Apparently, I was wrong about getting the bonus on Round 7. Should’ve known looking at the points, but eh. Anyway, Day 1 was made so bad by Round 5 that I was just hoping to climb a little bit in the rankings on Day 2. Last year, I was 27th and with 3 rounds in Day 2, climbed to 15th. This year, there were just two rounds in Day 2 and I was 28th up to Round 5. Though the Round 6 results weren’t out yet, I knew the climb wouldn’t be much in that one. I also knew that coming up was my favorite round…
Round 9 – Endurance round (90 minutes) – 16/17 – 870/940.
Before this round started, the UK Organizers had to handle a slight misprint, so they made us turn to the page with the Between Sudoku, where there was an extra line, and informed us about it. I thought this was a good simple way to handle it, and also noticed a nifty WSC theme for the lines of the Between Sudoku as I was correcting the bad line. We then had to close the booklet again and wait for the start. I solved mostly in order, with Windoku, Diagonal (I didn’t try it as a Classic this time!), Anti Knight and Palindrome getting done pretty quickly. I noticed another WSC theme with the shaded areas of the Renban Groups but skipped it as I don’t feel that comfortable with the variant. This would end up being the one I didn’t attempt on the round. I solved everything except the (Renban Groups and) Eliminate Sudoku with about 12 minutes left, and I thought I broke it for a minute in between, but it turns out I had eliminated a possibility which wasn’t forced by the eliminators. Maybe I’m an arrow too. Anyway, fortunately I recovered from this and finished the Eliminate Sudoku with 2 minutes to go. At this point, I knew there was no way I was finishing Renban Groups in under two minutes, so just went about checking for empty spaces in everything. There were none.
Round 10 – Overlapping Scattered Sudoku (20 minutes) – 1/1 – 130/100.
I confess I was dreading this round. I hate all such all-or-nothing rounds where its just one Sudoku to solve, because the difficulty is at the organizer’s discretion, and harder ones can lead to some unnecessarily high variance in the scores. To the organizers’ credit here, this one was easy enough to be ~10 minute solve in general, and indeed, some of the best times on it were 7 minutes. Rohan did really well here and finished in 8 minutes, but this wasn’t enough to get him in the top 10 unfortunately, and he finished 14th. Me? I had a repeat performance of my Times Sudoku Championship 4th round earlier this year, which was a Samurai with a similar round structure. I solved the entire thing, spotted an error, erased the entire thing, and re-solved the entire thing. There too, Rohan finished earlier than me, but there he made a mistake and I ended up having best score on that round. I’m really thankful he didn’t make a mistake here, but I also wish I’d stop making these Overlapping Sudokus into Double-Solve Overlapping Sudoku variants. Anyway, I still managed to finish with 3 minutes remaining, which was ok, but dashed my hopes of being within the top 20.
I finished 21st. Rohan, as I said, was 14th, Rishi was 36th, and Sumit 55th. If only Rishi was 35th and Sumit was 56th, we’d all be multiples of 7. I am thoroughly disappointed that this didn’t happen. Or maybe I’m just projecting my disappointment of my own performance over there. Something like that. Anyway, there was one team round to go, which didn’t need as much co-dependence as rotation or stripping… I mean Strip Sudoku.
Round 11 – Team Round – Linked Sudoku – 5/5 – 3360/3000.
Like I said, this didn’t have as much co-dependence as the previous team rounds. The structure was simple. There were 5 Sudokus, a Killer Pro, a Diagonally Non Consecutive, a Toroidal, a Sum Skyscraper, and a Musketry Sudoku (Overlapping grids). Each of these were uniquely solvable but were really difficult. There were some letters marked in some cells in each of them, and same letters would be the same digit throughout. e.g., if there’s an A in the Toroidal and the Musketry, and if A=5 in Toroidal, it’ll be 5 in the Musketry too. So it was a simple case of solving each of our own variants and communicating a letter’s value if determined. All the variants were strengths for me, so we went a different route and I took the one which was everyone else’s weakness – Toroidal.
Rohan took the Diagonally Non Consecutive, Sumit took the Killer Pro, and Rishi took the Musketry. We managed to solve things smoothly enough, and Rohan was the first to finish his I think, so he began working on the Sum Skyscraper. Sumit finished Killer Pro around the time when I had made the Toroidal easy enough to just have the last bit of filling done. Sumit grabbed the Toroidal and told me to help Rohan with the Sum Skyscraper, but almost immediately threw it back and told me to finish, because again, he couldn’t read my handwriting to finish (at this point I think it is only appropriate that I submit my humblest apology to the markers who had to put up with the handwriting that my team cursed on day 1 and gave up on on day 2). Anyway, not much damage done, as I quickly finished the Toroidal, and went over to helping Rohan with the Sum Skyscraper. We managed to finish this as a team, since Rishi was done with the Musketry too. We finished the round with 9 minutes to go and ended the WSC on a positive note.
We had been ricocheting between 7th and 8th in the Team standings throughout the WSC, so we expected a 7th with the last team round being good. A 7th would’ve tied our previous best ranking at a WSC, one which we have achieved twice before. However, the French team who were 6th for most of the WSC, were kind enough to goof up in the last team round, making an error that cost them almost 2000 points and pushing them one point behind USA, down to 8th. We got pushed up to 6th, making this our best team ranking, and also a newsworthy fact for our sponsors to report.
The funny thing here is, we wasted a whole lot of effort trying to get the UK WSC logo in the background, only for Times to photoshop it out anyway. I’m guessing its because of some policy against publicity to other brands, or something. I would probably not do that, but its their paper, their policy, no issues.
Anyway, I confess I went to my room and slept through the WSC playoffs, but only after proving how horrible I can be at Tennis, playing against the rest of the Indian team. The playoffs this year had a better structure than recent years simply because the top 10 were divided into groups, with the final group being 1st-4th. This means the preliminary rounds winner can only drop to 4th at most, so at least in my opinion, it was a fairer structure. The playoffs apparently went fine, except for a minor glitch – in the final playoff, the markers judged a correct solution wrong somewhere, causing minor confusion. This did not impact the top two, so it was resolved simply by declaring a tie for 3rd place. The top 3 were as follows:
1. Kota Morinishi (Japan).
2. Tiit Vunk (Estonia).
3. Bastien Vial-Jaime (France) & Jakub Ondroušek (Czech Republic).
I congratulate the winners, and going by performances in online contests over the past year, this is a fair reflection of the world’s best solvers. Also, this was a WSC which was a lot of fun, and left me wanting more. My only criticism is a really selfish one – it needed more long rounds. It is down to personal opinion and strengths and weaknesses of each competitor I suppose, but as far as preferences go I will always prefer the longer rounds. Maybe next time I should just ask the organizers if I can sit and solve all the rounds at a stretch…
Anyway, that evening, the WSC closing ceremony took place. I cannot begin to explain just how entertaining this turned out to be. The Indian team table probably had laughter throughout dinner. We just could not stop joking around, not that anyone wanted to. Within all this though (literally within all of it, we somehow managed to keep joking), we also discussed some serious matters. The discussion inevitably went to Logic Masters India’s future plans. We have come a long way from the Mock Tests that started on LMI, to having themed contests, Annual feature Contests and Beginners’ Contests. Every puzzle enthusiast probably knows what we’re about by now, so I need not go further. This year we started our patronage system to get some funds, in order to progress things in India. So apart from all this, we discussed some new ideas, which will probably be publicized in the near future. Most of these ideas go towards finding and developing talent within India, but there may be something to interest International competitors too in the process. Either way, stay tuned.
That’s all for this recap. The next one contains controversy, magic and Canadian Geese!