Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Information and discussion on Puzzle Competitions
Nilz
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by Nilz » Thu 16 Aug, 2018 5:53 pm

This thread has reminded me of a very important point! Tom, did you ever receive your prize money last year? I can't remember whether I received my runner's up prize, though if you did I'll assume I did.

detuned
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by detuned » Fri 17 Aug, 2018 8:08 pm

yes I did.

Unfortunately I don't think I'm going to be able to make it on Thursday :(

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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by detuned » Thu 23 Aug, 2018 9:16 pm

Did anyone go?

Nilz
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by Nilz » Fri 24 Aug, 2018 5:44 pm

I took the day off work to go; David Collison was the only other person I recognised from this parish.

Results (for all events) are published here: https://msoworld.com/2018-medal-table/
Relevant bits are:

Puzzle Solving- Kenken & Other Puzzles
Gold:Neil Zussman-England
Silver:Paul Smith-England
Bronze:Joanne Leung-England

Puzzle Solving- Sudoku & Killer Sudoku
Gold:Neil Zussman-England
Silver:Lovely Krishna Kattamuri-India
Bronze:David Collison-England

Congrats David on getting back on the podium after a year or two away.

The all-time medal table makes interesting reading: https://msoworld.com/all-time-medals-table/
My 3rd and 4th career gold medals have moved me just ahead of Mark Goodliffe courtesy of my additional silver medal (91st and 93rd respectively). At one point, they'd only marked the sudoku, and so I was on 3 golds which placed me in illustrious company, being just below Eggheads legend Kevin Ashman (130th) and just above someone named Angus Walker...

DavidC
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by DavidC » Sat 25 Aug, 2018 2:15 pm

Congratulations, Neil, on an excellent pair of victories, especially as the format changed this year. Thanks for posting the results - your post was how I heard the good news!

David

detuned
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by detuned » Sat 25 Aug, 2018 5:12 pm

Ken Wilshere there on 6 golds in 51st!

What were the formats like this year? Looks as if they've substituted killer sudoku in for kenken in the sudoku event, and then moved kenken in with "other puzzles". What was the variety like?

Nilz
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by Nilz » Sat 25 Aug, 2018 8:19 pm

The sudoku had classic (some pretty difficult), diagonal (pretty easy), irregular (not too hard) and killer (2 very difficult ones that I didn't make much progress on at all- the only 2 puzzles I didn't finish in time).

Puzzles had Kenken (a bit of a challenge, included sizes up to 9*9 which was pretty interesting), futoshiki (not as horrible as I expected, to be fair, even the 9*9 puzzle), numberlink (easy), star battle (mostly not too hard, one or two had a couple of stumbling points for me), straights (not a puzzle I'm overly familiar with, again one or two had a few stumbling points but I think that was due to my own unfamiliarity). I finished them all with about an hour to spare, possibly 1.25hrs (out of 3.25 hours total).

It's possible I've forgotten a type somewhere.

detuned
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by detuned » Sun 17 Mar, 2019 2:43 pm

Saw an email in my spam folder - the schedule for 2019 is out: https://msoworld.com

Of most interest to these parts are the following competitions, both happening on Tuesday 20th August 2019:

10.00am: Sudoku and Killer Sudoku
Sudoku is a logic-based, combinatorial number-placement puzzle. The objective is to fill a 9×9 grid with digits so that each column, each row, and each of the nine 3×3 sub-grids that compose the grid (also called “boxes”, “blocks”, “regions”, or “sub-squares”) contains all of the digits from 1 to 9. The puzzle setter provides a partially completed grid which has a unique solution to be solved.

The competition will include:

Classic Sudoku

Killer Sudoku (follows classic sudoku rules but also includes areas which must add up to a given number, without duplicating numbers within the area)

Diagonal Sudoku (the main diagonal must also obey the same rules as rows/columns)

Jigsaw Sudoku (areas have different shapes)
2.15pm: Puzzles (Various)
3:15 hours to solve as many puzzles as you can!

Puzzles will include:

Kenken

Star Battle (a placement puzzle where you must put two stars in every row, column and area)

Numberlink (a path puzzle, draw a line that connects each pair of numbers)

Straights (this is a grid with some black cells in it. The goal is to fill the grid with numbers so every “compartment” has a set of consecutive numbers, not necessarily in order. Numbers must not repeat in rows/columns)

Futoshiki (fill the grid with numbers obeying the inequality symbols provided)

dickoon
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by dickoon » Mon 19 Aug, 2019 10:14 pm

Good luck to everyone solving in either contest tomorrow!

