Announcing: LMI Sudoku Mahabharat

This August, the Indian team was in London for the World Sudoku and Puzzle Championships. I have been recapping my personal experiences there, and I will continue to do so, with two parts left in the series. However, it is now time to draw attention to one of the ideas that came up during our discussions in London.

A little background first. In 2012, the Indian Sudoku team was decided by the Times Sudoku Championship (A National-level event conducted by Logic Masters India and The Times of India) for the first time (Previously, it was decided by the Indian Sudoku Championship, organized solely by LMI).  Though I would definitely do things differently on the publicity side, and I think it could’ve been a whole lot better, the partnership did cause a substantial increase in participation, going from hundreds to thousands.

The problem is, there aren’t that many new regular Sudoku enthusiasts coming out of it. Especially now Rohan Rao, Rishi Puri and myself seem to be, without doubt, the best three players in India, switching orders in different competitions over the last two years. Sumit Bothra, Jaipal Reddy, Gaurav Korde, Rakesh Rai, Ritesh Gupta etc. are all great Sudoku solvers who are regularly in the top 10, but there aren’t many new faces.

There are many opinions on why this is the case, but for the purpose of this blog post, I’ll put my own out there: It is quite simply because, at the stage where there is highest participation, there isn’t any exposure to the level at which the Sudoku regulars practice. By the time the National Finals with higher variety and difficulty takes place, only the old guard make it. However, this isn’t a problem with an easy solution – you cannot make the earlier round hard as that would demoralize newcomers pretty quickly, and you want a fun event first and foremost. The only solution seems to be to increase the numbers that make the finals, and since it is the sponsors who will need to make added expenditure to transport the finalists, the final decision in this case has to be theirs.

Either way, for any enthusiast thinking it is too difficult to step up into the top Indian ranks, well obviously it isn’t (and shouldn’t be) easy, but it is very much possible to make a quick ascent. Just look at the most recent climbers – myself around 2012, and Kishore Kumar now. The path for both of us has been similar in the sense that we both were regular in online competitions which mimicked the standards of the World Championships. We may have been bad at the new variants at the start, but that’s definitely the level to practice at, and will mostly help to break into the top ranks.

logo

This is where Sudoku Mahabharat comes in (quick clarification – depending on the success of this event, we DO hope to have a Puzzle Mahabharat as well in future years). Is this the only plan to give an opportunity to new talent? No, and there will be other projects announced. But the novelty of this tournament does address some issues. First and foremost, this tournament is organized by some of the regulars of the Indian teams that have been going to the World Championships in recent years. This means most of the top solvers are not competing. The aims of the competition, in relevance to the issues above, are as follows:

1. A competitive format is offered here, and the importance of this can never be understated. Solving a single Classic on a publication or website is different from solving a group of them in a timed format. There is a challenge in both areas, but the National and World Championships are built on a competitive multi-Sudoku timed-round environment. In such an environment, there is room to improve even in Classics for a Sudoku enthusiast.

2. This tournament will provide a look into the variations that appear at higher levels, in a categorized format to help in understanding them. It will also provide both an easy sample of the variant and a more difficult, regular sized version of the variant. The newcomers will have a chance to try out new variants in the easier format, and later move on to the harder levels of the same variants. This structure ensures that every participant has a fun challenge to look forward to.

3. To give new talent the chance to shine in a National level competition. There is hope that this will further encourage the winner to participate more regularly.

So here’s an invite to all Indian Sudoku enthusiasts to a great opportunity. Please visit the following pages to know more about the event, which will also feature an offline final in 2015.

The main Sudoku Mahabharat page: http://logicmastersindia.com/SM/2014-15.asp

The Sudoku Mahabharat Discussion thread: http://logicmastersindia.com/forum/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=868

The first round, with Standard Variations, by Rishi Puri, which starts on the 20th of September: http://logicmastersindia.com/SM/201409/

Also, if you want to support LMI in its various projects, please consider being a patron to the group. To know more, please visit this page: http://www.patreon.com/logicmastersindia

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Announcement: Indian Puzzle Championship 2014 on May 25th

The Indian Puzzle Championship will be held on Logic Masters India this Sunday at 14:00 IST. I won last year’s edition, and went on to be the highest ranked Indian at the WPC, which gives me a wildcard into this year’s Indian team. Therefore, I decided to step back into organizing, and have collaborated with some fine International authors to prepare what I think is a really fun Puzzle set for the Competition.

So I’d encourage all Indians reading this post to participate in this Championship. Please note that for Indians, it is a limited time-slot to participate, as only submissions before 16:45 IST will be considered for official scoring. The top 3 from this competition will be invited to join me in the Indian Puzzle team for the World Championships this year, and the winner of the competition will be the Indian Puzzle Champion for the year 2014. You can check the relevant discussion thread for practice links and other information.

