Puzzle No. 227 : Various paths meeting to share a common interest…

The WPC was over for me with just the play-offs the next day, and it was time to have a go at puzzle-racing again! And so, team Super-Awesome was born. Elena(Greece), Tom(Bar) and me teamed up against the less glamorous teams of Tiit(Estonia)-Fred(Switzerland)-Gregory(Greece), Vasso(Universal)-Jason(Nomad)-Antony(Greece) and the 4th team made up of Anderson Wang and the rest of the US B Team. We had 2 puzzle books and were to pick a wide variety of  puzzles to then race with. Our team strategy was obvious. Elena is the correct solver, I’m the guy who breaks puzzles and then gets them right the 2nd time, and Tom’s the guy who trash talks everyone, including me! We won the 1st round, and the rest of the rounds weren’t as important 😛 Other significant points include Tom beating Jason on a Kakuro, and me breaking 2 Killers in a row, and then still getting them out at a decent overall time 😛

Around the 3rd round of these races, we were interrupted by Jakub Caban of Poland, who said he’d invented a puzzle. Full details of the family version of this puzzle are available here on Tom C’s blog, and I’ll refrain from saying much more. So after this a bunch of us stayed with the Polish team for the rest of the night. Only those who have actually been with the Polish team will find the next bit normal.

First, we danced to an Indian song choreographed by Vasso(and yes, I’m from India and I still had to learn from the talented Greek!). We then had a few games, where in one I was a fish, and in the other (a mild kissing game), the undeniable winner as I was the only guy who found himself sitting between 2 girls 😛 We were then singing a few songs and discussing about jumping into the sea, but then we decided against it, I think because we didn’t have paper, but I can’t remember. I remember Jakub C telling me I’m a sick guy for posting a puzzle everyday, and I’ll take that as a twisted compliment and continue doing it 😛

Anyway, we went to sleep pretty late, and I think some stayed up all night. I woke up barely in time for the play-offs, and missed Ulrich vs Nikola. I’ve already said I won’t cover the play-offs, so congrats to Ulrich, Thomas and Palmer again.

Moving on, we then had the football match. I had a pulled muscle from something I’d done the other night, and I was also not seeing properly, but I can’t miss football for such small reasons can I? Unlike last year, the game was played outdoors in a regular ground with the full teams. We were taken there by little buses that had to make double trips to get us all there.

I lined up in defense in a team that featured the likes of Tom, Bram and Jaanus(who is immense in defense). The starting exchanges both resulted in goals, and TBH, I was missing pretty much everything I kicked, due to the partial blindness already mentioned! But at least the rest of my team were doing well, and we were just about managing in defense enough that we took a lead around halfway into the first half and started to pull away for most of the game. It was 6-4 with not a lot of time to go, when we changed up the formation and I and another defender switched positions with 2 midfielders. At this point all hell broke loose and The opposition scored 3 goals one after the other until we had to draw level with 2 minutes to go. A bunch of mis-communications later(I confess I was at fault in one of those), we ended up being on the wrong end of a big comeback triumph.

A while after this, we were at the closing ceremony, which was fun. They gave the prizes for the Crossword competition, the WPC, and to Vasso and the Slovakian team. I was a bit disappointed not to get a prize for my Sudoku team round exploits but I’ll put it down to Goran’s laziness 😛 Anyway, I was just roaming around after the dinner, talking to different people. I think my best moment was when I showed potential to be a great interviewer when I asked Michael Ley “Last year you won a big tub of beer, and this year you just won a trophy. Which feels better?” and he said in proper diplomatic fashion “Last year I had many friends, this year no one cares, so I’m definitely gonna have to do something about that”.

A few other good moments were going around to the UK Table and getting all their names right, having a photo taken with Kota Morinishi, and joking around with the Hungarian team who had adopted Elena from Greece for the night. It was after all this that I got to the Slovakian team, where I know many people online, but I’d never really gone over and said hi. So I said hi. I had an interesting discussion with Matej Uher about our 2 recent LMI tests Logirace and Borders & Beyond and creating puzzles in general.

After the crowd thinned, I was left with Tiit, Jakub Ondrousek(Czech Republic) and Zuzka and Miska from Slovakia. They were playing a game in which a two person team alternates between each other entering one digit at a time into a Sudoku grid. I joined in, and the first one was Tiit and me teaming up. A little bit into it, Tiit made a mistake(ya, really, not me, Tiit!) and Jakub reset and stopped the timer. We realized the mistake, went on solving, and got a legendary 0.00 time for a sudoku! My only other feature in this was teaming with Jakub to destroy a Frame(did I mention the no pencil marks rule?) in 3 and a half minutes or something, even though I made a slight mistake that I quickly corrected.

After that, while the others were racing, and Bram and Fred had joined in, I was having a fun conversation with Miska. By the end of the conversation we’d agreed that I’d have to visit her in Slovakia in the future, and that she’d have a Killer Sudoku created by her waiting for me at WSC-WPC London in 2014. Quite a productive conversation if I may say so. After this, poor Zuzka had to erase all our work as the books were to be returned to Matúš. Me and Tiit walked over to the party going on just outside the restaurant, where there was a couple singing and playing the guitar.

After a while it was Vasso’s turn to play and sing. At this point I was sitting there, near her, Michael Ley, and some of the Croatian Organizers, later on going over to the Polish team table and then to the table with Goran, Elena and some other Croatian Organizers. There’s a few very important points about this night to be noted here –

1. Vasso Kalaitzidou is probably the most multi-talented person I’ve met, and I’ve met many multi-talented people.

2. Michael Ley did do something about it, referring to his earlier segment in this write-up.

3. Goran is an alien who never speaks the truth and never does anything :p

4. The Polish team shall always be the best company at any random time.

After this, I said my goodbyes, and prepared for the long, and I mean loooooong trip back home. Today’s puzzle is a single Pipes puzzle. I again had to use the silly crosses in my hurry.

Rules – Connect each number in the grid with one gray circle, with a line that connects horizontally and vertically neighbouring cells. The lines cannot cross or overlap. Each number indicates the length of the line that connects that number with a circle. More than one number can be connected to the same circle. A line cannot pass through a cell with another number. All cells have to be used, except cells marked with X.

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