimal force and gotten it locked up. Hopefully, a pair of pliers will help me reverse my predicament.

Having failed so spectacularly on Cast Snow, I picked up the rather attractive Cast Dice puzzle. This 3cm cubed challenge was designed by Timothy Collins (a name I have never come across before) and has been beautifully made with a grey anodised holed cubic frame into which have been fitted 3 eccentric cotton reel like pieces. The three pieces all overlap inside the frame so they do not drop out. The aim is to remove them and then, of course, put them back. It has been rated as level 3 on the Hanayama scale of 1 to 6 and by PuzzleMaster as Level 7 (in their 5 to 10 scale). I really did not expect much of a challenge which would be a nice refreshing change (but then I did not expect the Snow to get into an uncorrectable position).

Yesterday morning after breakfast, I had a little time before chores would be expected of me and I picked it up and had a fiddle. It is pleasantly tactile but could do with being a little bit bigger to make it easier to control the pieces. All the offset cotton reels appear to be rotated to about 45º and this made me think about possibilities. After a bit of fiddling and within about 5 minutes I had a plan in my empty head.  After some further fiddling, I was able to remove a piece without losing the position of the remaining ones. I put it back quickly and reset it to ensure that I knew the approach.

The second time I attempted that same move it would not work. Was I oriented wrong? I wasn't sure but carried on trying the same thing a few times and suddenly a pair of pieces fell out. Well, that was unexpected - there seem to be two possible dismantling methods. I took the obligatory photo for my album and the blog:

Clever idea - now to reassemble
The photo above is not a spoiler as it is on the packaging of the puzzle. Having taken my photos, it was time to put it back together and here is where the title of the post comes from. I could not remember either of the positions that I had when the puzzle came apart but figured that I could work it out fairly easily. But, when it actually came to doing it, I really struggled - I could get 2 of the 3 pieces in and interlocked but the third would not engage properly. This took me an extra 15 minutes of swearing (luckily not whilst watching TV with Mrs S) before it went back together. Phew!

Even now, a day later, I am sitting with the bloody thing half-assembled next to rebut not quite slipping into place. It might be a little bit easier if it was an extra cm inside across each access. This inability to put it back together definitely earns it the difficulty level 3 grading as the disassembly is pretty simple. I think it will take me several more attempts before I have it properly worked out.

Definitely worth adding to your collection.

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