As I said on the last post, I woke up fine enough on the morning of the WSC. It was one of those “memory of a headache making you feel woozy” situations, which made me dread the fact that Round 1 was a 20 minute sprint round with just Classics. As a slow starter who thrives on longer rounds and isn’t great at Classics, I just wanted to get this round over with and move to the variants without much damage done.
Round 1: Classics. 7/10 – 130/200.
I came out of this round feeling really good about myself. Relatively, I had done well, since Rishi had solved 7, and Rohan had solved 8. I had solved 8 too, so at that stage I was about 5 points away from Rohan (he’d done a higher pointer along the way). Unfortunately, this round contained my only (uncaught) error of the entire WSC, and it just happened to be on the highest (25) pointer. So 155 turned into 130. However, I didn’t know this until later in the day, so like I said, I was feeling really good about myself. Which helped with…
Round 2: Common variants. 9/12 – 445/535.
Again, I felt good about this round. The Surplus and Deficit were good to start with considering I’m a slow starter, since they didn’t take much effort. The Surplus was valued high and I could see why but I sped through it nicely. I did have just 5 digits left on a 50 point Arrow Sudoku though, so little margins and all that again. But that’s a part of competition, so I wasn’t dwelling on it, and 445 seemed to be a good total. The bigger mess-up in this round, which I did dwell on for a little bit, was the silly thing I did of trying to solve the Diagonal Sudoku as a Classic for 15 or so minutes. When I discussed this with other competitors, they said they found it hard even as a Diagonal, so you can imagine how stumped I was, and how foolish I felt once I realized this. Ah, well, I didn’t have much time to think about it, because coming up soon was…
Round 3: Outside Clue variants. 8/9 – 435/510.
Another round which I thought went well enough. With 5 minutes to go, I had an Even Sandwich Sudoku left, and the two Classics offered at the end of each round. I picked the Classics, and got them both done. Overall, this was going well.
Round 4: Neighbours/Adjacency variants. 6/10 – 300/560.
Yea, this didn’t go well. I broke the 70 point Consecutive Sequences Sudoku, and could not find the way to fix it, and this lost me a significant chunk of time. However, due to a difficult Inequality Sudoku, not many finished this round, so at least the competitors weren’t too far ahead.
After Round 4, we went away for lunch, and in the back of my head, I know I had messed up the Math round of the last two WSCs really badly, even though it is generally my biggest strength in online competitions. I really wanted to do well here.
Round 5: Arithmetic variants. 3/9 – 165/555.
Yep. 3rd consecutive WSC. That thing’s really going to weigh over me in coming years. Not sure what I’m supposed to do because it isn’t a speed thing – like I said, it is generally my biggest strength in online competitions. And its not even like I get stuck. For all 3 WSCs, I have broken half the puzzles of the round. I just seem to solve wrong for that one round, for the WSC. This year, I broke the Killer Sudoku, which was the first one I attempted. Determined to not let that ruin my round again, I restarted it… and broke it again. Maybe I was being unnecessarily stubborn, but I restarted again… and broke it again. At this point, I finally left it. The Arrow, Star Product and Little Killer all got done fairly quickly. Then I just skipped over to Killer Pro, which was the highest pointer of the round at 120… and broke that too. Then I went to the Diagonal Arrow with about 5 minutes to go, and got through 90% of it, but couldn’t finish it on time. After the round, I let out a bit of a groan and just threw my pencil down in disgust. However, there wasn’t much time to reflect (which is probably for the best) since coming soon was…
Round 6: Geometric variants. 6/9 – 390/525.
Considering how I felt after the last round, I thought I recovered well here. Relatively speaking, this was a pretty good score, even though I started in a little bit of an uncertain way, due to the previous round. I got all the high pointers done except the Toroidal Sudoku. The Hex, which was valued at 140 didn’t take me nearly as long as the 85 point Sudokurve, which had more connections than usual, across 9 boxes instead of the “usual” 4. I’m not a big fan of this as I believe it makes it more workmanlike and has a lot of searching. I also messed this one up by using rows where there weren’t any grey lines connecting boxes, meaning I broke it once and restarted. Thankfully, I was able to finish it eventually. Until now, the quality was high, and all Sudokus were fun to solve, so this is a minor blemish, and is probably only down to personal tastes.
The individual rounds were done for day 1. I wasn’t feeling nearly as good about my performance as I did for the morning rounds. Since there were two team rounds coming up, again, there wasn’t much time to reflect (again, probably a good thing).
Round 7: Rotation Sudoku – Team Round – 2640/2880.
This round consisted of 6 Sudokus, each being divided into 4 4×5 quadrants. Each quadrant was denoted by a different color, and we were each given a pen which wrote in a matching color to one of the quadrants. At first, we were given 4 of the Sudokus (the other two would be given as one of the originals got done or skipped), and every 90 seconds, Tom Collyer (organizer) would shout rotate in varying tones and mock accents and what not, because well, it’d be boring to shout it in the same way each time. When he shouted this, we had to pass the Sudoku we were working on, and get to the one passed to us. The catch was that we could only solve within our respective colors. This meant there needed to be some creative help for other quadrants by way of markings in our own quadrants. This meant the rest of the team felt the need to punch me, after being put through the ordeal of reading my handwriting for the markings. Sorry, team. Still, we did well in this round. There was one Sudoku we made an error in, so this was frustrating to figure out every 90 seconds, and it got really messy (not just me, everybody, so its not a handwriting thing here!), but we managed to make the digits clear eventually and fix it. We finished the round, but missed a few points because of an accidental digit placed in the wrong color. We protested this, because we had communicated this to the supervising organizer during the round and were told that one digit is fine and would be considered. I think we got the bonus but not the points for the quadrant with the problem. Not much of a gain.
Round 8: Strip Sudoku – Team Round 800/1600.
Many jokes were made because of the name. Even the media coverage in London had a little fun with this name. The round was actually about ordering some strips of paper that had rows/columns, one on top of the other, in such a way that the final visible Sudoku grid would be a valid solution. The solution wasn’t the requirement, the order of the strips was. We probably didn’t have the best preparation/strategy for this round, and didn’t do that well. We solved 2 out of the 4, and broke the 3rd one. We made a guess for this but it went wrong.
After this, and a quick dinner, the Sudoku Grand Prix playoffs were held. The difficulty was generally easy (I knew this since I had written a Classic for these playoffs, and the difficulty guidelines were pretty strict. If you haven’t seen it yet, the variation I submitted, a Repeated Neighbours, got rejected for being too difficult, and appeared on GM Puzzles. Quality wise, it is pretty good, I think, and worth a try. I fully understand why it didn’t meet difficulty constraints for the GP), so there wasn’t much chance of overtakes. India’s Rishi Puri was starting from the 9th position in these playoffs, and couldn’t make up much ground, but also didn’t fall behind, so he did well. He got a certificate for being a ‘Grand Finalist’ so that’s nice.
Tomorrow I’ll cover Day 2 of the WSC, which had the only 90 minute round of the WSC (everything else was 20 or 45). I knew I had a bad Day 1, but how much could I cover up in Day 2? Stay tuned…