DavidC
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by DavidC » Wed 21 Aug, 2019 8:57 pm

Thank you. It was good to see Tom and Neil, and Rodders for the first time in ages. There were some other familiar MSO faces too.

David

detuned
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by detuned » Wed 21 Aug, 2019 9:12 pm

Results are up: https://msoworld.com/2019-medal-table/

Sudoku:

Gold - Tom Collyer
Silver - Neil Zussman
Bronze - David Collison

KenKen & other puzzles:

Gold - Roderick Grafton
Silver - Tom Collyer
Bronze - Neil Zussman


I'll write up some thoughts a bit later, but the results of the puzzle competition are somewhat surprising given Neil handed in miles before anyone else. I was next to hand in I think, and after that I don't know as I'd left the room.

detuned
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by detuned » Thu 22 Aug, 2019 8:02 pm

Some quick thoughts about the events.

Sudoku:

I think Neil had mentioned to me previously that the Mind Sports Olympiad tends to oscillate between being quite easy, to being very difficult. This year was a very difficult year! The format involved solving 8 Classics, 6 Diagonal, 6 Irregulars and 8 Killers (not 100% sure on those numbers, please shout if I'm wrong Neil/David/Rodders). Rather disconcertingly, it was announced that although points were allocated to each puzzle, they weren't necessarily going to be consistent within the types - so that a 40 point Irregular might be much harder than a 50 point classic, for example. That to me is a pretty big no-no for any kind of competition, especially one you have to pay £10 to enter, but I wasn't that bothered because my main aim was to finish the whole set in a faster time than anyone else.

The classics started off very easy, and ended up very hard - I had to guess to finish off puzzle 7 and 8 after a second pass. The diagonals were more of a consistent difficulty, and weren't particularly difficult, with the diagonal constraint solving more or less early on in the puzzle leaving some easy classic solving to finish the puzzles off. The irregulars on the other hand were very difficult. The first few were on a medium kind of level, but quickly escalated to very hard. More on this in a second, but I moved on to solve some of the killers, which started off very easily, but quickly escalated to being very difficult - I think there must have been 4 at the "deadly" rating of the Times scale. Coupled with the last 3 irregulars, there were a significant amount of puzzles that took me what felt like 15-30 minutes to solve. The solving paths were very narrow, so that it was nigh on impossible to guess to break in to them because there weren't any obvious places to guess. Instead you just had to slowly slog your way through them.

In the end, it took me just over 3 hours to get through the set. I imagine my head got a bit frazzled and I wasn't solving as efficiently at the end compared to the start, but that should give you an idea of how hard the puzzles were. Very. Speaking with Neil afterwards, it sounds as if no-one else was close to finishing the set when they called time a little bit later.

Puzzles:

This was a shambles of a competition. Basically they reprinted some old WPF Puzzle GP puzzles (albeit from different years and different rounds) - with the GP points, the author of the puzzle and even the damned answer keys - together with two KenKens at the end. At least the GP puzzles were printed ok - the KenKens seemed to have been photocopied badly, with the edge of the paper cutting off the right hand side of the grid. That said, it wasn't very clear as to whether you needed to fill out the answer keys. The MSO people in the room didn't really know. I ignored them.

The puzzles themselves were on the easy side, and I think Neil got through all of them very quickly - I saw him staring at one puzzle in particular as I was fixing my silly mistakes. Eventually he handed in. I soon got to the same position, trying to figure out the next numbers in the following sequence:
2, 4, 2, 4, −4, 16, 8, 64, 32, ?, ?
Apparently there's an intended solution, and an alternative solution.

I eventually got the alternative solution and handed in. I don't know exactly what happened next, but the final results look a bit strange based on my experience. Speaking with Neil afterwards, he said that he'd spent ages and ages not making head or tail of the sequences and had got fed up and handed in with an (incorrect) guess, so I was kind of confident that I'd beaten him, assuming I hadn't made a mistake. So I'm not quite sure how Rodders has pipped us both. Maybe me and Neil both had a mistake somewhere and Rodders didn't - but given the cluelessness of the MSO people there I wouldn't be surprised if it was something like the wrong time being written down. Perhaps more likely Rodders got the intended answer to the sequences and this got more credit than the alternative sequence.

Rodders if you're reading - I'd be interested to hear what you did put for the sequence.