The competition will be open after official time, for International competitors to enjoy the puzzles.

All the best to everyone participating!

Puzzle No. 493 : Maxi Loop + LMI Patreon Update

Hello, dearest readers! Its… been a while. Sorry about that. I feel I’ll have more time for this place come May. For now, I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that Logic Masters India has started its own Patronage system. Please check out our page on Patreon and on LMI itself. The Puzzle pack rewards are currently all written by me, but future ones will definitely have other Indian authors involved too. If you like the hosting features LMI has to offer and/or find the rewards enticing enough, please consider supporting us. I’ve taken up a few things on behalf of LMI here in India, all towards making our group more recognized in the country. Funding certainly helps this.

Anyway, I feel a little bad that I’m only making a blog post when I want to promote something, so here’s a Maxi Loop puzzle to go along with it. I hope you enjoy it!

Rules for Maxi Loop.

Rated – Easy with a slight pause.

Solution.

P493

P493

Puzzle No. 483 – Arrow Sudoku [Daily League] + updates

A few things –

If you haven’t already, please like/tweet/comment for my blog here (if you like my puzzles of course). The blogging awards will be handed out in a public ceremony on the 9th of February (you can find out from the link how to attend if you want to) and some publicity for what we do is always a good thing.

The blog will now be divided into 3 main tags.

1 – Daily League – Medium to difficult mostly-variant Sudokus.

2 – Ex-Contest – Although I won’t be releasing everything I contribute to Championships free anymore (more on that later), I’ll release some of the smaller doses, like when it’s not enough puzzles to make up an entire set.

3. Instructive – I am working on a curriculum for puzzles, and as a result, I feel the need to put some easy puzzles and some preview of tips and so on, without giving the entire content away of course.

I will be linking to this post in the future for reference about the tags. Hopefully I’ll post 2 and 3 tomorrow and day after itself to give a full view of the plan going forward, but can’t be sure of that as I have travel coming up. Definitely within the week.

Now to to the Daily League.

First, PDFs!

The League of Extraordinary Ladies and Gentleman_week01_2014

The League of Extraordinary Ladies and Gentleman_week02_2014

The League of Extraordinary Ladies and Gentleman_week03_2014

Remember that you can solve the puzzles from the League online on the Sudokucup Guest League page with a 24h delay.

Rules – Follow regular Sudoku rules. Additionally, the number in a circle is the sum of the digits which are covered by its arrow. For circles with multiple arrows, apply the rule for each arrow separately.

Enjoy!

P483

P483

Puzzle No. 460, 461 : Breakpoints, Gemini Loop

Sorry about the week long absence, dear readers, just a badly hectic schedule. Everything hopefully back to normal now. There’s still a few WPC practice puzzles left. I’ll go two at a time from here.

I hope you checked out the Beginners’ Puzzle Contest I organized and authored on LMI. This coming weekend, there’s the Screen Test #4, which also, I have authored. For any Bangalore residents (or anyone in that area around that time), the Bengaluru Brain Games shall held be this weekend. Me and Rohan are organizing the Puzzle and Sudoku events here, as always. (I think this last paragraph speaks for itself about the week long absence)

Anyway, today’s puzzles, are two loop puzzles.  I think the Gemini loop has a nice opening. Other than that, nothing too challenging, but ok enough for practice.

Rules –

P460 – Draw a single, non-intersecting loop that passes through all cells. Numbers in the grid indicate how many times the loop makes a 90 degrees turn in the cells surrounding that number.

P461 – Draw a single closed loop that consists of horizontal and vertical segments and visits every cell exactly once. Cells with identical letters contain identical loop segments, cells with different letters have different loop segments. The direction of the loop is not considered, in other words the loop may go through cells with identical letters from left to right the first time and from right to left another time.

(Rules are as they were in the WPC Instruction Booklet, Breakpoints was in Round 9, Assorted Puzzles and Gemini Loop was in Round 4, Dutch Delight)

Enjoy!

P460

P460

P461

P461

Puzzle No. 444-447 : Puzzles from the Visa Application office

In addition to my usual puzzle related activities, I have been managing Team India’s visa application submissions. This has been quite a tough process. As part of the process, I have to stand in queue outside the office for 4 and a half hours, and then sit inside for about an hour more. The puzzles below were part of 9 I wrote when sitting in the office. I was obviously exhausted, and this was more of a “oh, I found a pen and paper, lemme just have a little fun to pass the time” kind of activity. Also, with a pen, I couldn’t erase stuff which makes construction infinitely harder, at least for me. So out of the 9, only 2 ended up working when I reproduced them on the computer. 2 others had easy fixes. The other 5 will have to be discarded as I can’t see what I can do to make them work. This hopefully makes up for my inactivity on this as well as next Thursday. Other than the league post on Tuesday, my next post will be a week after this.

