Author interviews Vol.10 Miya

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Talking to Miya

Miya is a bachelor, age 31. His face is not known to the public. His employment is also not generally known, but He has leaked that it is office work. In college he majored in psychology. He was interested in social and cognitive psychology, but his university studying left much to be desired.

NobDid you like puzzles since you were little?

MiyaI liked to use my head since I was a kid. When I was in elementary school I loved to read and I played Japanese chess (Shogi) too, I wasn't so strong though.

NobWhen did you get to know about pencil puzzles?

MiyaI did correspondence learning in grade six, and it had Word search, Nansuke, and other puzzles among the materials. I felt like "this is great," the moment I saw it. The puzzles were by Nikoli, and "Puzzle Communication Nikoli" was among the book presents they included. So that's how I first learned of the existence of Puzzle Communication Nikoli. Then about a year later I saw my junior high school math teacher doing Nikoli Volume 30. I wanted to get that and asked where I could find it. That was my first Nikoli, Volume 31 issued in September 1990.

NobCould you really solve the puzzles in the first year of junior high school?

MiyaI solved the puzzles till Volume 31 was in tatters. I could do most of the problems, but the hard sudoku and giant kakuro were too difficult for me then. I struggled with those puzzles, like I wrote in the possible numbers in small letters in the cells. I was quickly lost in it, and I bought all the back issues available.

NobWhy did you begin to build your own puzzles?

MiyaThen, Nikoli came out quarterly, and there were no special issues like now. When I was done with one issue, I couldn't wait three months for the next one, I was too small for that. That was why I decided to make my own puzzles. The first I made was Slitherlink. The first puzzles I had published were shikaku and slitherbox (it has already disappeared) in Nikoli No. 34 (June, 1991).

NobSlitherbox! Memories flooding back! Your pen name was Kosuke Tetsudaiti, is there a story behind that?

MiyaGood question, I really don't remember why I made that my pen name.

NobYou sent in puzzles for a while, and then there was a blank. What happened?

MiyaI got into high school; I did study for the exam but I also continued with Nikoli. I did that again for university, keeping up making puzzles, but I didn't get straight into college, and had to wait a year. Then my publication ratio was poor and I thought about giving up puzzles. That I did, then and there, and threw all my Nikoli magazines and books out. What a waste, I wish I hadn't. Then till my junior year in college I didn't buy anything Nikoli, but in that junior year I saw Nikoli at a book store and I remembered. I still liked puzzles, and I liked to make them. Then I took it up again.

NobWhat is it you like about puzzles?

MiyaI like working out the logic, using my head.

NobAnd why do you make puzzles?

Miya I guess I just enjoy it. Puzzles are one of the few things there are that I enjoy (laughs). I am really pleased when the puzzles I make entertain others.

NobWhat are puzzles to you?

MiyaWhen I am solving them it's the enjoyment. When I am creating them it's self-expression.

NobWhat do you aim for when you make your puzzles?

MiyaYes what? I guess it's something where I can put my finger on something specific that is interesting, I don't aim for just solving in a general sort of way. I am not keen on difficulty that only yields to trial and error, I like it when there is a logic that has to be teased out. I try to show what it is that I like.

Nob Are there any of your puzzles that you consider masterpieces?

MiyaThere is the Hitori that appeared on the old PC site for puzzle championships, and the Fillomino published in Puzzle Box Vol. 5. From when I made them, I felt that both are really everything that a puzzle should be. The Hitori has one underlying idea that is reused in different ways, this is a sort of ideal for me and it is expressed perfectly there. With the Fillomino I kept turning it over in my mind, how to get it just right, keeping up worrying about it riding the train. I reworked both of them many times to get them just the way I wanted them to be.

Miya's masterpiece, the Hitori, is a size 17x17, and it is extra hard.
Play this problem Play this problem View the solution View the solution

NobAmazing to remember that still now. Could you improve on them do you think?

MiyaI want to make some that are even better, I am working on that right now.

NobIs there a secret to making great puzzles?

MiyaSolving puzzles made by others. Then when there is an interesting move, sorting out how that move will appear when I apply it. How to express that, that is what counts.

NobAnd your dreams and hopes?

MiyaTo improve the standing of pencil puzzles in our everyday culture. Now puzzles are everywhere but without much depth, they should be taken a bit more serious. Now it is just a matter of what someone thinks is interesting. Something that is more general or universal is not enough of an issue. Puzzles have aspects of both art and entertainment, just now the entertainment part plays too big a role. I wish to move it in the artistic direction.

NobAt Nikoli we stress that pencil puzzles are for entertainment. If they get to be for only the people in the know, and if you need to study to understand them, the simple pleasure of doing them could get lost. But to go after the art aspect of pencil puzzles seems a fine thing for the people solving the puzzles. But now, finally, a word to the people who are solving your puzzles, please.

MiyaThere is so much to say (laughs), just doing the puzzles enjoyably would make me really happy. And then, if there is something that attracts your interest, try to work out what it is and why it seems interesting, that will make doing the puzzles even more interes.

Interviewed Dec 2007 Published on Aug 19, 2009