Author interviews Vol.34 Pencil Rocket

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Talking to Pencil Rocket

Our guest this time is Pencil Rocket. He is a 22 year old student studying robots.

NyanBazLet's start the story from when you were little. What kind of kid were you?

Pencil RocketI played around outdoors. I belonged to a football club when I was elementary school age and played football. I enjoyed baseball with friends too.

NyanBazIt sounds healthy. Did you like using your head like with puzzles?

Pencil RocketI don't remember that. But I liked thinking.

NyanBazWas it about school work?

Pencil RocketYes. I was good at arithmetic when I was in primary school. To me problems in arithmetic seem like a puzzle, I liked that.

NyanBazWhen did you encounter puzzles?

Pencil RocketThat was when I was a sixth grader. My classmate brought Puzzle Communication Nikoli Vol. 97 to school, and I solved it with him. First, we couldn't solve those puzzles well, because they were too difficult. My friend liked Fillomino, however, he and I both couldn't solve them. We chose Nurikabe next because it seemed similar to Fillomino. Then the challenge was a Nurikabe super giant, we did it in the breaks between lessons. Eventually we gave up that too after doing about half. After that, I bought Vol. 97 myself, now I solved that Nurikabe super giant. After the entrance examination to junior high school, I was given Vol. 96 by my parent. I earnestly solved everything. It was totally interesting.

NyanBazWhere was it interesting for you?

Pencil RocketI'll have to think. I think that what attracted me was advancing logically. First of all I loved Nurikabe. I solved all the puzzles of Puzzle Communication Nikoli. I solved even the word puzzles.

NyanBazThen do you continue buying Puzzle Communication Nikoli?

Pencil RocketYes. I continued buying it all the time and solving it. I stopped contributing at the time of the university entrance exam.

NyanBazWhen did you start contributions?

Pencil RocketThat was immediately after I entered the junior high school. I noticed that problems were contributions by readers when I read Nikoli. I was determined to try that after I read the page with contribution guidelines. Because Vol. 100 was near, I hoped my problem to be in Vol. 100. So I contributed puzzles to Vol. 100, and got in.

NyanBazCool! What puzzle got in?

Pencil RocketIt was Masyu. It had a different name then. There was a special Masyu feature and I just sent in a lot of them.

NyanBazWhat was the first puzzle which you made?

Pencil RocketIt was an original puzzle. There was a puzzle named Black belt (it's like Nurikabe and Slitherlink) in Omopa some time ago. I came up with something similar to it. I didn't send it in.

NyanBazYour maiden work was an original! Didn't you have a hard time with that for a beginning?

Pencil RocketNo. I started with Masyu and it went well. Masyu is very easy to make.

NyanBazHow many puzzles are you contributing?

Pencil RocketI'm sending 30 puzzles to Puzzle Communication Nikoli for each issue and 5 or 6 puzzles to nikoli.com every month. With nikoli.com I can see the times and impressions of the persons who solve them, so nikoli.com is good for me. It motivates me.

NyanBazIt's a marvellous thing to listen to the voice of the persons who solve the puzzles. But then, what is your favorite puzzle?

Pencil RocketI love Masyu. That's because it's easy to make, and it's easy for me to express myself. Masyu can be solved smoothly, that's also good. But really, I like all kinds of puzzles. Wait, I'm weak at Sudoku. It doesn't move ahead so readily.

NyanBazYour like puzzles that can be solved smoothly. When you create puzzles, what do you keep in mind?

Pencil RocketI want to do what no one else has done yet. I don't want to put restrictions on what I make. I don't want to bind myself. Well, I may mind the look, the final appearance.

NyanBazWhen you make puzzles do you think about who is solving them?

Pencil RocketThat changes with the difficulty. When I make an easy problem I assume a beginner. If it's a hard problem I assume an expert. That's how I approach every problem.

NyanBazYou are prompt and flexible. Do you solve puzzles of other authors?

Pencil RocketYes I solve a lot. I solve almost all puzzles other than Sudoku on nikoli.com.

NyanBazDo you have a favorite author?

Pencil RocketYes, MINE. He is the author of the Nurikabe super giant which I told about a while ago. I've loved his Nurikabe since then.

NyanBazSure, his work is wonderful. Let me ask about something other than puzzles. What is your hobby, except puzzles of course?

Pencil RocketOrigami and bicycles. I'm a member of an origami group at the university. I make original origami. It's folding a rectangular piece of paper and modeling anything really.

NyanBazHow many kinds of things did you create?

Pencil RocketIt's still only about 10 types. Because I started creative origami just recently, it's still just a few. I am especially proud of a maiko I created. I wanted to do it with paper that has a pattern.

NyanBazIt's not possible to do origami if your fingers are not clever. You must like flexing your hands. Then, when did you begin the hobby with bicycles?

Pencil RocketThese days I've started to cycle as a hobby. I bought a cross country bike to get to school last year. I rode around here and there now that I had the bike, I enjoyed it. Cross country bikes can go all over the place much faster than a regular bike. Last week, I was on the Shimanami-kaido (a road in Japan about 700km from Tokyo) . The scenery was beautiful. I'll run around in Tohoku from tomorrow.

NyanBazYou really have physical strength. You like exercise. Let's return to the conversation about puzzles. Do you have a best masterpiece among your puzzles?

Pencil RocketI have the Masyu super giant which was published in Nikoli Vol. 110. I like the way it progresses when it is being solved. I take care about how the solution progresses with a big puzzle. With that particular puzzle, Ilike the way I was able to express the progress like I wanted to.

NyanBazWhat is puzzle for you?

Pencil RocketIt's something that is always there, nearby. I have other hobbies, too, but puzzles come first.

NyanBazWill you keep making puzzles?

Pencil RocketYes, I want to continue making puzzles for a long time. Even after I graduate from university and find a job, I'll still want to continue making puzzles.

NyanBazNow the last question, anything that you want to tell people solving your puzzles?

Pencil RocketPlease enjoy doing them without thinking too deeply, be at ease. That would make me happy.

NyanBazThank you for today!


Interviewed Sep 2011 Published on Aug 6, 2012