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Thursday 27 August 2015

Chess Piece Puzzles (Hanayama)

The full set
When I heard that Hanayama were going to be making their own versions of Marcel Gillen's original Chess Piece Puzzle designs I was pretty interested to say the least.

I've been fortunate enough to solve most of the originals myself, and they are great puzzles, but owning them is a tricky business since they are quite rare to come by. Now that Hanayama and Marcel have teamed up, these designs can finally be available (and affordable) for everyone!

Don't they look great! Being cast, each piece has a nice weight to it, and they have been finished with Hanayama's trademark high-quality chrome plating. A limited edition of 100 gold plated sets were also made and sold at IPP35 in Canada.

They all have their name engraved on the base. The size of the pieces have been reduced compared with the originals. The King (the tallest) stands at just under 11cm. I personally much prefer the smaller size since they resemble actual chess pieces even better.

Modifications were made to how some of the designs work, but these are certainly for the better. For example, one of the original designs had a slight tendency to lock itself up......permanently. This problem has been completely solved in the Hanayama version. The overall solving process for each of the pieces (as far as I'm aware) is either identical or very close to how Marcel designed to originals to work.

Even with all the good things I have pointed out already the thing that I'm most pleased with is that inside each piece you will find a hidden token. And when you find these tokens, instead of a rubbish piece of painted plastic (as was in the B&P reproductions) you will find a beautifully cast and plated gold token, bearing the symbol and the name of the piece it belongs to. Perfect!

I wouldn't say that any of these are hugely difficult. Any of them should be able to be solved by a puzzle novice with a bit of determination.

Someone asked me if I were to only buy one which would it be, and the answer to that is simply that there is no way you should only be owning one of these! That said, the Pawn would be my favourite in terms of having the most enjoyable solution.

Although currently only available in Japan, I ordered my set from the Felix Puzzle Company through Facebook, but these should be arriving on the general market any day now. They are understandably more expensive than your average Cast Series puzzle, but certainly affordable and well worth the cost.




  1. They seem to be available at in the US!

    1. And still not available on Amazon UK. How irritating! Puzzles coming out of Japan always seem to hit British shores quite late.


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