On rare occasions, I find myself neither solving nor creating puzzles but contributing to someone else’s puzzle project. Such an opportunity presented itself when I was asked to write an article for a new puzzle magazine named PULZE. I agreed, and unless something comes up, I hope that I can continue to play my part there. The first issue has just been released, so I thought I might drop a couple of lines about it.
Chief editor of the magazine is Tawan Sunathvanichkul, one of Thailand’s best puzzle solvers, and it was he who contacted me at the time. (Apparently he was in Germany for the WSC 2019; unfortunately, I did not know him then.) Check out his old blog and his new website for more information. At this point I can only guess what the long-term prospects of this project are, but it sure is worth a look or two.
To be frank, I do not know how puzzle magazines in general are doing these days. More to the point, I am wondering if magazines are still a viable format at all. My guess is that puzzle publications which would have appeared in print ten oder twenty years ago can only survive now if they are available in some electronic form. Since PULZE can be obtained as a PDF file, this should not be a concern.
Some facts about PULZE and its premier issue. The PDF version I got spans 84 pages front to back, including the cover, table of contents, solution pages, etc. About 50 pages contain actual puzzles. Most of them – though not all – are WPC style puzzles (and there is in particular a Sudoku section). The puzzle pages contain only two grids on average. On the plus side, virtually all the logical puzzles appear to have been hand-crafted by highly proficient authors.
The rest of the magazine is dedicated to puzzle-related articles, such as puzzle creation, solving strategies, and some other stuff. The first issue of PULZE contains an interview with Tantan Dai (and I was thrilled to learn what her favorite movie is). I am assuming more interviews with other prominent members of the puzzle community will follow.
I did not yet have time to go over all the contents, but I read some of the articles and worked some of the puzzles. As can be expected, I did not always agree with the given difficulty assessment. However, there are some real gems in the first issue. Also, Tawan has put a lot of time and energy into the final layout of the various sections.
So here is the big question: Should you buy PULZE? Is it worth the money? Ten dollars (or twelve dollars, for later issues) seems to be a lot. On the other hand, one must recognize that travel and lodging for a single puzzle event are often a greater expense than the pile of puzzle magazines one would acquire over several years. In the end, it obviously depends on what you expect from a puzzle magazine. (Let me say again, this is not purely a logical puzzle collection.) So here is what I suggest: Do not commit yourself to anything. Just give it a chance.