Anyhow, it's very hard to recommend the Mind Sport Olympiad as a competition worth doing on this evidence - from the re-use of old puzzles, to the time limit of the event, to the balance of the puzzles selected (Neil would have quite rightly crushed the field had it not been for those sequences). I've since found out that the WPF (Prasanna) actively enabled the re-use of the GP Puzzles for competition - heaven only knows what was going through his mind to conclude that was a remotely good idea. Maybe they'll get some original puzzles in future years.

detuned
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by detuned » Thu 22 Aug, 2019 8:57 pm

As an aside, Neil now has two separate entries in the MSO's medal winners database :roll:

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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by Fred76 » Fri 23 Aug, 2019 9:38 am

detuned wrote:
Thu 22 Aug, 2019 8:02 pm
I've since found out that the WPF (Prasanna) actively enabled the re-use of the GP Puzzles for competition - heaven only knows what was going through his mind to conclude that was a remotely good idea.
  • hypothesis N°1: He thought that it would be an advertizing for GP competition. He didn't care about the fact that it is unfair (it is the responsibity of MSO organizers)
  • hypothesis N°2: "MSO is not a high-standing competition, only uneducated (meaning not knowing existence of WPF) people will take part, so that it will not be unfair."
  • hypothesis N°3: To give an advantage to regular GP players, and WPC historical players ("We are the best, see how "our" players dominate the puzzle competitions). - I'm sure the historical WPC players don't need this kind of advantage to show their skill... -
  • hypothesis N°4: WPF fear concurrence with other puzzle competitions, it was a good occasion to "downgrade" a contender. - Not very consistent with WPF goals obviously -
  • hypothesis N°5: He doesn't take part -> he doesn't care about. - Everyone can see the WPF director gives up his director responsibilities when WPF competitions begins to take the role of a player. Perhaps he's more involved in the role of player than in the role of director. -
  • other...

Fred

detuned
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by detuned » Fri 23 Aug, 2019 5:56 pm

I’m not sure it’s completely fair to put words into Prasanna’s mouth - I’d imagine he has his own take on it and has somehow managed to rationalise his decision. All I know is that regardless of anything else, if you’re supplying puzzles for competition, don’t reuse anything!

rodders
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by rodders » Mon 26 Aug, 2019 11:10 am

detuned wrote:
Thu 22 Aug, 2019 8:02 pm

Rodders if you're reading - I'd be interested to hear what you did put for the sequence.
I did get the correct intended solution but only after at least 10/15 minutes of staring at it and playing with various possibilities! I had left it until last and the advantage I had was that knowing that Neil and you had finished in considerably quicker time, if I was to beat either of you, I had to rely on you making a mistake so I sat there until I was happy that everything was correct. (David also left while I was pondering the sequence - although I subsequently found out he hadn't attempted all the puzzles as he was just there for a bit of practice).

If the competition had a more challenging time limit - or bonus points for speed, then I am sure that both of you would have beaten me. For info, I left at approx 2h 25m which I think was about an hour after you. I did note that the invigilator wrote the correct time on my sheet though so I don't think that was an issue.

Agree with you on many points above. Although I can say with near certainty that I didn't gain any advantage from puzzles being repeated (given I only participate in about 50% of GP events and only complete about 30% of puzzles when I do!), I think it is very poor that puzzles (and answers) in the public domain were used.

Partly hollow as it may be, I will still take a victory over you and Neil - I suspect it won't happen again :)

Good to see you, Neil and David though - and congratulations on your victory in the Sudoku contest.

detuned
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by detuned » Mon 26 Aug, 2019 1:22 pm

Nice! - getting the intended solution to that sequence I think makes you a very worthy winner Rodders. I have to say I think both me and Neil looked at it for a lot longer than 10/15 minutes so to get that intended answer was a really good bit of solving!

Nilz
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Re: Puzzles at the Mind Sports Olympiad in London on Sunday

Post by Nilz » Wed 28 Aug, 2019 8:19 pm

Congrats Rodders. I could've stared at that sequence all day and not got the answer (I already did spend about as long on it as I spent on all the other puzzles combined!) so as Tom said, solving it makes you a worthy winner. That's one reason why reusing puzzles is clearly far from ideal- I'd far rather win by 'solving' than 'remembering'.
I'm as confident as I can be that I solved everything else correctly, and I knew I hadn't solved that, so I expected to lose 13 points, and therefore for Tom to win (given that I knew he'd handed in second). I guess the fact that he didn't (but definitely got that question right) must imply that he made an error on a different (lower point) puzzle.

On the sudoku side, I had approx 2 classics (low points), 4 irregulars (various points) and 2 killers (one low points, one high) unsolved, so for me to finish second shows that Tom's basically on another planet when it comes to those puzzles!

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