Weblog > Prepare for Futoshiki Puzzle Fever
Last Saturday there was an article in an English newspaper called The Guardian.
It is about a new Japanese puzzle called Futoshiki which can be linked to Sudoku Puzzles. I looked at their website but could not find any puzzle called Futoshiki, so probably it will only be in the paper version of The Gardian.
Feel free to e-mail a Futoshiki puzzle or related information to Passion for Puzzles, at this moment I cannot find information about futoshiki puzzles via search engines, flickr etc..
For those how are interested please read the complete article.
If you were seduced by Sudoku, prepare for Futoshiki fever:
Fiendish new Japanese game, exclusive to the Guardian, begins today.It has furrowed the brows of millions, colonised the pages of every major newspaper in Britain, and even given an entirely unnecessary fillip to the career of television brainbox Carol Vorderman. But Sudoku, the fiendish number puzzle, had better watch out: there’s a new grid on the block.
Today, exclusively in the Guardian, the latest fingernail-gnawer finally reaches Britain. Futoshiki may look straightforward, but the experienced puzzler knows not to be fooled by appearances – that way a misplaced number 4 lies. In Japan, the game is almost as popular as Sudoku; now, for the first time, puzzle fanatics elsewhere in the world can see what the fuss about.
Like Sudoku, the game’s enormous popularity in Japan can be explained by its deceptive simplicity. Futoshiki (the name literally means “not equal”) is based on a simple grid into which, like the more famous puzzle, numbers are inserted according to a few simple rules. The numbers one to five must be placed in each row and each column, without any repeats; “greater than” or “less than” signs – literally, “not equal” to – between boxes are the only tips to guide you. Sounds easy? Don’t be too sure. Today’s puzzle may be simple to get you started; over the coming weeks we will be running increasingly testing teasers.
The person to thank – or curse – for this latest brain-scrambler is Tamaki Seto, the Japanese editor of the specialist puzzle publisher Kandour. She makes regular trips to her homeland to sniff out which problems are testing the capacities of her compatriots.
Futoshiki first emerged in Japan around five years ago, one of a succession of logic problems that continue to be developed in an attempt to match the astonishing success of Sudoku.
“There are a few basic conditions which make a puzzle successful,” Ms Seto says. “The main one is that it should be very simple; the rules should be able to be understood by everybody.”
Kaspa Hazlewood, Kandour’s managing director, says: “I think futoshiki has some of the same charm as Sudoku. Although it’s not exactly the same, like Sudoku it’s not a particularly difficult puzzle to get to grips with and have fun with immediately.”
“In Japan, we have lots of good puzzles, popular puzzles,” says Ms Seto. “But not like [the UK]. We Japanese people are not crazy like the British. It’s popular, but not extreme like here.”
While every major newspaper in Britain now carries Sudoku puzzles, most use the cheaper versions spewed out by computers. Only the Guardian commissions every puzzle it publishes from experts, who devise each teaser by hand using only their fiendish ingenuity. Every futoshiki published in the Guardian, needless to say, will be hand-crafted rather than computer-generated. Habitual puzzlers appreciate the subtle and individual, even witty, qualities that cannot be matched by a computer.
“Handmade puzzles have been thought through logically by the human brain, so it is often possible to see patterns emerge,” says Tony Bashford, syndication manager for Puzzler Media, which publishes books of (hand-crafted) Sudoku.
“People begin to see the logical processes that the setter has used. Some of them say they feel an affinity with the actual compiler. They are much more aesthetically pleasing.”
So that’s that then. Our Japanese futoshiki masters have sweated and toiled in their Tokyo garrets for your puzzle enjoyment. It would be rude not to give it a go. Remember, all Japanese puzzles are “not equal”.
HOW TO PLAY
Like Sudoku, futoshiki is a logic puzzle; it doesn’t require any mathematical skill. To play, insert the numbers one to five in each row and each column, taking care that no number is repeated in a particular row. The only symbols to guide you are the signs for “greater than” and “less than”. Four numbers have been completed at the center of the grid.
A tip to get you started: look for chains of boxes linked by greater than signs. Remember that no number can appear more than once in the same row or column.
Buy Futoshiki Puzzle Books from Amazon.com. Happy Puzzling!