Author interviews Vol.31 cherry

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Talking to cherry

Here is the corner that asks questions from and talks to puzzle authors. Our guest this time is cherry. His age is a secret. He is a man of riddles. But he is a company employee.

NyanBazWhat kind of child were you when you were small?

cherryIn primary school I really liked arithmetics. My teacher was good at teaching. In his class about the areas of figures, there instead of teaching the formula, he made a formula from student ideas. I enjoyed that. I thought up about 20 kinds of ways of how to determine the area of diamonds.

NyanBazWhen did you start puzzles?

cherryI devoted myself to making fill-in-missing-numbers arithmetics (letters to numbers puzzles) and traverse problems (finding unique paths) when I was in junior high. For me, it was the beginning. It was influenced by the math textbook.

NyanBazDid you have somebody solve the problems that you made?

cherryNo, I just enjoyed making them. My friends and family kept away from my puzzles because my problems were awfully difficult. I was not even aware that more than one solution to a puzzle makes it useless.

NyanBazThat would seem to make it hard to find the solution.

cherryI did a study of magic squares also as a junior high student. I found how to make magic squares with odd numbers in dozens of ways. I was like someone who was way too deeply engrossed in it.

NyanBazWhen did you encounter pencil puzzles?

cherryIt really started when I was as a senior high school student, there I developed an interest in pencil puzzles. The opportunity was the puzzle section of a mathematics magazine. It wasn't a Nikoli puzzle. I felt it was interesting and I was trying to make problems by myself. I didn't like some of the rules when I started make puzzles. So I made problems with original rules. However, It didn't succeed very well.

NyanBazA digression here. Now that magazine has Nikoli puzzles.

cherryI also bought a puzzle magazine then, but it wasn't Nikoli. There was a prize to be won. I applied again and again but it became clear that I wouldn't win. So I stopped buying the magazine and was looking for another magazine, that's how I found Nikoli.

NyanBazWhat was your first impression of Nikoli?

cherryI thought that the shape of the magazine was strange. And because it had a variety of puzzles, I liked it. I saw that they were accepting contributions, and that if I contributed puzzles, they would be printed, then I thought that I could get money that way. So I began to buy Nikoli.

NyanBazIt's a calculating reason.

cherryYes. (laughs) I solved several problems the day when I bought the magazine, and the next day I started making puzzles.

NyanBazYou're fast. What issue of Nikoli was that?

cherryVol. 54. I wanted to be published very badly. So I sent in 5 kinds puzzles 20 problems. Perhaps Keisuke, Nansuke, Shikaku, and some more. My first contribution appeared in Vol. 57. It was Keisuke.

NyanBazI remember I solved your work that time. I felt that there were many very difficult problems. There were many problems that were too difficult, that's why they weren't used.

cherryYes many. In those days I had power. I sent in 20 kinds puzzles 120 problems one time. That was the record.

NyanBazDid you continue making puzzles when you had your entrance examination?

cherryYes. I recall it now. I had a traffic accident during the time of the examination. And I was in hospital for one month. I wasn't worried about the study. I was worried that contributing to Nikoli would not be continued. I asked my mother to send in a manuscript I had left on my desk. I passed the college on recommendation, and I talked about puzzles at the interview. That may have worked it.

NyanBazIt's a rare thing that puzzles become useful for examinations. Did you make puzzles as a college student?

cherryI continued making puzzles all the time.

NyanBazAt college, there would be other interesting things too.

cherryWell, I was addicted to my PC. I have been interested in programming since I was in junior high school. I had wanted to do programming for a long time. I made a program for fill in missing numbers arithmetics first after having studied some simple programs. It served as a hobby and I even made a profit on it. (laughs)

NyanBazLet's talk about what it is in puzzles. What are your favorite puzzles, which puzzles don't you like?

cherryI like any puzzle with numbers. I'm weak in word puzzles such as a crosswords. I'm afraid that there are words that I don't know in them.

NyanBazI understand that really well. There is uneasiness in that, but it's attractive too. You make a lot Hashi and Hitori in Do you like those especially?

cherryNo not particularly. What I do love is all puzzles that can be solved by logic. So I'm weak in those which can't be solved by logic alone.

NyanBazWhen you make puzzles, are there things which you refuse to compromise about?

cherryI want to express my personality. In other words, I want to put a signature on my puzzles. A signature is a characteristic device which you see and so solve it, and understand that this is a problem made by -- here -- me. For example, making a Hashi with only the figure 4, that can be only me. When I look at other authors, I feel that komieda arranges the numbers for point symmetry in Heyawake, it's also a signature.

NyanBazDon't you run out of ideas?

cherryI arrange the layout so it doesn't come to that. Also with the same idea, it becomes new when I show it in another form. Anyone runs out of ideas when you can make only one problem with one idea. But if I change the method of presentation and combine some ideas, I can make hundreds of high quality problems. It's necessary to continue making puzzles. A friend in school said that he had made the ultimate problem and contributed it. It was published. He was satisfied and stopped contributing. That's good for him, but I want to continue contributing for the long term.

NyanBazWhy do you want to continue making puzzles?

cherryI don't want to seem to be a person of the past. I want to seem to be active. I want to attend meetings with puzzle authors and get motivated there.

NyanBazEnough of making puzzles, let's talk about solving. Are you solving many problems of other authors?

cherryActually, I don't solve much. I don't feel many differences between solving puzzles and making puzzles. If there is the time to solve, I have more fun making puzzles. But to get new impressions and be creative, I solve the work of others.

NyanBazWhat hobbies do you have other than puzzles?

cherryComputer programming. I'm happy if I can do just puzzles and programming.

NyanBazWhat is it that attracts you to programming?

cherryThere it doesn't matter how cumbersome it gets, it does like my instrutctions tell it. I'm making a program for 3D puzzles now, telling it to run and watching the CPU reach 100% utilization is neat.

NyanBazI feel sorry for your PC. (laughs) Don't you watch television or movies? Don't you listen to music?

cherryI almost don't watch anything. I may watch a politics forum or a documentary. I don't listen to music.

NyanBazDo you travel around?

cherryI don't. It doesn't seem too interesting. I don't know how to get a passport. (laughs)

NyanBazYou pretty much love just puzzles and programming. What are your dreams for the future?

cherryI want to continue with my present life.

NyanBazDo you want to keep doing just puzzles and programming?

cherryYes. I'm happy with my life as it is.

NyanBazWhat is your ideal puzzle?

cherryThis may be different from just an ideal, I often think that if I could make problems that completely control the action and thought of the person solving it it would be great. The person who solves sees a problem, deliberates and also finds new ways to go about it and is impressed by something and goes ahead in various ways. I want to control all that. I have had a vision of that for many years. But I don't know how I can realize it.

NyanBazIt is a bit like with programming isn't it. Do you want to become like God or like a god?

cherryI don't want to get that far. (laughs)

NyanBazThen the last question. For you, what is it making a puzzle?

cherryIt's to show evidence that I am alive. When I am not here any more, my puzzles are left. You don't have to know that I made a problem, but after I die, and somebody will solve my problem. I want that person to know that there was this guy who made such a problem here in this world. That's how I'd like it to be.

Interviewed Jun 2011 Published on Mar 13, 2012