The exploration of a junior puzzler in this vast puzzle world!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shortened url

I have found a useful tool called Bitly on the web which shortens your url and lets you customize it.
Just in case someone got tired typing all that stuff every time entering my blog, here's a faster way:
:) I wish you enjoy my blog!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hanayama Cast Puzzle: Cast NEWS

Puzzle: Cast NEWS
Brand: Hanayama
Inventor: NOB Yoshigahara
ST: ~1 week

Now to introduce one of my favorite puzzles...The Cast News. It was invented by Mr. Yoshigahara at the age of 19, pretty amazing isn't it? Some people are born for you to look up onto. The puzzle was rated the highest rating on the Hanayama scale-6. I expected much of a challenge when I brought it-and it definitely give me a good amount of torture time! It was made of two pieces that join together to firm a octagon. The puzzle was defined to be somehow like a compass, with N, E, W, and S engraved on it. It was made of good bronze, and was designed to have a aged look, similar to several other Hanayamas, such as the Enigma, the Coil etc.

When having a first try, you'll notice things going inside there. Sort of like a marble rolling around. So this must be the locking mechanism! There seemed to be a LOT of things inside because in every direction you tilt, something clicks. Still, being the unexperienced me and haven't seen puzzles of the like, I figured that this must be a multiple-step puzzle where you tilt it in the correct direction, and let one thing block each other until it was finally able to come apart. Oh how wrong I was. Fiddle-Fiddle-dee, no avail after sometime, I finally thought of a approach using a simple law of physics. I tried it-No avail. So back to the fiddling, and I at last determined what was going on there. If I really was right, then NOB was really a clever dude... So five minuted later lo and behold it opened! Examining it, i could tell that I am right. The inventor added a nice twist to a simple concept that makes the puzzle more interesting, which is why I so liked this one. I can only say that if your idea didn’t work, it might not be wrong-Think of your theories again, and figuring the positions of the things inside will surely help.

A good puzzle indeed-To my suggestion you must have it, great invention by NOB again!

Here is where you’ll get this puzzle.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hanayama Cast Puzzle: Cast Spiral

Puzzle: Cast Spiral
Cast Spiral
Brand: Hanayama
Inventor: Kennet Walker, NOB Yoshigahara
ST: 30 m

This is another Cast Puzzle by Hanayama, rated level five on their six-point scale. It’s shaped like five unique jigsaw pieces put together to form a circle. The puzzle really gives a elegant feeling, and feels smooth when holding it. All Hanayama puzzles seems to be manufactured well, and considering its price, every single puzzle by them is worth to buy. Back to the topic, if you haven’t seen those kinds of puzzles, you will really be puzzled by how this puzzle works. (no pun intended) Exactly what I have experienced-what kind of a puzzle is supposed to be there if it’s only about jigsaw, not considering that there’s only five pieces? Oh how wrong I was. Those kinds of puzzles had a slope in the place where they connect to form a unique interlocking system. Two pieces can slide out in one direction-but will be blocked in the other. That’s easy, you say. The problem is that there’s five! Whenever two pieces want to slide apart, they will be kindly blocked by the other piece beside them. Now the puzzle rating goes from easy to impossible in a minute, huh? This is what I like about the Hanayamas. So when you hold one 
piece and let go the rest, none will fall out, but instead forms a staircase or spiral-like pattern (hence the name). There’s another more original puzzle like this which is a square formed from four jigsaw pieces, in which they interlock just like this puzzle. The spiral has given a twist to the original, changing the shape and increasing the number of pieces.

The staircase-a unique locking system

Having never seen any type of those puzzles before, i was pretty dumbfounded for some time. I have the basic idea of how it should open, but applied it in the wrong way-and not until some time later did I found the correct solution-pretty clever!

The assembly was trickier-If you didn’t have the pieces labeled, or somehow remembered the correct order, you could sort them into what was called the “Cast Spiral Paradox”. The pieces was constructed in such a way that they could only fit in one way, and all other possibilities were denied. But, because of the joins’ different shapes, some pieces will tend to stuck together when wrongly 
placed. In fact, they could be stuck in such a manner that you’d have to get a replacement of the puzzle-pretty dangerous! There was also a alternate assembly which is also a paradox-once you got in that formation you were unlikely to fix your puzzle. So I, always doing a lot of research before I bought a puzzle, were well aware of this and labeled the pieces with a pencil before I dissected them-Although later I was able to memorize the order.

The puzzle itself was beautifully manufactured-and its quality is great. So if you want a hard, beautiful puzzle this was for you! In fact, it was so smooth that one of my fellow puzzlers joked that it could be a hand massager! While I don't suggest that use, the puzzle was definitely worth buying.

You could get your own copy of the puzzle here.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Very First Rubik's Cube! Part 1 of My Rubik Journey

Puzzle: 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube
Inventor: Erno Rubik (hence the name)
ST: FAILED-for now...

Working hard...
Since my childhood I haven't had a lot of good experiences with Rubik's Cubes. The most I ever did was to manage to solve one side-that's it. Not sure if it's me or the cubes-still had no luck with those after many years. Today, I saw one of a high-qualitied Rubik's Cube 3x3x3 at one of the stores for a fair price, and deciding that it's a puzzler's duty-Well you know what happened next. Scrambling it was pretty easy, and with the high quality it rarely get stuck, so it was a mess after a matter of seconds. But now solving it was the thing. Still, I managed to get one side complete, and no luck with even one more. Worried if I am even qualified as a puzzler... T-T. The puzzle comes with instructions, but unfortunately I am not so much of a Japanese speaker, so I had to give it up. So as usual I turned to my faithful Macintosh and got on google. Following the site instructions and (I'm such a wood-head) animations, I was finally returning it back. Although I relied on help, I vowed to do better next time, and was wishing to memorize the steps.

As you see, this was only part one of my Rubik's journey, so wait for updates in this series!

UPDATE: Wind forward a couple of weeks I was on my computer looking at blog reviews and saw Moises' review about his rather successful Rubik experience here: and he's posted a very helpful Rubik's guide from the website on there, which looked simple enough for me, and I decided to pick up my isolated 3x3x3 again-this time successfully solving it! I still need to remember the algorithm though-no master at Rubik's! There's also a 4x4x4 sitting at my stable but I decides to not touch it for now... Too much for me! I am possibly off to buying a Pynaminx though! And thanks again to Moises for the guide. Keeping updated!

Brass Pyramid

Puzzle: Brass Pyramid
Inventor: Doug Engel
ST: ~10 s

The pyramid... Mysterious?
Finally something other than the Hanayamas huh? Although I believe the Hanayama series were a star in the puzzling world, I think it's time to change the topic.

This is the Brass Pyramid from Puzzle Master, in my most recent order. It certainly looks nice on your shelf with nice gold polished sides, and a unique pyramid look.
Mysterious-No! Solved.

But yes-I am sure you have noticed this-my solve time isn’t a typo. While I spent a whole paragraph praising it, the puzzle was actually poor. Basically it went like this-I opened the package, holding it in my hand to examine, falls apart.

In the beginning I have brought it for its look and it’s rating (6 on the Puzzlemaster scale which run from 5 to 10)-I am not someone who was easily encouraged, and believed the solving of Enigma to be pure luck. So there I have thought this pyramid to be at least taking me a good fifteen minutes or so. It didn’t last a full minute! The puzzle had a simple mechanism that can be VERY easily bypassed by chance. The idea could be used better and be improved-sadly it wasn’t. There was a twist added to the idea, but not a good one-and it too can be bypassed.

In my opinion it wasn’t worth it’s price, and even rookies (like me) could have it dissected in a matter of seconds. Not recommended-My first (and hopefully last) negative post.

But still if you are a collector and REALLY SERIOUSLY felt that you need to have one-here’s the link. EDIT: Puzzlemaster seemed to be no longer selling this item as it is removed from their page.

Hanayama Cast Puzzle: Cast Enigma

Puzzle: Cast Enigma
Brand: Hanayama
Inventor: Eldon Vaughn
ST: 40 m

Unsolvable Puzzle!!!-or is it?
I realized that I wasn't reviewing my poor little collection in order-Has ben a while since I brought some of them. Hope it doesn't affect this blog! This is the Cast Enigma (yes, sorry for reviewing Cast Puzzles all the time, be patient... Other puzzles coming), rated level 6 (a.k.a MAX) on the Hanayama scale. In fact, it has been so hard that some people considered it unsolvable. I was NOT aware of this fact when I bought this. At first, I was buying this as a birthday present for one of my puzzler friends, and to be sure he got it on time I purchased it a couple of weeks earlier. Well it was so tempting sitting ghtere on my shelf! What happens with a tempting puzzle and a puzzle obsessionist? NOTHING if I was buying it for a friend, so it arrived as his doorstep undamaged. But it so tempts me that I brought an extra one right after his birthday. As you know, I am a serious rookie, so I am not planning to buy Enigma at first when I'm stuck with some level fours. But you know what happens with a hopelessly obsessed puzzler and money! So there a enigmatic chain lay at my hands.
The solved unsolvable

The puzzle consists of three parts, two of them being spiral-looking, and the other one is a distorted "O" shape The thing was polished in a kind of aged gold color, and certainly looks nice if you hang it. Not-so-attractive if it was jumbled up on a shelf!

