Author interviews Vol.29 POTS

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Talking to POTS

Here is the corner that asks questions from and talks to puzzle authors. Our guest this time is POTS. He is a 33 year old bachelor. His physique is good. He is a veteran puzzle author and has made a lot of unique problems. Especially a lot of Numberlink. He contributes many Numberlink puzzles to nikoli.com. The interviewer is NyanBaz, and another staff member, Nob, also participated.

NyanBazYou look busy. What kind of job are you doing?

POTSI'm doing sales in a leisure company. April is especially busy, and in April this year, I was able to be off only three days. Now in June I am also busy.

NyanBazEven with all your busyness, thank you for taking the time today. Please let us hear about you and Nikoli puzzle encounters.

POTSI bought Vol. 29 of Puzzle Communication Nikoli, that was the first. I was impressed with the alphametric puzzles. Especially, I liked the work of Kyoko Onishi. A word was expressed in numbers! I was surprised at how great it looked.

NyanBazThe first of your published work was a fill-in missing numbers arithmetic in Vol. 44. It was a unique problem where the product became 44444444.

NobIt was a prime factorization problem for 44444444.

POTSIt would not make it into print now. I liked off the wall problems from those days. And my first contribution was accepted. I got conceited. I want to say to the me at the time that I should create problems, but more orthodox ones. (laughs)

NyanBazYour first published Numberlink was in Nikoli Vol. 46. It was a problem where the numbers are arranged in point symmetry. It's very difficult to make a good problem with point symmetric placement.

POTSI was able to do it even when I just sort of intended to make it that way. I was not aware that the placement was point symmetrical. The line just appeared when I watched the blank paper. Concentration did it. I was convinced that this was good when I saw that line there. And that completed the problem .

NyanBazI don't understand a word of what you say. (laughs) Ordinary people don't see lines just appearing. Was it because you had made many problems before you contributed?

POTSThat could be it. Accumulation and experience is important.

NyanBazI have heard that you had made 300 problems by the time you contributed your first.

POTSThat's correct. But that includes the ones I just assembled in my head. I created it thinking about wanting it to be published. Placement in point symmetry was rare in those days, so that would be one reason why my first contribution was accepted.

NobSure, it was rare. I wonder if it was you who started the point symmetry arrangements for Numberlink?

POTSThere was one before me. That was in Puzzle The Giants Vol. 3. It was a problem with a beautiful symmetric arrangement. I solved that problem and it impressed me deeply. Without that problem, I wouldn't have made Numberlink puzzles. I am easily influenced by others. Just like the problem that was first published was influenced by Kyoko Onishi.

NyanBazWell, if you say so. But because you do make unique problems, I find that unexpected. I have an interview with you from 12 years ago. There you are saying that "The puzzle is art. The first impression is important." Do you still think that?

POTSIt's art but there is a utility component too. I became conscious of the solver recently.

NobYou said that taste (sense and feeling really) was important in solving -- then12 years ago.

POTSI have become more strongly conscious of the solver now. Professionalism maybe. I was an amateur then. I was doing thatever I came up with, for good or ill.

NobYou've developed.

POTSI changed after I started in my job. When you try to get something across to others, you should try to make sure it is well received. It should not be only an art, of course premised on not dropping quality. Then also you are presenting it to have it understood. I was thinking before that If my work is accepted, that's OK. Now, I would be paying attention to the reaction of solvers. Twelve years went by, my character and my work matured and became more rounded. My body too. (laughs)

NyanBazToo early for the punch lines. (laughs) Now let's talk about Sudoku.

NobYou like arranging the numbers to be found in some order like 1, 2, 3.

POTSI want people to understand that they are doing a problem I made, without looking at the author name. I am really an exhibitionist. I want to offer a puzzle as a total package. So you can enjoy it before solving it and also while solving it. Then I want you to be impressed after having solved it. It's same as with professional baseball. The pleasure before watching a game. The pleasure to watch the game. And the pleasure to buy some souvenir after the game. I think that not only the doing, the middle part, is important but also the before and after.

