All entries for 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.
November 08, 2011
So there are only 10 minutes before the afternoon session begins, the joys of “not so easy” sudoku to look forward to, so I’ll keep things brief. The pop/rock quiz was a lot of fun, especially as I was chatting with the 3 finalists – Jason Z, Byron C and Dave B. Jason and Byron’s speeds on the buzzers were quite breathtaking at times, and I’ll look forward to editing the footage into something vaguely humorous. In the end, it was Jason who took the bragging rights!
Afterwards we went to one of the hotel bars, and stayed up late playing pool and drinking beer, in the good company of the Poles. Beers til 1am doesn’t sound like the best idea at a world championship, given that rounds start promptly at 9, but you have to enjoy yourself and besides, I find myself living on adrenaline for the duration of the competition anyway.
I’ll save updates of todays rounds til later, but scores are filtering through and at the time of writing I am lying in 23rd, steadily rising up the rankings. Let’s up this continues.
By-the-by, only 2 varieties of cake at lunch, although one was a rather intriguing lime and coconut cake. That’s 11 varieties and counting. Best so far has been the black forest gateau
November 07, 2011
Ok I’m now well fed and have now had my 9th variety of cake, and feel much the better for it. First some book-keeping.
David McNeill has complained that my blog posts haven’t been Sarcy enough so far, and Thomas Snyder has claimed that of the 4 Coll’s (Collins, Collison, Colloby, Collyer) forming the UK contingent, I am not his favourite. In lieu of these two facts I shall now make a heart-felt plea to Thomas, proclaiming my love of American football in a hope to rectify all this.
The 1st team round was an absolute monster, a big circular job on a table with 8 puzzle interlinked by a devilish wheels system which the UK team couldn’t really make heard or tail of, and anything we thought was right turned out to be flawed information. We may have got 1 of the 8 interlinked puzzles out, but I am not even confident about this. Oh well. I realise this description probably doesn’t shed much light on this puzzle but I don’t care. It is over and never needs to be though about ever again!
The 2nd team round was much better. A collection of 4 puzzles together with 32 pieces to be placed as givens in the grids, 8 pieces per puzzle. The particular grid I was given was very hard to deduce anything from, but the others (in case I’ve not introduced them yet – David M, David Collison and Michael Collins) steadily deduced things, which simplified things nicely and we finished with 10 minutes to spare. This marked the end of the afternoon’s puzzling and we headed straight to the bar for a beer. Which was cold, and beer-like. Magic. There’s now a pop-rock quiz, a la Jeopardy, about to happen, so this is probably all you’re going to get for today. No scores available, as of yet.
Wowza – quite an afternoon.
Round 3 was, as previously advertised, the “easy classic”, where by easy you have things which could easily pass as Times fiendish. I made a very quick start but unfortunately broke a couple of the puzzles, and ended up leaving 5 of the 16 9×9 puzzles unfinished (although thankfully I got the 6 6×6 puzzles in the last few minutes). Chatting to Jason Z and Byron C this seemed to be a fairly solid, if not spectacular result.
Round 4 was the halved squares round. I feel a little bit annoyed as this was very finishable but managed to break an 8×8 example in pen, and then ended up with 3 minutes in the round to have a go at the 80 point 9×9 puzzle, which was much much easier than the example posted on this blog. Conceding at least 130 points to this round doesn’t feel like an accurate reflection of affairs, but I guess I have my own bad time management to blame here.
Round 5 was the final individual round of the day, with various grey squares in the middle with various constraints – for example various lines which spelled out sums and products for you to work out. Solid but unspectacular progress for me on this one as well with 7 of the 11 puzzles completed, and hopefully error free.
At the time of writing no score are available so I’m unaware to the extent of the collection of errors that I’ve doubtlessly made.
Right, I’m fairly exhausted and we’re about to go to dinner, so team rounds will have to come later. Here’s to the 7th variety of cake and beyond!
So I’m a little conscious of having never gotten round to writing up a report for the Beijing sudoku tournament last May, so I’ve decided to try and proive quick updates as to what is happening in Eger as and when I get a spare moment to myself.
Travel (yesterday) was fun, but ended up arriving at Manchester airport in time for the flight, and minus much fingernail length. There was a lengthy wait on arrival at the airport in Budapest waiting for others to arrive, together with an even lengthier transfer from Budapest to Eger (go look it up), but in the end we arrived at the hotel safe and sound, meeting up with friends old and new.
The hotel itself is quite nice, although the room that I am sharing with puzzling veteran David McNeill can best be described as cosy – we’re talking a double room rather than a twin room. I had the pleasure of watching David solve in person the puzzle I posted on Friday, and as he toiled his way to the solution it was time to get some sleep.
On to today. There have been two rounds so far, and not a manually scribed digit made in anger. The first round we were presented with a booklet of 60 “puzzles”, except the grids had been filled out and you had to indicate whether they had been filled out correctly or not. This is easy when you spot an obvious error – but I have to confess to marking a few right which I wasn’t 100% confident on – I have a hard enough job spotting when my own grids are right let alone this variety of scripts, fonts, tallies, marks and so on. I wouldn’t call it a spectacular round for me, but I’m at least confident in all the puzzles I marked wrong.
Round two was a funny manipulative puzzle where digits were replaced by tiles with Hungarian landmarks – clues were printed on a rather large piece of paper with the idea being that the clues were all definitely wrong, but indicated that an edge-adjacent cell contained that picture. It sounds a bit of a nightmare, but I managed to get on a roll and finished the round with 7 minutes to spare, which is hopefully quite good. But yet it might be completely wrong – the problem with this puzzle being that each digit you placed then obscured some other clue so you can’t really see if you’ve contradicted yourself along the way. Fingers crossed eh?
Anyway, whatever. It’s hard to judge how things are going so far, especially given these first two rounds aren’t weighted very heavily in the grand scheme of things. On the other hand, all being well I have made a very solid start. The next round will involve some actual number placement (gasp) – a round of 22 easy classic puzzles and 45 minutes in which to solve them in. I suspect the Jakub O’s of this round might have this done in closer to 30 minutes, but I reckon this round is finishable for us mere mortals too, all being well. More to follow!
November 04, 2011
So this is my last entry before I jet off to Hungary to have a shot at firstly the World Sudoku Championship, and then the World Puzzle Championship next week. I’ll be travelling with laptop and notebook so there might even be a puzzle next week. I invite you, dearest of readers, to be on the lookout for updates here throughout the week.
For those that are interested, the instruction booklets for each competition are filled with some intriguing ideas.
This week’s puzzle has been taken from the WSC booklet. The only previous examples of these that I’ve seen have been no larger than 7×7 grids, but I’ve whacked this up to full size. The rules are as follows: 1-9 exactly once in each row, column and marked region. Some squares are split in half; exactly one half is to be filled, the other to be left empty. You have to determine which. I’m not totally convinced this is genuinely a hard, but I’ll give it that label anyway what with the novelty value. Enjoy!
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All puzzles © Tom Collyer 2009-11