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

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cast Medal

Puzzle: Cast Medal
Designer: James Dalgety
Manufacturer: Hanayama
Cast Scale: 2/6
ST (Kevin Standard):10 mins

This post's back to cast puzzles again, I haven't been posting about these in a while (to be honest, I haven't been posting ANYTHING in a while, but the last Cast Series were a few posts back.) The puzzle today was sent to me courtesy of Puzzlemaster. It's called the Cast Medal, and true to it's name there are two medals linked together. The whole puzzle was bronze-colored giving it an aged feel-Hanayama's got several puzzles with this kind of finish (NEWS, O'Gear, Enigma, Baroq, Helix, Radix...) and the finish always looked great! A glance on the Puzzlemaster webpage shows a five-star rating. Hmm, this might be a interesting one!

Cast Medal
The Hanayama description reads: "Two ancient looking medals engraved with a flowing river and a swimming salmon. Will you be able to retrieve the ring the salmon holds in its mouth? This puzzle was designed by British puzzle creator, James Dalgety, after the legend of the Ring and the Salmon, which figures on the coat of arms of Glasgow City. The theme of this puzzle is "Legend." So there is, a ring in a hole on the 'salmon' plate... Looks like that's our mission then!

Looking at the puzzle, one plate had the salmon swimming beside a island in the water, the other contains several small rocks. It would seem those are going to make the ring's journey to freedom difficult! Each plate had some holes too, the 'island' plate had six while the 'salmon' plate had two. Quick inspection shows where the exit points are (curiously there are two, one on each ring) though the problem is getting there.  You'd be tempted to turn the ring right down the plate and out of the exit, but you can't because the island mentioned above is there, and another whole plate is in your way on the other side. Oh well.
Cast Medal solved

At first there seems to be nowhere for the ring to go, but there is. Some twiddling saw me finding a step which turn the puzzle into a unique position, then things flow on. Several minutes later the ring lay freed! There was one part in the middle that delayed me a bit-it's unconventional and slightly unexpected, but nevertheless I got past. Alright, simple and fun...

That's when I noticed I used 1 out of 6 rings on one of the plates! 

Things are a bit fishy... (no pun intended) They aren't just there for decorations, are they? Another go, then. This time I managed to do something I didn't thought of before-smiles begin to spread as the ring winded through the six holes-and pop! Out it goes. As it turned out, the gap on the ring was big enough to allow for some more

non-intuitive moves, which makes way for the ring to use only one hole. Brian here too stumbled upon this alternative solution. The move was probably unintended, though fun to go through this alternative. The correct latter steps were reminiscent of another level 2 Hanayama, the Cast Plate. 

In puzzling value, the puzzle was on the easier side of level 2. Most of the solving process was fairly straight-forward. Experienced puzzlers should solve the puzzle with no problems. However this doesn't mean this isn't a good puzzle. Interesting combination of different kinds of moves were combined together. It was the perfect introductory puzzles for the newcomers or non-puzzlers. Also for those who got it the right way first try-I ask you to free the ring again, with one hole used! Puzzlemaster has the Cast Plate, as well as the rest of the Cast series for sale here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Scott's Wonders 1: Stewart Coffin's Involution Puzzle

Puzzle: Involution
Designer: Stewart Coffin
Craftsmen: Scott Peterson
ST: ~15 min by Kevin Standard

How time pass by! I am ashamed to have not kept my promise! Weeks wheeze by without me even realizing it. I really appreciate people like Gabriel, Kevin and Allard who manages to pick up a steady posting pace-their posts aren't quick, sloppy one either. Please do forgive me, and to make up I'll present you today with a design from Stewart Coffin: The Involution.

Around the end of last year I discovered the Rosebud surfing in the puzzle blog-dom (they do a great job of bankrupting puzzlers, you know who you are! And no, this amateur is not good enough to be one of them!). I found out more about the puzzle with the help of two good puzzle friends Oli and Kevin, then eventually got in contact with Scott Peterson, who was long known in the puzzling world as a professional craftsmen since 2003. (Neil have visited Scott and made a blog post about it here) As it happens Scott has made a small batch of Rosebuds in the past, and those who received them were more than happy. I was warned it didn't come cheap, though. For a craftsmen like Scott it's more than reasonable-but having nearly bankrupted myself by the latest Wil order it's not good! 
The Involution puzzle
(The pictures really do bad
advertising for Scott-especially mine!
You need to see it for yourself!)

Scott responded quickly with a big yes, then several days later delicious pictures of the puzzle followed. I was so impressed that I asked him if he's got any other goodies to spare? More pictures came and eventually I settled on a beautiful Involution which really stands out from the rest in the stream of pictures. That particular copy for those interested was made from Bubinga and Ziricote for the corners, two types of wood fitting together just fine! Some time passed before payment were sent largely because of a delay on my part (sorry Scott!), after which the puzzles were quickly sent and received. 

First thing I noticed was the size of the package. The Involution, the larger of the two, was about 7 cm across, but the package it came in was more than three times as high! Most of that space were inhabited by foam bits showing Scott really cared for giving the puzzles a safe voyage across. Digging through the cushioners I got out two plastic wrappings showing various kinds of woods in their finest. Since the puzzles were some of my first wooden ones at the time I don't really know what to expect but Scott's given the puzzle care down to the last detail including very nice lacquers and rounded edges.

Involution pieces
So taking the puzzles out, I toyed with the Rosebud for a bit (more of that later if odds go in favor) before launching myself to the Involution. Something worth mentioning was that Stewart Coffin had designed the -volution (yes, and -volute... you picky fellows) puzzles in such a way so the pieces form a kind of windmill pattern on every side when assembled. Clever! To design a puzzle like that with this pattern to keep in mind was nothing small-I still fail at even getting anything to interlock!

A close-up of the infamous key piece that
have caught many a puzzlers unwary...
Down to the solving, it's a interlocking cube with a seemingly low level of, though always remember not to judge a puzzle by it's level! Puzzling-wise it wasn't hard, but certainly interesting. For example: how do one usually start solving a interlocking cube? The normal way was to take out the key piece, which gives a problem right away. As Allard has observed, the pieces Scott crafted had such accuracy to the point that there is virtually no gap, movement or anything that can help you find where the first piece is. I spent a solid five minutes just to find it! The thing almost zinged across the room when I got it out! 

A shot of the puzzle half solved
(and a wink for those who solved it)
Next comes a move that reminds me of these sneaky coordinate motion puzzles where it's the right grip or nothing... Down the road the puzzle throws at you pieces not quite where you'd think they'll come out, movement sending you off to the wrong direction, and a rotation to keep it all good fun. A combination of Coffin genius and Scott's skills also made it possible to pick up the puzzle at any stage of solving and it won't be easy to figure out the next piece.

Definitely a superb puzzle gain. It's a great design, and having it made by Scott pushed it up to the highest display shelfs. The Involution along with many other Famous geometric designs from various designers is also available from Scott in superb quality with a pm to him in the renegades forum. Or if you're not a member, just ask one of the many kind puzzlers out there like I did-I'm sure they be willing to help you out.
I give up in shame...
Hopefully only for now.

End note: If you're wondering why I didn't review the Rosebud first which started it all, the poor thing was taken apart for images and stayed that way since.