Pentominous: Intuit, Nix, Fix

I just had my third puzzle published at GM Puzzles. Take a look.

This puzzle is a Pentominous puzzle, a really fun style which I believe was invented by Grant Fikes, a prolific puzzle contributor to GM Puzzles. To solve the puzzle, you simply need to divide the 10x10 grid into 20 pentominoes such that each of the given letters in the grid is contained by a pentomino of that shape, and that no two pentominoes of the same shape are touching.

My puzzle today is a Monday-level difficulty, meaning it's not too tough. And I think this puzzle in particular is a great introduction to Pentominous. When I first started constructing logic puzzles, I had a hard time making good and fun puzzles at an introductory level. Part of the problem is that any puzzle I make is usually harder than I expect it will be, (I think that's common for many beginning puzzle designers), so I'd often force harder deductions in the puzzle thinking that that was a requirement to make the puzzle interesting.

But this puzzle is probably the first time I made what I think it a really successful introductory puzzle. I've given this puzzle to a lot of people and people end up really liking the way the puzzle just sort of walks you through a series of forced pentomino placements. I've often heard feedback along the lines of, "Well, I still say that I can't do puzzles like this, but that one was actually a lot of fun," and that's really rewarding to hear.

So take a look if you're interested and let me know how it goes for you.

Oh, and I should comment on the words I ended up including in the puzzle's presentation. First, it's really tempting to include words in Pentominous puzzles. Second, it's really hard to pull them off. As a case in point here is an example puzzle by Tapio Saarinen where he started with 4 English words, but by the time he was done, only one remained as an actual word.

For today's puzzle, I set myself up for a bigger challenge, because I wanted to get a meaningful phrase, (but I only have the letters FILNPTUVWXYZ to work with---quite limited). The phrase I chose, "Intuit, Nix, Fix" is specifically the strategy I don't recommend using to solve puzzles. That is, you can just make a guess (intuit), then work with the puzzle for a while until you encounter a contradiction, then cancel your guess and try again (nix, fix). I suppose "guess and check" would have been an easier way to say that, but you can't spell that with the twelve Pentomino letters.

Anyway, a lot of people have been trained to use guess-and-check as a strategy because they've been solving puzzles generated randomly by computer programs, and many of these puzzles don't afford any other strategy. A huge benefit of solving good, hand-made puzzles like those published at is that you don't need that strategy. Instead, there's a nice logical path from start to finish. So resist the temptation to guess, and go give this puzzle a try.

Happy puzzling!