|(Click to Enlarge)|
The Cast S&S is another classic puzzle from the 19th century Britain revived by Nob Yoshigahara for Hanayama. It was released in 1984 and the key word is "Twins".
There are two identical S-shaped pieces entangled by their curved ends and you have to find a way to separate them. Complicating your task are two knobs at each of the S ends, which need to be manipulated at the right angle to free the pieces.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Cast S&S. I'm already used to Hanayama's high quality standards in the manufacturing of their puzzles, but this one really impressed me. The attention to detail and utmost care that went into the polishing (no coating applied) of the metal is outstanding. It's one of the smoothest surfaces I've seen in any Cast Puzzle. You can only truly appreciate this feature by touch.
The Cast S&S is a Hanayama level 3 (out of 6), so it's right there in the middle in terms of difficulty. In my first try, I reckon I spent about 15/20 minutes fiddling with the puzzle before I was able to solve it. When you understand exactly the step required to solve the puzzle, you can do it in a matter of a few seconds.
It's very clear that you have to twist and turn the S shape to disentangle it, but figuring out the right angle is not so simple. Looking at both knobs' ends, you can see that one is flattened out and the other is rounded. This was done with a purpose, so take it as a hint to solve it.
After solving the puzzle and when trying to return it to its original state, I found that you can't just entangle the two S shapes at random. In other words, to pick any two ends and hook them. Either this was done to make it more complex or the tolerances aren't perfect, because we are led to think that the pieces are "twins". I tend to go for the first option, after all this is Hanayama we are talking about, not some cheap company. Nevertheless, you are warned for when you do it yourself.
(Click to Enlarge)
The Cast S&S may not be Hanayama's most difficult Cast Puzzle, but it is certainly one of the most impressive, quality-wise. The level 3 makes it accessible even for a beginner puzzler. Also, knowing that it comes from the 19th century, where puzzles weren't yet widely available, gives it a more important meaning.
Availability: My copy of the Cast S&S came from the Finnish store Sloyd (PulmaPuoti/ProblemBoden) and it's available for about €10 (worldwide shipping available). They also carry all the others in the Cast Series.
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)