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World Puzzle Championship 2011

The 6th World Sudoku Championship and 20th World Puzzle Championship was held on 6th-10th November, 2011 in Eger, Hungary.

Championship Page

This is the first time the WSC and WPC was held as a combined event.

Team India
The national finals of the Indian Sudoku Championship and the Indian Puzzle Championship was held in June 2011. Unfortunately, Ritesh Gupta and Gaurav Korde were unable to attend the WSC, and Harmeet Singh was unable to attend the WPC. So, we were forced to go down the list and finally are team consisted of:

Sudoku Team
Sumit Bothra (Bengaluru)
Tejal Phatak (Mumbai)
Prasanna Seshadri (Mumbai)
Rohan Rao (Mumbai)

Puzzle Team
Rajesh Kumar (Bengaluru)
Rajib Ranjan Borah (Mumbai)
Tejal Phatak (Mumbai)
Rohan Rao (Mumbai)

I was very busy since I had three exams before my trip and have my entire end-semester examinations immediately after my trip, so I spent minimal time for puzzles. Not the best thing to do by a national champion but I was left with little choice.

Last year I stood 41st in WPC and my goal this year was to reach the top 25.

6th November, 2011 - 8th November, 2011
World Sudoku Championship 2011

9th November, 2011
We had a day before WPC began. A city tour to an ice cave seemed exciting but no one was prepared for the surprise that awaited us. Right in the midst of the cave, was held the WSC prize distribution and the photo session!

It was an excellent idea, and it went pretty smoothly. It was nice on the organisers part to do something different of this sort, yet, not overly change things.

10th November, 2011
The World Puzzle Championship 2011 began.

Round 1: In Memorium
It was a pretty ordinary start. Not too good, not too bad. Ulrich Voigt (Germany) outperformed everyone by a good margin.

Round 2: Assorted Puzzles
I started feeling weary and tired. Mental strain was winning over my body. I seemed very slow in a lot of puzzles this round, and I knew this was going to be a bad round. And it was.

Round 3: Cows
I'm usually good at recovering after bad rounds, and this was no exception. The 75-pointer Small Regions was my strength and I'm glad I could crack it. The 'Knight' puzzle had no solution, so I'm sure many players would've been affected.

Round 4: Borderless
Clueless in borderless. I do not know how other players felt about this round, but I had no strategy in this round. I was not comfortable with any variant, and I couldn't see a path other than guesswork in solving these puzzles. I wasn't even confident of getting a non-zero score.

During the first 15 minutes, I kept switching from one puzzle to another, having no progress at all. Then, I found a clue in Easy As ABC (big) and I solved it. That encouraged me to do the smaller one too, and that was all. Palmer Mebane (USA) scored 295. I wonder...

Round 5: Evergreens
I thought this was one round where I could really score well. I was quite disappointed with my performance. Got stuck in a couple of puzzles, made an error in one. On my day, I could've done much much better.

Round 6: Board Games
The concept and puzzles was very nice. It was fun solving them. Lets not talk about the scores though.

Round 7: Naval Puzzles
By this time, all of us were tired and we knew we had no hope to getting into the top 15 in the team rankings. We just solved this for the fun of it.

Not a very good first day for me. I was ranked around 40th at the end of Day 1. Too difficult to get into top 25 from here. I just hoped to better my last year's rank of 41.

11th November, 2011
Day 2 of WPC.

Round 8: Screen Test
This was the best round of WPC. A screen test with animations! Some beautiful puzzles, and great ideas. A huge round of applause followed the test which shows most people enjoyed the test. I hope some players benefitted by the Screen Test I had organised on LMI a week before :-)

In terms of scores, Annick Weyzig (Netherlands) and Jason Zuffranieri (USA) topped with 185 points. I scored 125 and at least I beat Palmer Mebane (USA) and Ulrich Voigt (Germany) in one round!

Round 9: Sprint
Anyone loves Numberlink and Train puzzles? Try solving these ones. These were some tough ones for me. I think some of them were the toughest I've ever solved.

