Author interviews Vol.9 crimson

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Talking to crimson

crimson is twenty one years old. He is now studying the history of education and philosophy in the department of education of a university. His hobbies, other than puzzles, are reading and writing a mystery novel, and playing TV games.

NobHave you liked puzzles since you were a kid?

crimsonWell, yes, I got interested in pencil puzzles quite late, but I loved things like puzzles since I was in kindergarten. From the lower grades of elementary school, I started to make my own maze puzzles. When I was in the fourth year of elementary school, I worked out an original puzzle, taking a word apart and rearranging it into another word. Though it was just I who was playing it at the beginning, this puzzle became popular among my classmates. And we made such puzzles to challenge each other.

NobReally! Was that puzzle just like Select Words in Nikoli? Then you were preceding Nikoli by ten years (laughs); but when did you start on pencil puzzles?

crimsonI liked to solve the small crosswords puzzles in PR magazines around town. I was always looking forward to the next issue, but I wanted to try bigger puzzles. It was in the second year of junior high school that I started to get interested in crossword magazines. I didn't know there were puzzle magazines till then. I remembered I bought one, and was surprised at what I got. Then I continued to buy crossword magazines and kanji puzzle magazines till senior high school. I'm poor at starting new things, I must be one of those who just keep buying the same over and over. Maybe I'm conservative. Once I get used to new things, I'm O.K. though (laughs)

NobWhen did you start doing Nikoli?

crimsonThat was the first year of high school. I went to the home of a classmate and I saw Nikoli on his bookshelf and wondered what that was. When we went to a bookshop he pointed Nikoli out for me. I bought it immediately. That was Puzzle Communication Nikoli Vol.96. After I got home, I got hung up on the cipher puzzle on the cover. I remember how I was distressed at that cipher puzzle. I really can't remember how I solved the other puzzles; but I know I made an enormous effort to do them. I'm not sure but I guess it interested me, and I have bought Nikoli from then. By the way, the friend who taught me about Nikoli and I went to the same junior and senior high schools, and at university we chose the same department. I also started to write novels under his influence.

NobHow did you start to make puzzles?

crimsonI wanted to see my name in the commemorative Nikoli Vol.100, and the best way would be with a contribution, I thought. In those days, I had solved many puzzles including doing some of the Pencil Puzzle books. So I gradually began to understand how I could solve these puzzles. With that understanding, I felt I could make puzzles by myself. It was the Akari puzzles made by Gesaku that stimulated me most. I was amazed at his extraordinary skill. I wished I could make such puzzles, then I did that and sent them off to Nikoli. But it was Nikoli Vol.102, before I got in with Nurikabe and Tentai Show. My work didn't get into Nikoli Vol.100 or 101, but my name was there though not for puzzles. Since then, I kept contributing work and that also got in. When I was going for the university entrance examination, I just kept making puzzles (wry smile). I barely passed the examination for the university where I wished to go. I sure learned that puzzles are not good for an examinee, indeed. (laughs)

NobWhat do you aim for in your puzzles, crimson?

crimsonWell, I'm groping for that still now. I can say there are two directions. One is making easy puzzles for beginners and the other is to do medium or hard puzzles for experts. About making easy puzzles, I think the author needs to pay attention to solvers who try puzzles for the first time. How to get them aware of the enjoyment of the puzzle is very important. As for making hard puzzles for experts, I like to build a climax into the design or into the challenge of solving a puzzle. I impose it on myself to find how to break through the odds and end a puzzle. Both when making easy and making hard puzzles, I must feel it is worth doing them, for me. But to be honest, I really enjoy making the hard puzzles. I know I tend to get intoxicated by my ideas and in some of my work I go overboard. Yes, I'm still on the way. I can't clearly grasp what is just the right essence of puzzles.

NobWhat do you think about when you are making puzzles?

crimsonWhen I make easy puzzles, I am always careful to be open and playful, and not devious. When I make hard puzzles, strange to say, I lose the sense that I'm the author. I feel like, if I can put it like this, like I am the first solver of this puzzle I'm making, where just I have a feeling for how to find the right clues. So, I'm not really conscious of making puzzles then.

NobYeah, I can agree with such a feeling. When you make hard puzzles, you don't think about the overall structure at the beginning?

crimsonRight, like that. Making hard puzzles, I start by only putting in some clues without thinking about the whole. Then, I start thinking about how to expand from those in the next steps. If I can find the way to do the expansion, it grows to become one of my puzzles.

NobSure. But then, what kind puzzles do you prefer?

crimsonI like making Fillomino because I enjoy doing it myself. In Fillomino, I can develop new ideas and techniques for solving them. I love puzzles where I can easily express myself. I'm weak at making Sudoku because there is so little room for authors to demonstrate their talents there. I like puzzles where I can simply realize what I want to do.

NobLet me ask you now what a puzzle is to you?

crimsonIt's one where even if the process till getting it is hard, the final puzzle is entertaining.

NobThen, what's the entertainment in puzzles?

crimsonDesign is one point but the total impression - the thinking, awakening, getting to the next step, and reaching the solution - is bigger than just that. If my work gives the solvers such an impression, I'll be so happy.

NobWhat drives you to keep making puzzles?

crimsonThere are the people who solve my work. Thinking about them is a great motivation. Puzzles that are abandoned by solvers are so sad. To get accepted by solvers, I have to make puzzles that I am satisfied with and which I can enjoy.

NobFor a last thing, tell about your dream.

crimsonFor those days in my life, sometimes, when I feel it is hard and a bore, for them I wish I could have something that I can relax and enjoy myself with. That is my ideal or my dream if you will. I don't have any deep attachment to power and money. I just hope to keep up a regular life in an everyday place and I hope to have something at hand that I can enjoy by myself, like puzzles.

Interviewed Jan 2008 Published on Oct 26, 2009