Archive for the ‘Best Of …’ Category:

Best of 2016

All of the puzzles selected by our solvers as the “Best of 2016” are gathered in this PDF. You can read more about them in our other “Best of” posts.

Best of 2016: Shading Puzzles

Here are our best Shading puzzles of 2016, now our second most frequent category behind Loop/Path with 50 posts this past year.

Leading off this list was an Easy as LITS variation from Serkan that had a super high FAVE/solve ratio as a patron bonus puzzle. [Note: this is one of two patron bonuses to win a Best Of award this year; we’ll post them again on Patreon for our patrons to see in the future, but on this site it will stay blurred.]

Easy as LITS by Serkan Yürekli

Prasanna was our shading puzzle master this year, including this surprise of a Nurikabe variation prepared as practice for the WPC with a clean logical theme.

Nurikabe by Prasanna Seshadri

Prasanna also created a new Nanro variation “by accident” this year, which we call Nanro (Signpost). This early Spiral-themed example was well reviewed.

Nanro (Signpost) by Prasanna Seshadri

But the two best shading puzzles of this year were a kind of call and response from Prasanna and our audience, based around a “Windows” variation Prasanna experimented with. This Tapa in particular got high scores from the Windows week.

Tapa by Prasanna Seshadri

And then inspired guest contributor Jack Lance to make another version, this time with overlapping windows.

Tapa by Jack Lance

Basically tied in votes and clearly connected in origin, these Tapa (Windows) together are the best Shading Puzzle of 2016.

Best of 2016: Region Division Puzzles

Here are our best Region Division puzzles of 2016, selected from the 39 web posts in this category.

While we didn’t have as many guest contributions in 2016 as in earlier years with the site, there were still some stand-out puzzles from our guests including this magnificent Cave by Bryce Herdt with Fibonacci Spiral theme.

Cave by Bryce Herdt

Another Cave, this time a Diagonal variation from Prasanna Seshadri, also got top marks from many solvers.

Cave (Diagonal) by Prasanna Seshadri

Carl Worth demonstrated the quality that earned him a contributing puzzlemaster position this year with a tough Fillomino puzzle with a dominoes theme.

Fillomino by Carl Worth

The best Region Division puzzle this year though went to this combination of Pentominous and Star Battle by Grant Fikes that gave solvers a unique kind of logical challenge.

Pentominous (Star Battle) by Grant Fikes

Best of 2016: Loop/Path Puzzles

Here are our best Loop/Path puzzles of 2016, a style which gained in overall representation last year and had 56 posts, the most of any genre.

The first best “Loop” puzzle was a classic Masyu from Murat Can Tonta that appeared in early January with a Knight Steps theme.

Masyu by Murat Can Tonta

One of our patrons requested a “Roller Coaster” puzzle, an arithmetic loop variation that debuted in the MIT Mystery Hunt. Serkan’s take on a Roller Coaster — with a 1 to 9 ride of clues — was recognized by our solvers as a top puzzle.

Roller Coaster by Serkan Yürekli

Prasanna Seshadri had a couple of our best Loop puzzles this year including this transparent Yajilin that made the most of the variation’s new rule that clue cells could be shaded in.

Yajilin by Prasanna Seshadri

Grant Fikes gave us a very clever twist on a Slitherlink puzzle with a cipher inspired by LITS.

Slitherlink (Cipher) by Grant Fikes

But the best loop puzzle of the year was a “giant” loop creation from Prasanna, specifically this birthday puzzle Castle Wall (with Towers). Solvers who persevered to the end of this challenging puzzle had something to celebrate.

Castle Wall by Prasanna Seshadri

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Best of 2016: Object Placement Puzzles

Here are our best Object Placement puzzles of 2016, selected from the 23 posts over the year.

The last year (+ one week) saw two new puzzlemasters join the team. Murat Can Tonta proved a master of clever puzzles, including this all black Statue Park puzzle.

Statue Park by Murat Can Tonta

Our other new puzzlemaster, Carl Worth, while still a “guest” of the site, contributed this Pentopia puzzle that a lot of solvers liked.

Pentopia by Carl Worth

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Another Pentopia, this time a “Transparent” variation, from Prasanna Seshadri also got high marks.

