Thursday, October 27, 2016

11th World Sudoku Championship and 25th World Puzzle Championship - Part 2

Then came the puzzles. There is not much to say here, at least regarding my performance; since I did not want to risk making my injury worse, and as I barely had the time to read the instruction booklet before the competition, my intention was to play even more casually than I usually do - and yes, as it turned out, it was possible. Contrary to sudoku, I could not solely focus on the hardest puzzles since there were many of them I would probably never have been able to solve. I picked puzzles somewhat randomly, made tons of mistakes despite my slow pace, and ended up with what was (I guess) my worst result at a WPC, but that was to be expected.
On the other hand, the team rounds went just fine; of course we did not do anything great in terms of score but we all had a really good time. I even got an occasion to shine with my one-man solving of the Double Block in round 16... on which we brilliantly managed to swap two "3" stickers, awarding us with 0 point.

Regarding the overall results, Endo Ken was first after the preliminary rounds with a solid lead on Ulrich Voigt and Palmer Mebane. And by "solid", I mean that he crushed the competition until this point; it was really impressive. Unfortunately for him the finals can bring their share of surprises, and the very first puzzle (Coded Nurikabe) got him stuck for more than enough time for Ulrich and Palmer to get past him. In the end, it was yet another crowning for Ulrich, followed by Palmer and Ken, with Philipp Weiß as a somewhat unexpected number 4. Congrats to the four of them.
Also, a special mention to our own Olivier Garçonnet who made it to the under 18 play-offs and got himself a bronze medal. Way to go!

Now for a few words about the championships from a broader perspective.


To say things as they are, I am having a hard time finding something that did not go as smoothly as possible. Zuzana Hromcová did a terrific job as the head of the organising team. The army of volunteers were prompt and efficient, marking was done in a very reasonable amount of time and for the first time, online results were available as the competition was going. I know that was appreciated by people who followed the WSPC. Queries were treated efficiently by Peter Hudák and the group of judges and was there some urgent matter to discuss, it was fairly easy finding someone of the organizing team. Also, I should mention that each and every volunteer was not only efficient but friendly and doing their best to help when needed, which is to be saluted. Hats off!


For having solved quite an amount of slovak sudokus and puzzles (although not that many in the past two years), I thought I had a good idea of what to expect, i.e. a good variety of rather easy puzzles, nicely made and with quite a lot of original ideas but rarely striking in design. Well, I was completely caught off guard by what Matúš Demiger and his co-authors had done. I was absolutely not expecting a round such as the "Basics" one, and several sudokus had me surprised by the thought that had gone into making them. They were still mostly on the easy side but, regarding their quality, definitely on par with what had been done the previous years.

Additional thoughts

There were several innovations this year; one of them being that tons of additional awards/prizes were given during the ending ceremonies. There was one for guessing who would end at the 11th in sudoku and 25th place in puzzles, one for the worst writer (won by my teammate Olivier Garçonnet, who looks like he will be a great successor to Timothy Doyle in this category), and many more. All in all, it was funny and made the ceremonies more light-hearted than usual, which I enjoyed.
On the evening, some more events were organized such as a "Pyjama Sudoku Contest" and a Team Competition. I did not take part in many of them unfortunately, since I was trying to get all the rest I could to make my arm better; but the echoes I had were all positive.
Another thing the slovak team added was team play-offs. Well that was, in my opinion, the best part of the competition. It was really, really good and from a player perspective I dearly wish we will see some more of these. The puzzles were nice, the difficulty was spot-on, and there was just enough tactical planning involved to make things exciting while still consecrating the best sudoku-solving team. Also, it was much less stressful than the individual play-offs where you know you have only yourself to rely on and cannot afford a single mistake. I am glad I stayed in the A-team so that I could take part in this.

I could go along but that's enough typing for today. I will complete this or post another message if I find some more matter to discuss tomorrow.

If not, see you next year in India!

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