SOMA Crystal
SOMA News 14 Nov 2011

Why are the pieces labelled as they are

Once in a while someone ask me about the piece numbering. And now again.
This time Jonathan asked the question in slightly more details. After having answered, he suggested that I placed the information on the web.
So - Thank you for the questions - here is the explanation.

As we know, the SOMA and SOMA+plus piece numbering is: 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,$ or D,V,L,T,Z,A,B,P,I,Q,S

The question is of course, why did we select such a strange number/letter system.?

Well I could agree that the numeric method is not easy to remember, as it is shown on the initial pages.

The story is simple though.

In the original version of SOMA, marketed by the corporation “Skjøde” (which produced the puzzle for Mr.Piet Hein), a small booklet was supplied together with the puzzle. In this booklet the figures were annotated with the numbers 1 through 7

Later in January 1999 I learned about the lettering annotation, used by Mr. Sivy Farhi.

The letters were simple to understand
V, L, T, Z resemble the shape quite direct
P is for the Pyramid shape of the seventh piece
Which leaves the two mirror shapes. Now ‘L’eft and ‘R’ight would be suitable, but L was used, and anyway it only makes sense in an English speaking community, so those who selected the letters, chose A and B quite arbitrarily.

Now we arrive at august 2000, where I propose to extend the SOMA puzzle. I call this extension SOMA+plus

But I need some way to annotate the new pieces.
I like the old V L T Z A B P method, and in the mean time, I felt that everyone on the web should understand English, so why not.?? I select the letters D I Q S like this
D = Double cube
I = a stick that resemble the letter “I” (Because T for trio, was already used)
Q = for Quad
S = is for a Square

As simple as that ;o)

Now then, what about those people who liked the old 1 through 7 numbers.?
I wanted to give them a uniform numbering also.
Knowing that if I did not suggest something, then different people would invent each their own. Making a chaos of sharing puzzle figures. So… I suggested a simple extension by 0, 8 and 9. But then I needed one more. I chose $ because it represent a ‘value’ for so many people on the earth. And it also looked like the S that I used in “Square”.

Therefore it became: D,V,L,T,Z,A,B,P,I,Q,S for those who like the letters, and 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,$ for the number people

Not the most likely combinations, but… Now you know the story :o)

Submitted by Thorleif Bundgaard <>

BACK to news index