World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

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ronaldx
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by ronaldx » Tue 26 Oct, 2010 11:58 am

This has been an awful morning of puzzles for me.

Round 1 - My plan was to start on Puzzle 1 (Networky one), then work on Puzzles 5 (vector lengths one) and 6 (Missing digits making sums - you can see I am rubbish at puzzle names but they were all effectively variants of sums). I did spend some time on 6 but didn't take the chance to look at Puzzle 5 (which was a stupid mistake - seems like I correctly predicted this one would be relatively possible).

I think the first digit I put into Puzzle 1 was a mistake - eventually I found another (better) start, but I ended up erasing everything except the one cell I was sure about. I was worried that I'd left a cell in another puzzle by way of grey link I had forgotten to erase... but apparently I got a positive score on the "Welcome" Round. 1 point!! (This puts me at least a few places above the bottom of the leaderboard - several people scored negatively)

Round 2 - Standards were ok for me. I concentrated on the bigger puzzles and got 4 of them out, plus a couple of little ones I looked at the end - maybe around 100 points here from 300, compares ok with others, I think, but we'll see The simple puzzles were simple enough that their scoring was probably fair at just a few points - I tried a couple which took less than 30 seconds. I spent a long time on the Hitori which had some neat logic I haven't seen for a while. I kept on putting in a guess, working for a bit, and then realising that I could logic a bit more somewhere else in the puzzle and discarding the guess... right through to the end of the puzzle made for a slow process. For some reason I decided to start a Paint It Black (which seemed pretty simple, had a nice start, but at some point I realised that I had 300 little cells to fill in). Am I insane?
Steve's strategy of blitzing the smaller puzzles was a good one, something I should have considered more carefully towards the end. The little battleships, which I planned to spend the final 2 minutes on, took me about 10 seconds... leaving me with 1 minute 50 that I hadn't considered what to do with!

Round 3 - for me this was a bomb round. I felt that I had to concentrate on the higher-point Sudoku-base puzzles but on reflection this was a mistake. With 5 minutes to go I had 0 puzzles complete and 0 prospects of completing any - luckily I managed to tweak the ABC connection for a mere 16 points. I expect to be very close to last place on this round :(

Round 4 - Anaconda. As predicted this was extremely hard and not at all obvious where to start. In order to get the points for a snake, we had to provide the correct snake as given on the complete solution sheet. We were warned that puzzles may contain multiple solutions when considered individually, but these would not be valid.

I was working on Spiral - the Sym-a-Pix snake. I struggled with this - I think one particular problem was that my pencil marks were not clearly different enough from the printed lines on the grid. Somehow I made a mistake and started again - I let Steve take over when he had come to a neat point in his puzzles (Steve and Gareth then shared credit for at least a valid solution to the Spiral - tho it was my feeling that there were other valid possibilities for that too). Suddenly I'm not feeling so confident about the Sym-a-Pix team round later on!!

I then worked largely on a bottom corner which had been part-completed - I managed to come up with a reasonable solution for the WPC2010 snake (although certainly there were various multiple solutions that I observed, I picked the 'best' one that most avoided the edges), but then the Every Third Corner snake one in from the corner (adjacent to two completed snakes) provably had no valid solutions - meaning at least one (and possibly both, with the corner) of the neighbouring snakes must be wrong. Perhaps indeed there was a different/better solution for the WPC snake winding around the other way (I couldn't eliminate this possibility in the time, so left it in the hope of getting the points for that puzzle) - we can only hope!

The Every Third Corner had a very nice start point with a 6 on an edge... the 6 could not be the end of a snake (so the neighbour snake is also constrained) and must be a turn - so I was able to draw a useful wee bit of snake from that (which proved there was no solution with the constraints from the other neighbours, thinking about it probably primarily the WPC neighbour) - and it had many third turns which seemed to force each other in several ways. I suspect the ETC snake had a unique solution and would have been a good place to start (in the middle of the puzzle!).

