Archive for the ‘Surprise Puzzles’ Category:

Sunday Surprise #13 – Gapped Kakuro by Serkan Yürekli

Serkan finished this “Giant” puzzle shortly after we started our break. We figured this Gapped Kakuro would be a fun, challenging Sunday Surprise that might take several Sundays to complete.

Gapped Kakuro by Serkan Yürekli

(view directly for a larger image)


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

Theme: Sum Time

Author/Opus: This is the 72nd puzzle from our contributing puzzlemaster Serkan Yürekli.

Rules: Standard Kakuro Rules. Also, some cells may remain empty but empty cells cannot share an edge with other empty cells.

Answer String: Enter the values in the white cells in the marked rows from left to right, ignoring all black cells, and separating the rows with a comma. Use a capital ‘X’ for any blank cell.

Time Standards (highlight to view): Grandmaster = 50:00, Master = 1:30:00, Expert = 3:00:00

Solution: PDF

Note: Follow this link for other Kakuro puzzles.

Sunday Surprise #12 – Palimpsest Puzzle Set by Nikolai Beluhov

For those who thought there would be no special puzzles on Sundays in 2014: SURPRISE!

This very creative submission comes from Nikolai Beluhov. And like his earlier Matryoshka Fillomino, this is a gift that keeps on giving. Starting with a challenging Fillomino puzzle, erasing all of the 4s leaves a Slitherlink. Then erasing all of the 3s leaves a Tapa. Then erasing all of the 2s gives a Simple Loop (treating the 1s as blackened cells).



Fillomino by Nikolai Beluhov


Slitherlink by Nikolai Beluhov


Tapa by Nikolai Beluhov

Simple Loop

Fillomino by Nikolai Beluhov

or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools; use tab to shift between a Composite Edgesub mode for Fillomino and Slitherlink, a shading mode for Tapa, a number entry mode for Fillomino, and a line drawing mode for Simple Loop.)

Rules: Standard Fillomino rules.
Then standard Slitherlink rules.
Then standard Tapa rules.
Then Simple Loop rules (draw a single closed loop, without intersections or crossings, through all empty cells; cells with 1s cannot be visited by the loop).

Answer String: None for this puzzle; simply click solved if finished.

Solution: PDF

Sunday Surprise #11 – Basement Skyscraper Sudoku

I’m sure many of you were expecting ANOTHER version of the Christmas Tree puzzle from the last two weeks. I mean, I did get a very nice Double Back from Robert Vollmert (which cannot be confused as a Star Battle or a LITS). But posting such a puzzle wouldn’t be a surprise.

No, today’s Sunday Surprise comes from the pile of submissions I’ve received over the year from Hans van Stippent, who played with the usual rules of Skyscrapers a bit by hiding some of the cells from consideration. It yielded a very interesting puzzle which is Hans’ gift to you this Sunday.

Basement Skyscraper Sudoku by Hans van Stippent


Theme: New Variation/Logic

Rules: Standard Sudoku rules. Also, standard Skyscrapers rules. Additionally, the cells in gray are “underground” and cannot be seen for any of the outside skyscraper clues (think of them as starting with a negative sign if necessary). As an example, the 4 in row 2 refers only to seeing four buildings in columns 3 through 7, even if there is a 9 in column 1 or column 2 as that 9 cannot be seen.

Answer String: Enter the 1st row from left to right, followed by a comma, followed by the 9th row from left to right.

Sunday Surprise #10 – Christmas Tree LI(gh)TS

Today’s Surprise originated from an unintended mistake. Despite a puzzle labeled “Star Battle” and a graphic with a “2 star” label at the top, Friday’s puzzle was attempted by first one and then many solvers out of curiosity as a LITS. While I’ve seen a Star Battle that can double as a LITS, this was not originally one of them and it is not a typical property to have.

Undaunted by the challenge, Tapio Saarinen (ArDeeJ) sent along a modification of my puzzle into a LITS. After some tweaks by me, we have a Christmas Tree LITS puzzle with very few changes from the original (see this crude sketch). Enjoy the gift that keeps on giving!

