All entries for Wednesday 09 November 2011
November 09, 2011
So the last remaining rounds before the WSC came to a close were in the afternoon, by which time it had become apparent that I was up to 23rd, and this without my round 2 being taken into account – which was putting me on course to a best ever finish.
Apparently my tiredness this morning is keeping me from maintaining a coherent narrative so maybe it’s best to just get on with the rounds.
Round 11, as previously advertised, was called “not easy classics”, and to be honest was one of my least favourite rounds. It was all 9×9 classic puzzles, but it wasn’t particularly clear from the relative weightings of the puzzles that “not easy” meant that the puzzles would 4-6 minute solves, or whether this meant that bifurcation was the order of the day. In the end it was a mixture of both – or at least I think it was because once you start putting yourself in the mode for bifurcation then you start missing out on perfectly legitimate – but non-trivial – deductions and you sort of ruin any fun in the solving experience. Yes I solved some of the puzzles, but it was a bit of slog and given the potential weighting of the round I’m not sure I’m happy that those more skilled in that darkest of sudokuing arts, bifurcation, were going to be rewarded this much. Talking to Jana B of the Czech Republic on my left, and Byron on my right seemed to suggest I wasn’t alone in being a bit miffed.
Round 12 was a bit of a novelty round, a 3d sudoku (I think Thomas and Wei-Hwa have called these isometric in their Mutants book) which instead of being projected onto a planar piece of paper, was actually a bit of cardboard folded up, together with two pull-out pieces that revealed a further two alternative grids. To start off with, I felt much like a small child as I pulled the pieces apart and put them back together again, but in the end I started making progress and as is always the case with this particular sudoku type, the puzzle was done without me even realising.
At the time of writing, final standings have been published, but I appear not to have been credited with my 8 minutes worth of bonus points for this round, which is a little annoying as this would propel me from 23rd to 21st.
The last round was a team round entitled “weakest link”. A nice idea where the four team members had to first solve some individual puzzles, before each was given one of four 8×8 grid which interlinked with each other so that even digits in one corresponded to odd digits in another, and then high digits in one corresponded to low digits in some other. Unfortunately these were all inequality sudoku, which are generally a slog for me to solve. 2 of the 10 alternatives on fed sudoku are “greater than” and “GTaK”, and those are the two I usually leave. Maybe I should practice them more. Anyway, as it turned out we had David M, myself and Michael all get our grids, but we weren’t joined by David C in the hour so I can only presume he shares my sentiments about inequality sudoku. In the end it didn’t seem to matter much as we managed to break the 3 interlinking grids that we did have, and only had time to complete two and a half of them before time was up.
A fairly disappointing end in terms of the team performance, but I guess compared to last year in Philadelphia, we didn’t really adapt to the 4 man format rather than the 3, and with individual scores counting towards the team score too it had certainly helped that myself, George D and David M had all finished in the top 50.
This seems like a suitable place to break off before I talk about the play-offs. I could also frankly do with trying to wake myself up with a wander round the hotel.
So I’m now running a day behind, and I’m quite tired after staying up far too late with Jason and Will B racing on various puzzle types. Will was asking the other day whether I’d written nice things about him, and I now realise I’ve not had anything to say at all. Now that I’m here it seems crazy that he wasn’t on the US A team, but the 3 remaining Brits (who I’ve not yet introduced either – Mike Colloby, Gareth Moore and Nick Gardner) were very glad to have Will come and make up the numbers for an unofficial UN team.
Ah yes, enough excuses for delayed posts, and more actual content. The first round, which by my count was round 8, was full of decorated sudoku. This generally means that some cells in a puzzle had some sort of relation, and some decoration was made if and only if the relation held. There were two each of the five variants, typically one with lots of decoration, and then one with no decoration – i.e. you had to use the only if inference a lot. I’m reliably informed the Rossini was a monster; fortunately I skipped over this in the round. I ended up with 6 puzzles, again solid and unspectacular.
Round 9 was a sprint, containing six 6×6 classics, 6 9×9 classics, and 3 each of diagonal and irregular puzzles. Nothing too much to say about this round, except that I had a bit of a brain fart on the first irregular puzzle and then skipped the other 2; I still had a good round however, getting the other 15 puzzles out in the 30 minutes given.
Round 10 seemed a priori to be the one that was going to settle things, with a massive 940 points at stake, but in practice it was filled with so many puzzles that no-one was ever going to finish it and it was more a case of picking the right puzzles to do in the given 70 minutes. I can remember solving stuff in this round, but even immediately after at lunch I wasn’t entirely sure which puzzles I’d been solving – either 425 or 450 points worth. Anyway, this seemed like a fairly good effort.
The scores before lunch I think were roughly filtering through, and I was steadily rising from somewhere in the 60’s, and then the 40’s. I had the feeling that whilst perhaps not making up spectacular amounts of ground, I was certainly not conceding any.