Best of 2022: Shading

One of our favorite categories, which has a whole host of puzzle styles, is “Shading” puzzles. Today we’re announcing our best of 2022 puzzles in this category, from the 57 posts during the year; all the winners are in this PDF file.

Veteran puzzlemaker Grant Fikes gave us our first “Best Of Shading” puzzle last year with this Cross the Streams (Matching Sections) puzzle. The interlinking within the grid was a fresh idea that our solvers loved. Based off a YouTube comment the author has made another creative subsection puzzle to follow-up on this one.

Cross The Streams by Grant Fikes

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

2022 saw a couple new puzzle styles enter our standard rotation and Grandmaster Puzzles Quarterly books, and Aqre (originated by Eric Fox) was selected for two best of puzzle awards. One of the Aqre puzzles that got recognition was this Sunday Stumper by Murat Can Tonta with a “Squares” theme.

Aqre by Murat Can Tonta

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools; use tab to shift between shading mode and the composite Yajilin mode where left click marks cells, right click marks dots in cells or X’s on edges, left click+drag draws lines.)

Our managing editor, Serkan Yürekli, wrote many incredible puzzles in this past year including this playful Pata puzzle with some very unusual forcing logic to reach the final solution.

Pata by Serkan Yürekli

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools; use tab to shift between shading mode and the composite Yajilin mode where left click marks cells, right click marks dots in cells or X’s on edges, left click+drag draws lines.)

Another Aqre puzzle that got lots of FAVEs from our solvers came from Eric Fox with this “sixes” puzzle from the first week we posted puzzles from this genre. A lot of different Aqre tricks are hidden within the region shapes here with just 6 clues.

Aqre by Eric Fox

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools; use tab to shift between shading mode and the composite Yajilin mode where left click marks cells, right click marks dots in cells or X’s on edges, left click+drag draws lines.)

Our overall best of 2022 Shading puzzle came from Sam Cappleman-Lynes who made a playful planetary theme in this Nurikabe (Cipher) puzzle. Working out how the sun and the few planets form “islands” in “space” was a clever visual and logical theme, emblematic of the best from Grandmaster Puzzles.

Nurikabe (Cipher) by Sam Cappleman-Lynes

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

Star Battle by Thomas Snyder

[This is a repost from our archives with new notes at the top (original post here): This very tough Star Battle from our early 2013 posts had an unusual grid layout. If I were to revisit this theme, I might use tools/different ideas to avoid the shaded cells which are not very common in our Star Battle puzzles. But even with these markings the logical path is a great example of human-designed puzzles with intriguing Aha moments.]

Star Battle by Thomas Snyder

PDF

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

Theme: Boxed In (but it plays out differently than yesterday’s “Boxed In”)

Rules: Standard Star Battle rules. Two stars per row, column, and region.

Estimated Difficulty*: 4.5 stars

Time Standards (highlight to view): Grandmaster = 6:45, Master = 13:30, Expert = 27:00

Solution: PDF

Note 2: Follow this link for other classic Star Battles and this link for Star Battle variations. If you are new to this puzzle type, here are our easiest Star Battles to get started on. More Star Battle puzzles can be found in The Art of Puzzles, in the books Star Battle and Star Battle 2, and in our beginner-friendly collection Intro to GMPuzzles by Serkan Yürekli.

Best of 2022: Object Placement

Today we continue our Best of 2022 posts with the “Object Placement” category. Throughout 2022 we had 44 posts in this area and several outstanding puzzles. The five “best of” puzzles are gathered together in this PDF file.

The first puzzle recognized in this category comes from our newest “contributing puzzlemaster”, Takeya Saikachi of Japan. This Battleships puzzle has minimal information in the outside clues but clever thinking will still let you place the full fleet.

Battleships by Takeya Saikachi

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools; use tab to alternate between ship placement and shading modes. In ship placement mode, right click gives sea, left click gives circle/square, left click and drag for rounded ships.)

The second puzzle also comes from Takeya Saikachi, this time with a playful “Squares” theme in a Battleships puzzle with a pentomino fleet.

Battleships (Pentomino) by Takeya Saikachi

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools; use tab to alternate between two ship / shape placement modes and a shading mode. In battleship placement mode, right click gives sea, left click gives circle/square, left click and drag for rounded ships.)

Guest contributor Sam Cappleman-Lynes sent along two “best of” puzzles in the object placement category, starting with this Statue Park puzzle with a clean and interesting “Boxes” theme.

Statue Park by Sam Cappleman-Lynes

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

Sam also got recognition for this Star Battle puzzle that visually looks like a fighter from an iconic Sci-Fi series but embeds some creative logic in the solution as well.

Star Battle by Sam Cappleman-Lynes

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools; in composite Star Battle mode a left click places a star, right click in a cell marks off the cell, and a right click on an edge or corner marks in a dot as a placement note.)

Our best puzzles often take a standard genre and present them in an unusual way, which is the case for the top Object Placement puzzle of 2022. This Statue Park (Half and Half) by Murat Can Tonta asks “Where Are the Circles?” and generated a lot of positive reviews for its avant-garde style.