LITS by Tapio Saarinen and Thomas Snyder


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

Theme: Christmas Tree LI(gh)TS

Rules: Standard LITS rules.

Or, if you prefer to treat this as a Star Battle for some unknown reason, use these rules: In this variation of Star Battle, place the indicated number of stars in each row, column, and region. Then shade exactly four connected cells (without stars) in each outlined region, to form an L, I, T, or S tetromino, so that the following conditions are true: (1) All shaded cells are connected with each other; (2) No 2×2 group of cells can be entirely shaded black; (3) When two tetrominoes in adjacent regions share an edge, they must not be of the same type (L, I, T, or S), regardless of rotations or reflections.

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

Solution: PDF

Sunday Surprise #9 – Matryoshka Fillomino

Today’s surprise comes from Nikolai Beluhov, a graduate student of mathematical logic who has been sharing some creative puzzle ideas with me recently. Some of them have ended up on his new puzzle blog Puzzled By Titles. This puzzle has become a Sunday Surprise.

Much like a set of Matryoshka dolls, this Fillomino is a puzzle with many layers. Remove the outer border and a new valid Fillomino arises. Keep doing this all the way down to the very center where a 2×2 puzzle awaits. The layers have a wide variety of difficulty and required logical strategies. Can you solve them all?

Fillomino by Nikolai Beluhov


or solve online (using our beta test of Penpa-Edit tools; use tab to alternate between a composite mode for line/edge drawing and a number entry mode.)

Theme: Matryoshka (nesting property) across 5 puzzles

Rules: Standard Fillomino rules.

Answer String: For each puzzle from largest (10×10) to smallest (2×2), enter the numbers placed in each cell along the upper-left to lower-right diagonal in order. Separate each puzzle’s entry by a comma (Your answer will be of the form AAAAAAAAAA,BBBBBBBB,CCCCCC,DDDD,EE).

Solution: PDF

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

Sunday Surprise #8 – Mystery Tapa

Today’s surprise originally comes from Hans van Stippent, with some edits by me (Thomas Snyder) to increase the challenge and rewards of the solve. Together, we present this creative “Mystery Tapa” where all the clues (any value from 1-8) have been replaced with ?’s.

Tapa by Hans van Stippent and Thomas Snyder


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.)

Theme: Clueless?

Rules: Variation of Tapa rules. All clue numbers (1 and above) have been replaced with question marks.

Answer String: Enter the length in cells of each of the shaded segments from left to right for the marked rows, starting at the top. Separate each row entry from the next with a comma. A double-digit number should have both digits entered.

Solution: PDF

Sunday Surprise #7 – Welcome to Serkan Yürekli

Editor’s Note: While our Sunday Surprises are meant to be unexpected, today’s surprise should be a double surprise for you. Besides the bonus puzzle, it is my great pleasure to announce that one of the world’s best puzzlemakers and the inventor of Tapa, Serkan Yürekli, is joining us as a regular contributor. (If you haven’t yet, you should check out his Tapa Variation Contests that are starting again this weekend and his Classic Tapa Contest that starts next week.)

I asked Serkan, for his debut week, to provide some of the puzzle styles I know him best for and I hope you will enjoy what is in store. Today brings a “The Persistence of Memory” puzzle that Serkan wrote with GMPuzzles in mind.

The Persistence of Memory by Serkan Yürekli

(View image directly for larger form.)

(PNG with extra lines for solvers who want to flood-fill the path)


Theme: GMPuzzles

Rules: Find a path from one dot to the other by moving horizontally or vertically between adjacent squares. The path cannot touch itself, even diagonally. All highlighted regions must be used, and may be re-entered. If two or more highlighted regions have the same shape and orientation, then how the path passes through those shapes must be identical. Or see here.

Answer String: For each marked row, enter the size of each group of cells used by the path from left to right. Separate each row with a comma.

Time Standards (highlight to view): Grandmaster = 7:30, Master = 10:30, Expert = 21:00