Author round-table 011

InterviewsAuthor round-table

About newness in puzzles

The guests this time are Hammy and Miya. They are both authors who make a lot of unprecedented and novel problems, they are full of wishing to challenge things. We talk about newness of puzzles today. From Nikoli we have NyanBaz and Nob.

NyanBazI'll ask you a first question. Do you have any awareness that you are making problems which incorporate newness?

HammyYes, I have that awareness. I want to make novel problems.

NobHow about you, Miya?

MiyaI have an awareness of that too. But it's difficult to know what is novel.

NobDo you want to make puzzles like nobody has ever seen before?

MiyaI want to make interesting puzzles rather than novel puzzles. Most novel puzzles are interesting. As a result, I make novel puzzles. In my problems I take the parts which I think are good in a problem of other authors and use them in my problems.

NyanBazAh, you are influenced by the work of other authors. If so, then strictly speaking you don't really make problems that are novel, am I right?

MiyaSure, I often use solving methods that aren't new. But I make problems where the presentations are new. For example, I made a Nurikabe where I overused the method that all the cells in a closed space became white. The idea for making that problem was Nurikabe made by others. There was one place in a problem with that method. I thought it would be interesting if I used the method repeatedly. I often do such things.

NyanBazHow do you make a problem with newness, Hammy?

HammyThere are two ways. One is the same as Miya, I use a method that I thought was interesting in a puzzle I solved. For example, in aspirin's Akari or mimic's Slitherlink. The other is when I made a problem with an interesting way, accidentally. In such cases I make problems that feature this newish way.

MiyaThere are often unexpected outcomes. There are many cases where I begin to make a puzzle after I have arranged the starter numbers or the black cells regularly. Then an interesting method may appear out of that.

NobYour problems are outstanding. There are so many problems where numbers form regular patterns.

NyanBazThere is also when the method sets the arrangement of the numbers. Seen from the solvers, that may look like the arrangement is ever so carefully planned.

MiyaIt depends on the case. When I make a problem, I sometimes calculate carefully from the beginning. But there are a few where I rely on what happens accidentally. Do you feel sad to hear that? (laughs)

NyanBazNo no. I heard it and felt relieved. (laughs)

MiyaDo my problems seem calculated in every detail from the start?

NobRight, that's how they seem.

MiyaWell. Really, there is no way that I can match aspirin or mimic.

HammyI feel the same there.

NobHammy makes problems that overuse one method till the very last. They will have to be calculated carefully.

HammyThat may be so. If I think that something will not work till the end, I delete it all, and it may be that I remake it so it is settled properly.

NyanBazDiscovery of a new method may be by chance. But the effort to follow up on it is important.

NobIt is maybe unwanted persistence to repeat one method till it is exhausted. (laughs) However, it's pleasant enough to do it.

HammyI agree. It's a pleasant feeling.

NyanBazIt will leave a strong impression with solvers. It looks new but maybe it is not so new really.

MiyaThere is something in that, too.

HammyI think that sort of thing may be what becomes called new by me. The newness follows old ways more often than it seems.

NobIt becomes newness if you dig down and explore a method that is established. Not only repeating but also keeping conjugating that makes it become more interesting.

NyanBazMiya said in an interview. "The Hitori which have one underlying idea that is reused in different ways, this is a sort of ideal for me." Even if it's a conjugation.

MiyaIt isn't easy to realize an ideal.

NyanBazI have an impression of why mimic often manages to do it. He uses the same method repeatedly and after I think he has forgotten it, he uses it once more at the end.

HammyWhen I took a break from puzzles and then took it up again, he played an active part in the old Nikoli puzzle site. I was shocked by what I saw. His work was novel, the appearance was beautiful. I wanted to make such problems. I was strongly influenced by him.

MiyaHe had no rivals then. Both quality and quantity were out and out the best.

NobHe grew up with the site. His work had not been published a lot till then. He is busy recently. That's why he isn't published very much.

HammyI am busy recently, too. I guess I should apologize for my few contributions now.

