From the Foxger’s Den #8: Cave

Cave by Grant Fikes


or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools; use tab to shift between shading mode and the linex mode where left click+drag draws lines and right click marks X’s)

Theme: Spelunking 101

Rules: Standard Cave rules.

Answer String: Enter the length in cells of each of the cave segments from left to right for the marked rows, starting at the top. Separate each row’s entry with a comma.

Time Standards (highlight to view): Grandmaster = 1:45, Master = 3:00, Expert = 6:00

Solution: PDF

Note: Follow this link for other Cave variations and this link for other classic Caves. If you are new to this puzzle type, here are our easiest Cave Puzzles to get started on.

  • I like the way the top middle 2 filled in.

  • Giovanni P. says:

    Cute. Use of all the basic cave steps, with a bit of as pause at the to-right corner at the end. The couple of ambiguous squares that eventually got resolved at the end was nice.

    So is this another Grant week perhaps? Or maybe the Doctor will be writing the harder prescriptions this week? Not that I mind either way, I’m just curious as to how scheduling with the other contributors will work and if there will eventually be a regular pattern to it.

    • Avatar photo Grant Fikes says:

      All of the puzzles will be mine. I am Thomas Snyder. We are one and the same. Sorry for keeping it secret for so long.

      What do you mean you don’t believe me just because I once claimed to be Palmer Mebane as part of an April Fools joke?

      • Avatar photo drsudoku says:

        No one has ever seen the two of us in the same room together. That is pretty telling.

        • Scott Handelman says:

          To be fair, I’ve never seen Grant in the same room as anyone, so who knows if he exists at all?

        • Giovanni P. says:

          For all I know, this whole site could be a vanity project I put together…I was even so vain to use my initials…I think.

          I’ll go back to killing jokes elsewhere now. Still good puzzles Mr. Snyder-Fikes (Fikes-Snyder?)

  • skynet says:

    35’17 ”
    Nice Puzzle

  • Tricia says:

    Cave/Corral is one of my favorite puzzle types, but I must admit I was initially bewildered by the name Cave, suggested by shading the squares that are INSIDE the “loop” (like most solvers, I don’t draw the loop). I always shade the squares that are OUTSIDE of the cave instead, which means that the method for entering the answer here throws me for a loop (pun intended). I wonder if my shading strategy is common or an oddity.

    • Jonah says:

      I shade in light green and aqua, as inspired by Zotmeister’s “oasis” variant. It makes absolutely no thematic sense (why can’t you see over water?), but it’s pretty.

      • Tricia says:

        Well, if you shade the inside of the loop aqua, you can say that the numbers refer to the number of squares you can swim to in a straight line. Or if you shade the interior green, it is the number of squares you can run to.

        Of course, this assumes you are incapable of swimming or running diagonally, but I guess the original version assumes you can’t SEE diagonally. The imaginary world of this puzzle must be a strange one.

        • Avatar photo drsudoku says:

          I typically mark the cave by drawing lines from the numbers, and will hard shade out some of the outside things but not always. The sense of demarking the cave (the inside) is what I view the puzzle as but I’ve seen the instructions given 5 different ways probably over the years. Doing “count including the square itself” versus “count of seen only” is another variable from history. The latter allows clues to start at 1 but is much less common in most parts of the world. So yeah, writing instructions is impossible to do and please everyone.

  • mokrton says:


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