Wednesday 14 December 2011

Hanayama Cast Baroq

Cast Baroq
I have been looking over my posts recently and realised that I forgot to write about this puzzle. I completed it a good few weeks ago and absolutely love it. It is the Cast baroq by Hanayama. I received this in my recent rather "large" batch from Puzzle Master. I chose this one as an intermediate difficulty puzzle which, hopefully, would provide me with a reasonable challenge but not have me hurling it at the wall! Hanayama class it as difficulty level 4 out of 6 and Puzzle Master make it a 8 (Demanding) out of 10. I think this rating is about right. Most people will solve it in a reasonable amount of time. Brian has reviewed it on his blog here.

It is supplied in the usual Hanayama black box with the 2 pieces of the puzzle tied to a piece of card. The box just gives instructions to separate the pieces and put them back together again, no other information is provided and no solution is given. If you want one (and I don't think you will need it) you can download it from Puzzle Master here. Designed (again) by Akio Yamamoto, it consists of 2 odd shaped pieces (named after "the image of intertwining Bach melodies") of brassy metal which are linked at one end. It is 10.1 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm in size and is reasonably substantial in your hands. I had high hopes that I could do this one in the living room but once again, I got told off for jingling!

Quite quickly it becomes apparent that one piece can be moved along the length of the other and can be flipped over the other side. After doing this several times, I realised that there are a few blind endings in this puzzle. You get to a point where you feel you have gone a very long way and there you stop. Back-tracking to the beginning initially doesn't seem to help, there are no other moves available - or are there?? After about 10 minutes I made a Eureka discovery - a very neat little move that is entirely unexpected and then you can make a whole lot more progress. This then leads to another dead end before another special little move is required. Luckily this one only held me up for a few minutes. From here the pieces just slide apart - the particular pattern they make when you do that very last slide is truly beautiful! The 2 pieces apart look like this:

Cast Baroq pieces
In total this took me about 25 minutes to solve and the process was very satisfying. It is a really nice tactile toy to play with and makes a great worry bead. I managed to reassemble it fairly easily because I had deliberately ensured that I kept one piece orientated the same way all the time.

I have given this to several puzzle friends and colleagues - almost everyone opens it eventually but only the experienced ones are able to put it back together again. Everyone has enjoyed it! In fact, during an operating list, one of my patients (if you are reading this then I hope you are well recovered) was having his procedure awake under spinal anaesthesia and he was quite interested in my little hobby. I gave him this puzzle to play with during his operation. With a little assistance (I think it is harder to do whilst you are lying flat on your back) he solved it and also delighted in the final separation movement.

If you want a nice intermediate difficulty cast metal puzzle then you cannot go wrong with this one.


  1. I agree this is a gorgeous puzzle! It actually took me several weeks to solve some years ago, because I was determined to use no force. I finally had to look at a solution, and in my copy one of the moves requires force. I think it all depends on your copy of the puzzle whether this is necessary or not.

  2. I don't do many puzzles. I bought this one because my boss had it on his desk and joked that solving it would demonstrate a promotion was warranted. It was clear this was just a joke. So I thought it would be fun to learn the solution and then just nonchalantly and without any apparent effort take it apart and put it together during some upcoming meeting. I learned on mine pretty much as you describe -- two plateaus then breakthroughs. But fairly easy. I tried on his version after work today. His was a lot tighter and I had to force it. It required so much force that I wondered if I was doing it right. I came home and repeated the steps on mine. Mine is very much looser than his.

    1. That is surprising because mine also is very smooth. It may be that he needs a replacement? Xmas coming soon - perfect opportunity.

  3. Quite similar movements to the keyhole puzzle with all the twisting, turning & running over the length of one piece back & forth.