MiyaMe too. However, I am recovering my usual form. Now, I'm contributing puzzles to Puzzle Communication Nikoli.

NobThey ought to be published. But the competition there is intense.

HammyCasty is terrible. He appears anywhere. I like his Nurikabe. I take that as a model.

NyanBazReally? He makes a lot of orthodox problems. Where are the remarkable characteristics?

HammyReally, I don't understand what it is about them either. But Casty's Nurikabe makes it feels like it reverberates everywhere. Even if the author name is hidden, I can identify his Nurikabe. It may not be newness. But there are characteristic that you don't find with other authors.

NyanBazWell, then I got it all wrong! I thought that Casty was someone who makes orthodox problems. It's interesting that Hammy likes his work.

MiyaI made a couple of problems for today, and brought them. They may not be new, but please try and solve them.

The problems that Miya made for the round-table.
A 10x10 Hard Slitherlink and a 10x10 Hard Akari
Play this problem from the beginning Solving them. Sample solushon Look at the solutions.
Play this problem from the beginning Solving them. Sample solushon Look at the solutions.

Nob(Solving away) Miya's personality sells well. Good problems!

MiyaIt's wonderful to look at my problems being solved. In the slitherlink, the loop from the crowd of numbers is the thing to get right first. With Akari, the trick is to put the light bulbs in the white cells which stand alone. Both of them are methods used also in the past. The impression changes when I make that the main focus. These problems are samples. By the way, Hammy's Hitori that were published in Puzzle Communication Nikoli Vol. 113 and Vol. 117 are good problems. Both make an impact. I remembered them yesterday and solved them again. I felt that they were new in those days, but now, they're still really interesting. They still motivate me. (laughs)

HammyThank you, thank you! There seem to be plenty people remembering them, I'm happy and feel honored.

 (Here the story derailed, and a bit has been left out. )

NyanBazNow let's change the topic. Are you afraid of non-adoption, not having your puzzles accepted for publication?

HammyYes I worry about that. Much of my work seems to end up in the non-adopted category. I think a lot about what I can do there.

NobYou make problems that push the limits. So there will be problems with adopting them.

NyanBazYou seem to aim and test what can be published, the limits of the possible.

MiyaI don't really mind non-adoption. I can contribute a puzzle thinking that maybe it will not get any further.

HammyIt is difficult for me to make time for puzzles, I am busy and have to find the time. That's why I want my puzzles to be published.

MiyaI can sympathize with that.

NyanBazSo you think about publication when you make your problems?

HammyThat's an attitude I developed way back.

NobBefore that, did you make problems you thought would not be understood?

HammyNo no. I always made problems that I thought would be published.

MiyaThe editor and the author look at different things, they feel differently.

HammyPerhaps my idea of what I am doing didn't change. But my understanding would be getting better.

MiyaPreviously, there was the time when I made all my puzzles the same way, and they weren't published. Then I realized that not everything gets published.

NobHave there been cases where you changed your puzzles to get them published?

MiyaHmmmm. It's difficult to answer that. I think that only few of my problem are in the non-adopted category. Isn't that so?

NobOn the dot. Very little of your work has remained unpublished.

MiyaWell. I may unconsciously end up thinking that it all gets in.

NyanBazMaybe experience, trial and error, is useful.

NyanBazNow for the last question. Other than what we have heard so far, please tell us a trick to make a problem that has newness.

MiyaThere was a puzzle called Eisbahn before there was an Omopa section. It had comments by an editor that many contributions forgot the rule to go across all of the ice. There I contributed a problem that couldn't be solved if you didn't use that rule, and that problem was published. Today it is still a good idea to be careful about following also the rules that don't attract a lot of attention.

NobHow about you, Hammy?

HammyI solve a lot of problems. I solve all the problems in, and I solve problems that I like many times. That's how I become sensitive to newness.

NyanBazThat's the end for today. Thank you for sharing interesting stories. We all hope you will keep making many novel puzzles.

Discussion on Aug 2010 Published on Aug 30, 2013

Related link