Author interviews Vol.15 MINE

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Talking to MINE

MINE is a 32-year-old male, and a company employee. He is working in an environment where 90% oxygen can be breathed in at any time. Maybe because of that his lung age is 23.

The Japanese pen name of MINE is "Aburamushi", and the interview uses that pen name.

NobAburamushi stands for cockroach. That is a strange pen name, where do you get it from?

AburamushiWhen I was in the third grade of high school, I attended a gathering of readers of Nikoli magazine. There I drew a lot, and the lottery ticket said "You are like an aburamushi". I've been using this pen name from that moment. I still carry that lottery ticket around with me. Hey, you can imagine that the ticket preservation is excellent, it is 12 years since I drew it. (laughs)

NobWow, no doubt about that! When did you get to know about Nikoli?

AburamushiI hardly did any puzzles when I was little. Then in the first grade of junior high school OLAKE was a classmate. He taught me about Nikoli. That was also in his interview, he and I mutually set and solved problems. In those days I was addicted to Slitherlink. Today my feel for Slitherlink may be off because we made and solved way too difficult problems in those days.

NobWhat is a puzzle for you?

AburamushiOne of my hobbies. I'm happy to be solving puzzles, making puzzles. It's something that helps establishing relationships with other people.

NobRelationships?

AburamushiFor example, the relations between OLAKE and me. I become empowered because that person exists, and it works to keep me going. When my problems are published the other person knows that I am well. If something distracts my interests and I am on my own, I have the advantage that I have friends to pull me back to puzzles.

NobThat explains it. But, what are your hobbies outside of puzzles?

AburamushiI'm in futsal, baseball, and basketball clubs. I like sports. I don't like running but if I have a ball, running around with that is a wonderful thing. I also like to watch sports. Besides that, I like billiards and reading mystery stories.

NobThere are people who think that the people who do and make puzzles belong to a strictly indoor sect, but puzzle people are into a lot sport also really. Where do you make your puzzles?

AburamushiJust now, I make puzzles when I'm commuting. I sit on the train for an hour to get to the company I work for. In that one hour, if I try to make small problems, I can make several, and when the conditions are good, I can make one large problem.

NobDo you use pencil and paper?

AburamushiYes. I can't make puzzles on my computer, because I make notes to myself when I make a puzzle. For instance, when I make a Nurikabe, then if a figure of 4 or more must be entered for a cell, I write that, 4, 5, or more as it develops. If it is less or equal, I also put the symbol for that. I would consider using a personal computer if it had an editor that provides such a function. But still, the keyboard and mouse are too slow for me when I make puzzles. For me, I prefer the pen.

NobWhat do you pay attention to in your puzzles?

AburamushiI make an effort to see that the puzzles are interesting for me. Making puzzles is a hobby. With a job it is necessary to respond to what others want, even if it is something I don't really wish to do. Puzzles is not job for me. I make puzzles that I think are interesting, I make them because I am free to do like I wish. That's why it is enjoyable for me to make puzzles.

NobThat is a good point. Then, what is an interesting puzzle, do you think?

AburamushiOne thing is its looks. Beautiful appearance, or even that the numbers fit together. Another point is to make a problem so it feels good solving it.

NobBut there are so many ways to make solving it feel good. What is your recommendation for that?

AburamushiI like problems where one strategy is used effectively. I think it is great when a puzzle shows a single strategy well in many situations. And I like problems to be tantalizing, so the right way has to be either this or that, to lead the solver into blind alleys. But with small puzzles it is difficult to do that.

NobHas your style been influenced by other authors?

AburamushiNot recently. I solve nikoli.com problems a lot. I think that there are a lot of interesting problems there. But I don't think that it changes my standards for when I make puzzles myself. For Nurikabe, there is no way that I would change my ideas with the opinions of others. My confidence in making Nurikabe is that great. But I make many kinds of puzzles, maybe for other puzzles I am not that confident. (laughs)

NobWhy are you confident with Nurikabe?

AburamushiA lot of people have told me they liked puzzles which I made just like I wanted them to be. It is wonderful to be told that. And the technique for making puzzles improves when you make a lot of one kind of puzzle. Nurikabe is hard to fix, but I have become very good at that. (laughs)

NobWell, is that how it works. But, what is the ideal puzzle for you?

AburamushiI think that a puzzle where you can imagine the development is good. A puzzle where you can't guess how it is going to develop at all is good too. But I think that the very best puzzle is one where you can imagine where it is going but where the predictions get confounded. You can break away from what you think is the right path, because there is a right path. I want to make puzzles that are a break from what you thought was the right path.

NobWhat is it that makes you create your puzzles?

AburamushiIt is because there'll be someone to solve them. Of course, I think that it is interesting to make puzzles. But if no one solves my puzzles, I'd get tired of making them. Just because of that, I think that I am in a very happy environment.

NobOkay. What will you be doing in 30 years?

AburamushiI'll live in a house with a billiard table, and I am doing puzzles. Maybe I don't just solve puzzles but also make them.

NobNow one last thing, what would you like to say to the people who solve your puzzles?

AburamushiI make puzzles because I enjoy it, then if you are so inclined I'll be happy to help you pass the time. I think that the people who solves my puzzles also should do it because it is enjoyable and interesting. It shouldn't really be that you are fighting against terrible odds, my puzzles should seem to come naturally.


Interviewed Jun 2008 Published on Apr 22, 2010