All entries for Thursday 10 November 2011
November 10, 2011
The first WPC day is over and it’s been a little bit all over the place for me, but more on that later. By the by, the latest cake count is up to 22, although the bombshell this evening was that a set of 3 cakes appeared towards the latter part of the dinner period, replacing an earlier set of 2. !!!.
With the WSC over and done with it was probably just as well there was a rest day the day after. With the play-offs over and done with, there was then a Q&A session for the WPC. In practice this turned out to be the start of an evening of puzzle racing, with the first set being determined by a Japanese newsletter packed with what turned out to be devilishly fiendish takes on some classic puzzle types. The first round was a fairly tricky kakuro, with Thomas and Byron joining in too. As questions were being fielded, we were manically scribbling away with Jason eventually confirming his inevitable victory. We tried further examples from the newsletter but these turned out to be a little tricky for the purposes of racing.
We thus retired to the bar for a beer, before finding some sofas and some copies of a Turkish puzzle magazine and we set to work. We were fairly evenly matched on the numberlink in that one of us had managed to have the relatively small puzzle out before the other had blinked, but the treat came with the slitherlink where I put in a pretty rapid solve. By this point we were being observed by Ondrej S and Lenka V of the Czech republic, who were most impressed that I was filling in bits of the loop with no hesitation where there was no apparent logic. It would later turn out hat Ondrej – aka Cert – was also most impressed with my apparent 51 second diagonal sudoku solve on fed; alas I had to inform him the timer was broken and there was no chance I could even do a classic in that time.
Will B then joined the show, and he and Jason then began to start beating me into the ground with some of my less favoured types, such as easy as ABC and skyscrapers, before I started to pull things back on things like Nurikabe and Fillomino.
Anyhow, what had started as a series of sprints was swiftly turning into a marathon, and by the time we made it to 2am I had to tap out, and swiftly dodge the Indians who were playing some Indian poker (one of the highlights of the Beijing trip). Creeping back into the room, I thought that David must have been asleep…in reality I should have known better as he wasn’t back in til 3, having been puzzling with the Dutch.
A great start to the rest day then, but we had agreed to met over breakfast at 8. Perhaps this is a good point to introduce the other British protagonists to this tale. The rest of the A team includes David M, Gareth M and Neil Z, whilst we also have numbers for a B team, which includes Alan O’D, Nick G, Emma M and Liane R. I managed to get up for this, but was feeling the lack of sleep and hot water and missed out on the walking tour of Eger, instead choosing to make a couple of updates for the blog, as well as showering and generally attempting to wake up.
In the afternoon, the whole touring party was loaded up onto 5 coaches and taken on a bit of a mystery tour. The journey started becoming a bit of drag after the first three quarters of an hour or so, although it’s always entertaining to be sat alongside Byron as he hums away. After a bit of a nap I thought it’d be a good idea to start on a Friday Puzzle, using the back of the fiendish Japanese newsletter for a grid given that I’d manage to leave my notebook in the hotel room.
It turned out that the place we arrived to eventually was the entrance to some caves, which we were led through for a while to the great amusement of the on-looking bats, before we arrived at the ceremonial erm cave. There were lots of chairs laid out, and we were treated to a light show and some music before we were treated to a prize giving ceremony. Cue some flag waving from Tiit, broad smiling from Kota and a rather forced grin from Thomas. Of the teams, the Americans seemed a bit meh (Nick Baxter aside), the Czechs downright depressed and all smiles from the victorious German team.
I’m not entirely convinced this ceremony was worth the round trip although it was nice to take a nap after catching up with Aga and Przem…Psyho from the Polish team, and meeting Julian W from Canada.
The night was wrapped up with a visit to some wine cellar place in Eger where we had dinner and wine and fizzy water from dispenser-cum-fire extinguishers. Byron managed to get extraordinarily drunk (whilst still solving quickly), and I extraordinarily managed to find my way back to the hotel. And that was the rest day. Perhaps you can draw some conclusions from the fact this entry is by far the longest so far, and has nothing to do with puzzles. Haha…
Ok So I’m running a little behind with the blog posts so I’ll try and be a little more concise recapping the WSC play-off. The qualifiers were in first, Thomas Snyder, then Jan Mrozowski, Tiit Vunk, Florian Kirch, Jan Novotny, Nikola Zivanovic, Michael Ley, Hideaki Jo and finally Jakub Ondrousek.
The play-off format was really good: 9 puzzles to solve, with competitors moving forward as they completed puzzles (which also included a 1 minute checking time). After three puzzles 10 desks became 7, after six 7 desks became 5 and from there a race to the line. Competitors were also given time advantages based on their total scores from the rounds. This translated into Thomas starting 3 minutes before Jan, and so on until Jakub started with a 10 minute penalty.
In the event Thomas started out front and stayed out front, right to the end. I believe the affectionate nickname “The Machine” has been used on this blog in the past, and that’s exactly what this performance was. Cool, calm and clinical – although I dare say the chairs were feeling a bit of punishment as he moved between desks. In contrast for example, Kota languidly strolled between desks, and was (very briefly) level with Thomas. It was as close as anyone got.
The main shock came with the elimination of Jan M after the first cut (maybe this was part of Thomas’ 2 year plan too?) – although perhaps almost as surprising was the fact that Hideaki, together with nearly a 9 minute penalty, did manage to make it. Perhaps it wasn’t surprising to see Jakub go out either, especially given his body language before finally being allowed to start – slumped out across his desk.
The first cut also claimed Michael Ley, who promptly called over an organiser and ordered a beer. Fair play.
The second cut saw a few see-saws between people who weren’t Thomas, but eventually claimed Jan N and Nikola.
Hideaki’s remarkable run continued, but in the end it was Kota who managed to hang on to 2nd, with Tiit claiming 3rd. Hideaki claimed 4th and Florian finished the list in 5th. Congratulations to all!
The WPC has started today and I have actually solved some puzzles. I have no idea what I should reasonably expect to acheive, but David has said top 50 would be good. I certainly want to be top 100, and preferably at least top 4 on the British team. As the afternoon rounds are about to begin, I should probably leave the shenanigans of the WSC aftermath and the rest day until next time….