Sunday 2 December 2012

Hanayama Cast H&H

Hanayama Cast H&H
It has been quite some time since I last posted on a Hanayama puzzle and now I will review this one the Cast H&H. I received it some time ago in my last Puzzle Master delivery (which reminds me that it may be time to get some more - they have such a great variety of puzzles of every type!!)

As with all these puzzles they come in a black Hanayama box beautifully packaged with the puzzle tied to a card holder inside. It is a lovely chromed metal and is a good size at 4.8 x 2.9 x 2.9 cm in size. It has a good heft to it and feels great in the hands - most Hanayama puzzles are nicely tactile but this one is particularly so. The H&H is named because it is made of 2 pieces of cast metal each of which is an H shape. It is absolutely beautiful to look at - I'm afraid my photography setup is just not good enough to make it look as good as it does in real life. The website describes it well - the 2 Hs look identical but they are subtly different from each other and you need to use the differences to work your way through the maze of possible movements to separate it into it's 2 halves. Designed by Oskar van Deventer, this is an absolute bargain of a puzzle at $13!

It is rated as level 9 (Gruelling) on the 5-10 point Puzzle Master scale and by Hanayama themselves as 5 out of 6 and I think that is about right. On the Puzzle Master listing for this page it has been reviewed by many puzzlers and uniformly been given 4 or 5 stars (one person found it too easy!). It has been reviewed by quite a few bloggers before me and they all really enjoyed it - you can find the reviews by the various bloggers by clicking on their names; Will (found a novel solution), Neil, Brian, Gabriel and Gunnar (German) . The solution is not provided in the box. I doubt you will need it but it is available from Puzzle Master here.

This puzzle very much reminds me of the much simpler Cast Keyring which I reviewed here, in fact I would have love to have seen this one made from 2 colours of metal like the Keyring. The H&H has a similar range of movements but is MUCH more difficult, requiring many many more moves to separate the 2 pieces. I would suggest that if you are thinking of buying this one then it is worthwhile getting both of them and solving the easier one first. The individual pieces have grooves in them and gaps for the various protrusions to pass over or through one another in a rather complex maze-like path. Unlike the Keyring (which has no blind ends) this one has multiple possible routes many of which end up leading you in a circle or leading you into a blind end.

I have to say, to my eternal shame, that I'm not very good at remembering what my pathway has been at any particular point with this type of puzzle so I wandered aimlessly through the maze not quite recognising where I had been. Eventually after about 90 minutes it came apart (which was lucky because I was about to chuck it through a window!) - here are the pieces:

H&H Pieces
It sat on my desk for about a month in 2 halves before I had the courage to try to put it back together again. Obviously I couldn't remember what I had done and my aimless wandering began again until after about an hour it was back together. Others have agreed that it is just as tough to reassemble as to take apart.

There must be a more systematic approach to it but I cannot find one. It is quite enjoyable to solve multiple times and still takes me quite a while to do it! It looks so innocuous but really is a nice tough puzzle that keeps you going no matter how many times you have done it.

Verdict - Definitely a good one to add to your collection and certainly a good one as a stocking stuffer for Xmas!


  1. A great review and now I'm intrigued by this puzzle, though as a twisty puzzle enthusiast with very limited experience with disassembly puzzles, I should probably start with something that is rated below "Level 9 - Gruelling". Do you make notes as you solve a disassembly puzzle? Are there algorithms as in twisty puzzles?

    1. Hi Pete,
      Good to have enticed you into a different area! I do often take notes on movements I have made but some, like this one, are too complex to do so! Occasionally I will take a series of cellphone photos of my steps through a disassembly and use them to back-track. But this doesn't work well for puzzles with multiple blind ends!
      These are not like Twisties where you learn algorithms, they are more exploratory where you look for things you can do.
      If you are just starting out on Hanayama's I would look at (from easiest to harder):
      Cast Keyring, Cast medal, Cast Violon (level 2)
      Cast Coil, Cast S&S, Cast Star (level 3)
      Cast Baroq, Cast Donuts, Cast Marble, Cast Radix (Level 4)
      Leave the harder ones at first (although Cast Enigma is fab)
      Hope this helps!!!

    2. The marine series is a nice place to start and they are loverly little works of art as well. All of them are not too difficult.

    3. I agree Mhuti,
      The cast marine series is a nice series for any puzzler. I have 2 of them but I do feel they are just a bit too easy and unlike the ones I mentioned above they are not that great to do again and again.

  2. I too have a hard time remembering the pathway - the symmetrical shape is a bit of a problem for that. Personally i prefer other puzzles whose state that they currently are in is more easily recognizeable. E.g. like Cast Baroq or Cast Coil - i love those. With H&H one has nearly no idea where one currently is on the path towards the solution.

    Later today i'll try to solve it again and note down the state transitions. The idea is that both pieces have four possible orienations each (180 degree turned around, and the same again upside down), leading to 4*4=16 different states that the puzzle can be in.
    Each individual state can then be identified with two digits of 1-4, which each denotes the orientation of one of the pieces.

    With the written state transitions i will hopefully be able to identify useless circles that i may have wandered on my way to the exit point.

    1. I'm so glad that it is not just me!

      Your idea is an excellent one, Jens! When you have done it - I would be grateful if you could send me your notation and notes for my files and to help anyone else who needs it.
      Thanks in anticipation of your hard work.