Author round-table 004

InterviewsAuthor round-table

The radically original authors.

Our guests this time are aspirin, mimic, and Momotereu. They are authors who make many radical problems, they are full of originality, and have a strong impact on persons solving their problems. Momotereu is on the Nikoli staff, but participates as an author today.

NyanBazFirst question. Are you aware that you are making original and unusual problems?

MomotereuI'm fully aware of that. I aim to make radical problems.

aspirinI wouldn't have guessed I do that.

NobDo you make your puzzles naturally?

aspirinYes. I just make them, but then my puzzles come out odd.

MomotereuAre you sorry that you were asked to take part here today?

aspirinNo no. I understand that I am different from other authors. (laughs)

NyanBazHow about you, mimic?

mimicI'm well aware of it. I'm like Momotereu there. I begin to make a puzzle after I have thought about what could be possible with it. There are times when I don't think much about that, but even then, I am told that my puzzles are individuals, unique. (laughs)

NyanBazIn the first place why do you set out to make radical problems? Was there something that got you started?

mimicFor me, yes. I thought I'd be asked so I thought up an answer in advance.


mimicJust a moment, I'm not finished yet. (laughs) A person who is good at time trials solves puzzles very fast. They are fast the same way with all problems. I find that upsetting and I wanted to make problems that an expert will be troubled with. That was the beginning.

NyanBazThen were you looking for difficulty rather than individuality in the problems?

mimicI did that at first. But, I also want to impress with my work. I realized that I would have to entertain rather than harass. So I ended up shooting for radical problems.

NyanBazIs that how it came about.

mimicIn addition to that I want to have people see that I'm fully aware of everything about puzzles. I want to show that I can realize what another person wouldn't think about. I have an exhibitionist streak.

NyanBazThat is exhibitionist. Do you think about the people solving the problems that you made?

aspirinSure, I think about them all the time.

NyanBazOh, so you too, really?

aspirinOf course. I make puzzles that people are going to solve.

MomotereuYou have to say that, don't you. Otherwise, the readers here would think we are self centered and out of touch.


mimicI do make some puzzles just to please myself. The problems that end up in the Botsu Bako of (Members only, Extra Special Problems) are made strictly to satisfy myself.


NobSo you actually make problems for the Botsu Bako?

mimicOh, I don't aim for the Botsu Bako. It's just that after I have finished some problems I think that they should be right for the Botsu Bako.

NobGood. I had started to think that mimic aimed for the Botsu Bako.

mimicProblems that takes one solution method seriously as a kind of trial often ends up in the Botsu Bako.

aspirinYou are not alone thinking that.

NyanBazYou solve a lot of problems of other authors. Are there problems that are intolerable to yout radical tastes?

aspirinThere aren't any puzzles made by others that are unacceptable to me really.


NyanBazIt sounds like mimic may have such problems?

mimicYes, there are some. (laughs) Like problems that clearly try to flatter. When there is no challenge a puzzle looks coquettish to me.

aspirinHuh, there is that.

mimicBut then, when a problem that I think is trying to flatter is met with a favorable reception, that gets me thinking, that maybe it wasn't flattery so much as catching the spirit of the people doing it.

aspirinI'm interested in what is attractive to solvers but that authors are apt to overlook.

mimicThat would come down to personal likes and dislikes and nothing more concrete.

NyanBazRight. Maybe it is time to stop thinking about this. (laughs)

NobActually, there are the problems that we don't use even when they are supposed to get a favorable reception. They are problems that differ from the direction Nikoli aims at. For example a problem that needs a really complicated look-ahead, one that maybe would be popular with hard-core enthusiasts. We don't want to go in that sort of direction.

aspirinThat's really interesting. There has to be a balance between editing standards and thinking about the solvers.

NyanBazDo you think about things like that when making puzzles, aspirin?

aspirinNo, not really.

mimicNo? You really don't? I sometimes don't make a puzzle, even if I've hit of an idea. Like when I think Nikoli won't accept it.

NyanBazI can understand that.

aspirinI don't feel anything like that. I make puzzles just as my fancy takes me.

NobAspirin is a straight shooter.

NyanBazYou create your puzzles as they come along and naturally they get published.

MomotereuHave you ever had your work turned down, aspirin?

aspirinOf course. (laughs) I get turned down a lot.

NobAspirin's success rate is high. Mimic's too.

NyanBazThat makes sense to me, because mimic is considering all sorts of things so the publication rate will be high. However, I'm amazed to hear that aspirin's publication rate is high too, even when you just makes puzzles naturally, as they pop up. How about you, Momotereu?

MomotereuI'm really conscious about publication. I've made puzzles with the express purpose to get them published by Nikoli from before I joined the staff. has a corner where members vote on favorite puzzles and choose the best problems. All three of you here are regulars in that corner.

NobDoes it make you happy when your work is chosen for the pick of the puzzles corner (Members only)?

mimicIf it is a puzzle I think is good, I am happy. If one of my ordinary problems is chosen, I guess I'm shocked. But I'm still happy.

MomotereuI can sympathize with that.

NyanBazHow do you think, aspirin?

aspirinI don't get shocked at anything like that really, and of course I am happy if a problem that I like is chosen.

