Monday 25 November 2013

Cast Cricket

Cast Cricket
I know! I know! I'm late and it's not good enough! Yes I've even had an email from an expectant friend. He'd come back from Sunday lunch and was settling down for a rest and a read of my latest post. He was most disappointed to see that I had failed to provide but I reassured him that it would be coming soon and here it is.

I'm late because of this!
So why am I a day late? Well last week, having freed my angel, I said that I'd need her help to solve Eitan's star, the 1st ever icosahedral and the hardest mass-produced twisty puzzle ever produced. Having scrambled it last Sunday, I'd been working at it all week and only just managed to complete it late on Sunday afternoon and much too late to write this post. Certainly it was too late if I didn't want to get in trouble with Mrs S! How do you go about such a horrific twisty? First I knew that the Eitan's star is the geometric dual of the Bauhinia dodecahedron (a vertex turning 12 sided puzzle) with the turning vertices coincident with the faces of the icosahedral puzzle. So starting at one corner, I was able to solve half of it using intuitive moves alone, then the thin internal triangles of the top half were solvable from the equator up using nothing more than the 4 move edge piece series.
Can you see the similarity?
Neither can I but it is there!
At this point it started to get challenging - with the vertices requiring a 3cycle but lots of setup moves to match the 5 colours up. The 2colour edges were next - there are 60 but I had 32 to solve and these require a much more complex series of moves just to cycle 3 of them and place just 1 at a time. My own algorithm was too difficult to translate so I borrowed a nice 20 move sequence from my friend Rline's video series. This section of the solve is really arduous and took hours and hours. There's no room for error and you have to pray that you remember all the setup moves! A small rest was required to calm my nerves and finally a simple set of corner piece series were required to place the large triangular centres! As of this moment, I am the 11th name in the list of solvers on the Twisty Puzzles hall of fame. If you want a cheaper but still pretty tough twisty puzzle then definitely try the Bauhinia dodecahedron - it is a tremendously fun puzzle and will set you up nicely for the Star's challenge.

So you see I do have a good excuse. I was therefore needing a fairly quick puzzle to solve and write about for you. In my last batch from Puzzle Master, I had ordered a couple of the easier Hanayama cast puzzles, so I fetched one to solve as quickly as possible for this blog post. This one is the level 2 out of 6 (or 6 - Tricky, on the Puzzle Master 5-10 point scale) which I think is a reasonable assessment. Opening the usual beautiful packaging reveals a really lovely metal puzzle in an antique brass finish. It is 6.7 x 6.7 x 2.5 cm in size and seems rather finely made. The name Cast Cricket obviously comes from the fact that it is formed from the major parts of the game of Cricket. It consists of 6 cricket bats joined at the handles in an odd star-shape and linked into a wicket structure complete with Bails preventing it lifting out the top. For the Americans amongst you, see this article for a description of cricket. The aim is to find a way to remove the 6 bats from the wicket. Preventing it are a number of knobbles on one side or other of each bat (one of the bats looks like a skateboard with wheels on it at both ends) but to help you there is a gap in the central wicket and a notch in the centre one. Like all the Hanayama puzzles, it does not come with a solution and if you want one then it can be downloaded from here.

This puzzle only has an average rating on puzzle master of 2 out of 5 stars but I think this is due to one particularly scathing (and unfair) review of 0 stars from one person who felt it was too easy and fragile. The other reviews were much more favourable. This is an easy puzzle but not everyone wants something that takes months and if you don't want an easyish puzzle then why are you looking at a Hanayama level 2? Gabriel reviewed it back in 2012 and really enjoyed it whilst acknowledging the difficulty level.

The original design apparently goes back to 1898 and the guys at Hanayama liaised with James Dalgety, the owner of the amazing Puzzle museum who has a precursor of this puzzle.

So, exhausted from my travails with Eitan's star, I picked this one up deliberately hoping that the level 2 on the box really meant that I would be able to solve it in just a few minutes and then write a quick review for you. Unfortunately it was also time to prepare dinner so "she who must be obeyed or else there'll be pain and burning" said in no uncertain terms to "put that bloody thing down" when I came into the kitchen all flushed with my earlier success! I had seen that look before and decided to obey - instantly!!!

After dinner and washing up, still flushed with my previous success (or was it wine?) I picked it up again. It really is beautifully crafted and does seem a little more finely made than others in the series - I definitely don't think this is suitable for young children as they may well be able to bend or snap it. I took the photo at the top of the post straight away so that I would have a known starting point to return to and procceded to fiddle. It quickly becomes apparent how the pieces slide together and how only certain knobbles will slide through the gap at any one time. It is also possible to use the gap to turn the whole thing about and switch sides of the wicket. This was all very interesting but I seemed to be going around in circles! It also was not immediately obvious where the exit point was so I carried on fiddling.

After about 10 minutes I found something new was possible if you held both pieces just right (this is the Aha! moment) and then suddenly there are similar looking moves possible but using parts of the puzzle that had previously not been accessible. Within another 60 seconds, I had the 2 pieces in my hands and a big smile on my face! I know! I have a pretty good collection of really rather expensive puzzles and after 15 minutes of playing with this rather simple and definitely cheap puzzle, it was solved BUT I still had a grin. This confirms to me that I am not a pure collector, I am primarily a solver and seeker of the "Aha! moment". Anything which gives me that moment of discovery and satisfaction is worthwhile for me.

2 Pieces
I agree with the simplicity - it is truly a level 2 (Puzzle Master level 6) but that doesn't stop it being a pleasure. Having spent a week on one of the toughest puzzles in the world, I was delighted to have something small and clever to play with. I have repeated the solution many times now - it makes a great worry bead and I have actually found a second solution to it - the exit is the same but there are 2 ways to get to it.

If you are after a "quickie" for yourself or a fun little toy for your newbie or non-puzzling friends than this is ideal. You cannot really go wrong for $13!

1 comment:

  1. Goodness! Are you trying to bowl us over with this sticky wicket of a puzzle?