Update

I’m now a contributing Puzzlemaster at Grandmaster Puzzles. This obviously raises questions about this blog and whether I’ll continue posting as usual (not that I’ve been posting as usual recently anyway) here. Realizing that a post about any plans would just get lost in a pile soon enough, I’ve simply updated my About the Blog page to address this matter. That should cover everything.

I hope everyone enjoyed my debut week on GM Puzzles, even though many of you figured out it was me before the introduction puzzle. 🙂

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LMI Way

The regular readers of this blog will know that I am regularly directing you to the Logic Masters India website. Regular visitors there will know that I’m extremely active there, and take some part in the organizing side of things too, when I’m not participating. Basically, I sometimes handle the communication part with the authors, before they send their booklets on to Deb. Then Deb handles everything from there.  So, I obviously believe in the LMI process of hosting contests, and I’m involved in it in my own little way, so when criticism arises, no matter how utterly meaningless, I feel I owe a little reply (especially when I’m indirectly mentioned within the post).

Firstly, a little about the critic himself :

The critic, as a puzzle author, has a reputation that precedes himself, from various sites, and also his personal blog. This reputation is that the majority of his puzzles are broken (be it without solution or non-unique). If one were to include, by his definition, “miscommunication of rules” into it, then that’d make even more of his puzzles broken. There are enough comments, opinions, feedback from websites and respected puzzle solvers, and also my own personal experience, that the critic’s reputation is a valid one.

So when he wanted to host a test on LMI, the main worry was that a majority of the puzzles would have problems. I decided to go ahead and give him a chance. So I told him, strictly, that he should get the entire set test-solved by two known puzzle solvers, who should personally tell me that the test quality is good, and then I will suggest to Deb to host the test. A little later, the critic sent me a message that he wants confirmation that the test will indeed be held, because he would find it painful to draw the images, and wouldn’t want to without confirmation. I confess I completely ignored him from this point on, as I really think we’d given him enough of a chance in the circumstances. He definitely should not expect a confirmation, with his reputation, before the puzzles have been seen by anyone.

Now for the LMI process :

LMI expects the authors themselves to review their sets with 1 or 2 testers, to confirm validity and assign difficulty-based points. This is, I think, quite a normal process, and is just as much for the good of the author as it is for the good of LMI. It is true that 2012 had two broken puzzles. LMI conducted 22 Monthly Tests, 6 Beginners’ Contests, 8 Annual Contests in 2012. That should easily cross 500 for total number of puzzles, with 2 broken. LMI owes this accuracy rate to the authors and their own process of test solving. At points when authors can’t get test solvers, me or Deb will talk to someone for it. And if untested, it will not be allowed. I think the system works, but I’ll let people judge. Anyone who wants to author a test, and do it right, can contact us (me or Deb), and we will guide you.

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.

A few updates [Non-Puzzle Post]

Regular readers of this blog might be wondering why I haven’t gone back to my regular schedule like I said I would, and didn’t even post a Sudoku for the Daily League yesterday, instead asking someone else do so, after which Karel kindly stepped up.

My past week has been bad. First, my laptop starts crashing and I need to give it for servicing. The servicing has costed quite a lot, and I’ll be getting my laptop back tomorrow, maybe. Then, I fall ill. It started off with just little things and suddenly escalated yesterday, leaving me in quite a bad state. Its gone as quick as it came though, and today I’ve almost recovered, and its back to the little things. I’ve still decided to prolong my break (from everything) though, just to be safe. But, I’ll still be updating my PADE page because that takes minimal effort as far as actually creating the puzzle goes (the challenge is mainly in thinking up a link to that day’s theme), there’s some nice easy puzzles there.

I knew about PADE through Indiblogger and there is now Indian Blogger Awards that’s been organized by them. I’ve nominated this blog there, and if you want to say something about it, go right ahead.

Also, a few competitions have been announced. In chronological order,

The Times Sudoku Championship, in partnership with LMI, will be held across 4 cities, selecting 4 winners. The final 16 then compete in the finals and the 4 winners there will form the team representing India at the World Sudoku Championship 2013 in China.