As of me, I've found this puzzle as very straight-forward, and except one move that delayed me a little, I worked smoothly through and the thing was in pieces in 20 minutes. As of assembly, I have watched closely, and it took me around the same time to put it back. Not here to boast at all, but I have found nothing enigmatic about this one.

The Next Section Is For People Who Already Solved The Enigma
The same thing? No...
And what now? Well, I am not sure if the designer even realized this: There's two other alternate assemblies to challenge you! I've found those when I'm fiddling with this on a very, very bored Saturday. Anyone who solved the Enigma will know how the longer spiral piece and the "O" piece come out. Put them in upside-down, and you've got a alternate assembly with a mirror image of the original Enigma. For people familiar to the puzzle it should not be hard to assemble/disassemble using the method, but it is a fun approach!

Whole-new stuff
The second one is more complicated. Assemble the puzzle having one of the pieces upside-down but with the other up straight will result in a whole-new puzzle. Looking at the picture, you will realize that the bottom two parts has switched! And no this is not a middle state of the original puzzle! It is your own matter to figure out how to exchange the two pieces ad turn it to its starting position.

Back To Normal

So over all a fun and challenging puzzle. Great to buy, as it can took you quite a while (sadly not in my case). A must-have in your collection.

The puzzle is available from Puzzle Master here.

Hanayama Cast Puzzle: Cast O'Gear

Puzzle: Cast O'Gear
Brand: Hanayama
Inventor: Oscar Van Deventer
ST (solve time): ~1-2 h

Cast O'gear
This is the Cast O'gear, one of my first puzzles. It has a level three rating on the Hanayama scale, so it will be a fairly moderate challenge. As with most of my first Hanayamas, they were available from a nearby store for me-lucky me eh? It consists of two parts (the same for most hanayamas isn't it?), a gear with five point like a star, and a box with strange holes on each of its six faces.

Just looking at it, one isn't likely to figure out how this puzzle works until you actually have a go with it. Basically, the gear doesn't just came off when you lift it, but can be turned to other faces. It can rotate 90 degrees in one specific direction on any faces, so it can walk over all faces of the box. However, its movements are limited, because some of the sides are straight, and not curved. To cut a long story short, this is a somehow complicated 3-D maze.

Two of the gears have a part of them being thinner than usual, and this is the key to the solution. One of the face is different than the others, and getting the correct point of the gear to the correct face in the correct direction will free the star. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. There's two ways to solve a maze puzzle-to use the trial-and-error method, or try to make logic out of it and make a map. As with this puzzle, it can be solved using a mathematical approach-I'll explain it later.

Opened-Not enough!
So I got this puzzle. Opened the package. Lost total order in about five minutes. Just randomly fiddled with the gear with no idea what I am doing. After sometime I put it down to rest, and to clear my mind. Thinking I should keep order, I tried a more logical approach. I managed to return the puzzle to it's starting position, then labeled the six sides with symbols. So I recorded (with a paper) all my moves in my second try-half an hour later it lay in two pieces. 100% luck. From now on I used the paper as the answer to the puzzle, following the long sequence whenever I wanted to solve it, and went barsec if a friend scrambles it up.

My scribble notes about O'gear's route
Well in total not satisfied! And (not learning my lesson obviously) picked up my puzzle after two days. This time, I tried to create a map of the puzzle. (picture coming) It clearly shows me the possible ways. Then, I figured that if the gear has five points and the box, six sides, going over the box with the gear will eventually have all possible combinations together. Trial 1 created. To my surprise it didn't work! I've got the correct point of the gear to the correct face in the Wrong direction! Now oscar throws in another twist! Think (c) Allard... And trial 2 was here to flip the gear 180 degrees. (if you are interested I will email you the trials but I won't write it here as to not spoil the experience for others.) Using the combination, the gear was opened and I won't ever worry again if it was scrambled.

Okay, if you are not asleep yet, my last paragrappppph..
This puzzle was a nice maze, with a great concept. No waste of your money on this one! The top face has two holes that holds the puzzle nicely together, and a great coffee table piece it will be.


P.S The puzzle is available from Puzzle Master here.