It must be said that Simon was a little star in this round, working carefully through a couple of puzzles on his own. Teamwork got better as we went along, with a few sweet requests for help and advice coming from everyone.

Now we have an idea of difficulty level: if I can get 1/3 points in an average (remaining) round I'll be happy! By which I mean one-third, not either one point or three (which I have sadly succeeded in already)

The puzzles are beautiful but I am just not quite getting far enough into them. Boo!

PuzzleScot
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by PuzzleScot » Tue 26 Oct, 2010 1:22 pm

Thanks for the updates! I see R2 results are published now, and that you've overtaken a few teams, including India, Finland and the polish Junior team (phew!). Keep up the momentum, and I look forward to summaries on the day's proceedings later ;)

[edit: Ronald - To cheer you up, I had a zero score round last year]

david mcneill
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by david mcneill » Tue 26 Oct, 2010 1:49 pm

Watching you guys with interest and 100% behind you. It's clear that many of the puzzles are incredibly difficult. I can see that Round 2 has gone much better than Round 1. It takes time to get into your stride. I hope things will continue to improve.

Thank you Ron for sharing the highs and lows with us on the forum. I want to wish you good luck for the rest of today. I share your desire for open communication. Something we can work on when the championship is over. I tend to be rather sparing with my comments on message boards.

In the meantime, enjoy the puzzles and the WPC community.

David McNeill.

drsteve
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by drsteve » Tue 26 Oct, 2010 2:51 pm

Just to clarify - I'm in favour of open communication, just not in the middle of a competition!

Anyway, it's a break before the team round. The last two rounds were utter nightmares with no-one claiming a stunning performance. High points include myself forgettin the sudoku was diagonal (they weren't marked) and Gareth spending time solving an example!

Must go. Round 7

drsteve
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by drsteve » Tue 26 Oct, 2010 3:36 pm

Having a lovely time watching the sym-a-pix round being marked. Nice bit of teamwork, but didn't get enough of the stickers on in the time. Will be interesting to have a go at home on this one.

Ooh, just managed to save the team four points on the marking. Go us!

ronaldx
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by ronaldx » Tue 26 Oct, 2010 5:20 pm

The first half of the day was awful. Niels Roest (Netherlands) and I have commiserated each other on our awful scores - mine obviously awfuler than his, though perhaps not relative to our ratings on paper.

I can't really explain how I'm so far off the pace... lack of recent experience and a bit of tiredness creeping in I guess. I felt more competitive in this afternoon's rounds - for example I solved out the hard odd/even slitherlink - but I realise that I should have checked it more carefully as it would be incredibly easy to have just 2 squares with wrong parity and not notice. Hope to improve by a couple of places before the end of the day (I suspect Niels did rather better on the later rounds, it's getting to be something of a tradition for him to have a slow start)... will have to wait and see.

detuned
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by detuned » Tue 26 Oct, 2010 6:51 pm

Ronald - keep plugging away, most (human) people get struck by a bad couple of rounds every now and again. It only takes one confidence boosting round to get back in the swing of things!

Otherwise I'm with David - following with interest and behind you guys 100% of the way - thanks for the updates!

GarethMoore
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by GarethMoore » Tue 26 Oct, 2010 9:45 pm

Round results up to 7 out now, excluding team round 4, so that's the day 1 individual results complete. We're all fairly close to each other in the results now.

drsteve
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by drsteve » Wed 27 Oct, 2010 5:34 am

Morning day two. Black pudding and cabbage salad in front of me for breakfast and I'm psyching myself up for today.

For me, yesterday afternoon was a disaster. A number of unsolved puzzles and mistakes ins some of the ones that I thought I'd solved. My personal "battle" with Gareth is getting silly - seems like we competing to see who can drop less points rather than gain more.

Seriously, I'm hoping that today will go better. More standard puzzles that I'm comfortable with and some new ones that appeal to me. There's a small number on thr assorted that I don't like - 25 again, geometric shapes and hula hoop spring to mind, but most of the rest are my sort of thing, so fingers crossed I can be more careful today and bump my score up a bit

Off to scout out the grounds in a mo for Round 11 and then back to some practice. More later.

detuned
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by detuned » Wed 27 Oct, 2010 12:49 pm

Cheers for the update Steve. That breakfast sounds hideous! I hope that things are going more smoothly today.

drsteve
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by drsteve » Wed 27 Oct, 2010 5:09 pm

Well, day two is over.

Sprint went well for me, but the days fizzled a bit. Looks like the top fifty target I set myself was a step too far - vladimir's puzzles just don't agree with me it seems.

Team rounds were a lot of fun, with TWO of us finishing (the admittedly easiest) two puzzles, but the overall slitherlinks eluded us.

And I must apologise publicly for not sharing a last minute strategy with the team for 2D Magic thingy but, hey, it is a competition after all.

ronaldx
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by ronaldx » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 4:30 am

Steve: I'm genuinely angry about this situation and I'm finding your jokey apology hard to stomach.
I shared with you everything that I had, in good faith. It really is a waste of my time to share strategy tips with a guy who doesn't share back. In the meeting to discuss the puzzles, it was generally agreed that it was not worth spending too much time on this puzzle. That you didn't (as I recall) comment otherwise feels even like deception to me. What was the point of having that meeting? I could have spent that time talking through the puzzle with somebody else who would have helped me out.

In general I feel that I got more out of working with the Bulgarian team on the puzzles than with the UK team, which is not really what I would have preferred. There has been a slightly uncomfortable dynamic this year, and I have to apologise to everyone for my part in creating that. I don't bear any personal grudges, it's just been a shame that we haven't been able to communicate fluently with each other on this occasion.

In more interesting news, I got called into the scoring room regarding the Graliter puzzle. In case you're not aware, we were given a ball (as in http://www.graliter.pl) and asked to form equations by reading the cells (pentagons and hexagons) that were connected around the ball.


Graliter puzzle spoilers below you're safe to read the first paragraph, but reading any more could potentially spoil an interesting part of the puzzle for you, just to give you advance warning.

I turned up and 10 Polish guys and girls wearing red shirts are staring intently at me. What have I done?! They ask me how I went about solving the puzzle, and I explained that I had misunderstood something of the rules and written down a lot of incorrect equations (this was about 30% deliberate - because there was no penalty for writing something wrong, I just thought I would write anything that seemed like it might be reasonable - but it was about 70% that I was solving the wrong puzzle, which I realised about 30 seconds before the end of the round).
They later admitted that they were concerned that my ball had been arranged incorrectly out of the box, and wanted to interrogate me to confirm that before awarding the scores!! I thought that was pretty decent of them.
I don't know how they are counting the scores for that round - many people wrote 50+ equations... with the potential for many more. And it's clear that they are checking each individual equation by hand! I think it will be a late night...

:!: :!: :!: Spoiler reminder. You can still get the same "enjoyment" out of playing this round after reading the below, but it will spoil a certain aspect of the puzzle as we were given.
Alan: can you/we investigate installing "spoiler" tags for BBcode?
Here's a link with a quick install process: http://mods.mybb.com/view/spoiler-bbcode

:!: :!: :!: There may obviously be the same spoiler in replies to this thread which I might not be so careful about catching, and in fact the same thing is spoiled over on motris's puzzle blog already, so probably it's not worth worrying about it. If you really cared, you wouldn't be reading this sentence, so you might as well carry on reading now:

PRIME_BBCODE_SPOILER_SHOW PRIME_BBCODE_SPOILER:
It turned out that there was an interesting symmetry to the orientation of the ball. There was a South and North pole that couldn't be crossed (I was not expecting this, and found it a shame: I was hoping for more of a spatial awareness aspect to the puzzle). Then there were two symmetrical equals signs and the two hemispheres of the ball (east/west) were symmetrically identical.
This meant that you could trace an equation path from one equals sign to the other, you could do the same on the other side, leading to any number of equations like 2*47/129=2*47/129. If you fully appreciated that, you could immediately write an equation covering every cell on the ball (I haven't checked but I'm pretty sure; earning you 60 bonus points), and then it becomes a speed writing contest. Edit: I suppose it's theoretically possible to write a longer equation using both equals signs, i.e. 3=4-1=2+1, but obviously nobody did that.
Some accusations of unfairness were put about - but it's my feeling that this was perfectly fair - everybody understood the rules (even me, although I might not have applied them correctly). Perhaps I'd concede that it was unfair on the people who did solve it, who could distinguish themselves from each other by how fast they could write - tho even that was partially fixed with a maximum score on the round.
if you fully solved that puzzle for that round, you would have got 60-100 points more than somebody who didn't. It really seems reasonable to me.

Edit: you can see on the scoreboard that actually very few players scored more than the 60 bonus, and those that did are amongst the best overall competitors. I spoke to Zrinka who had reason to be annoyed when I told her about this pattern - she had pretty much spotted it, but using the +0 to form equations like 2*47/129 = 0+2*47/129

I'm quite amazed that I scored 10, considering that the equations I wrote down were essentially not following the rules of the puzzle! That's even not a bad score for the round ;)

drsteve
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by drsteve » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 5:48 am

Concerning the unshared strategy.

Sorry for trying to make light of this. To clarify, I spotted the pattern at about 845 on the morning of day 2 - it was the only time I had any hint of this and certainly did not know of it during any of the discussions.

Yes, it was wrong of me not to share it - it was a judgement call and a very bad one on my part, certainly not one becoming of a team captain. I had what I considered to be good reasons for keeping it to myself but with 2020 hindsight, it was a serious mistake for which I can only apologise.

I must admit that I have found it difficult to balance the roles of a team captain with those of a competitor. Maybe I am deluding myself, but I see myself as having the potential to do much much better than I have done in any WPC in the past or present. I clearly put myself ahead of the team here, and I seriously regret my choice.

By the way, in case anyone wants to know it, the five examples of each digit are always a knights move apart - anything not in the centre square forms a cascade - along 2an up or down 1, looping back of the other side of the grid if you go off.

There's usually a bit of extra at the end but this does make it pretty quick.

Anyway, I digress. I have already tendered my resignation for future WPC captaincy and I can only apologise once more and assure you that it will not happen again.

drsteve
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by drsteve » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 8:39 am

Well, that's it for the UK participation. No mathematically impossible miracle has propelled us to the finals. The scores for the screen test aren't in yet, so we might nick a place off Finalnd, but now its time to relax and enjoy watching the final.

There was a huge tech failure meaning screen test was a pencil and paper affair, delayed by an hour and a bit. Hope they don't regret arranging a trip for this afternoon now if things run over even more.

Time for a cup of weak Polish tea, I think.

GarethMoore
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by GarethMoore » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 8:59 am

Our final results are now up.

PuzzleScot
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by PuzzleScot » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 9:30 am

Well done guys! Remember nobody back home could have done any better than you, so there is nothing to be ashamed of. Now go party!
PRIME_BBCODE_SPOILER_SHOW PRIME_BBCODE_SPOILER: Final UK Points
Steve 687
Simon 592
Gareth 574
Ronald 407

Maxelkat
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by Maxelkat » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 9:49 am

I second that - well done Steve, Simon, Gareth and Ronald!

danmoore
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by danmoore » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 11:19 am

Well done everyone, hopefully you can relax now... sounds like all that concentration must have been pretty tiring!

david mcneill
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by david mcneill » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 11:36 am

Well done guys. Sounds like the puzzles were very nice. Just not enough time to do them justice. I hope you enjoy solving the ones you didn't get done on the way home. But don't be too anti-social. Enjoy the craic.

