Author round-table 005

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Kakuro authors talk, about how Kakuro becomes 101 times more enjoyable.

Our guests today are akasyo and -4. They make a lot of excellent Kakuro problems. From Nikoli we have NyanBaz and Nob. Today is certainly for people who love Kakuro and of course also for people who are wondering about what is so great in Kakuro, so both kinds of people will be able to enjoy this discussion.

NyanBazI ask just to be sure. Do you like Kakuro?

akasyoDo we really have to answer a question like that?

-4Sure. But in fact, I came to like Kakuro late.

akasyoThe puzzle I first got absorbed in was Kakuro. That was more than 20 years ago.

-4That was during the dawn of Kakuro. I myself bought Puzzle Communication Nikoli from Vol. 68( Published in Aug 1997) .

akasyoThen I was already graduating from Puzzle Communication Nikoli. (laughs)

-4Of course. I thought that akasyo was someone who appeared just in Puzzle The Giants once a year. (laughs) I didn't have any impression that Kakuro was especially interesting at that time. I thought that Kakuro was a puzzle which I didn't understand well.

NyanBazWhat then was it that made you take an interest in Kakuro?

-4That was one I saw in Puzzle Box Vol. 2 #12, made by Issei Suzuki. That problem had so many 45s, the 9-cell clue. I was impressed.

NyanBazThis is that problem. (He takes it out and shows the puzzle. )

akasyoHow many 45s are there? Let's count. 1, 2, 3, ..., 14!

Nob14, that is really a lot in a 15x15 size problem.

akasyoRecently I made a problem that included eight 45s in a 9x9 puzzle. It was published on the mobile site. I worried that -4 would get upset about that. (laughs)

NyanBazDid you try to put in a lot of 45s there?

akasyoSure. I tried to imitate the -4 style. And I pulled it off. (laughs)

NobOf course, akasyo can make Kakuros with any kind of display pattern, and It will become a good problem.

akasyoI usually don't use a lot of 8-cell and 9-cell clues. With Kakuro there is the relation between pairs of clues 2-cells with 7-cells, 3-cells with 6-cells, or 4-cells with 5-cells. For example, the 7 of 3-cells with 1, 2, and 4, and the 38 of 6-cells without 1, 2, and 4. But to make a pair with a 9-cell that would become a 0-cell clue, there aren't any of those. Then the second with an 8-cell clue is a single cell, and there are none of those either. A puzzle without symmetry isn't really attractive looking. That's why I don't use those very much.

-4I agree that akasyo's Kakuro look great with a beautiful framework (clue pattern). You put energy in it all the way to an edge of the board. I generally give it up there.

akasyoSure, I take care about the framework. There was a round-table talk with Casty and Guten before. They told that they make puzzles in a short period of time. I'm the completely opposite. They said they don't make puzzles every day. But for me it would become that there are days where I make puzzles. They said that they don't let up till they finish a puzzle. I make a giant size problem over about 10 days. I keep concentrating only for about an hour at a time. However, I complete the framework at once, first. I pay the most attention to making the framework.

NyanBazSo you don't change the framework that you have decided on at the start?

akasyoRight. I don't change the frameworks I set up. Not only with Kakuro but also with other puzzles.

NobFor example, with Sudoku, don't you change the places where you put a number?

akasyoSorry, I may change those. But when I change them, I see to keep the attractive appearance.

-4We have Nob here today. I want to hear about Kakuro experiences Nob has had.

akasyoNob has made really many Kakuro.

NobI made most of my Kakuro without any mistakes in the early days. I have some things I insist on with Kakuro. In particular, for easy Kakuro.

akasyoAnyone can make similar problems, but nobody can imitate Nob's easy problems. Nob is special in his accumulated knowledge there. In a similar way one characteristic with me is that the hard problems I make cannot be imitated by others.

NobWith Kakuro it may seem difficult to get personality into it. But with Kakuro it is really easy to show personality.

akasyoWith -4, personality already comes out in the framework.

-4Yes you could say that. I have spent more than ten years in pursuit of 45s with 9-cells. (laughs) My aim to put in a lot of 9-cell 45s is easy to see. That way it is easy to make problems. Now I have a question, will the personality of an author's puzzles be handed down to the persons who solve it?

