Author interviews Vol.26 NyanBaz

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Talking to NyanBaz

NyanBaz is on the staff of Nikoli. He is 32 years old. He is single and wants to experience passionate love once, sometime.

His work involves the management of the mobile site. He says that the work is very interesting.

NobHow long have you been with Nikoli?

NyanBazIt's the third year now.

NobWhat was the reason for your joining the company?

NyanBazI wanted to leave the company where I worked before. I wanted to work at what I want to do. I made my approaches in the order of the things that I wanted to do, and Nob was the first to get an email. I thought I would not hear anything back, but I succeeded in changing the job by this lucky chance.

NobWhat was the second option that you thought about?

NyanBazNothing for sure, I thought about becoming a researcher in some private outfit where I could do something with mathematics. For example code technology or something like that. That is the kind of work that mimic does. Because I like kanji, I wanted to do a study of kanji. If I can't work with puzzles as a profession I wanted to do something where I could use my head.

NobUh-hm. Have you been interested in puzzles since you were a kid?

NyanBazI didn't do puzzles at all, but I have read books with riddles. My only hobby was study, until high school.

NobReally? Was your hobby study?

NyanBazIt was just like, I liked the study that we had in the textbooks. So I didn't do any homework really. I didn't ever study for examinations. I didn't do any special study for university entrance examination either.

NobYou were a strange kid. When did you meet up with pencil puzzles?

NyanBazI and SAKAMOTO, Nobuyuki were classmates at university. When I went out to where he lived to see him, that was the beginning where I first saw Puzzle Communication Nikoli, he had it lying around. I ran to buy the current issue at a bookstore that same day, immediately. It was Puzzle Communication Nikoli Vol.63. I went home and solved everything. With just one magazine, there was such a small number of problems, and I started to make problems myself right away. I made Heyawake first. And I solved it by myself. It worked. Then I sent in my first contributions, there were more than ten. I sent various kinds of puzzles in, and a Hashiwokakero and an alphametic were accepted. I had three days to send in my puzzles from I got to know Puzzle Communication Nikoli, I thought fast.

NobI'm sure that is a record that will stand forever. Did anything change from then till today?

NyanBazI made simple, primitive problems with clear assumptions in those days. Then I liked that kind of problems. But now it's completely different.

NobWhen you make puzzles, what do you think about?

NyanBazI try to make problems a lot of people enjoy solving.

NobWhy did you change?

NyanBazMaybe because my mother started to do Sudoku. She can't solve hard problems. I felt perhaps that kind of problems aren't solved a lot. The hard problems can be entrusted to other authors, and I make easy problems and want to propagate and interest more people in puzzles. It's not yet achieved. But I am continuously working at it.

NobIs it difficult to make easy problems?

NyanBazIt's difficult. I may think that some method will be all right and use it, but then I find it becomes too difficult to solve. That kind of thing often happens.

NobWhat is your favorite puzzle?

NyanBazHeyawake. I'd make a big Heyawake if I was asked to make my favorite puzzle. I'm still itching to make a Huge Sheet with one Heyawake.

NobWhy Heyawake?

NyanBazIt's so completely artificial. I originally liked stuff with this kind of arbitrary rules. I majored in a branch of mathematics called reverse mathematics at the university. In ordinary mathematics, when you have something to prove, you can use any theorem, and if it works it'll be all right. However, in reverse mathematics it is different, you set limits. Without using some theorem, can you still prove the same thing as when you are using that theorem? If it's not possible, how do you bring it close? It's that kind of study people there do. I like to avoid using the ordinary ways, because that way it seems artificially made up. I always like to think about what I can do when there is a set limit. That feeling resembles making Heyawake puzzles. With arbitrary limitations, that's my major theme with Heyawake, how much human emotion can still be expressed.

NobFor you, is emotion more important than technique?

NyanBazYes. I think that there are many people who like technical problems among the persons liking hard Heyawake. Previously, I was in that direction. But even in a small problem you can add technical wrinkles. If I have a big problem, there I want to appeal to emotions that are not only in the techniques.

NobWhen you make puzzles who do you think about as solving them?

NyanBazMyself. A problem that I can't get satisfied with is not good. That's the bottom line -- I have to be satisfied with it.

NobAre there other authors you use as models?

NyanBazSAKAMOTO, Nobuyuki has a good way of presentation for easy problems. I keep referring to him. Recently, Casty's problems also serve as a reference.

NobWhat is your ideal puzzle?

NyanBazI don't have any ultimate ideal. But I want to make problems that are easy but leave a deep impression. Something a beginner can enjoy, and that will make a good "puzzler" groan. I want the person who likes hard problems to notice that you can also be impressed by easy problems.

NobWhat will you be doing in 35 years?

NyanBazI want to be studying all the time. I am into Chinese ancient history now. I want to do some sort of study in 35 years and to feel the joy of knowing something new. And I still want to be swimming and to be in good health.

NobNow you bring it up, didn't you lose weight swimming recently?

NyanBazYes, I dropped 19kg in half a year. My purpose was not weight loss though. I realized that exercise is fun, for the first time in my life. When I move my body, vitality goes way up. For me, exercise is fun now. It took a while to notice, but finally now I got it.

NobWhat weight are you trying to get down to?

NyanBazMy ideal weight is 62kg. I want to get there. If there is a standard, I want to clear it.

NobWhat kind of exercise do you do?

NyanBazI go to the gym and do strength training, rowing bike for 30 minutes, and swimming 1km.

NobNow a last question, is there anything that you want to tell the people solving your puzzles?

NyanBazI must have said something for everyone by now already, and I really have nothing to add. (laughs) I am serious about making puzzles, please enjoy solving them. That would make me really thrilled.

Interviewed Jun 2009 Published on Jul 6, 2011