Author interviews Vol.7 -4

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Talking to -4

"-4" is a technical expert, designing things, working for a well known manufacturer. In the world of puzzles, he goes by the name "Yon-sama"(like the Korean TV actor). He is lively, polite, twenty nine years old, and single.

NobHave you liked puzzles since you were a child?

-4Well, I wasn't much interested in pencil puzzles and jigsaw puzzles. But I think I liked to use my head. I had a delicate constitution when I was little, I always played indoors at home; I especially liked to do Origami. When I was in kindergarten, I cut out colored paper and made things. Then, I looked for the biggest paper squares among the scraps and I folded them into paper cranes. Thinking about how to get the biggest square paper stimulated my intelligence. It got me really excited. (laughs). Maybe that was what I used my head for all the way through elementary school. (laughs) Then I broke my right elbow and had to stay in hospital in the second year of junior high school. There I got a crossword puzzle magazine and I solved it with my left hand. It was the first time to run into pencil puzzles. From then on I often tried to do crosswords puzzles.

NobWhen did you become aware of Nikoli?

-4I found "Puzzle Communication Nikoli Vol. 67" (Published June, 1997) in our clubroom at the university. I just happened on it and I was fascinated by the pages with "Omoro Puzzles." I liked it with all that stuff crammed into a small space. I guess I didn't know how to sit back and enjoy life then. (laughs) In the "Omoro Puzzles" pages, I felt that readers and editors were working by trial and error and I was really taken by that. I was also excited by the new things being created there. I bought the next issue of Nikoli right away, and solved almost all the puzzles. I have never missed an issue since.

NobWhat was the start for you to make your own puzzles?

-4I borrowed the book, Kyoko's Puzzles, from the library. It is a collection of the works of Ms. Kyoko Onishi an author of "word arithmetic" puzzles. It made a strong impression on me and I wanted to make such beautiful word arithmetic problems. So I tried, and surprised myself to make some. Then I sent my puzzles to Nikoli, and they used them. Lucky, Lucky! Then for a year, I sent in only word arithmetic puzzles.

NobYeah, I remember now, I was involved with editing Kyoko's Puzzles. By the way, I checked when your work appeared in Nikoli. The first time was Puzzle Communication Nikoli Vol. 80, out in December, 1998, that was when Nikoli came out monthly. When did you start to make puzzles other than word arithmetic?

-4That was about when Nikoli became a quarterly. I found a website written by a Nikoli puzzle contributor. It was great for me to hear about the pleasure of making puzzles from him. I thought it would be nice for me to make such puzzles because he really enjoyed himself, I felt. And really, it was perfectly wonderful! (laughs) Making, sending, and seeing them in print. Feels good! Then another round of making, sending, and getting them printed. Marvelous! I was so pleased to hear the comments from other authors and it was an encouragement to see responses on the bulletin board pages. Those days, I made any kind of puzzle I could.

NobWhat do you think about when you are making puzzles?

-4I make puzzles to please myself. I assume I am the reader. So, my goal is for me to enjoy it myself. If it was solving it I would try to guess like, what is the way ahead here, and ask myself if I could I find a clue at this point. If I can I'll put the clue somewhere else. Like that, I want to make it amusing for the solvers. I don't think I have that much of a talent for making puzzles, but I have confidence in solving puzzles. That's how I can prepare many wonderful situations in my works. I believe that if I can express my pleasure in my works, other solvers will be able to catch it too.

NobWhat are your ideal puzzles?

-4It is when I hear, "I have to wonder why I couldn't find that easy clue." If a solver says that after solving a puzzle that would be a nice puzzle I think. I would like to put clues which almost all solvers grasp easily in some slightly intricate way. As an author, the best reaction is "I fell into the trap." I try to make such puzzles, but it's so hard. Someday I wish to make things that are really satisfactory.

NobWhy do you like puzzles so much?

-4Because puzzles are just sort of an extravagance. With puzzles you have to waste time and talent. I feel that is just so luxurious. When authors make puzzles, there are infinite possibilities at first. Then these possibilities are narrowed down and abandoned little by little. That's also a luxury. At the final step, the solution is unique. In real life, it hardly ever happens that way. Indescribable pleasure! I cannot do anything to stop it. Doing puzzles cannot be helped, it just goes on and on (laughs).

NobNow dear -4, what are you ambitious about?

-4I don't have much talent for making puzzles so I hope other authors will make the superior and sophisticated ones. I would like to play the role of expanding the range of puzzle fans. In, I'm happy to read the solvers' comments. Such responses are very important. I am thrilled to find out that there are so many puzzle fans in the world. When I know that my involvement in the work has been appreciated by the solvers, I feel on top. I'd like to tell the charm of puzzles to more and more people. That would bring me happiness.

NobOK, a last question, what is your message to the solvers who have enjoyed your puzzles.

-4Solve my puzzles and enjoy them. I aim my puzzles to be just like the air. Nothing left when they are done. If you are able to solve a puzzle without any trouble and feel good about it, that's how I would like it to be.

Interviewed Oct 2007 Published on Feb 17, 2009