Author interviews Vol.23

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Talking to is a 30-something bachelor. His day job is a computer programmer.

He is great at solving puzzles quickly. He is active in many competitions.

NyanBazWhen did you first get involved with puzzles?

gori.shAs far as I remembeer, it was in the elementary school lower grades. My father likes puzzles. He bought a book of puzzles and solved it all during a long holiday. I solved the puzzles with him, those were my first puzzles. After a while he began to buy two of each book, one for me and one for himself.

NyanBazWhat kind of puzzle book was it?

gori.shIt was mainly word puzzles such as crossword or skeleton. Then, puzzles with numbers were not so common.

NyanBazWas that also how you got to know Nikoli?

gori.shSure. It was my father who bought Nikoli. That was in the winter vacation of 1990 when I was a junior high school student. I got absorbed immediately. It was so different from the magazines that I had known till then. I started contributing puzzles right away. In May of the next year, my Numberlink was accepted. It was in Puzzle Communication Nikoli Vol. 34.

NyanBazWhat was it that made you begin contributing?

gori.shI had finished one magazine and I couldn't wait until the next. I felt that a reader should participate positively when I saw the Omoro puzzles (It's the pages for everyone to think about pencil puzzles with new rules. It's abbreviated as "Omopa". ) . That made me think that I could participate. When I tried to make puzzles, I actually managed to complete them. I had always contributed computer programs to a PC magazine. Therefore I had no hesitation or resistance to contribute puzzles.

NyanBazHmm, simple as that! Your first printed puzzle was Numberlink, do you like Numberlink.

gori.shQuite. The puzzle that first became my favorite was Numberlink. I liked it because it is not necessary to think logically. But just after that I came to like Slitherlink which is solved by logic. Just now I like Slitherlink best.

NyanBazI want to ask you some questions about now. How many puzzles do you make?

gori.shI don't contribute a lot really.

NyanBazDo you spend lots of time to create a puzzle?

gori.shThat happens too, but I reject a lot by myself even if they are completed. As a result, I end up contributing only a few.

NyanBazYou are making a lot of Sudoku recently. What is the reason for that?

gori.shBecause it doesn't take a lot of time to check them. I wrote a checking program for Sudoku for the computer. Another big reason was that Sudoku Communication (The magazine which has mainly Sudoku in it.) was launched.

NyanBazReally. Because more Sudoku puzzles could be published. Your Sudoku has a lot of starting numbers. Is that on purpose?

gori.shI can't get that number down. I don't know how to. (laughs) I think that I don't want to break the development in the early stages when I make them. Therefore my problems may come to have many numbers. I want all solvers to be able to solve my problem like I myself thought they should be solved. If it goes another way, I'd have to reveal a number. Then also, I'm careful to balance the appearance. As for myself, I don't like problems where one line is decided early. I adjust it so that the whole advances little by little.

NyanBazWell, there are some who have exactly the opposite approach. Personal preferences are just that. We are looking for variety in the types of puzzles. Either approach is fine, everybody can relax and get on. Then, you are known as an expert in quick solving. When did you discover you were really fast?

gori.shThat was when I won the quick solving championship at a meeting for Puzzle Communication Nikoli readers. I didn't think that I was so fast till then. I still don't really wish to solve puzzles fast. I'd rather solve a lot. I have solved a lot. The result is that I have come to solve fast.

NyanBazReally? You are just so fast. I'm amazed to hear that you are not really aware of that. Are you training to solve fast?

gori.shNo, I don't do anything special. It is just this, I like to solve puzzles. I'm doing well at computer game time attacks too. I'm crazy about time attack with Minesweeper. I have solved the expert Minesweeper bundled with Windows in 48 seconds. Perhaps it's the third place Japanese record.

NyanBazThe third place! You're perfectly marvelous. I have seen you solve puzzles on a PC. You miss a lot. But you quickly fix the mistakes and you are still fast. It's amazing to me.

gori.shThe mistakes are not logical mistakes. The mistakes are in operating the keys mostly, for example, clicking errors, drag mistakes. I'm thinking to do the next move this way, but my finger isn't working at the speed my head is thinking. (laughs) So, I can fix the mistake immediately. When I solve puzzles on a PC, I care about tools. The mouse is important among all the other things. I have bought 3 of the same mouse that I liked. Because it looked like they were stopping to produce it. They are all broken now.

NyanBazYou are particular. Is there a secret to solve fast?

gori.shIf one is sure of a move, then to know what is next, there's lot of remembering how things hang together. For example in Akari, when there is light in one of two cells. If this cell has a light and it illuminates other cells from the light in another cell. Remember things like this in 10 or 20 places. If somewhere is clear, I fill that place like I remember it. And with Sudoku, when there are eight numbers in, I think up the remaining one really quick. This ability is important. But it is useful only with Sudoku. (laughs) Then also, I'm not afraid of mistakes.

NyanBazHmmm. Is that really instructive? You have many other hobbies. Trying out standing-only noodle shops, walking to see the sights of Tokyo, and there is more.

gori.shYes. Puzzles, gourmandizing, walking are my main hobbies. I like walking around in unknown towns. I like ordinary town roads better than mountain trails or well known promenades. I've been walking around like that since my high school days. At first it was just in my own neighborhood, then the range gradually widened. I ate at standing-only noodle joints on my walks. I didn't like it particularly but I was poor and anything expensive was out. I would eat anything delicious and cheap. (laughs)

NyanBazSure, but really. You even have a WEB site where you have published a record of your standing-only noodle shop experiences.

gori.shI happened on a standing-only noodle shop which I found by chance in Sasazuka in Tokyo in my sophomore year of high school. There I had noodles for 400 yen and it was just too delicious, I couldn't get over it. (laughs) From then I really got into standing-only noodles.

NyanBazHow many standing-only noodle shops have you been to so far?

gori.shAbout 1140 shops. I'll be at the limit in Tokyo really soon. So far as I know, there are only about 20 more in Tokyo.

NyanBazBack to puzzles. What is a puzzle to you?

gori.shI thought you would be asking this question. And I tried to think up an answer beforehand, but I really don't have an answer. I can say that it is the best of my hobbies. Walking is second, third is the gourmet thing. When I get paid for something and it is a pleasure to do, that is fine. With my ability, I can't live only from puzzles. I am happy if I it helps with the drinking money. (laughs)

NyanBazNow the last question, anything that you want to tell people solving your puzzles?

gori.shI have thought up an answer to this question! Someone who solves puzzles fast also enjoys the problem. I'm often misunderstood. I'm also enjoying puzzles. You can solve it fast or slow just like you wish. The important thing is that you can solve happily.

Interviewed Mar 2009 Published on Mar 16, 2011