Archive for the ‘Contests’ Category:

Sunday Surprise #5 – Seeing Stars (and a contest)

Today’s surprise marks the occasion of Grant Fikes’ 26th birthday. Grant has written a surprise puzzle hunt-style puzzle that will solve to a two word answer. This is likely more challenging than our earlier “Word Search” surprise on April 1st, but we hope it is enjoyable to those who give it a shot while celebrating Grant’s birthday.

Note: the first 26 solvers (or all those who solve it within a week if fewer than 26 solve it by then) will be entered into a random drawing for a copy of Grant’s “Battle of LITS” board game.

Surprise Puzzle by Grant Fikes


Answer String: Enter the two word answer in all capital letters, with a single space between words.

Update (6/2/13): There have been 27 solvers in the week since this puzzle posted and all of those names will be placed into a drawing sometime shortly. Watch here for further updates.

**While this was initially not a numbered Grant opus, we are calling it #48 for our site count.

Sunday Surprise #1 – Contest Submissions

In addition to FoxFireX’s incredible sudoku gift that he made for someone’s birthday (some puzzles are meant to keep more private), we got three other submissions for our first Hidden Contest. We’re posting them here in increasing order of difficulty.

First up is an “Anti-Symmetry” Nurikabe from Giovanni P. where every clue that is odd/even has an even/odd clue in the corresponding symmetric place. Standard Nurikabe rules are all you need for this challenge.

Nurikabe by Giovanni P.


Next up is a real RARITY for this website, a Shakashaka. For the general rules, we’ll direct you to where the puzzle originated. Here, Bryce Herdt has made a cipher version of the puzzle. The letters AIRTY each stand for a different number from 0 – 4 which the solver must determine.

Cipher Shakashaka by Bryce Herdt


Finally, the hardest of the bunch, is an intriguing variation called “Sudoku Slitherlink” by its designer Scott Handelman. In addition to standard Slitherlink rules, a different number from 0-3 must go into each green cell. No number in a green cell can repeat in that row or column. As Scott warns, this is one of the hardest puzzles he’s constructed and, from his original post, he’s “still kinda shocked that the middle just kinda ‘works'”.

Sudoku Slitherlink by Scott Handelman


All of these puzzles are grouped in this single PDF.

If you enjoy these puzzles, please comment here and say so, thanking each of the authors. As contest entries, these didn’t go through editorial review (except making sure there was a single answer), but we found them all quite interesting and worthy of being some of the first puzzles from other authors to appear on this web-site. We’re considering keeping Sunday open for “guest” submissions each week from new puzzle authors. And once we get through a stack of puzzle submissions for The Art of Puzzles, more authors will be appearing throughout the week too.

Ask Dr. Sudoku #11 – About that hidden contest…?

For the last couple weeks Sunday has been a day where we’ve seen a huge increase in page views, strictly because a new hint was released for the site’s first Hidden Contest. This led a few dedicated solvers to scour the site again looking for something out of place.

This Hidden Contest was an experiment in having “other” puzzle styles here; I’m a huge fan of puzzle hunts and secret codes and the like and was curious to see if my more observant solvers would catch onto something odd.


Doctor’s Note #11 – And Then There Were Two…

I hope you enjoyed the first week with Grant Fikes contributing puzzles. Grant will be a regular author in the future, and has already sent in a lot of outstanding puzzles for The Art of Puzzles. While his best puzzles and his largest puzzles (sometimes one and the same) will be saved for that publication, a lot of fine leftovers will still end up here on a weekly basis. In other words, if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen here you’ll be amazed by what is in the book. Still, if you’d like to see some “Giants” from Grant, please check out the three he released last weekend 600 (LITS/”Tetra Firma”), 601 (Shakashaka/”Proof of Quilt”), and 602 (Norinori/”Dominnocuous”).

Who will our next Contributing Puzzlemaster be and when will his or her puzzles first appear? Only time will tell. For now I wanted to announce that the weekly release schedule will be going through a few changes. Since I have been publishing Sudoku and puzzles in five other genres (object placement, number placement, loops, shading, and region division), for most weeks going forward there will now be one puzzle in each of those six areas. Every other week will have a change in types (for example Masyu this week, Slitherlink the next) so there will be some balance in what gets posted. Over time, the genres will cycle through each day of the week so that easier and harder puzzles of all styles appear. That’s the basic plan, but there may be a few other surprises in store.

Finally, since a small number have been asking for more hints on the hidden contest (which remains undiscovered), and since I’ve not been responding privately for the sake of fairness, now seems a good time to narrow the hunt somewhat. While there have been a lot of posts here, from Doctor’s Notes to solving tutorials, this site is primarily about the puzzles. Somewhere in those 60 posts is what you need to find the “+1 puzzle” and possibly win a free book.

Regards, Dr. S.

PS: There will be no “Ask Dr. Sudoku” this week, but if you have any questions you would like answered in a future column, or past puzzles that have appeared here that were not covered that you would like some more insights on, this is the time to inquire. Going forward, I intend the “Asking” to be more active and cover just about anything (from puzzle that use baskets to NCAA tournament brackets). Solving/construction tutorials are interesting, but are not meant to be the only kind of topic.

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