It was a busy last weekend for me at IPP38 in San Diego, California, USA. Two hectic days consisting of the Puzzle Exchange (blog post to come) and the Puzzle Party. Not to mention that I had to travel nearly 24 hours each way by plane and train from Singapore to San Diego. Then there was playing and trying out all the Design Competition entries, all 67 of them and attending a couple of puzzle related talks
One of the puzzles I picked up during the Puzzle Party was the Hanayama Cast Arrows. It’s the latest puzzle in the Hanayama stable. At the time of this writing, the Cast Arrows has still not be released outside of Japan. Those interested in purchasing may try Ebay Japan. I got my copy from the good puzzle folks of Torito Japan. Lucky me, it was also the last copy they had.
The Cast Arrows was designed by my puzzle friend from Russia Andrei Ivanov. Made of cast alloy, the Cast Arrows consist of 4 arrow shaped pieces and a heart. The puzzle comes with the arrows all arranged in one direction “pierced” through a hole in the heart. The hole is a rectangular slot and has some grooves cut along the insides. The object is to remove the 4 arrows from the heart.
All the 4 arrows look identical and most puzzlers would probably look at the grooves and notches and come to the conclusion that these are useful for positioning the arrows through the heart. The space of the slot is rather limited and only one arrow can come out at a time. The challenge is how to get the first arrow out.
simple looking and is anything but…
The Cast Arrows is rated 3 out of 6 stars by Hanayama, meaning it’s of average difficulty. But I would personally assess it to be at least 3.5 or 4 stars. While it is not frustratingly difficult, it is pretty tricky.
I spent quite a bit of time studying the pieces to see if they yielded any clues. None I could find, at least on the surface. All looked the same shape and size. Next using the trial and error method to see if by chance I could pop out an arrow, but no luck. Most of the time, after what I had thought would be the correct positions of the arrows within the slot for removal, I was confronted with a quiver of stuck arrows. And had to start over again.
But my puzzliing experience as taught me that one cannot defy physics. Given Hanayama’s tight tolerances for their puzzles, I know that somewhere within the puzzle, there must be a way to remove an arrow(s) without use of any force. And like many Hanayama puzzles, there is usually a correct starting point for the solve if you know just where where to look. I won’t say more as I don’t wish to publish any spoilers here. All in, it took me well over half an hour before I managed to get the first arrow out. Very “elegant” and smooth solution…but not obvious at all.