Albcell

Albcell.d is the ultimate puzzle book in art form. Thanks to its superb visual effect, every page of the journey tells a new story and each arithmetic challenge induces a state of suspension and wonder!

Moreover, the difficulty of these seventy-two numbered artworks encompasses all levels, and as always, there is only one unique solution per puzzle.

Albcell.1 looks like a great logic-based puzzle game book. What can you tell us about it?

First of all, let me say that I’m a great fan of IQ tests, because as far as our present understanding goes, there’s no better way to calibrate somebody’s natural intelligence to a measurable scale. I’ve also experimented quite a bit with a variety of subjects, trying to find out what can be improved for better results. Of course, the gray matter that is our brain is not exactly a muscle, but treating it as such can have real practical value. “Use it or lose it” – it’s that simple! For me, puzzles in general, including Albcell, are tools in this training process. Intelligence can be viewed as an aggregate of many factors. Albcell trains and strengthens some key components, like concentration, perseverance and multitasking, to name just a few.  

How long did it take you to create Albcell.1?

The idea of Albcell came to me a few years ago, while I was sitting in a cafe on the Upper East Side in New York City. At the time, alongside a yoga routine and daily swim, I was challenging myself with a variety of intelligence tests. I’d set a timer to find out how long it might take me to solve an extreme sudoku or some other type of puzzle. At some point, I felt like I’d exhausted the subject, but I wasn’t completely satisfied. So I asked myself: What’s next? What can I do better? Can I actually come up with something new and meaningful? 

Shortly afterwards I came up with Albcell.0 (the original puzzle), and then Albcell.1 the same evening. By the way, Albcell comes in five main types: the other three are Albcell.d (the first book in this series is published next month), Albcell.r and Albcell.p. Of course, all this might sound a little confusing for people the first time they hear it! But the rule for any Albcell puzzle is basically the same: Write the odd numbers between 0 and 9 (1,3,5,7,9) in the diamonds and the even numbers (0,2,4,6,8) in the circles, once only for each horizontal line, vertical line, and cell group.

In a way, it’s fortunate to have such a variety of puzzles, because people’s taste and abilities differ considerably. Also, the time factor in general,  in correlation with the fraction of time people spend on mental training shapes how we think, what we like and so on … Puzzle lovers might find themselves attracted to “something new” after a while. I think Albcell offers just such an opportunity…

When will volume two be available?

In a few months. Actually, I’m planning to complete volumes 2, 3 and 4 this year.

Can you tell us a little about the types of puzzles found in the book?

All books in the Albcell.1 series contain 90 puzzles. They are divided into six levels, from easy to extreme, and each level has 15 puzzles. Other books have different numbers of puzzles and also different levels of difficulty. This is another thing about this puzzle: it has something to offer a wide variety of puzzle-lovers, I think.

What will readers get out of your book?

That’s a good question – I’m glad you asked! Compared with other “pencil puzzles”, the key difference is that Albcell, in a way, is multi-dimensional. To solve it you have to navigate a variety of different challenges, in accordance with the number structure of the known part of the puzzle; sometimes for example, the difficulty level of even and old number patterns is uneven. This creates tension and uncertainty… and that is a good thing. Been constantly “on guard” is better then using previous experiences as a measuring stick. Taking things for granted which we tend to do, especially when we repeat the same puzzle type over and over again, would spoil any chance of ripping practical benefits. Albcell, escapes this trap better than any other puzzle I know. It is in a way, Fisher random compared to traditional chess.

How did you come up with the puzzles in Albcell.1?

Well, having good ideas is only the beginning! Actually, the math wasn’t the main challenge for me, because I like math! More time-consuming was the challenge of transferring notes and drawings from my journals into a printable, standard electronic format. I had to learn many things from scratch. I also had to devise the framing software for my puzzle, which required some time and effort…

Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when creating Albcell.1?

Life is challenging! There are always a thousand little things that create obstacles every day, trying to slow us down. Creativity is closer to inspiration, though – it’s not a challenge, but a gift. But unless you’re able to materialize it in the real world and make it accessible, it doesn’t really exist, except in your own mind. That was my challenge. 

Where can readers find out more about your work?

I am working on a website as we speak – the plan is to have all the varieties of Albcell on there, including many free, printable puzzles.