Of the 4 puzzles that made the cut, 3 are Tapa related. This is fitting, as the TVC and CTC are nearing their end. I feel fairly certain of a top 10 finish in CTC, and hopefully somewhere thereabouts in TVC too. Generally happy with how I’ve done this year. The 3 puzzles below have a nice mix of a Classic Tapa, a variant that appeared this year, and a variant from the past. The 4th puzzle is a Shakashaka, which is nothing special.

In other news, the “Around the world in 80 Puzzles” Instruction booklet is out! As announced on this blog before, one of the 4 sets is written by me. I’d like to thank Amit Sowani, for test solving each puzzle and providing some good inputs along the way. I thank Ravi Kumar too, for coming up with the name Indian Intrigue which I liked the most out of the possible names. It was a pleasure working with Zoltan Nemeth and the other Hungarian team members too.

Anyway, puzzles!

P444 : Tapa. Rules for Tapa.

Rated : Medium (could be hard).

P445 : Twopa. If both grids are considered together using the following rule, they will each have a unique solution. In each solution, every clue must behave at least a little bit differently. This means, in a multi-digit clue, some of the digits can have the same behavior, but not all.

Rated : Medium.

P446 : Tapa Trimino. Follow regular Tapa rules (above). Additionally, the wall should only be made up of “L” shaped triminoes without overlapping.

Rated : Hard.

P447 : Shakashaka. Rules for Shakashaka.

Rated : Easy. 

P444

P444

P445

P445

P446
P446

P447

P447

Puzzle No. 440, 441 : Tapa [Touch and Go]

I’ll just quickly link to a few of my contributions to the recent Czech Team Sudoku and Puzzle Championships.

1. I co-authored a Sudoku team round with Tom Collyer. The round has easy classics, that give some digits which need to be transferred to harder variants. The Weighted Killer, the Outside or Skyscraper, the Rossini and the Battenburg are all written by me. They are all uniquely solvable, without the transferred digits, but obviously, the transferring makes them easier. This Sudoku round is the 6th round, and can be found in PDF numbers 28 and 29 in the Sunday tab of the above link.

2. I wrote two team puzzles, one being an interconnected wall puzzle, a combination of LITS, Nurikabe and Tapa. This puzzle has two versions. The original version included determining where the part-grids go as well as solving them. Based on testing times, I decided to make it easier and gave the positioning of the 9 grids at the start itself. The detailed wall rules and the actual competition puzzle can be found on the Sunday tab of the above link, it is the 6th Puzzle round, which is PDF numbers 35 and 36. There are English rules there too. The original version of the puzzle, with just the layout given and some added logic required in placing the part-grids correctly, is given below.

OriginalWall

3. The second team puzzle was a Loop puzzle. It is a combination of 4 loop types, a Masyu, a Yajilin, a Simple Loop and a Country Road. There’s an added rule that there are certain shaded cell positions given where the loop segment behaviour is exactly the same for all 4 grids. This can be found on the Saturday tab, it is the 2nd puzzle round, PDF numbers 16, 17 and 18.

To today’s puzzles now. I came up with this variant today, and liked it enough to use it in two puzzles. I didn’t really check if the variant exists already, but I can’t remember solving one with these rules.

Rules – Follow regular Tapa Rules. Additionally, no dead-end can ever be a part of a checkerboard pattern. A dead-end is a shaded cell with just one orthogonally adjacent shaded cell, and a checkerboard pattern is a 2×2 area of alternating shaded and unshaded squares. Note : The clue cells are also considered as unshaded cells for the checkerboard pattern.

Rated – Medium (the first one’s on the easy side and the next one’s harder)

Enjoy!

P440

P440

P441

P441

Chennai Brain Games – Lead up and Event [Non-Puzzle Post]

I’m finally gonna get around to explaining what I was doing a week or so ago. Some of you already know, but still, the details might be worth the read.

As people who know me or have been following this blog regularly know, me and Rohan are contributing as authors for the Puzzle, Sudoku and Mental Math sub-events during local events held by a sports management company called SportzConsult. They already organized the Delhi Brain Games earlier this year. Having analyzed the inaugural Brain Games event, they started planning the next event in Chennai, Chennai Brain Games. For CBG, SportzConsult set up a few workshops for me to conduct in schools and colleges across Chennai about Puzzles and Sudoku and in general, promoting the events and their accessibility. Since I was born in the state, and had many relatives there, it all worked out quite conveniently. So anyway, here’s a little bit on each school/college I visited :

1.  PSBB School, K K Nagar

There was a little bit of a mix-up here on audience. What we wanted and had planned for was that the students with registrations would attend and I’d get an hour. What happened instead was that entire classrooms were sent to the auditorium to wait and I was given 20-30 minutes twice. The first session was for 300 10-year olds and the second session was for a similar number of older children, although I’m not exactly sure whether they were all just a year older or more. Obviously, there was a bit of a worry going into this one about how the reception might be in general.