NobPeople will catch on.

NyanBazHmm. Does a person who solves puzzles solve them quicker when they see the name of the author and thinks of the personality of the author?

akasyoPerhaps, yes.

-4But there are few authors who understand what personality is in Kakuro.

akasyoWell. There is the general idea that there aren't many authors with a lot of personality making Kakuro.

NobTrue enough, but the situation is the same with Nurikabe and Heyawake.

-4I'm not saying that only Kakuro is special.

akasyoI guess there would be hundreds of people who can create good Sudoku.

NobThat may really be so. With Sudoku, even a computer generated problem may become a good problem. But computer generated Kakuro are boring.

akasyoComputerbsed research to evaluate the fun of Sudoku is going on now. Kakuro isn't studied like that, and perhaps Kakuro can't be evaluated by a computer. The fun with solving Kakuro is difficult to express so it can't be programmed. The framework, the layout in particular would be difficut to evaluate.

-4That says it. It can't be done.

NyanBazThere are different ways to solve Kakuro. Is there one you have as a favorite?

akasyoPreviously, I often used 12 with 4-cells. (1, 2, 3, and 6 or 1, 2, 4, and 5) I wanted to have others use it.

NobThere are the low sum unique combinations plus 1, and high unique combination minus 1.

NyanBazAlso 8 with 3-cells, 22 with 3-cells, 28 with 4-cells and there are more. I understood the powerful charm of Kakuro when I understood how to deal with those.

akasyoSure. Problems more difficult than medium become pleasant when you are able to manage 8 with 3-cells and 12 with 4-cells.

NobIf you overuse small unique combinations plus 2, or large unique combinations minus 2 it has gone too far. Small unique combinations plus 1 are just right.

akasyoI want a beginner to learn to use low sum unique combinations plus 1. If you catch on to that, difficult problems become more enjoyable. There are many authors who are aware of this. If you notice it, that makes me happy.

NyanBazAny other matters that require attention when you make Kakuro?

akasyoI don't want to use 41 in 8-cells or 42 in 8-cells.

NyanBazThat would be a way to trip up. If you get it wrong and think it is 41 in 7-cells or 42 in 7-cells.

NobThere are some authors who know that and use it in that particular way.

akasyoIt's OK, if you know it, and to use it for fun. However, I don't think that I should make traps at the essential parts. There is also 34 with 6-cells. (It's easy to mistake for 34 with 5-cells. )

-4Now we are really deep and boring.

NobWhen I have the 4 in a 7 with 3-cells in a crossing 39 with 7-cells, I have tripped myself up. Too late noticing it's not the 39 with 6-cells! (laughs)

akasyoDon't worry about that in my work, you won't find any of those there.

-4If you think it is bad, I'll apologize. My problems may include that. (laughs)

NyanBazNow tell us, what kind of Kakuro do you think are fun?

-4I think problems that are well-balanced difficulty-wise are enjoyable. There may be a jump in difficulty in a place you have to pass to get through it smoothly. There are places where I can't control everything well. (laughs)

akasyoI also said this in my interview. The ideal puzzle to me is at the intermediate or higher difficulty level, but where there is room for beginners to do it too.

NobRight, right. When people solve a problem, and no one feels any particular stress moving along, whether expert or beginner. That's very valuable.

akasyoYou get to understand it naturally if you work as an author with Nikoli for a long time.

NobThis sort of ideal format for pencil puzzles actually started with Kakuro.

akasyoThat is the work of Nob and Maki Kaji from way back. That was when the general direction and policies of pencil puzzles were laid down.


NobOur idea is not doing publicity actively. Our puzzles are things for the people solving them. We continue publishing problems that will make it fun to the people solving them. Our thoughts there will get across to the authors along the way. In fact, we were accepted by the solvers, and the authors understood us. So now we are in the here.

akasyoAt that time, readers, authors, and also editors, everyone was groping for the way to do it.

NobSure. Akasyo is an author from that time and now still an author. You are a precious person here now.

NyanBazKakuro was the start for doing other puzzles! Thank you for today.

Discussion on Nov 2009 Published on Mar 7, 2013

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