Round 10: Divide And Conquer
I love this puzzle type. And the puzzles that appeared, were simply superb. Even the easier ones, had some fantastic logic to it.

Round 11: Magic 11
This round was themed around the number '11'. It was a good round for me.

Round 12: Hungaricum
A couple of good rounds earlier, but this round was not good. I was floating around the mid-30's and I had a good chance to squeeze myself in the top 30 with one round left.

Round 13: Innovative
Another average round.

Round 14: Best Of
The last individual round. And I messed it up. I got the lowest points among the players in the top 35 and I lost three ranks directly.

Bad finish, but I'm glad I was able to better my rank. I finished 34th.

WPC Playoffs
The format of the playoffs was interesting. Top 10 puzzlers start solving based on a time difference in proportion to their scores. The last 3 players to finish the first 3 puzzles are eliminated. Then the last 2 players to finish the next 3 puzzles are eliminated. Then a fight to the finish with the last 3 puzzles.

Ulrich Voigt (Germany): 7-time World Puzzle Champion. He had a big lead, and would surely win if the playoffs went smoothly.

Palmer Mebane (USA): Beating Thomas Snyder at USPC is no joke. Beating him again at WPC is no luck. I was pretty confident he would make it to the podium.

Thomas Snyder (USA): Performed poorly in Day 2, and lost chunks of points. But, you could never count him out till the end.

The fight for the title had to be between these three players. It was unlikely someone else would win.

Hideaki Jo (Japan), Bram de Laat (Netherlands), Peter Hudak (Slovakia), Nikola Zivanovic (Serbia), Roland Voigt (Germany), Wei-Hua Hwang (USA) and Neil Zussman (UK) complete the top 10. Michael Ley (Germany) finished 7th in the standings, but surprisingly (and unfortunately), he was not in the official team, and hence could not participate in the playoffs.

The playoffs began and it was going like everyone had expected. Ulrich had a one puzzle lead for a major portion and Palmer was catching up quickly. Thomas was unable to catch up to them. It all seemed to going well, and Ulrich reached the second last puzzle, with a one puzzle lead. Then the tables turned. Ulrich kept making a mistake. He was desperately erasing and trying. Palmer on the other hand, completed the puzzle and was the first one to reach the last puzzle. A few minutes later, he had won. Ulrich was still stuck on the puzzle. Now even Thomas reached the puzzle and solved it too! Just a few seconds after Thomas reached the last puzzle, was Ulrich able to complete his second last one. But he beat Thomas in the last puzzle to take silver.

Playoff Results

1. Palmer Mebane (USA)
2. Ulrich Voigt (Germany)
3. Thomas Snyder (USA)

Individual Results

1. Ulrich Voigt (Germany) - 5085
2. Palmer Mebane (USA) - 4769
3. Thomas Snyder (USA) - 4546

Indian Results

34. Rohan Rao - 2898
85. Rajesh Kumar - 1691
91. Rajib Ranjan Borah - 1495
97. Tejal Phatak - 1143

Complete Individual Results

Team Results

1. USA - 20447
2. Germany - 20304
3. Japan - 18026

Complete Team Results

Overall, it was a great championship. The puzzles, the rounds, and the format and organisation was as good as it could get. With WSC and WPC combined, it involves a lot of effort and work, and the Hungarians did a wonderful job.

I am happy with my performance. Top 25 would have been ideal, but at least I was able to improve my rank.

Congrats to Palmer Mebane for winning his maiden WPC title.

Congrats to Thomas Snyder for finishing on the podium in both events. Congrats to Thomas Snyder, Hideaki Jo and Nikola Zivanovic (and Michael Ley) for making the playoffs (top 10) in both events.

It was good meeting up with old friends and new ones, and I hope this trend of WSC+WPC continues (maybe with a little more rest time or little less puzzles!)


Rajesh Kumar said...

It was nice to read your experience. Reminded me our days during WPC, in Hungary.
Looking forward to play game of Abalone with you.

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