Author interviews Vol.6 SAKAMOTO, Nobuyuki

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Talking to SAKAMOTO, Nobuyuki

SAKAMOTO Nobuyuki is a puzzle author without a nickname, using his real name. He is 30 years old, single. He also creates Japanese word puzzles so he is what we call an all-round author.

NobExcuse me, but you are employed in an ordinary company aren't you?

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiSure yes, I work doing research related work for an information technology company.

NobMr. Sakamoto, I have heard that you have a Ph. D. so we should really call you Dr. Sakamoto?

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiYes, and it just happened, in the masters course after graduation I studied with a recent Nikoli hirer, NyanBaz. After our masters degree, we both applied for jobs with the same company (not Nikoli), he was accepted and I was not so I went on to the Ph. D. course. (laughs)

NobNow, really! What did you study about for your Ph. D.?

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiSomething like that when $#% is %&c*, and X$Xx becomes #$Z$, then . . . . That kind of thing.

NobWait! Wait! I can't understand a thing (in a sweat). But how does your Ph. D. help you now that you have it?

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiDoctor course students often say that a Ph. D. is like a rice grain stuck to the bottom of your foot. It bothers you, but when you get hold of it, all you have is something that you can't eat. That pretty much says it. A Ph. D. won't fill your stomach. (laughs)

NobWell, well. But as a doctor of mathematics you must have liked mathematics from you were little?

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiI loved mathematics in school. Once in the lower grades our teacher told us to draw four sided figures. I drew irregular arrowhead shapes, and the other kids teased me saying that they were not really rectangles. To me four sides make a quadrangle, so my shapes were all right. The teacher was on my side and praised me. Even when I was that young I still liked to do things in ways no one else had thought of. To be told that I am different is the highest praise I can get. Put it this way, maybe I am all warped and quirky (laughs).

NobRight. Elementary school kids do not think of arrowheads as quadrangles. You sure were different (laughs). So did you want to go on to mathematics in college from you were little?

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiIt was in senior high school that I decided to go for mathematics. I liked mathematics of course, but there was this little thing that I was poor in all the other subjects too. Even in other science subjects like chemistry and physics (laughs).

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiPuzzles are really a bit similar to mathematics. One thing they have in common is that you have to think logically, but now and then both need novelty, thinking that is right off the curve, out on a tangent. And the basic knowledge you need for both is not so daunting.

NobThat puts it well, but then, do you have other hobbies than puzzles?

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiI'm into games, surfing the Internet, walking, nothing related to mathematics and puzzles.

NobNow, where does puzzle author Dr. Sakamoto make puzzles?

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiUsually at home and generally on holidays. I easily get caught up in new things so I have do make puzzles when the spirit moves me. If I try to make a large puzzle step by step my ideas will wander and change. As a result my puzzles often lack unity.

NobI know what you are saying. Let me ask you now what a puzzle is to you?

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiI have two answers to that. One is to kill time and the other is to express the self.

NobDoes the killing time part involve solving puzzles in your free time?

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiSure, not just solving puzzles, making them is also a good way to kill time for me. When I'm on a train I sit waiting for new ideas to float up, thinking of nothing really, to pass the time.

NobSo, thinking up ideas for puzzles is another puzzle. How about the self expression part?

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiI want to show that my ideas are different from what others think up, I want to highlight that my puzzles are not just the everyday sort you see in Puzzle Communication Nikoli. I will do anything to get people so sit up and be amazed at my ideas.

NobI have noticed that many of the Sakamoto puzzles are different from the common run, but you make many easy puzzles too.

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiI make two kinds of puzzles, for killing time and for expressing myself. Put differently, you could call them educational puzzles and experimental puzzles. I want to make sure my puzzles can be solved. That's why I try to stay out of the Botsu Bako. Good easy puzzles will get into Nikoli books. Easy well made puzzles can be solved by beginners and they will point the people solving them towards the next tricks they need to solve puzzles. If the person solving them can feel why a puzzle is interesting and says so, I'm just thrilled. In the puzzles where I go for originality to express myself, as I said already, I'll use any means to do that and I do not care what the level of difficulty is.

NobThen what are your goals for the future?

NobOne last thing, please say something to the people reading your interview here.

SAKAMOTO, NobuyukiPlease solve my puzzles and be surprised. Then, I hope you will create puzzles where I get a chance to shout out in amazement.

Interviewed Sep 2007 Published on Aug 11, 2008