Hi guzzlers

Last column we played the Nikoli Derby, a Japanese game in which I asked you to submit the lowest number nobody else submits. The winner was 69. Honestly! It was such fun that we’re going play another round today, below. (Again, there’s a prize). Your strategy, however, may be different, since this time you can make a decision based on how people voted last time.

Meanwhile, here’s a new puzzle from Japan, where the world’s best pencil-and-paper logic puzzles come from. In **Snake Place **the challenge is to draw ‘snakes’ on the grid. Each snake connects the digits in the range (marked top left), from 1 to the highest number, with consecutive numbers joining vertically or horizontally to adjacent circles. (Never diagonally). Snakes cannot cross black circles. Here’s a simple grid, and the solution.

Here’s a tip on how to solve the example above. Look at the 1 on the top row. Either there is a 2 to its left, or to its right, since numbers in snakes must be consecutive. But if the 2 is to its right there is not enough space in the grid to join a 3 and a 4 to the snake. (The snake will be blocked by the black circle in the third column and the 2 in the final column.) So the 2 must be to the left of the 1 on the top row. And so on.

Here’s a Snake Place to get you started. If you want to print it out, follow this link to a sheet and you will get a total of five puzzles.

Snake Place was invented by Naoki Inaba, one of Japan’s top puzzle brains. (His best-known invention is probably Suguru, which appears in the puzzles page of the printed edition of the Guardian.) I met Inaba in Japan earlier this year when I was researching my new book, *Puzzle Ninja*, in which I investigate why Japan has become the world’s puzzle superpower.

I love his puzzles because they all have incredibly simple rules, but often involve ingenious solving strategies. In Snake Place, hopefully the pain will turn to pleasure, once you begin to appreciate the care and cleverness with which Inaba has placed the clues. The man is a genius!

(If you like his style, there are 46 other hand-crafted Naoki Inaba puzzles in *Puzzle Ninja*).

Now back to the Nikoli Derby, the number competition named after the Japanese puzzle magazine Nikoli.

**Think of a number and write it in the box below. ****The winner is the person who submits the lowest number that no one else also submits.**

The only rule is that the number you submit must be a positive whole number, in other words, 1 or any number greater. It costs nothing to enter and the prize is a signed copy of *Puzzle Ninja*.

(The email is just so we know who is the winner. We won’t share your emails with anyone or send you marketing.)

When I held the Nikoli Derby last week, 2560 of you took part, and the winner submitted 69. You can look at the distribution of how many people voted for numbers up to 69 here. The next highest numbers to receive just one vote were 96 and 99, and the lowest number with zero votes was 106.

Best of luck!

I’ll be back at 5pm UK time with the solutions to Snake Place, and the results of the Nikoli Derby.

*My latest book is Puzzle Ninja: Pit Your Wits Against The Japanese Puzzle Masters. It contains more than 200 hand-crafted puzzles from Japan as well as profiles of prominent puzzle creators. *

*I set a puzzle here every two weeks on a Monday. **Send me your email i**f you want me to alert you each time I post a new one. **I’m always on the look-out for great puzzles. If you would like to suggest one, email me.*