MomotereuThen how do you think about when it is not the pick of the month but the Botsu Baku you get selected for?

aspirinSafe! It's like a ground ball to third base that becomes an infield hit in baseball. (laughs)

mimicIt's a shock when a problem I think is ordinary goes to the Botsu Bako. I intend to make problems that get published, and I make only few exceptions.

aspirinWhen I make puzzles, I aim at nothing. Wherever it is published is fine with me.

NyanBazAre there puzzle where it is easy to add personality to or some where it is hard?

NobIt is hard with Sudoku.

aspirinKakuro too.

MomotereuReally difficult.

aspirinI find it hard to add individuality with Masyu problems.

NobWith Masyu you can at least make them appear to have individuality.

NyanBazHow do you like it when a solution method you developed is imitated?

MomotereuI want other authors to keep using solution methods that I came up with.

NobFor Fillomino, with many 1's there is such a variety of problems.That was started by Momotereu.

MomotereuYes. That is what radical problems is all about, exploring the possibilities.

mimicThat goes for Omopa too.

MomotereuMaybe. But I really never got into making Omopa.

NobMimic don't make Omopa, either.

mimicI don't think I'll ever make Omopa puzzles.

NobDo you want to develop rather than invent?

mimicI want to go where I can with existing rules. I don't really want to set the rules by myself.

aspirinAh, that makes a lot of sense.

MomotereuI agree. It's the same, with me.

NyanBazAll of you three said you do not want to do Omopa. Is there anybody who is a radical like you and doing Omopa?

NobSAKAMOTO, Nobuyuki comes to mind first.

MomotereuSo there is one.

Nob"-4" (mainusyon) makes Omopa a lot, but he is into popularizing rather than starting new trends.

aspirinHe is great at digging out Omopa puzzles that are not much used.

NobHe has actually said that he would leave radical stuff to other authors.

MomotereuHe has a unique take on that with his attitude.

NyanBazHe seems to stand for the opposite of you here today. Let's get back on track. Are there puzzles where you find it simple to add your personal touch?

NobHeyawake is easy, eh?

mimicSure. And Hitori too. Hitori works best for me.

aspirinLet me think a bit.

NobHitori has a lot of freedom. It has nothing to constrain you really.

MomotereuAnd so there are many many little tricks that are not allowed.

NobYes there is too much freedom for the creator, there are so many things that makes life difficult for the solvers. It is really not an easy puzzle to deal with.

NyanBazHitori is difficult to control.

MomotereuSomething else, I often reuse the same material after I have let it rest for a while.

NobMomotereu uses the same idea time and again.

MomotereuYes. Do you do that too?

aspirinSometimes I have something I rely on a lot, but I don't reuse it later. I'm too finicky. (laughs) But I do reuse material that is neither mine nor other authors'.

MomotereuI use ideas of other persons all the time.

aspirinI think that's the right way to develop a puzzle.

NobHow about you, mimic? Do you put material back in the hopper for reuse?

mimicI don't do reuse stuff, but I incorporate the ideas of others. I think that a good point with me is to mix a variety of material and making sure to get a good balance. I aim at problems that aren't too free-ranging without pressing any point in particular. That way there are so many things I can take advantage of.

NyanBazYou really pay attention to what others put out.

mimicI solve problems made by others and if the idea there is not featured properly I have something to work with. I want to make interesting problems with such solution methods.

MomotereuI'm completely with you.

aspirinI often apply a method to solve one puzzle to other puzzles. For example, some way for solving a Slitherlink which I liked I may try out with Masyu.

mimicOh, yeah. Reusing among different kinds. Heyawake and Hitori have a high affinity. In fact, a Shikaku of mine which was published in the Botsu Bako (Members only) used a method from Akari. (Published on Dec 28, 2007)

MomotereuSure, now that you say it. I wouldn't have noticed on my own.

NyanBazWe are just about finished. Today, I had invited authors who make radical problems, now please tell us the secret in making radical problems. Momotereu please.

MomotereuI think that you have to avoid having taboos. For example with Nurikabe, if I arrange numbers like the figure here.


 The middle number here must be 1. Such a pattern may be offensive to someone who is good at making Nurikabe. Me however, I use it anyway.

NyanBazThen with Fillomino, four 4s have to be connected from the beginning.

NobAnother good point. Momotereu uses many such patterns.

MomotereuYes. The world becomes so much bigger when I use something that is risky. I may discover a new "pleasure axis" even.

NyanBazWell. that's the first time I heard "pleasure axis". It's words like that we can expect from you. Next, what is aspirin's secret?

aspirinJust doing things like they seem fun to do. That's all really.

NobThat's concise and straightforward.

NyanBazWe ought be thankful for an answer like this from aspirin. (laughs) Now for the last, mimic please.

mimicGive it the time it needs. Don't compromise. I don't give up till I'm satisfied with the result.

NobSure, your problems are well constructed. To make such good quality problems will take a lot of time.

mimicIt doesn't work when I compromise.

NyanBazYou all have your own secrets. Thank you for today.

Discussion on Oct 2009 Published on Feb 6, 2013

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