NyanBazOh, I get it.

POTSThen also, knowing that numbers arrange regularly with Sudoku, makes it easier to look for a number to put.

NyanBazWere you conscious of that from a beginning?

POTSI noticed it after I got better at it. I made much of the appearance at first. I was inspired by Shinozaki's problems. Like I said before, I am easily influenced by other persons.

NyanBazShinozaki is the master of Sudoku with neatly arranged numbers. Now that we are talking about other authors, who else do you pay attention to?

POTSI pay special attention to nyoroppyi for Numberlink. He makes the most unlikely problems. Other than Numberlink, it's Guten. He makes problems that I think seem impossible and I want to make such problems myself. He has the power to do things that are ideal. I saw a great Guten Slitherlink problem recently. He is tremendously creative.

NyanBazAnybody else?

POTSOLAKE, Yuichi Saito, and MINE. Because their careers started near mine, and they have stimulated me. And Casty. His work is splendid generally. I respect authors who do things I myself cannot seem to do.

NobHow about when you start out making an old-fashioned problem, do you then like slide into something new?

POTSThat's how it happens. I'm a genius in a negative way. I sometimes make small problems in 2 minutes, and then sometimes I spend a whole day and can't make even a small little problem.

NobIt could be you think about asserting yourself. Then you can't make problems if you don't see any of yourself in it.

POTSSure. It starts with self-assertion. I think my work is my brand. I don't permit myself just going with the flow. I frequently throw out problems if it is not clear it is mine.

NobThat hasn't changed any has it, since way back?

NyanBazDo you solve the problems of other authors?

POTSI solve all the problems of the mobile site. I'm weak at crossword puzzles, but I do my best. I'm solving all Numberlink problems of nikoli.com.

NyanBazYou are a heavy user of your mobile. When you type emails, is it faster on your mobile than with a PC?

POTSYes. I often submit new puzzles from my mobile. I don't have a PC at home yet. Sudoku and Kakuro are better suited for a mobile phone than for a PC. There you can do the inputting of the numbers real easy.

NyanBazDo you think of mobile phone users when you make problems?

POTSYes yes. I choose the numbers so you need the minimum movement of the fingers with Sudoku. I design my puzzles so you can input the same numbers in succession, as far as possible .

NyanBazHuh? You consider even that. Cool. Let's talk about something other than puzzles. What do you do on a holiday?

POTSI teach karate. One of my friends has a karate training hall. I volunteer to help him.

NobAren't you fourth rank in Kyokushin Karate?

POTSNo, third!

NyanBazYou seem built just right for it. I heard of your famous episode. You sparred with Andy Hug the martial artist.

POTSYes, for 2 minutes. He got a kick in. I don't recall it as painful. Not painful but hot like anything you' know.

NyanBazYou have overpowered an attacker in the street.

POTSI was attacked in Shinjuku, by a man with a knife. Nothing much else I could do, I took him to the police.

NobI can't quite believe anybody would attack you. I think you look scary.

POTS Deep down in my heart I'm a shy little girl. (laughs)

NobYou are an expert on sweets.

POTSSweets and ramen. I worked for an outfit where I had to know all about that, I have reviewed ramen books.

NobYou have said that there are days you have 8 bowls of ramen.

POTSThere was such a time. Now I am 3 bowls at most.

NyanBazThat's still a lot. (laughs) Anything that you want to tell the people solving your puzzles?

POTSJust solve them as you feel like it. I may put a wrinkle in a problem. But, really, only those noticing that need to see it. I am happy if you have felt something with my work. With puzzles it is a world of logic, but there is feeling too, I would like to take care of that bit of sensibility.

NyanBazThank you for today. Please get on and make problems to show your personality from now on.


Interviewed Jun 2010 Published on Nov 28, 2011