Pentopia by Prasanna Seshadri

The best object placement puzzle of 2016 though was this challenging Star Battle puzzle from Thomas Snyder, posted here from the US round to the Puzzle Grand Prix. Amusingly, it narrowly edged out in votes this other Star Battle from Thomas that was voted the best by the coordinators of the Grand Prix. Reviewing the votes across the board, our GMPuzzles voters do seem to prefer the super tough, unique challenges, and that is something the “Cornered” Star Battle certainly embodies.

Star Battle by Thomas Snyder

Best of 2016: Number Placement Puzzles

Here are our best Number Placement puzzles of 2016 (excluding Sudoku which is treated as its own category). We posted 28 Number Placement puzzles on the web throughout the year.

2016 saw the official addition of Kakuro to our puzzle makeup with a lot of good puzzles. This Kakuro (Double) puzzle from Grant Fikes with a Cloverleaf pattern earned a fair number of votes.

Kakuro by Grant Fikes

Dr. Sudoku added a Sudoku-like unique digit theme to this Hundred puzzle, a style originally created by Vladimir Portugalov. While the style has simple instructions, the intended logical path in this puzzle requires a deduction we haven’t seen in a Hundred puzzle before.

Hundred by Thomas Snyder

A lot of our best of puzzles this year were part of our patrons weeks, where our authors made requested puzzles from our super grandmaster patrons. This Multi-Skyscrapers variation by Serkan Yürekli tied for the most votes in the category.

Skyscrapers by Serkan Yürekli

Our best Number Placement Puzzle of 2016 was another Kakuro (Double) puzzle from Serkan Yürekli which we posted near Valentine’s Day. More Double Kakuro (and other doubled puzzles) will be in the Art of Puzzles 2, including several more gems from Serkan.

Kakuro by Serkan Yürekli

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Best of 2016: Sudoku

Today we’ll look back at our best puzzles of 2016, using data from the FAVE button at the bottom of each post. The selection process included raw FAVE counts, FAVE/solver ratios, and internal discussions if those values brought up ties.

We posted 227 total web puzzles in 2016 and have now crossed >1,000 puzzles online with nearly another thousand in our e-books. I am incredibly proud that we have never released a broken puzzle (i.e., a puzzle with zero solutions/too many solutions). We also restarted our Patreon rewards and got our e-store organized to have an easier path to release puzzles to solvers. While we didn’t release all the titles we wanted to in 2016, particularly the long-delayed The Art of Puzzles 2, the infrastructure we built up last year should help us reach our target of a dozen new e-book collections in 2017. A priority for us this year is a new Sudoku magazine that, like our puzzle titles, will bring together the incredible puzzles from the best puzzle designers for all who love puzzles.

We released 31 sudoku puzzles on the website last year. One of our best sudoku is this “sleepy” Thermo-Sudoku from Prasanna Seshadri with a clever logical path.

Thermo-Sudoku by Prasanna Seshadri

Another highly rated puzzle was this Killer Sudoku by Serkan Yürekli with a Last Ones theme in the cage clues.

Killer Sudoku by Serkan Yürekli

The last two “best of” puzzles came out of a challenge Serkan had with Thomas to try to make a Tight Fit Sudoku that would take at least five minutes to solve. This is a challenging feat given the compact nature of a Tight Fit Sudoku. When Serkan couldn’t do this with classic Tight Fit puzzles he went on to make variations of Tight Fit Sudoku in a quite enjoyable week of puzzles. Dr. Sudoku’s own attempt at a five-minute puzzle, with just odd given digits, required a unique Aha to get to the solution logically — but it still only took three and a half minutes for our best solvers. It was a Patron bonus for that week and earned one of the highest FAVE/solver ratios for the year. [Note: this is one of two patron bonuses to win a Best Of award this year; we’ll post them again on Patreon for our patrons to see in the future, but on this site it will stay blurred.]

Tight Fit by Thomas Snyder

Coming back to Serkan’s week of Tight Fit puzzles, the clear winner for Best Sudoku of 2016 was the Tight Fit Sudoku (Samurai) that closed out the Tight Fit Variations week. While quite difficult, it has a lot of novel logical steps and is a true standout puzzle.

Tight Fit Sudoku by Serkan Yürekli

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With the most votes of any puzzle, this is also our Puzzle of the Year.