I promised myself I wouldn't blog too much (or miss obvious sleep windows as I'm going to need them on this trip) but day 1 went pretty well for me. I appreciated the novelty of the first round and while we did not get "scanned" papers from other solvers to "grade", the creative use of alternate fonts captured a lot of common mistakes (blank cells, double cells in the pencilmarks font) even if the challenge of certain fonts (die pips, mirrored numbers, roman numerals) was much higher than others that were simply different but relatively normal presentations of 1-9. About 2 minutes from finishing it, but I bet it is close to the high score unless someone guessed luckily. Part 2 was a big manipulative puzzle and I got going well and finished with lots of time bonus. So this is where tomorrow you might get the ETA for me talking about losing lots of points potentially. At least this sudoku has partial credit (and potentially 60% time bonus if close enough to correct). It was an interesting idea and I think would have been assisted by a second grid to help solve, but I managed to deal with the stacking information better than any other by several minutes at least.
After lunch was the first time we actually got to write a number into a sudoku puzzle. I decided to have a little fun after the first round when someone asked "would anyone actually solve a puzzle with sideways numbers?" and I went ahead and did the first 1-6 sideways to mimic a round 1 puzzle. It may cost me 10 points for being cute, but I'm prepared to have it protested as interpretable correct digits are still correct from that round at least. Reverting to normal solving mode, I finished all the classics, but not with any time bonus. There were literally 2 seconds on the clock with the last 6x6. I figure given the size of this round this is about as good as the round could go for me. I joked to some others that I had only practiced on "1" classic sudoku this whole trip. It certainly is less than 5, but the "1" I've mentioned was a large foldout interlinked grid from a Japanese nanpure magazine I had around. I do notice my normal skills are a bit rusty, specifically spotting the ninth element when I have eight in a row or column. It only costs small seconds, but that's where focusing on puzzle practice the last two weeks besides sudoku will bear its head.
Anyway, after that was the half cells round, a jigsaw variation I figured I would do very well with. Again, I think I was the first to finish and with a lot of time on the clock (11+ minutes) so warning bells for a small error may creep in again. I'm very sure I will meet the 95% threshold if anything was actually wrong. Round 5 was the first full variations round and seemed too long to finish. I got 9 of 11 out and could have had 10 of 11 if I was sharper at math but some simple things about sums and primes avoided me for too long. 40 minutes is not much time for those puzzles though, although they were particularly clever versions of each of these gimmicks.
The team rounds sapped the rest of my mental energy as I played Chinese Fire Drill on both of them it seemed, jumping between puzzles as you might imagine a chess master playing games against many opponents. Write some numbers here, move around the circle. Repeat for 40 minutes. We got 7 of 8 done on the first part, with just a single broken variant we couldn't fix before time expired. We managed better with the second round, and finished almost half the round time left.
Altogether, it definitely feels like one of the best days I've had at a WSC since the first one. But my focus is still 5 days down the line. Let's hope that doesn't cost me tomorrow when this event wraps up. But I may not be able to go 110% on all the rounds as I did today as a late evening playoff does not play well to my tired brain. I'm not sure I'd be winning anything if it was happening tonight.
The puzzles have been tremendous so far, and I can't wait to see what is still to come. The Eger WPC was one of my first events and probably still my favorite. This has a good potential to top it.
ETA: As I wake up a little earlier than planned, it seems the slow release of scores is still slow. Rounds 1,3,4 have been released (missing what I hope is also a great #2 and a good enough #5) but the expected post day 1 WSC board is shaping up. Gap from me to second (a pretty familiar name) is larger than gap to the end of the playoffs. We'll see if that holds up. My biggest worry right now, given the slow scoring with so many competitors, is the playoff not happening on schedule because of grading not being complete. Fingers crossed that doesn't happen.
1. Thomas Snyder - USA - 1139
2. