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World Puzzle Championship 2010

The 19th World Puzzle Championship was held from 24th-29th October, 2010 in Warsaw, Poland.

Official Website

Team India
Rohan Rao (Mumbai)
Rajesh Kumar (Bangalore)
Tejal Phatak (Mumbai)
Aman Pruthi (Pune)

This was my 2nd WPC and I was hoping to improve my 2008 performance (68th).
The complete IB was released quite late, after the four of us were on our flight to Poland. So it deprived us (and others) some precious practise time. The IB had some errors which could have been avoided. I was surprised when those mistakes weren't corrected even in the final print of the IB which every partipant received. That was when this 'Wavy' (As I call it, due to its unpredictable highs and lows) WPC began.

24th October
We arrived in Poland and experienced temperatures of around 8-deg C. It is quite cold for Indians which explains why Tejal wore 5 layers of clothing. After an hour's drive we reached Hotel Kuznia Napoleonska. After relaxing and taking a nap, we went for the Welcome Party. As usual, food was a big problem, especially for me, being a vegetarian. Long live bread, butter and salads!
The Welcome Party was shorter than I expected it to be, nonetheless, it was nice meeting up and chatting with the best puzzlers across the globe.

25th October
We had a city tour, went around few places with a guide and did some shopping. I was fast asleep on the way back to the hotel. Stupid jetlag.
The Q&A session after dinner was long as expected. There were quite a few doubts and incomplete instructions regarding the booklet. I guess the Polish team didn't do their homework well.

26th October
Competiton day! It started off on a high with Round 1 in which Andrey Bogdanov (Russia) was the only player to complete the round. I made an unforgivable mistake in Round 2. I forgot to solve the sudokus. It was on the last page and I completely missed it. I messed up a couple of other puzzles too resulting in a very poor score. I felt a little low after this round and was a bit off-colour throughout the remaining rounds. I managed to coverup some of those points by the end of the day. Anaconda, the deadly team round was a disaster. We had little team coordination and the fact that Aman and Tejal dislike Snake puzzles, made it even tougher for us. We were last in this round :-(
Puzzles were great and fun to solve. Thumbs up from me.
The day ended positively with Vladimir Portugalov (Belarus) and Thomas Snyder (USA) sharing their views and ideas of creating and solving some difficult puzzles. I think this was the best part of WPC 2010.

27th October
The remaining rounds went smoothly for me. No errors, but average performance. Round 10 was an interesting round where players had to make equations using numbers and signs on a ball. I did quite well in this round only to be disappointed later when the round was cancelled due to reasons I would not like to discuss. What a disappointment.
There were a couple of more mistakes in other rounds which ruined the flow of the championship.

28th October
One individual round called 'Screen Test' was supposed to take place with electronic answering machines. It was a huge mess up. Some worked, some seemed to not work, some didn't know whether it worked or no. Result: Back to paper. Waste of time, equipment, etc. It was my first screen test and it opened my eyes. The first few questions, I was too slow and by the time I realised what was happening, it was on Q.10. I put myself together and scored well in the rest of the set. My fault, but I learnt something.
Playoffs got delayed and so did lunch. Team finals were a treat to watch with the USA team racing to victory. However, a Skyscraper Sudoku is more appropriate for a WSC finals.
Individual playoffs were quite disastrous. A wrong puzzle and scrapping of a round is the last thing players want. It seems to be like the first thing that is happening. It also becomes unfair. Mehmet Murat Sevim (Turkey) and Thomas Snyder (USA) had good starts when the round was cancelled. They were unable to make it in the top 4 when the other set was used.
The finals looked more like Ulrich vs Japan rather than a 4-way battle. Three Japanese in top four. Superb performance by team Japan who also took the silver in the team finals. Many would've betted on Ulrich Voigt to add one more to his unmatchable tally and maybe few on Hideaki Jo who was consistently on the top. Ko Okamoto sprang a surprise with his speed in the semi finals and Taro Arimatsu was the cool goer. Surprise surprise! From out of nowhere, Taro Arimatsu cracked all the puzzles in the finals with consistent pace and accuracy to win WPC 2010. Ulrich finished 2nd and Hideaki 3rd.

A short trip and the farewell party wrapped up the event.

Personally, for me WPC 2010 has been a success. I stood 41st and bettered my 2008 rank. I enjoyed the trip and puzzles, though some mistakes could've been avoided.

I'm sure everyone is looking forward for the WPC/WSC combined event in Hungary next year. So am I. Hope it is better and sans errors. Looking forward to Hungary 2011!

2 comments:

motris said...

Glad you liked the evening presentations. I certainly would have had many different stories to tell if I was given the "constructor's talk" option, but I hope some useful solving tips came about.

I sort of disagree with you on whether the Skyscraper Sudoku was an appropriate team puzzle (at least for the reason you give). The actual puzzle solves primarily as a skyscraper with some use of the region constraints, but not really just as a sudoku so to me it's a question of if a skyscraper variant is appropriate and I'd say yes. Where I think the teams that competed can agree there are questions is if a weakest link relay to start the team final, or a puzzle that is not hard to solve but for the lack of pencils for solving, is the best team task. The original set-up of the round, where I would have gotten the entire puzzle when I arrived first to the team desk, would certainly have failed to serve the intended role as the US would have finished the puzzle before all the blocks arrived. We'll see how future hosts do or do not continue the team playoff concept.

Congrats on your improvements from your first WPC and I look forward to seeing how much higher you can eventually rise.

Rohan Rao said...

Ok, maybe I should have commented after trying to solve the puzzle. I didn't feel it was a bad or wrong puzzle, but just like the Individual playoffs, it would've been nice if there were puzzles that were of the same type or related to the WPC puzzles with team coordination.
Its like, suddenly out of nowhere came a Skyscraper Sudoku. But, I could be wrong since solving with blocks will need different skills.

I really enjoyed the presentation. It is a start for some better and more advanced tips with a wider variety that could come in future.

Thanks a lot :-)

Also, many of us (including me) are waiting to see a WPC and WSC champion and you have been the closest so far. We've seen you roaming around the top 10 too often. Time to crack it and win WPC soon! :-)
Wish you luck and hope to see you again.