Surprisingly enough, the students were extremely enthusiastic. Obviously, I had to adapt my material and also my interactions a lot to make the subject matter really basic and fun, but the audience was generally really excited that there are more possibilities existent in Sudoku and Puzzles. Kids came on stage, asked doubts, and in general were really enthusiastic.

2. Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

IIT is the foremost institution when it comes to higher technological education, and they generally encourage intellectual activities of any kind, so the target audience here was perfect for the workshop topic. As a result, I let the workshop go on long and with great detail. In hindsight, it probably went too long (2 and a half hours), but I’ll put that down to having a solving + doubts bit after explaining each new variant/type. There were 100 people who attended at the start. A few left midway because they needed to be at other events, but the majority stayed on and were pretty interested throughout, and even after the session there were eager students asking me to help with certain types.

3. The Velammal International School

Velammal International School is ever interested in extra curricular activities that sharpen their students’ intellect and are all about giving the students a platform to showcase any form of talent. They promoted this workshop wonderfully, to the extent that everyone knew who I was, my credentials, and were looking forward to the workshop. This one was in a huge auditorium, with kids of all ages, 10-15 I suppose, and teachers as well.

I got a good 1 and half hours for the workshop, so this was a bit of a mix of the 1st and 2nd, with me going into detail but really basic detail, and a quick overview. Again, there were kids coming on stage to ask doubts. The highlight of this workshop came when a student came up and challenged me on stage to a solve-off. The SportzConsult personnel with me did everything to distract me during this, even making me pose for photos with kids in between solving. The whole mini-event was extremely entertaining for me and also for the audience.

Afterwards, there were a few discussions about potential activities in the future, and I hope to post more about this school sometime later.

Now, to the main event –

Since this is a puzzle blog, I’ll focus only on the Sudoku and Puzzle events. We had 3 prizes for Open Category and 3 prizes for U-15 category. The attendance was pretty good and there was enough healthy competition in both categories.

We had 2 rounds of Sudoku, one classics and one variations, and then 2 rounds of puzzles. Each of these rounds was of 30 minutes. In the end, the Open Category winners were a few regular LMI members, although it was pretty close for a few newcomers in the Puzzle rounds. The U-15 category obviously had all new faces.

The most noteworthy fact is that the U-15 Sudoku winner, Pradeep Kumar, was the same kid who had challenged me at Velammal (read above). So I personally awarded him with a small prize on stage apart from the medal, and also shared that experience to the crowd.

After the event, we had a press meet including an interview from me, which there isn’t an online link for. A lot of the interview had me speaking in Tamil though, so I doubt there’s much in it that the International readers of this blog will miss.

It was an absolutely wonderful experience conducting the workshops, and I especially hope that some nice partnerships are made from this for future plans related to the Indian puzzle scene. Photos of the main event can be seen here.

WPC – Around the world in 80 puzzles

I am proud to say that I am one of the 4 lead authors chosen to contribute 1 round each for the 2013 WPC in China.

The 4 lead authors are,

Team USA – representing “Americas”:
Thomas Snyder

Team India – representing “Asia”:
Prasanna Seshadri

Team Netherlands – representing “Western Europe”:
Bram de Laat

Team Serbia – representing “Eastern Europe”:
Nikola Zivanovic

For more details, please have a look at the official World Puzzle Championship blog post regarding the same.

As I have made both Puzzle and Sudoku teams for India too, I’ll be fully involved for that week in China. Looking forward to it 🙂

Puzzle No. 410 : Frame Sudoku [Daily League]

Edit:  Week 24 PDF.

Remember that you can solve the puzzles from the League online on the Sudokucup Guest League page with a 24h delay.

Today’s puzzle is a normal enough. About a medium difficulty. I just thought I’d theme it around the date of the IPC. The results are now publicly available here. I have a total of 977.5 points, having finished with one mistake. A healthy winning total I think. Indians who have participated (or want to participate in future years) should also check the forum discussion about the IPC here and let the organizers know their opinion too.

Anyway, back to the Sudoku.

Rules – Follow regular Sudoku rules. Additionally, a clue outside gives the sum of the first 3 numbers in that direction.

Enjoy!

P410

P410