Hanayama Vortex

What a beast! This puzzle sure looks nice and pretty, but don’t be fooled, its a demon. It took me about a week to get this puzzle separated into its 3 pieces, and I briefly tried to put it back together, but ultimately resorted to a youtube video.

And although I was mighty happy to open this up last night, It wasn’t my favorite puzzle. I think, perhaps, this type of entanglement puzzle just isn’t my cup of tea. 

To find the solution, I mostly played with it for hours. Sometimes it would bind up, sometimes it would feel looser. Sometimes, I would move a piece through another piece and things would “feel” like they were moving in the right direction. Sometimes, I’d execute a seemingly complex move only to result in no perceivable change. 

The big thing that makes this puzzle so frustrating is the actual shape of the pieces. They seem simple, almost like a nice “C” shape, but really, they are more shaped like a closed “6” This makes manipulating them very difficult as the smaller circle is alway blocking the way and getting caught on things.

Ultimately, it just came down to determination. I was starting to loathe this puzzle and getting back to work on it was not a fun thought. So, I decided to bite the bullet and just get it done. I was at the points where the 3 tails were connected, but just couldn’t move forward. 

Finally, something happened and I was able to unlock one of the tails, thus creating a chain of rings, which was easily disassembled. The relief was great – that is until I realized that I had no idea how to put it back together.

Finally got ‘er done.

It funny, I’ve been noticing lately that for every hour of puzzling that I do, I’m actually focused and engaged for only a small portion of that. Seems that my mental state and focus level has everything to do with how quickly I can solve these puzzles. It’s easy to half-ass it and accomplish nothing. Its hard to stay focused, determined and push forward. But ultimately, that’s the only way to get it done.

Funzzle Beta

That was brutal and I’m glad I don’t have to do it again. After about 3-4 hours of focused work, I finally got the Funzzle Beta puzzle taken apart and put back together. 

This is the start position. I wish they had used a darker wood to better differentiate the pattern.

When I first started this puzzle, I couldn’t get anywhere. It would constantly lock up on me and I found it difficult to manipulate the pieces. Even when there was an obvious move, sometimes it was difficult to actually move the piece because the bamboo binds up so easily.

To make it even more difficult, it is hard to determine the exact shape of the pieces and there are also strategic wooden blocks glued in various spots on the interior that constantly catch the pieces as you move them.

After a good 45 minute session, I hadn’t accomplished much and gave up, ready to focus again later. Luckily this would pay off for me.

After getting the kids to bed, I put on a record and refocused all my energy on this thing. I quickly realized the ability to raise and lower pieces as I manipulated them. This opened up some more options for me as I was able to stack 3 pieces in a tight area and then could better rotate and manipulate the 4th. I didn’t have a real goal in mind, I just kept focusing on moving pieces and trying new things.

Eventually, I came to a place where a certain piece felt very loose, so I began to explore options centered around this particular piece. I then got that same piece completely freed except for a one block corner. I had to backtrack a few steps, but eventually rotated the piece, thus freeing it from the block. It felt damn good to finally get those pieces out. 

You can see the final steps below.

Unfortunately, the puzzle wasn’t complete yet – I was dreading putting this thing back together. But, I put on another record and got to work. 45 minutes later and I wasn’t even close. I put it down for the evening and went to bed.

Today, I woke up determined to finish this thing. I spent another 30 minutes working on it only to discover that I had worked my way back to the solution again and the pieces came out. I broke down and did a google search for the solution. My only option was to request one from Puzzlemaster. I couldn’t bring myself to do that, so once again sat down to focus on this thing. Somehow, I got it done.

I dunno. This puzzle could have been excellent. It really had some cool moves and was seriously difficult to complete. But it was overly hard to manipulate – not in a challenging way – but in a frustrating way.

Completed. Phew.

Puzzle Available at PuzzleMaster

Hanayama Cast Chain

Oh, the cast chain. You were fun to solve.

I really liked this particular puzzle. It was simple enough that I could wrap my head around all the interactions, but solving it took some persistence. This was one of those puzzles where the solution was pretty obvious from the beginning, but manipulating the pieces to the correct position proved to be the challenge.

When I first picked this puzzle up, I didn’t get anywhere. It just didn’t seem like there were any options. I fiddled with it for 15 minutes, half-distracted, and then put it down for later.

Looks easy right? Think again. There’s not much room to manipulate the pieces.

Later in the day, when I had the time, I decided to dedicate 30 focused minutes on the puzzle and see if I could make any progress. It was somewhere during this 30 minutes that I discovered how to connect the chain ends and switch the order of the links. This was a cool discovery, and it gave me some hope. Unfortunately, I had to put it down again to take care of some things.

Later on in the evening, I picked the puzzle up and focused another 45 minutes and found the solution. I think I would have solved it quicker, but I was somehow convinced there was a “3rd state” for the links to be in. It turns, out there is not “3rd state”, I simply had to get the links in the correct order and orientation.

After the first link is removed, the second is trivial.

Once solved, it was easy to put back together and restore to the original state. 

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this one. It kind of reminds me of vortex, in that it is 3 interconnected pieces, but I was able to keep track of everything much easier – vortex gets confusing to me (and I still haven’t solved it).  Built quality is great as is the fit and finish.

Puzzle Available at PuzzleMaster

Hanayama Nutcase

I picked up the Hanayama Nutcase last week and finally got a chance to dedicate a little time to it over the weekend. Overall, I liked the puzzle. It felt impossible at first and it’s always satisfying to solve a puzzle that starts off as “impossible”.

The object of the puzzle, like most Hanayama puzzles is to take it apart and then put it back together. The two nuts easily turn, but there is no apparent way to remove them from the bolt.

Closer inspection reveals some interesting details. There is a loose nut that rattles around inside the bolt. I quickly determined that it was unlikely to help in the solution. The inside of the bolt was smooth and there was nothing for that loose bolt to catch onto, nor were there any pockets for it to fit into.

The outside of the bolt, however, held some of the clues needed for the solution. After playing with this puzzle for about an hour, I set it down to go take a shower. It was at that moment that I had an idea of what was going on. The idea just hit me upside the head and I was suddenly sure I had the answer. At that point, I was thinking that I could solve it in 5 minutes.Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. Although my solution was correct, it took another hour or so to finally get it right.

This puzzle is a bit loose and tinkery. Even when you have the solution, it isn’t exactly easy to get everything perfect, thus the puzzle isn’t quite as enjoyable as it should be. I have a number of Hanayama puzzles that are of excellent build quality and tolerances, this one just doesn’t measure up.

solved puzzle, no secrets revealed

Puzzle Available at PuzzleMaster