Tuesday 28 February 2012

TVC X Recap

TVC X has finished. I finished 3rd and am now the only puzzler to reach the podium on both tests. Ranking-wise I'm doing the best out of everyone. But with each test having one puzzler who outsolved the rest by a mile, the normalised rankings puts me in third place.
I wasn't completely happy with my performance after finishing. I broke the Magnetic Tapa twice and the Toroidal Tapa once. I also had to guess my way through the end of the Tapa Guard, which didn't go all that smoothly. But that probably only cost me the 24 points in penalty I got in the extended time. I don't think I'd been able to get anything from the Tapa Distiller if I had been error-free. It took me 25 minutes afterwards to solve that puzzle and even though you get points per grid by the time you finish one grid you're almost done with the whole puzzle.

As for the puzzles, my favourites were the Anglers Tapas and the Shortest Segment Tapas. I'm not really sure why the Shortest Segment Tapas got such low ratings as I really enjoyed them. In my mind the Braille Tapa was highly overrated. I raced through that one. The Tapa Guard was underrated and i felt was the hardest single puzzle in the set. I obviously also found the Tapa Distiller challenging. That was partly as there seemed 3 places where you could possibly start solving and only one of them was any good to break it open in my mind. Of course I started with the 2 that didn't help much. The Magnetic Tapa was probably my least favourite, but that's just because the Magnetic aspect was a bit too little in my opinion.
I think my Combination, Shortest Segment and Braille Tapa were probably the most helpful for the test. For the Braille Tapa I think the most important thing you had to pick up is studying the letters before solving and seeing what the implications of colouring squares and leaving squares blank meant. I was expecting the Anglers Tapa to have the little loops as well, which is why I put it in my puzzle.

There always seem to be puzzle types returning to the next set. My choices would be Magnetic Tapa and Toroidal Tapa. The Magnetic Tapa I choose because I think I've shown with my second and third puzzle it has a lot more to offer than the puzzle that was in the test. So I think it deserves another showing. The Toroidal Tapa is just because I'm a fan of Toroidal puzzles and it uses the most Tapa thinking. Even though I liked the Anglers puzzle I don't need to see it back as I think the puzzle will probably be very similar as the ones in this test.

Finally I'm posting my Shortest Segment reject. This puzzle didn't match the rules that appeared in the test.

Rules for Tapa

Shortest Segment Tapa

Use regular Tapa rules. Additionally the numbers on the outside indicate the shortest segment of connected squares in that row or column. At least one segment of that length will appear in that row or column, but no segments shorter than the given number.

Click to enlarge

Friday 24 February 2012

TVC X Practise Part 3

TVC X starts tomorrow. There's been an errata file posted with some clarifications on the rules which should be handy to read before the start. Especially for the Shortest Segment Tapa, it is very important. But if you have done my practise puzzles, you should be clarified on those rules as my puzzle matches the rule. Also the points table has been announced on the forum.
There was a sudden surge of visits to my practise puzzles this morning. That's because my practise puzzles are now featured on the TVC X main page, which is greatly appreciated.

I put out the option for requests for more practise puzzles.The request was for Magnetic Tapa and Combination Tapa, which are posted below.
The Combination Tapa worked out okay. I still think it can all work out a bit cleaner, but it's still not totally a Tapa to me. You don't do much solving Tapa wise as the wall construct is also used in genres like LITS and Nurikabe.
I'm again very happy with the Magnetic Tapa. I had mentioned before how I thought the Magnetic Tapa would probably be in between the first 2 puzzles I posted and this is what I had in mind. There's Tapa clues in the grid, but the puzzles isn't close to being unique by only using the Tapa clues.

Puzzles can be found below.

Thursday 23 February 2012

TVC X Practise Part 2

Here is the second part of the TVC X practise. I think the puzzles worked out well. If there's any variants you'd like to see one more of, I can try to give it a go. I am excluding the Tapa Distiller from this request as it's a bit too much trouble to make. I'd love to know what you think of the puzzles as that will help me in preparing these sets.

The Shortest Segment Tapa worked out well. I made another one, but that doesn't match the rules that will be used in the actual test. I will post that puzzle with the TVC recap after the test.
There are two Magnetic Tapa puzzles. One is a puzzle that matches the instruction booklet. I don't find it very interesting this way as the Magnets influence is very little here. The numbers outside are more needed to get the magnets unique and not the Tapa unique. This means they are mostly inconsequential for the answer key. The second one is a puzzle that uses the magnet clues to shape the Tapa. I really like this puzzle. It's a challenging one. It could be that the actual test puzzles will fall in between these two puzzles. At least you'll have gotten practise in both ways.
The Tapa Distiller is 7x7 because 10x10 seemed a bit overkill. I find these puzzles always tricky as you have to be careful with your deductions. Accidentally eliminate a clue from a correct grid and you'll have no clue where you went wrong. The reasoning to assign clues to grids isn't too hard for this one.
Anglers Tapa is a genre that isn't too bad but I think can improve a bit. I think all anglers being of unknown length might be better or possibly the anglers being in the grid hidden as Tapa clues (so a 15 could be a length 15 angler or a 1-5 Tapa clue). This one I made according to the example. I think it turned out nicely and uses the Tapa more for the opening than the Anglers bit.
Tapa Difference is an okay puzzle. I think it runs nicely. It's not my favourite as many of the clues are known at the start and the Difference bit adds very little to them.

You can find the puzzle below

Tuesday 21 February 2012

TVC X Practise Part 1

I will do these practise puzzles in two days. Some of the types don't come as easy as others. I try to put in something that will help learn a bit about a variant, so that it will actually be helpful.

Total False Tapa is still a tricky genre. I think the logic path is better than my previous one.
Tapa Guard is more like the puzzle in the test I hope this time. Last time I was happy with the result, but not completely applicable to the test.
Tapa and Pata is the same puzzle as my Double Trouble #4. I might make a new one, but I find the gimmick very hard to acchieve. Both puzzles are somewhat challenging.
Toroidal Tapa is the puzzle I'm happiest about in the set. The edge 2x2 squares are the hardest to keep track of when solving.
Braille Tapa is not my favourite variant. Somewhat interesting to disallow certain shapes, but it can sometimes be a bit limiting in design.
Combination Tapa doens't always feel like you are doing a Tapa. I'm happy with how I managed to get the grey cells to work out.

You can find the puzzles below.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Puzzle #99: Liar Loop

This month the new issue of Akil Oyunlari has been published, which includes four LITS and four Liar Loop puzzles by my hand. I made more than 4 Liar Loop puzzles  for the magazine, so there was more to choose from for finding the right difficulty.
The puzzle doesn't have all pentomino cages as my previous one. It actually has all hexomino cages and one tetromino cage in the centre. It was a play on one of my smaller puzzles for the magazine, where I used all 12 pentomino shapes and a single tetromino shape in the centre. I think it worked out well.

Rules for Liar Loop

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Puzzle #98: LITS; Cube

I know I'm a day late. Yesterday was Valentine's Day. This puzzle I made for my girlfriend, who luckily thinks me being able to make puzzles is awesome. So every year I make a special puzzle for Valentine's day.  This year I made a LITS puzzle on cube. I build the cube out of cardboard as you can see in the picture.
The puzzle for you is an unconstructed cube, which you can fold. The red lines are to fold, but otherwise mean nothing special.

Rules for LITS

This puzzle is on a cube, running over all 6 sides. Normal rules of LITS apply. No corner of the cube can be fully coloured. The pink areas are only for aestetics.

[Edit 19/02/12: Fixed small uniqueness issue in left face]

Click to enlarge

Rules: LITS

This genre was developed by Nikoli.

Colour a shape of 4 orthogonally connected squares in each black bordered region so that all coloured squares form a single contiguous area. This area can't contain any 2x2 coloured squares. Two identical shapes in different regions can't touch eachother by a side. Rotations and reflections are considered the same shape.

Monday 13 February 2012

TVC IX Recap

So, I finished second, which is my first podium finish on an LMI-test. I think making all these puzzles helped me in doing well. The most use I got from preparing the No Squares and Total False Tapa. I picked up some number patterns that also came back directly in the puzzles. The Tapa line helped see how the path creeps through certain holes. The least useful was probably making the Digital Tapa and Battle Tapa. The Digital Tapa in the test was a bit gimmicky, which I'm never much a fan of for tests. The Battle Tapa was designed around the fleet, whereas I designed the fleet around the Tapa.
I hope others found them useful as well. If people want me to make a set for the following TVC's, I'll give it a go for those too. I just hope the instruction booklet is out a little bit earlier. One or two extra construction days would be helpful.

Sunday 12 February 2012

Puzzle #97: Shakashaka

With all the Tapas posted this week, I figured a nice easy puzzle would be a good break. This puzzle is just a silly little puzzle. I was wondering if it was possible to create a Shakashaka puzzle without any clue numbers. This was the result. Nothing difficult of course, just creative use of black squares. Enjoy.

Rules for Shakashaka

Friday 10 February 2012

TVC IX Practise Addendum

This addendum is being posted because of 2 reasons. One is to also post a Digital Tapa puzzle. Secondly because of a correction for the Tapa Guard puzzle. I jumped the gun on that variant and assumed that undivided cells could also contain multi-digit clues. Serkan rectified that this wouldn't be the case. I think it's more interesting for the genre to not have any divided clues, but maybe that's just my opinion. I think it would be nice to come back that way in another TVC.

The Digital Tapa puzzle isn't the most interesting, but it turned out okay. Last night's draft turned out non-unique as I had forgotten that 0 could be presented as a single digit clue. Some of the digits don't actually need a segment given, but I didn't want to do something that might not happen in the test. The layout is a bit dodgy with me doing it in paint.
Tapa Guard is now presented the way it would in the test. It makes the puzzle a bit easier, Especially the 1-5 clue, which I was really happy about working out.

Rules for Tapa

Digital Tapa

Follow regular Tapa rules. Each Tapa clue is represented in digital form, as shown below. However, some segments may be missing from the original numbers. There cannot be a 0 in a multidigit clue.

Click to enlarge

Tapa Guard

Tapa clues have 2 functions:
1 - They function as normal Tapa clues.
2 - They indicate how many coloured cells can be seen in the corresponding directions. A digit in an undivided cell, may observe in any of the four directions.

Thursday 9 February 2012

TVC IX Practise

This weekend is the start of the Tapa Variations Contest 2012. It will consist of four tests in four weekends over February and March. The first test of this year is TVC IX. It will consist of 10 different Tapa variations. I've made samples of a few of the variations. I think these will make better practise than my Shapes and Sizes practise puzzle. For examples, check the instruction booklet.

My favourites in this set are the Tapa Guard and Tapa Shape puzzle. For the Tapa Guard for the fact there's no divided cells. For Tapa Shape for having a double of all shapes and using few smaller shapes.
The hardest to construct was the Total False Tapa. I was hoping to make all clues to be valid Tapa clues, but I failed for one clue.
Tapa Restoration is nothing special, but I'm not too much a fan of this variant.
Tapa Line is probably the easiest, with maybe one sticking point halfway through the puzzle. Both no 2x2 square and no more than 3 cells in a row leads to a lot of constrictions on the loop.
Battle Tapa I enjoyed constructing. I looked up to it at first. I was a bit disappointed how little information you got form the type of fleet though.
No Squares Tapa uses some interesting number combinations for this variant.
The Equal Tapa puzzle worked out very nicely. I didn't like the idea at first, but I do like my puzzle very much.
Tapa Trimino has its tricky points, but still an enjoyable puzzle.
I'm still working on a Digital Tapa puzzle. It might be ready later tonight. It's a struggling process. I didn't have that much time to work on these. I already delayed posting an hour.

You can find the puzzles below.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Puzzle #96: Pentopia

I still like this genre, especially the clue type. I've been trying to incorporate it in other genres, but so far nothing popped out that seemed to work well. Maybe I can just make it work well with pentominos (Pentopia) and loops (Myopia) as those are the two logic puzzle constructs I enjoy most.

Rules for Pentopia

Saturday 4 February 2012

Puzzle #95: Ripple Effect

I still find Ripple Effect one of the most fun puzzle types to construct. I don't actually get to solve very many though. I am not able to find many online. Most of what you find online is computermade. They just seem to use a backtrack algorithm, where you get a valid solution and remove as many digits as you can while it stays unique. That just leads to a chaotic image of givens, which I don't find very appealing for these kinds of puzzles. My goal is always to have no givens or place the givens at the start and design the puzzle around it.

Rules for Ripple Effect

Thursday 2 February 2012

Puzzle #94: Yajilin

So today a puzzle to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the marriage between Dutch prince Willem-Alexander and princess Maxima. I'm not especially a fanatic of the Royal family, but it's still a special day here in the Netherlands.
It didn't take too much time to decide on a genre. I wanted to incorporate the dates 2-2-(20)02, 2-2-(20)12 and the number 10. As those only use the digits 0,1 and 2 I figured Yajilin would be the easiest choice. It did take a while to get a good puzzle. The fixed order and position of clues made it a lot harder to design the puzzle.

Rules for Yajilin