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My previous review was about the Cast Nutcase by Oskar van Deventer, and this week I present you yet another one of his genius creations, the Cast Chain, released by Hanayama in July 2002. Although it's another level 6/6 puzzle it's much easier than the Cast Nutcase, which is a relief. The key word for the Cast Chain is simply "chain".
Visually not so appealing like other notable Cast Puzzles, as the Radix or the Marble, the Cast Chain makes up for its concept, which is quite interesting. Maybe a different coating finish would've helped, with two or three contrasting colors (golden, silver and bronze).
The puzzle consists of three different pieces that are linked together and move around relatively free, except you can't separate them that easily. Each piece is different and at close inspection you'll notice they have these notches that are essential for you to free them.
Curiously enough, the Chain has three possible solutions, depending on which piece you choose as the middle one. This is, more or less, what you'll read in the provided description of the puzzle, but I prefer to look at it in a different way, at least from what I experienced. It's more like what piece you happen to get in the middle, as opposed to what piece you choose to put in the middle - Big difference.
Moving the pieces around is not as easy as you'd expect, but as you discover how they interact with each other it becomes easier to do it. Swapping the order of the pieces is a bit tricky, but I'm going to try and explain. First you start by joining the two pieces from each end (this is done by aligning the extremities of each piece making a two-by-two square). After this, the pieces look a bit more entangled, but if you now do the same procedure with the middle piece and one of the other two, you managed to change the order of the pieces. To help you locate where each piece is at all times, they were marked with spots on one of their extremities, which may have one, two or three spots.
Putting the puzzle together proved to be a lot easier, because by then I knew how the pieces should be positioned. After this you should be able to try the other two solutions. For me, one is enough, but maybe you like the extra challenge...
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After having written many reviews for Oskar's puzzles I am running out of adjectives to describe his genius. Each of his puzzles has its own personality and the Chain is no different. Such an original design, it's a shame Hanayama didn't put that much work into its visual appearance - It could have been much better.
Availability: You can find the Cast Chain and all of the others in the series at Sloyd, in Finland. Worldwide shipping available.
Hanayama Cast (in English) - Very useful website in English, with plenty of information on all things Cast.
Hanayama's Factory Visit (Many thanks to Roxanne Wong for sharing these pictures)