Hidden-Path Mazes

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From the Introduction:

When I began working on this book, I envisioned it as just another maze book, though one that explored an area of mazes that I had only touched on in earlier books. As the book grew, I began to realize that it really was a puzzle book posing as a maze book. When you flip through it you will not see anything that looks like a traditional maze. Indeed, there is nothing from the look of the pages to indicate that it contains any mazes at all.

The type of mental effort needed for this book is different from that required to solve traditional mazes. Here the paths of the mazes are hidden and the primary task is to decode the mazes so that the paths become visible. Decoding the mazes requires skills in matching or computation, often with a lot of patience and persistence. Once a maze has been decoded, solving it is simple. Because decoding the maze is the main challenge, the solutions section at the end shows all paths of each maze, not just the correct path.

Although I did not realize the implications of what I was doing, I did my first hidden-path maze for my first maze book, Fascinating Mazes and did several more for my second maze book, Maze Madness, both published by Dover. Maze Madness (not my choice for a title) used mazes to pay homage to a variety of different kinds of puzzles. Hidden-Path Mazes goes much further. It uses mazes to present a variety of different kinds of puzzles.

There are three types of hidden-path mazes in this book. The first could be called "path-set mazes." The set of elements that make up the passageways are visually similar to the set of elements that make up the boundaries but differs in some important way. The first 15 mazes are of this type. The paths may be smiley faces in a field of frowny faces or odd-numbered blocks amid even-numbered blocks. The second type could be called "gate mazes." The connections between cells (gates) are not easily distinguishable visually. Rather a gate is open only if a condition is true. For example, a key and a lock must be adjacent to the gate for it to be open. If two keys or two locks are adjacent to one another, the gate is closed. Mazes on pages 19 to 42 are of this type. A final type of maze could be called "code mazes." A code within the cell tells how it relates to adjacent cells. More explanation of this type of maze is provided on page 43.

The mazes hiding behind the puzzles are small and easy in the first part of the book. Pages 54 to 87 have larger mazes and thus more difficult puzzles.

Trying to specify an age range for any maze book is difficult because people vary so much in their ability to do mazes. It is doubly difficult for a nontraditional maze book. Many of the puzzles on the following pages can be done by young children. Once one understands the key to the puzzle, even children should be able to apply that key if they are patient and careful. However, there are a some mazes that use mathematics not normally taught to young children and that adults may have forgotten. The mazes may be a way to help learn those concepts—none of them is difficult.

I hope that people who will enjoy the book are able to find it. I apologize for the mistakes that remain.

Robert Schenk
February 2013

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