The Indian Sudoku Championship, hosted solely by LMI, will be held online on 10th August, and will be used to decide the official Indian Sudoku Champion. The winners here can also opt to represent India at the World Sudoku Championship, in an individual capacity (unless the winners merge with those of TSC of course).

I hope to build on my IPC win with good finishes in both of these events. I also hope to get over my disappointment of not making the finals of the TSC last year…

Puzzle Related Announcements – Borders & Beyond has started!

Well, this post is a bit more than just that announcement. But anyway, I’ll link you to that first, and then move on to other things. I’ve scheduled this to be posted around the time the test starts but its the first time I’m scheduling a post so, if there’s a mismatch, blame it on wordpress. 😛

Submission link (with IB download link on the page).

Discussion thread.

All the best to all, and hope you all enjoy the puzzles.

Now to the other things. Nothing major, just a basic summary of the year. I’m pretty certain I won’t have time to stop and reflect later on as I create puzzles far too frequently to allow for thinking time (Just ask the people who test my puzzles so efficiently Murat, Bram, and at times Tom. Well, mainly Murat coz he’s the fellow who solves all the easy newspaper puzzles quickly, he’s kinda online a lot 😛 ). I have the newspaper puzzles due every 10 days(I batch together my 1 puzzle per day agreement) so I thought I’d sneak in a week of inactivity in the lead up to my test, with the promise of course that you shall anyway be treated to 20 of my puzzles over the weekend. While inactive, I want to summarize the last year, because, well, even the folks who generally don’t have decided to open up recently and I’m supposed to be an open book anyway!

Lets start all the way back in November. I personally think I got lucky, since a few top players didn’t participate in the Indian Sudoku Championship, and then another 2 sat out, and my 6th place was enough to get me into the team to go to the World Championships. Only after I was in Eger was I truly exposed to the different variants, Sudoku and puzzles (I used to think the “new types” of the ISC/IPC itself were beyond me and restrict myself to the known types, and that was somehow enough).

So anyway, that experience in Eger (including all the friends I made there 😉 ) was a kind of wake up call that hey, I got so far knowing such a small number of puzzles, maybe I can really improve. So the one major goal from then on was to get to Croatia 2012(I’ve covered the fact that I’ve achieved that extensively here already, so not focusing on that), and from then on started a crazy rush of puzzle solving through all the popular blogs out there. Whether that saturation of puzzles was it or whether I was just lucky, I basically started creating out of nowhere. I never thought of creating up until that Heyawacky popped into my head, and no matter how easy that puzzle was, from then on it just followed one after the other. So I decided to start a blog, and wanted to challenge myself to be like Palmer (quantity-wise) when he first started blogging. And for a long time I did manage that daily update, no matter what. In fact, with 21 puzzles posted on my birthday, I shot ahead of that target.

When I started the blog, and set this target, I had no idea that my puzzles would be of a satisfying quality. To be very honest, the blog was just started to put my puzzles up, however crap, with the main aim being that this creating thing helps my solving side a bit. But with all the things happening this year, I can certainly say that I have indeed achieved a satisfactory level of quality as well. I first got that newspaper deal, and then a few other things, one after the other. As all of these came, it became more and more difficult to maintain this blog, and I think that is obvious from my recent frequency.

Now, the posting dates are really random. And I want to rectify that. I look to those other puzzle blogs again for a good idea. I’ll update on certain days of the week so you all know when to visit. For this however, I need to wait for a little more time and see how a few other puzzle related endeavors go.  I’ll be able to settle on something by November I think. Until then the posts here may continue to be random, and I can’t help that.

Authoring an LMI test, is something that I have greatly anticipated. I asked for a September slot really early in the year, just to give me a good amount of time to get myself well versed with creating puzzles in a competition format. I’d like to think that that was a good decision and I really hope it shows in the test. I find it fitting that I write this year’s summary on the day that Borders & Beyond starts.

There is 4 more days left in my break, so there will be no posts until the test gets over when I might write a summary.