Feb 10, 2011

King of Shikaku

I subscribe to GAMES Magazine, edited by Will Shortz. It's a fantastic magazine featuring all those pencil-and-paper puzzles, like cryptic crosswords and logic puzzles and whatnot. There's one thing in there called Paint-By-Numbers, which are like giant grids that you have to color in according to certain rules in order to reveal a picture.

Like so.
So when on Facebook one day, I discovered that a friend of mine was playing on some application called Nonograms. I inspected a little and discovered that this Nonograms thing was actually Paint-By-Numbers, except that its pictures weren't pretty. I at first thought this was a little silly. Then I realized that there was a score counter. I had to be the best at this. There were no other options.

Unfortunately for my productivity, Nonograms wasn't alone, I soon discovered - the same developer had created about eight applications total. Sudoku, Lightup, Nurikabe, Slitherlink - there were a whole bunch of neat little puzzles. Each application had only a few hundred users - they were still really small and new. But I'll be damned if they weren't all the most fun things in the world.

This one nifty puzzle called Shikaku was particularly fun for me. I won't bore you with the rules, but if you're interested in playing, you can just click here. Sure enough, my hours, days, weeks of hard work paid off: I was officially the best Shikaku player.

Yes, I was the best. #1. The head honcho. The king. It was I who first broke a million points, who first solved the largest size puzzle twenty times consecutively. I was unmatched. All knelt before. For a while.

As it turned out, there was one gentleman by the name of Karel Essers from Overpelt, Belgium who was better than I was. He ultimately gained far more points than I had - I was left in the dust. Unacceptable. We went back and forth for a little while, but he eventually emerged as the victor. In a huff, I stormed off to play other puzzles - only to find that in Dominosa, the least-played of all the puzzle applications, he was #1. He held the #1 position in the majority of these games.

Karel Essers was officially my rival.

I had to tell Mr. Essers of our enmity, just in case he wasn't aware of my mental turmoil. I sent him a Facebook message:

Dear Mr. Essers -

You may have seen my name before, or more likely, my profile picture. I am the gentleman with whom you have been "sparring," so to speak, over the position of the King of Shikaku. I was quick to ascend to this position, as the first player to achieve a million points; Mr. Er Bollo de Hueva of Spain was quick to surpass me, and I soon dropped to third. There has since been much turmoil; however, you quickly emerged as the de facto ruler. I would like to inform you that your current lead of 1,428,022 points cannot be assumed to be permanent; we are still foes and I am still fighting. You are my rival to the bitter end. From Shikaku to Dominosa, I shall fight valiantly to earn your respect and to usurp your position on the throne.

-G. Edelston.

A day later, he responded:

Hi Mr. Edelston 
It's clear that you are not only a good writer, but also good in logic games. I must apologize for my inadequate knowledge of English. Using a translater gets me quite far though ;-). I'm pleased to have an opponent to compete for the first place in both Shikaku and Dominosa. I started right away with giving you an extra challenge in Shikaku, making the gap between us bigger. In Dominosa, I never tried anything else but the smallest size, but I'm willing to trie the bigger sizes as soon as you pass me ;-).
I wish you the best of luck and I hope that the new year gives you many inspiration. 
Kind regards,  
K. Essers 
That jerk. I didn't wind up responding to him again, and he still holds the lead, but he still to this day holds a special place in my heart: a place of hatred and rancor unmatched by any other. Someday, you shall succumb to my superiority, Karel Essers.


  1. You're welcome Greg. Also, have you been playing bridges? I've been playing it a lot. the only thing is... I keep playing on the game site, not facebook. Oops.

  2. hahahha. I'm sure one day you will surpass Karel Essers.

  3. WHAT.
    If I got a response like that I would automatically melt and fly over to wherever he was and give him a huge hug. THAT'S SO CUTE.

  4. This is my favorite post you have written.