Wednesday 17 August 2011

Hanayama Cast Equa

Cast Equa
My next puzzle in the Cast series is the Cast Equa. I got this one from Puzzle Master where they have the whole series! I was rather attracted to this one because it has a particularly lovely finish and is a very nice shape - quite different to everything else I've seen - it is supposed to mimic an astrolabe. This is yet another puzzle designed by Oskar van Deventer.

Cast Equa is rated as a 5 out of 6 by Hanayama or 9 out of 10 by Puzzle Master (Gruelling) - I think this rating is correct, it is a pretty difficult puzzle but not too horrendous! I find the level 6 puzzles almost impossible without some kind of assistance.

It comes nicely packaged in the usual Hanayama black box and mounted onto a card with ties to ensure that it doesn't come apart before you have unpacked it. The puzzle itself appears like a globe structure with a central part that moves around within the external frame. It is a lovely dark chromed colour and the fit is perfect. Dimensions are 4.6cm diameter and it is a good weight in you hand. There is no solution provided - this is a pretty tough puzzle and you might actually need one - if you do then download it from here.

I initially took this out and had a very quick fiddle with it and could see that it consisted of 3 parts - one outer frame and two inner interlocked rings. It was not clear how the 2 pieces in the middle were to come apart from each other (let alone out of the outer frame). The 2 central pieces seem to rotate fairly freely in certain directions but are restricted in others by 2 small metal tabs. I put it in my jacket pocket before heading out on the London tube for a trip into town and jingled as I wandered around (annoying the hell out of my wife!! - Again!!!) Whilst sitting in a cafe I took it out and was horrified to see the pieces had separated within the frame - I didn't know how it had occurred and spent a few panicky minutes trying to set it back to the start. I managed this and then deliberately started again (at least I now knew how it began).

There seems to be a huge number of possible moves for this puzzle but they are really quite restricted due to the metal tabs. I found that I quickly got stuck into a position that I could not escape from. I was able to slide along the arms of the frame but could not move the pieces onto any of the other arms. The only different thing I could do was to take one piece and rotate it the other way around! Unfortunately this got me nowhere - although it did give me an idea for a possible approach to a final solution. I spent about 30 minutes stuck in this position whilst traveling on the tube until I got a sharp elbow in the ribs from "she who must be obeyed". I was completely flummoxed by it - everything I tried ended up up back at this point. I stuck it back in my pocket and continued with my trip. Lo and behold, when I took it back out it had managed to reset itself - I have a magic jacket!

The following day I started again whilst out and about in central London. This time I had noticed something special about the frame and using this I was able to get a little bit further. I still struggled with getting locked into certain positions but was able to back-track and then work out an alternative forward move. I reached a point where I was able to utilise a peculiar feature of one of the inner pieces and and got very excited but again got stuck!!! After some back-tracking I discovered another forward step and again tried to use that peculiar feature - YESSS!! This time I managed to get one ring off followed by the other one. They were both interlocked and it was a simple matter to finally disassemble the whole puzzle.

Cast Equa Pieces
 Solving this one gave me a real sense of achievement - it was really pretty difficult and there are a large number of possible moves ending in dead ends. If it hadn't been for the "magic jacket" then I could have spent weeks on it! Putting it back together was just a matter of reversing the process but was still quite fiddly in places!

I have given this to quite a number of friends and they have all been very intrigued by it and had a good play. Some have had it for an hour or two and really got nowhere with it. Most have given up in disgust. I think this is more a sign of the difficulty of this puzzle rather than the design. I don't think anyone could solve this in a single sitting of an hour or two. If someone took it away for a few days they might stand a chance - not really a coffee table puzzle apart from the look being quite attractive. It has a fairly decent longevity to it.

I really loved this one - I would venture that this is not one for a beginner, but for anyone who is fairly au fait with the Hanayama series this is a great addition to their collection.


  1. My Equa has jammed into some funny kind of position. Can I borrow your magic jacket please? :D

  2. I have tried the magic jacket with other puzzles and it didn't work - I suspect it is limited to just one puzzle per jacket!!!

  3. Equa is one evil puzzle...

    To make it even more interesting, there are TWO very different solutions.

    1. Really? I didn't know that!

      Maybe you could send me a description, series of pics or even post a video of the second solution!

    2. my friend claimed that he managed to separate one of the rings while the other ring was still on the cage. Interesting

    3. This is an evil piece of scrap metal :D very good one

    4. The first ring does come out with the other one still on the frame.

  4. Well, the solution I found had both of them coming out at the same time. After I had it disassembled, I figured out that an one-after-the-other solution would be possible too.