Doctor’s Note – Week 9

I wanted to start this week by reintroducing this site for readers who may be visiting for the first time after reading a TIME magazine feature on the US Puzzle Team this week. Grandmaster Puzzles is the home to a range of logic puzzle types that may be familiar to you or completely new. I recommended that you start with the familiar, like Sudoku, and then move onto the new; every puzzle has a link to some rules and history that should help you get started. The puzzles get harder throughout the week so starting with the Monday/Tuesday tagged puzzles is a good way to sample the site too.

This is the last week in my 10-week “introduction” phase as I showcase puzzles in the last remaining style for The Art of Puzzles (Fillomino) and also bring you another view of sudoku from my past. While I intended this week to be the end of the first contest period at Grandmaster Puzzles too, with the indicated number of entries each getting a signed copy of one of our books (some spots remain), I am considering leaving the contest open until even more submissions have come in.

As we reach the end of the beginning, maybe it is time to reminisce a bit. Grandmaster Puzzles was a dream born in 2007 at the 2nd World Sudoku Championship to have a domestic source of quality logic puzzles. US magazines then primarily used, as today, computer-generated puzzles and mostly seemed to know that sudoku exists but nothing else. I knew something better could be made, and I suspected there were puzzle authors out there hungry for a place to submit their creations instead of just putting them up for free on the web. While it has taken some time to get off the ground, as other puzzle writing tasks and real-life have crowded out starting a puzzle publishing company, the pieces are clearly coming into place now. Having sampled some of the really excellent puzzle submissions I’ve been getting for The Art of Puzzles recently, I know that this dream will soon be accomplished. All that remains is to grow the audience of puzzle lovers aware of how amazing hand-crafted puzzles can be!

– Dr. S

  • Scott Handelman says:

    Wait…what contest?

  • Scott Handelman says:

    Also, I would have guessed Yajilin for the last puzzle type. Looking forward to the Fillominos.

    • Avatar photo drsudoku says:

      Since last week you didn’t understand “what YRBGW style is”, my guess is you never saw the second slider image on the main page? I have stated before my dislike of standard Yajilin presentation, which I and others like Tom Collyer have been working to improve, but I stand by my two “W” loop picks as the best loop puzzles to begin with.

    • Jack Bross says:

      If I were guessing blind what the last puzzle type would have been, I wouldn’t have guessed Yajilin. Not just because of the presentation issue (which I assume has to do with the fact that you almost always need clues whose number/arrow are irrelevant and just serve as barriers to the loop, and which can risk short-circuiting tight logical structures). I think one question in determining puzzles for this sort of venture is what puzzles really let the creative designer shine and create something beautiful/memorable. Yajilin ain’t it. Nearly all the Nikoli Yajilin boil down to “oh look, a 3 pointing at these five squares, X _ X _ X…” over and over. That’s not memorable. Ditto with Kakuro, which are almost always bland. Hitori can be memorable, but the presentation there is horrible (very low signal to noise). Numberlink would be nice from a solvers point of view, but my sense is that it’s obnoxious from a construction/testing for uniqueness point of view.

      So, anyway, the advantage of Fillomino would seem to be that it allows for creative/memorable designs and doesn’t actually feel all that “same-y” from puzzle to puzzle. Also, the rules are pretty easy to understand, which is always good.

      In some ways, I think the choice of Fillomino also tells us a bit about who might be contributing puzzles to the site. I don’t know that Thomas has been big on constructing them, but Palmer and Grant on the other hand… (If I were picking something based on Thomas’ fondness for the genre, it might be something like Easy as ABC or Pentominos).

      BTW — I kind of assume the official pronunciation of Fillomino rhymes with Domino, but I’ve always thought the pronunciation that rhymes with Palomino is prettier, and if Nikoli invented the word, a horse pun is not unlikely. Anybody know for sure?

      • Avatar photo drsudoku says:

        I alone picked the 10 puzzles in The Art of Puzzles but it was mindful of many things. Foremost was the concept you reach of being able to write a lot of different kinds of designs that don’t all feel the same.

        I certainly pronounce Fillomino like domino since the rules include polyominoes.

        • Para says:

          I always thought Fillomino was purely an English name like Country Road and is short for Fill with Polyomino(es).

        • Avatar photo drsudoku says:

          Fillomino was, according to my references, originally called フィルオミノ – “firuomino” by Nikoli when first published in 1994. That name may have some English meaning behind it like the -omino of poly-omino but it was not an English creation itself for another puzzle name.

        • James McGowan says:

          I was discussing this pronunciation recently with another puzzler, and we decided that it should probably rhyme with domino/polyomino, although we both preferred to use the palomino version.
          However Tom’s point that it was originally a Japanese word (presumably formed from Fill and -Omino as Bram mentioned) adds weight to pronouncing it as the Japanese would, which is the longer sound: Firo-meeno.

          I think it’s safe to say that both pronunciations are widely used.

      • Avatar photo Grant Fikes says:

        I won’t claim to be the master of Yajilin, but I’d like to share these puzzles I made (one of which is a variant) as proof that Yajilin is amazing:
        MM #86

        I do admit that I probably have an easier time being creative with Masyu, though.

        • Avatar photo drsudoku says:

          I take them more as proof you can be amazing (501 without MM 86 is just not that special). I definitely remember the #566 and #567 entries, which accomplished something I had not seen done in a Yajilin before.

  • Patrick says:

    I want to also ask, “Wait… what contest?”

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