Friday 24 August 2012

Friday Puzzles #171

Tom Collyer tries to improve Slalom #1.  Two easyish puzzles, but I think the innovation of shrinking down the posts, thus having more space for the loop to take up as much area as possible in an effort to combat some uniqueness strategies, is a good one.  I'm not sure how elegant it all looks, but perhaps that's more to do with my placing of the gates.  Let me know what you think - and enjoy!
    #205 Slalom – rated medium

    #206 Slalom – rated easy
All puzzles © Tom Collyer 2009-12.


  1. This is similar to what I did( to reduce the vulnerability to uniqueness.To a very large extent,your puzzle does eliminate the possibility of using uniqueness tricks,except in the bottom row perhaps.I liked how applying uniqueness in R7C2 would fail.

  2. You might want to look at the bottom puzzle as it doesnt seem correct to me.

  3. The bottom puzzle is fine IMO. Solved quite easily. The first one is pretty interesting. It does indeed give way for more simple-loop logic which mixes well with the sequential rule of Slalom.

  4. Yes,i didnt even solve it after i miscounted the gates. I thought there were nine gates. The top one has a lot of gate counting logic , for which reason, i like it.

  5. So the 2nd puzzle was meant to be a little more reminiscent of tradition Slalom puzzles, with lots of shaded squares. But you can see that if you were using traditional gates that it'd have been a lot harder to get a reasonably worthwhile puzzle out.

    As it is, the higher concentration of shaded squares that a puzzle has, the more it will constrain the path of any potential path, and the more uniqueness issues will come into play. Perhaps the advantages of this are demonstrated in the first - I don't think you'd have ever seen a reasonable Slalom puzzle of that size together with 19 gates before. I think this is the crux of the matter. The higher concentration of gates gives you more guaranteed loop segments to join up, rather than meta-gaming the puzzle by considering the consequences of a potential segment to a unique solution. And that's the main point of the puzzle: joining up some loop fragments in the right order!

  6. True.13 is the most gates i could squeeze into a what you call as "reasonable"(i interpret that as non-trivial and not very easy) puzzle with the traditional style layout,which is close but not too close.Nice puzzle,it had just one place where uniqueness could be exploited.

  7. I like your twist on the presentation, it fits better with "slalom". In general I think the circled number should be removed if possible.

  8. The whole puzzle usually is built around that circle.I find it very useful everytime i construct slalom.

  9. Hmmm. I think I'd disagree with Anurag there. I haven't made many slalom puzzles but my approach has generally been to throw together a few interesting gate placements, thinking about how to get them interacting in an interesting way. The circled number is the generally the last thing I put into the puzzle.

    That said I think it has a purpose. Although obvious the solver is free to count the gates, I think that's a little arduous and boring, akin to adding up too many cages in killer sudoku, for instance, and its a problem that only gets worse the bigger (and hence generally more interesting) your grid gets. From that point of view it's nice to have the information, although you could just as easily place that number out of the grid.

    It certainly provides a curiosity in that it allows you one element of breathing space re uniqueness issues... the issue of wondering whether a piece of loop can go in a particular part of the grid is removed - you have to go through it, sort of like a more flexible type of gate. I wonder if originally it was a way of fixing up a puzzle that was nearly unique, but fixing it with shaded squares would have taken some of the subtlety away from the puzzle.

    Anyhow, I can definitely say that I don't dislike the gimmick - plenty of other puzzles have start and end points which are either defined or else you have to deduce. As I've said, it's often the last thing to go into my puzzles so I'm not sure having it in or out will make or break a puzzle, up to the individual taste of a given solver...

  10. It does show up near the endgame for uniqueness, but in many of my constructions,i have used it right in the beginning to shape up the sequence of gates.the circle does it quite elegantly,and that is why i like it.


Contact Form


Email *

Message *