September 22, 2009

Cast Elk and Cast Radix

After a great Christmas break full of puzzle building, I headed back to my apartment in Brookline for school. Of course, as you recall, I am a brief 10 minutes away from Eureka Puzzles, so I couldn't help but head back down there to pick up a few more puzzles.

I had read good things about Cast Elk, so I decided to pick that one up along with Cast Radix, which looked appealing. Cast Elk was a very cool puzzle (the designer is unknown, I think). I fiddled with it for a bit, but since it was a Friday night, I ended up going swing dancing (as I usually do).

The dance was good, but I had the puzzle in the back of my mind: when there is an unsolved puzzle around, I have a hard time resisting it! Fortunately, I brought it along and found some time to work on it later in the evening between the swing dance and a late night dinner at IHOP afterwards.

I convinced my very patient girlfriend to sit tight for a minute while I tried 'one more thing' that I had thought of while dancing. And sure enough, it worked! Quite a relief, now I could continue with my life.

I really like puzzles that only have two pieces, such as this one, because it makes you think "how could this be difficult?"  Many of the Hanayama series are of this nature, which I think is why I enjoy them so much. You go from "how can it be hard?" to "how can it be possible?" in about 5 minutes. There is a great article about two piece puzzles written by Serhiy Grabarchuk, Jr. on a site called that can be found here. Also, check out Oli's review of Cast Elk.

The second puzzle, Cast Radix, had a very cool design by Akio Yamamoto. Unlike most Hanayama puzzles, which kind of lay down, this one stands boldly upright like a piece of modern art. It has three parts, two loops and the base which hold the pieces in place. It has the same nice finish that Cast Baroq has (also by Yamamoto). It won the Grand Prize in the 2005 Puzzle Design Competition at the International Puzzle Party.

The solution is interesting and I found it to be more difficult than Baroq simply because it has more 'dead end' paths that you can follow. There was some force required on one move that I think detracted from the puzzle somewhat. Still enjoyable and worth buying, though!

In tomorrow's entry, I'll talk about my experience with an award-winning puzzle from Japan.


  1. Why do you keep talking about Christmas when it is September? Do you have a bunch to these posts stored up or something, or did you just decide to write about it now?

  2. Well, they are stored in my mind...I decided to start the blog from when I first started collecting in December and work my way forwards. That way I have plenty of material! Otherwise, the entries would be more like once a week, since I don't buy puzzles every day.

    I was wondering if that would be confusing, but maybe now that I'm out of December there won't be any obvious references to the time period.


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