The World Sudoku Championship 2010 was held in Philadelphia, USA from 29th April to 2nd May.
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You can view the list of participants, schedule and more information on the Official Website.
The Indian team was selected from the winners of the Indian Sudoku Championship 2010. Unfortunately, Rishi Puri dropped out at the last moment and could not make it. Hence Ritesh Gupta got promoted from Team B to Team A leaving Jaipal Reddy and Asha Siddaiah without a complete team and I was selected captain of India due to Rishi's absence.
India Team A
Rohan Rao (captain)
Jaipal was part of Team UN6 and Asha was part of team UN1.
Team India was shocked by the exit of Rishi Puri and was tensed since Gaurav Korde got his visa and passport on 27th April! We had some early jitters on 30th morning since Gaurav had not reached the hotel when we woke up. Finally we were in peace when he showed up during breakfast at 10am, just 3hrs before the first round began!
23rd April - 28th April
My flight was Mumbai-Brussels-Newark and I reached there on 23rd evening. I went to USA a week earlier mainly to get rid of any jetlag, though surprisingly I wasn't affected for more than a day. I was staying with friends in New Jersey and did some sight-seeing and WSC practise.
I reached the hotel around 4pm and so did Asha, Jaipal and Ritesh. Jaipal and Gaurav shared a room, while I shared my room with Ritesh. Asha had a room-mate from the USA Team. After unwinding ourselves, all participants went to the Visitor Centre for the 'Welcome Reception'. All teams were introduced and we had a great time meeting and chatting up with participants of various countries. By the time we reached the hotel, we were quite tired and sleepy. So, after discussing the puzzles and rounds, all of us crashed.
After a quick breakfast, satisfied after seeing Gaurav's face, we went to the 'Love Statue' and to take our team photograph. A few minutes later, WSC 2010 began!
Round 1: 100m (20 minutes; 100 points)
Puzzles: Classic Sudoku
There were 8 'easy' Classic Sudokus. I managed to solve 5. Jakub Ondrousek, who's speciality is the Classic, started off with a bang proving he's the best by completing all 8.
Round 2: Long Jump (40 minutes; 200 points)
I loved the Killer Sudoku! It was fun solving the Colour Sum Sudoku though I made a mistake and had to start again losing precious time. I managed to solve Arrow Sudoku in the last 5mins! (I just guessed, and fortunately got it correct)
Round 3: Shot Put (40 minutes; 190 points)
0-9 Sudoku was very nice. I solved the small grids of Surplus, Countdown, Tightfit and Deficit. I enjoyed solving this round, though scored less points relative to others.
Round 4: High Jump (35 minutes; 155 points)
I solved 5 out of the 7 puzzles, and I was quite happy. I dont like the Thermometer variant, so didn't even try that. All the puzzles were very nice and fun to solve!
Round 5: 400m (35 minutes; 155 points)
Puzzles: Classic Sudoku
There were 8 'medium' Classic Sudokus. This was a good round for me as I solved 7 of them. Jakub again proved his class by completing all.
Team Round 1: Weakest Link (40 minutes)
Each individual had to solve the same Double-Triple Sudoku and had to go to the Team table when submitted correctly. I finished it very quickly followed by Ritesh and Gaurav. So, at the Team table, we had to solve the Triple-Quadruple Sudoku together, and we ended up completing it 2nd only to Germany.
Team Round 2: Number Place (42 minutes)
I think this was the best team round of the event in terms of the concept and the use of team co-ordination. Each team member had stickers containing numbers of a single colour (yellow, red and green) and could place stickers in the puzzles ONLY of the respective colour. This was a very nice round but unfortunately we made a mistake in one sudoku.
Day 1 ended here and Team India were well in the top 5. Our individual ranks were good too, with Gaurav and me within the top 20.
We were quite tired after dinner, and crashed almost immediately after discussing puzzles of the next day.
Round 6: 110m Hurdles (20 minutes; 110 points)
Puzzles: Just One Cell Sudoku
I loved the concept of 'Just One Cell' and found it very innovative and addictive. I managed to solve 11 out of 20. Jan was by far the best in this round and started his superb roll on Day 2. All the puzzles were very nice!
Round 7: Discus (35 minutes; 155 points)
This was the round that pulled me down. I made some error in Hexagon Sudoku. I had more than 10mins to solve Dragon Sudoku, but I kept going wrong and finally was unable to finish it. Jan Novotny finished all the puzzles with a good time bonus.
Round 8: Pole Vault (40 minutes; 200 points)
Another round where I sub-performed. I wasted too much time on Digital and Dice and hence could not complete Roman.
Round 9: Javelin (45 minutes; 225 points)
I scored a hat-trick of poor rounds with this one. Irregular Sudoku was very well-made. I just managed to finish it in time! Penrose and Primrose looked very dangerous so I didn't try it though later I got to know they were not very difficult. As of what I heard, Ten-Box was very tough.
Very nice puzzles and innovative new variants.
