Leonid Mochalov is a Russian puzzle writer and inventor, who has published several brain teaser books and patented numerous mechanical puzzle toys. We decided to invite him for an interview at Puzzle Prime and learn about his passions, habits, and views on Pokemon GO. You can see all of Leonid’s puzzles on his personal website.
Q. Hello Leonid. When did you discover your passion about puzzles? Was it influenced somehow by your education or occupation at that time?
A. It happened during my school years. I published my first puzzle when I was 13 years old. Education and occupation had nothing to do with it.
Q. What drives you to make all these puzzles?
Q. You have invented many mechanical puzzles. Do you ask professionals to build them based on your concepts, or you do it yourself?
A. I post the blueprints of my puzzles and their descriptions on my website for free. After that, various puzzle collectors and companies make physical copies of them.
Q. Designing 3-dimensional puzzles seems incredibly challenging. Can you describe how the process of creating one goes?
A. I have a very well developed 3D imagination. First, I think of a geometric object of an unusual shape, and divide it into smaller pieces. Then the pieces are glued together and the brute-force method comes. Another possible approach is to come up with a single piece which locks the entire structure.
Q. Which is your favorite physical puzzle of all time?
A. My favorite puzzle is the “Chess Cube”.
Q. And which is your favorite puzzle you have invented?
A. The “Pyramid” – it is an analogue of the “Soma Cube”.
By the way, despite the abundance of mechanical puzzles in stores, the real (classical) ones are not more than 100. These two can be classified as such.
Q. Do you like more mechanical puzzles or pen and paper problems?
A. I lost my interest in pen and paper problems in the early 90s, and then I focused my interest on mechanical puzzles. I believe a good mechanical puzzle is worth a lot more than any pen and paper problem.
Q. Where can people buy your puzzles from?
A. Many of my mechanical puzzles are sold in specialized web-stores.
Q. It looks like the new generations do not appreciate problem-solving as much. Do you think there is still appreciation for puzzles nowadays?
A. Not that much in our country. The pick of the interest was in the last quarter of 20th century. After that computerization and shooting games came into play. The contemporary epidemic is “Tank Wars” and “Pokemon Go”.
Q. Do you keep in touch with other inventors, maybe collaborate on projects together?
A. Not quite, I tend to work mostly alone.
Q. Some people find listening to music during work quite helpful. What about you – do you listen to anything while designing your puzzles?
A. I don’t listen to music when I work, because I find it distracting. However, I listen to disco style songs of 60-70s in my spare time.
Q. You seem a bit old-school. Do you work often on computer, play video games, watch movies? What are your hobbies overall?
A. I do non-professional photo and video shooting, so sometimes it is necessary to work with materials on my computer. Other activities I practice are following news, downloading movies and programs, watching Sci-Fi’s and thrillers. I don’t play video games however. I also used to play card games like “Preference” before retirement.
Q. You look in good shape, we know you enjoy fishing. Do you do any other sports?
A. I don’t actually. I used to jog, but then gave it up.
Q. Do you think puzzle solving is beneficial for people, especially younger children and teenagers?
A. It is very necessary for development of young generations. Puzzle solving is educational and distracts from drugs and alcohol.
Q. Tell us a funny science joke or an anecdote.
A. Something I find amusing is related to Einstein’s had 2 cats. It is common in the West people to have an opening in the door for their pets. However, Einstein had two openings – one for the big cat and the other for the small cat. It wouldn’t be like that in case of a normal person since the small cat can go through the big hole too.
Q. Thank you for the interview Leonid, wish you all the best in your endeavors.
A. Thank you for inviting me too.