Nob Yoshigahara Puzzle Design Competition

Judging and Awards


  • Photos and a short summary of each entry will appear on this web site before the end of July. Each puzzle, along with the goal statement, and a one-page solution will be on display during the Puzzle Party, and will be available for hands-on examination. (The designers' names will not be formally revealed until the announcement of the results.) If the total number of entries is greater than 50, then the jury may perform a first round of judging prior to publishing the entry list, reducing the number of entries to no less than 50. As a courtesy, entries eliminated in this round will not be publicized. (Based on recent trends, the jury will endeavor to bring the number of published entries close to around 60.)
  • Puzzlers' Award: each registered Puzzle Party attendee may select his or her top five puzzles, based on personal preference or the suggested voting criteria. Ballots must be returned by the end of the designated review period, as announced at the Puzzle Party.
  • Jury Prize voting: the judging panel is selected in advance by the organizing committee. Typically this will include eligible members of the committee and sometimes someone from the host country. Each judge will select 5-7 puzzles from the pool of entries that they feel distinguish themselves from the other puzzles in the competition. Then the judges decide as a group what awards to give and which puzzles shall receive them. Any member of the organizing committee that submits a puzzle to the competition will not participate in selecting the judges or take part in the actual judging.

The following are the tentative 2018 Design Competition jury members: 

  • Nick Baxter (chair), Oskar van Deventer, Gary Foshee, Marcel Gillen, Brian Pletcher, and Naoaki Takashima.

Judging Criteria

  • All judges are asked to consider the following criteria, balanced by their personal preferences:
  How innovative is a new puzzle design; or how inventive is the new application of known principles? Emphasis should be given to designs that are completely new.
Physical Design
  How well does the physical design work together with the puzzle mechanism? How beautiful is the physical design, considering the workmanship, artistry, and use of appropriate materials?
Positive Solving Experience
  How "fun" and rewarding is the puzzle to solve?
  • For the Puzzlers' Award, each Puzzle Party attendee will simply rank their top five favorite designs. It will be up to the individuals to decide how important they feel each of the above criteria are for their selections.


  • The Puzzlers' Award will be given to the puzzle that gets the highest overall weighted score from the Puzzle Party attendee voting. Entries in the top-10 of voting will also be recognized, if not otherwise awarded a prize.

  • One or more juried prizes will be awarded, as determined by the judging committee.

  • The winners will be announced during Puzzle Party.

  • Prizes will include suitable trophies, pins, plaques or certificates.

  • The results of the competition will be reported in the Puzzle Party Souvenir Booklet and on the Design Competition web site.

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