September 14, 2010

Cast H&H

Well, it has been quite a while since I've written about Hanayama's Cast Puzzle series! This series of puzzles was actually what ignited my interest in puzzling, and I've blogged quite a bit about it. I mentioned this to Teddy Sakamoto of Hanayama during the Founder's Reception at IPP 30, and he was kind enough to give me a copy of one of their latest puzzles: Cast H&H. Thanks Teddy!

Unlike most of the puzzles I got at IPP, I actually tried this one right away. I was quite eager to see what it was like, and how long it would take me to solve it. Would it take minutes or hours?

This puzzle was designed by Oskar van Deventer, and like many of his puzzles is like a maze. It consists of two pieces that rotate in an interesting manner, and the goal is to separate them.

I really like the simplicity of two-piece puzzles, since they need to be fairly clever to stay challenging. This one is quite similar to Cast Keyring. In Cast Keyring, the pieces are sort of C-shaped, with an opening on only one end. Cast H&H, as you would expect, has two pieces that are shaped like the letter H. It is very nicely made, with a great shiny silver finish and a good weight in your hand.

It is hard to recall, but I think I spent a good 30 minutes on this one at IPP and didn't have any luck with it. When I got home and revisited it, I was able to figure it out in maybe 20 minutes or so. Sometimes with these maze-type puzzles, a certain move just doesn't occur to you. When you finally find it, there's a nice feeling of "Ah hah! I haven't seen this before!"

There are a number of ways that this puzzle moves, one of which is particularly interesting and different from Cast Keyring. One issue that I had with this puzzle was that it is possible to force some moves that should not be possible. This allows you to shortcut the solution path somewhat, but is not a huge problem. Just try to avoid it if you want to get the full effect.

Sometimes it was hard to line the pieces up just right to execute a move, but I got better at that with practice. I would revisit what I thought was a dead end only to find that I could actually proceed.

I found it to be just as difficult to return it to its starting configuration as it was to take it apart in the first place. The move sequence is pretty long, so it is easy to forget exactly what you did when taking it apart. I think it took me a good 20 minutes to get it back together. Even after solving it once, I enjoyed solving it a few more times until I felt like I really mastered it.

Overall, an excellent puzzle by Oskar!

1 comment:

  1. The fun thing is that there is not 1 solution, but 4. It was pretty easy to find them when you know how to hold the puzzle :)


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