Round 10: 1500m (35 minutes; 310 points)
Puzzles: Classic Sudoku
I can go on and on writing about this round. This round was literally my saviour on Day 2! There were 9 Classic Sudokus that were 'tough' and most of them needed guesswork. I solved 3 logically (which surprised many participants) and made guesses in 4 others. Luckily, in most of them I got my guesses right in my first attempt, especially the last two sudokus, totally fetching me lots of points! The grapevine news was I scored highest points (235) in this round, and by quite a big margin compared to others (other than Chen Cen who scored 229). I was quite surprised since I am not very strong in Classics, I seem to be better in variants. I got a certificate for my performance in Round 10 :-)
I was very happy since I beat Jakub in a Classic round! I also beat Jan ;-) I beat them all! :-)
When the results of the three Classic rounds were combined, it turned out that I stood 3rd overall with Jakub first and Jan second. This was really unexpected and undoubtedly the best round of my WSC.
Team Round 3: Jigsaw Sudoku (30 minutes)
Here started the dramatic downfall of team India. Lack of homework on this round cost us dear. We solved just one puzzle out of four. The puzzles and idea was very nice.
Team Round 4: Track and Field Relay (40 minutes)
This was absolute disaster. It was going good until we reached Skyscraper Sudoku. Gaurav and me had more than 30mins to solve it and we went wrong... and wrong... and wrong and wrong! We just kept going wrong and finally got it incorrect! So, it was very poor sudoku solving skills by Gaurav and me.
Team Round 5: Pentathlon (40 minutes)
Same story again. This time all three of us kept going wrong in multiple places. It was quite a horrible performance by Team India in the last three team rounds due to which we crashed from 5th to 17th by the end of Day 2.
The top four played the final playoff.
Jan Mrozowski (Poland)
Jakub Ondrousek (Czech Republic)
Hideaki Jo (Japan)
Florian Kirch (Germany)
Due to the massive points difference, Jan got an 8 minute lead over the other three. The finals had 10 puzzles (1 from each individual round) to be solved in 60 minutes.
Jan cracked the Classic and moved on to the Killer in no time. The Killer proved to be the toughest puzzle of the lot for all the participants. Jan made some small errors but quickly corrected and solved it. By the time he finished the Killer, Jakub, Hideaki and Florian finished their Classics around the same time. From this point, the battle was only between Jan and Jakub.
Jan solved the 0-9 and went on to the Consecutive. Here the drama began. Jan put a '7' next to an '8' without a bar between and hence, he kept going wrong and he just couldn't identify his mistake. On the other hand, Jakub erased all the time disadvantage and even finished the Consecutive by the time Jan finally found his error after wasting about 10mins. Now the fun began. Jan Mrozowski, the 2009 World Sudoku Champion in the backseat. Jakub Ondrousek, the young teenager, whom many thought before the start of WSC, would be the one who would beat Jan this year, was racing ahead.
One by one the puzzles were completed, Jan being careful and Jakub just going for the victory until he reached the 9th puzzle which was an Irregular Sudoku. This turned out to be unlucky stumbling block for Jakub. While Jan was quickly catching up with Jakub, Jakub got stuck at this puzzle. Jan reached the Irregular Sudoku while Jakub was still at it making slow progress. He destroyed it in less than 3mins and became the first to move on to the last puzzle.
He wasn't going to let go now. Jan Mrozwoski let out a sigh of relief when his last puzzle was declared correct and was crowned the champion.
1. Jan Mrozowski (Poland) - 1335
2. Jakub Ondrousek (Czech Republic) - 1159
3. Hideaki Jo (Japan) - 1159
4. Florian Kirch (Germany) - 1153
5. Byron Calver (Canada) - 1134
6. Ko Okamoto (Japan) - 1113
7. Chen Cen (China) - 1050
7. Salih Alan (Turkey) - 1050
9. David Jones (Canada) - 1035
10. Jan Novotny (Czech Republic) - 1031
15. Rohan Rao (India) - 934
20. Gaurav Korde (India) - 871
42. Ritesh Gupta (India) - 725
59. Jaipal Reddy (India) - 588
96. Asha Siddaiah (India) - 363
1. Germany - 7904
2. Czech Republic - 7720
3. Japan - 7156
4. Canada - 7016
5. Poland - 6917
6. UK - 6760
7. USA - 6632
8. Netherlands - 6445
9. France - 6239
10. Hungary - 5881
12. India - 5575
It was a great trip and I enjoyed it till the last moment!
All the puzzles (except one) were made by Thomas Snyder and Wei-Hwa Huang. The puzzles were exceptionally good and the USA Team lived up to the big expectations that were set after last year's not-so-good WSC with some good organisation, fun and interesting puzzles, and some sensible new rules that should be used in future too.
Gaurav Korde came up with a good performance despite his jetlag. Ritesh felt he under-performed which I think is because of lack of practise. Jaipal's silly mistakes pulled him down while Asha enjoyed her first WSC finishing within the top 100.
Thanks to Amit, Deb, Rishi for their ever-ready support and help, though it would've been great if Rishi had made it.
Well, so WSC 2010 is over. Jan Mrozowski from Poland wins the championship for the 2nd time in a row. Anyone out there who can beat him?