#137: Polish Puzzle Championship 2024 — Guide Arrow

Last weekend, this year’s Polish Puzzle Championship took place, for which I authored two complete rounds. This is the first of those, Round 3 (and a bonus puzzle).

Before I talk about my puzzles, you can find PDFs for all rounds of the championship here. Please check out the other rounds as well when you get a chance.

My previous contest rounds have either just covered a variety of different genres, or applied a single variant idea to a number of genres. So this time, I wanted to do the opposite and pick a genre and present a bunch of variants for it. I chose Guide Arrow because I was already aware of a few interesting variants, and had some ideas for a couple more that I had wanted to explore for a while. As for the structure of the round, there’s two puzzles for each variant (and two vanilla puzzles), with one meant to be fairly easy and one meant to be quite challenging. There’s still a spread of difficulties in the among the easy and hard puzzles, but you’ll usually find the second puzzle to be a significant step up from the first.

The (to my knowledge) original variants in the set are Diagonal Arrows and Multiple Stars. The Delayed variant was created by William Hu with some inspiration taken from the genre Foreshadow. I also considered a few other variants like different grid shapes and toroidal grids and the Loop variant I explored previously, but I had enough material.

I also made one additional pair of puzzles that got cut from the round for two reasons (the variant was “no four unshaded in a row”). First, the harder puzzle of the two was broken (I had overlooked a run of 4 during the construction). But also it turned out we already had plenty of material with the remaining pairs and so I ended up not bothering to fix the broken puzzle. I’ve included the easier puzzle of the pair at the bottom of this post as a bonus.

And one more thing, I made example puzzles for all of the variants, so I might as well include them in the post.

Vanilla — Example

Rules: Shade some empty cells so that no two shaded cells are orthogonally adjacent and the remaining unshaded cells form one orthogonally connected area. The unshaded cells cannot form any loops, including 2x2 blocks. An arrow indicates the only direction in which one could begin a path to the star without going through a shaded cell or backtracking.

Vanilla — Easier
Vanilla — Harder
Dominoes — Example

Rules: Shade dominoes instead of individual cells. Shaded dominoes cannot touch orthogonally.

Dominoes — Easier
Dominoes — Harder
Multiple Stars — Example

Rules: Not all unshaded cells have to be connected, but each connected group contains exactly one star. An arrow indicates the only direction in which one could begin a path to the star in its group without going through a shaded cell or backtracking. It is possible for an area of unshaded cells to contain no arrows.

Multiple Stars — Easier
Multiple Stars — Harder
Diagonal Arrows — Example

Rules: Some arrows are diagonal. The cell pointed to by an arrow must be unshaded, and must lie somewhere on the path from the arrow to the star.

Diagonal Arrows — Easier
Diagonal Arrows — Harder
Delayed — Example

Rules: Each arrow is labelled with a number N. When tracing a path from each arrow to the star, the step from the Nth cell along the path must go in the direction corresponding to the arrow. (A 0-arrow acts like a standard Guide Arrow clue.)

Delayed — Easier
Delayed — Harder
No 4 in a Row — Example

Rules: There may not exist a run of more than three consecutive unshaded cells horizontally or vertically anywhere in the grid.

No 4 in a Row — Bonus