Statue Park by Murat Can Tonta

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

Thermo-Sudoku by Thomas Snyder

[This is a repost from our archives with new notes at the top (original post here): Taking the thermometer shapes to an extreme, “clueless” puzzles like this one are often some of the most interesting Thermo-Sudoku puzzles and require carefully considering the interplay of shapes and digit ranges. Our first week of Thermo-Sudoku puzzles ended with this “Boxed In” challenge with 5 main thermo shapes and no given numbers.]

Thermo-Sudoku by Thomas Snyder

PDF

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

Theme: Boxed In

Rules: Standard Thermo-Sudoku rules.

Estimated Difficulty*: 3.5 stars

Time Standards (highlight to view): Grandmaster = 5:00, Master = 9:00, Expert = 18:00

Solution: PDF

Note: Follow this link for other Tight Fit Sudoku puzzles on this website. If you are new to this puzzle type, here are our easiest Tight Fit Sudoku to get started on. More Tight Fit Sudoku can be found in our beginner-friendly collection Intro to GMPuzzles by Serkan Yürekli and in Masterpiece Sudoku Mix 2.

Best of 2022: Number Placement

Our second site category for the Best of 2022 posts is “Number Placement”, where we had 50 posts during the year. All of the puzzles are gathered together in this PDF file.

We kick off the “best of 2022” number placement with a Kakuro (Hex) puzzle by Murat Can Tonta that had a marvelous solving path with very minimal clues used throughout.

Kakuro by Murat Can Tonta

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

Less familiar genres often get recognition during the best of series, particularly when they have a memorable solving path with several Aha moments. Grant Fikes’ Skyscrapers (Haido) with an Evens theme was such a puzzle and received a lot of favorite votes.

Skyscrapers (Haido) by Grant Fikes

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

Our last puzzle of 2022, a Kakuro (Gapped) puzzle by Prasanna Seshadri, also ended up being a best of 2022 puzzle. The grid is fairly open yet follows a nicely hidden logical path throughout.

Kakuro (Gapped) by Prasanna Seshadri

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

2nd best in the Number Placement category for 2022 was an elegant Skyscrapers (Cipher) by Serkan Yürekli which combined an interesting visual theme with an interesting solving path.

Skyscrapers (Cipher) by Serkan Yürekli

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools; note that solution checking requires the eleven ciphered clues and the twenty-five interior cells to all be marked)

The top Number Placement puzzle of 2022 was a “milestone” puzzle, the 400th post by Thomas Snyder. This TomTom (Mystery) with just one clue also came with a YouTube video describing the puzzle-making process behind the grid.

TomTom by Thomas Snyder

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

Star Battle by Thomas Snyder

[This is a repost from our archives with new notes at the top (original post here): In this Star Battle, the second posted on the site, a common cage shape theme is used multiple times to lead to a logical solving path.]

Star Battle by Thomas Snyder

PDF

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

Theme: Crossed Crosses

Rules: Standard Star Battle rules. Two stars per row, column, and region.

Estimated Difficulty*: 2 stars

Time Standards (highlight to view): Grandmaster = 1:15, Master = 2:30, Expert = 5:00

Solution: PDF

Note 2: Follow this link for other classic Star Battles and this link for Star Battle variations. If you are new to this puzzle type, here are our easiest Star Battles to get started on. More Star Battle puzzles can be found in The Art of Puzzles, in the books Star Battle and Star Battle 2, and in our beginner-friendly collection Intro to GMPuzzles by Serkan Yürekli.

Best of 2022: Sudoku

We’re starting off our six part series of Best of 2022 posts with Sudoku, a puzzle category with 59 entries throughout the year as well as a place in many of our e-book releases including the Masterpiece Sudoku Mix series and the Grandmaster Puzzles Quarterly series.

As in years past, we selected the top Sudoku by reviewing FAVE votes, web comments, and tested comments. All of these puzzles are gathered in this PDF file.

Our first “best of” puzzle goes to a challenging Classic Sudoku by Ashish Kumar that had some unusual steps to get to the finish.

Sudoku by Ashish Kumar

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

Another top sudoku was the t-shirt puzzle by Thomas Snyder for the United States team at the recent World Sudoku and Puzzle Championships, with a very clean theme not needing any given digits.

Puzzle by Thomas Snyder

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

Guest constructor Jonas Gleim made a fantastic combination of Arrow and Thermo-Sudoku puzzles with this “Compass” Sunday Stumper from May that received a lot of favorite votes.

Arrow/Thermo-Sudoku by Jonas Gleim

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

A Thermo-Sudoku from Kishore Kumar Sridharan took the second overall Sudoku spot, with a “weighty” theme from the given dumbbell.

Thermo-Sudoku by Kishore Kumar Sridharan

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)

Surprisingly, the top puzzle for the year was a new variation, Multiples Sudoku, and the “example” puzzle that Thomas Snyder wrote for the Sudoku Grand Prix round from the United States. We haven’t featured those puzzles here yet, but the fresh logic surrounding the two-digit placements got the attention of many solvers, earning the most votes to be our best of 2022 Sudoku.

Multiples Sudoku by Thomas Snyder

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools)