September 25, 2009

Cast Quartet

After solving those two level 6 Hanayamas (kind of), my confidence was high so I decided to try the final level 6: Cast Quartet by Mineyuki Uyematsu. This puzzle was an entry in the 2007 Puzzle Design Competition at the International Puzzle Party. I went down to Eureka Puzzles to pick it up and headed back to my apartment.

The puzzle has a nice black finish to it and an interesting angular appearance. It has a good weight to it as well, as do many of the Hanayama puzzles.

Based on the reviews I knew it was going to be a very challenging puzzle, so I tried to be very methodical when I was taking it apart: this type of puzzle can be a beast to put back together when you don't pay attention (as I found with Cast Vortex). Unfortunately, I was paying such close attention that I wasn't able to get the damn thing apart! I think when I get very focused on the movements, it limits my creativity somewhat.

So I abandoned that approach and just started wiggling it around in various ways, and eventually it started to come apart. There are multiple levels of 'apart' for this one, and it took a decent amount of effort at each. Once it finally came undone, I knew I was in trouble: I really had no idea how I had done it.

One cool thing about this puzzle is that you can form a secondary shape using the four pieces that is kind of cool, but it isn't particularly challenging. I admired this for a bit and then set myself to the task of putting it together.

I worked on putting it back together for several days to no avail, it was essentially a jumbled mess that I could not make much sense of. Eventually I gave up and took a peek at the solution to get me going in the right direction. I worked a bit more knowing that I had at least started correctly, but it was still an overwhelming task. This one was tough!

Even looking at the directions I couldn't get past this one particularly tricky move and had to resort to YouTube. That helped and I was able to get it back together, but that was somewhat less satisfying because of all the help I needed.

Overall, I would recommend this one with slight hesitation: personally this one was past my 'too hard' threshold, so unless you're quite good at this type of puzzle I wouldn't recommend it. Also, I'm not sure what it was, but after the hours of playing with the puzzle, the finish now looks a bit blotchy. Might be my moisturizer or something interacting with the metal but I can't get it back to its original gleaming state.

Tomorrow, I check out two puzzles that I was a bit hesitant to try at first but ended up being pleasantly surprised.


  1. Since a few months I am hooked on the Hanayama puzzles as well. Just opened the Enygma for a new challenge.

    This news puzzle is certainly a very complex puzzle. When you open it, it looks very simple and beautiful, but within the first few seconds it turns into a complete gremlin! It took me a few sessions of play and many times running into dead ends before I got the puzzle apart. I managed to reassemble and dissasemble the puzzle more than once, but still didn't know a set of moves to do it. The puzzle has two solutions and I always ended up taking it apart with one and assembling with the other. After performing the assembly and disassembly a number of times, I checked youtube to confirm my process. Both my methods were good, but a little chaotic compared to the vids. The one solution does however require a little force on my puzzle and that worried me to whether it is a suitable solution.

  2. I agree with the review. However I think Brian was not patient enough:) I haven't mastered the puzzle yet, I managed to put it back together, but still don't have a clear picture about how it works. I think the main difficulty is that it's really hard to identify "states". With Vortex (which is in some sense similar to Quartet), after a couple of hours I had a pretty good idea where I am, and what I want to do, so I was sure, that I will figure it sooner or later. As for Quartet, after ca. 10 hours of thinking I still only partially understand the inner logic of the puzzle. Anyway, I found it really helpful to play only with three pieces first. Once I completely understood the interactions of any three pieces, I was able to bring the puzzle back to the original state in about an hour. I like Quartet very much, days of entertainment for 15 dollars:)

  3. I had a similar experience with the Cast Quartet. I got it apart eventually but reassembly was the problem. The Hanayama solution is very difficult to follow in reverse, since it doesn't identify the different pieces and is shows disassembly, so you have to reverse all the arrows. I had no luck using it. The "Hanayama" and "QUARTET" markings on my pieces are different from those shown in the solution, adding to the confusion.

    The puzzle contains two pairs of identical pieces which go together to form the two rings. It is easy to put two pieces together to form one ring. I then tried to add a third piece to interlock with the ring and this is not so difficult and gives you the hang of what you need to do. The challenge is then to add the last piece so that you get two interlocking rings. With this goal in mind, I was eventually able to reassemble with no help from the Hanayama solution or any videos. I don't know if I could do it again very easily, though.

  4. The 2007 competition version is slightly different in that the rings in the assembled shape are square so that it uses four identical pieces, except for the coloring. It appears Hanayama made the puzzle more difficult by "squashing" the squares, giving two pairs of identical pieces.


Please don't post spoilers! Thanks for commenting!