Think chess, sudoku, Rubik’s Cube and other games are just too easy? If so, Murali’s (Chess, 2011) compendium of arcane new variants will keep you guessing.
Murali, a software engineer, compiles a blizzard of board games and puzzles—some invented by others and some of his own device. The competitive games, most designed for a standard checkerboard, include “parity chess,” a variation of regular chess in which each player simultaneously moves during each turn and two pieces can occupy the same square; a hybrid of chess and Scrabble; and “concept chess,” in which players must both occupy squares bearing related ideas—a surefire party favorite. The author’s selection of puzzles, however, is much larger. It includes two-dimensional versions of a Rubik’s Cube, although Murali warns that “it would be better to implement these variants in software for ease of solving.” There are dozens of inventive, rather involved types of sudoku using prime numbers, words, shapes, dot patterns or chemical formulas, as well as a three-dimensional version. He also includes twisty logic puzzles about compulsive liars and truth-tellers, and amusing matchstick puzzles that morph into mathematical equations and geometrical patterns through delightfully creative maneuvers. Murali’s instructions are, for the most part, lucid and explicit, and he illustrates them with engaging sample puzzles (although at least one logic puzzle appears to contain an error). The book is reminiscent of the late Martin Gardner’s “Mathematical Games” column in Scientific American, but it’s pitched more at unabashed eggheads than casual puzzle-workers. Indeed, many of the puzzles are unconventional and require some hard thinking to get one’s head around them. However, because there’s usually just one sample of each puzzle, readers will have to make their own if they want to keep playing. Still, those who put in the effort will be rewarded with an entertaining workout of the wits.
A grab bag of fun brainteasers that most readers won’t have seen before.