Thank you for the updates. The tension is understandable. It is like sitting 15 exams in 2 days.

The forum has been great. Many thanks to Alan and Mike for setting things up. I hope we can all help the forum to go from strength to strength.

David McNeill.

nickdeller
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by nickdeller » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 11:52 am

A "well done" from me to everyone, too. Not the results we were all hoping for, perhaps, but you've still been solving a good number of puzzles under the clock where 99.9% of the population wouldn't even know where to look for a start. I reckon we're all better placed now than ever before to make puzzle-solving a collaborative year-round activity, and we'll all be in better shape to start the upward climb this time next year as a result. :-)

detuned
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by detuned » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 1:17 pm

Out of interest - how is revealing the final scores a spoiler?

Anyhow, well done guys. The schedule - as ever - looked gruellingly relentless, and I imagine there is some advantage in being able to keep up a concentration span across all the rounds. And never underestimate the effect that time pressure can have on you! It seems that it even got to the likes of Thomas Snyder. I especially think Gareth is due some credit for holding up well against the more experienced members of the team in his first performance. For everyone to get through it with heads held relatively high is still an achievement.

Speaking diplomatically, I think we'd all have been happier if the scores were slightly higher than they were and I think this sense of self-kicking probably contributed to the tension too. I can particularly identify with Steve's sense of anticlimax having perhaps looked on for a top 20 in Philadelphia after day 1, before slipping away to 38th or something after an anonymous day 2. Yet I think there are a lot of positives to take out of the experience. As a relative newcomer to the UK WPC discussion, I have always had the impression that previously everything was a little chaotic and lacking in organisation. This year I have been highly impressed with the level of discussion together with a general sense of contribution from everyone, even from those not out in Poland.

If we can keep up a decent dialogue after the event, together with a healthy competitive spirit, then I think think there's plenty of potential to keep improving.

But enough of that. It's high time for you guys to firstly enjoy the spectacle of the grand final, and secondly to properly unwind. Enjoy!

ronaldx
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by ronaldx » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 2:10 pm

Tom: I agree that the organisational side of things was much better this year, as a result of everyone's hard work.

I really identified the benefit of having Nick Baxter on your team this year - he puts a lot of effort into making sure everything is easy for the US team to manage and concentrate on puzzle solving.

dickoon
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by dickoon » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 2:13 pm

Yet another "well done", gang, and thanks for sharing so much about the event. Very much appreciated!

PuzzleScot
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by PuzzleScot » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 3:05 pm

ronaldx wrote:Tom: ... Nick Baxter on your team this year ...
Wrong Tom ;). detunedtom is most certainly British! You may be thinking of motris?

detuned
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Re: World Puzzle Championships 2010 :D (Team Diary)

Post by detuned » Thu 28 Oct, 2010 5:12 pm

Yup, I'm definitely a Brit. There's definitely no comparison between motris and I solving-wise (except maybe in a one-off sudoku puzzle). Authoring-wise, I suppose we are both called Tom and we both do Friday Puzzles (mine was definitely first 8-) ). His puzzles are generally more "challenging" - not necessarily in absolute difficulty, but in terms of novel new logical tricks and variations - than mine, not to mention more polished and error-free :)

However, I agree with the comments re Nick Baxter - he definitely runs a highly professional show. I've had many fascinating discussions with him to do with his organisation of championships, test-solving, points allocation, as well as general puzzle style and he has all the answers. Of course it helps that guy is a pretty decent solver himself, and has a generous selection of some seriously good solvers at his disposal too. Still, not having to worry about the little things as a solver is an obvious advantage - ironically we probably have Nick to thank for a general lack of little things to worry about when we went with Mike as player-captain (albeit not part as the official team of 3) as opposed to any non-playing captain in Philadelphia. This is definitely something puzzler got right (at previous WSC's at any rate), and Ariane was also generally very good at that side of things.

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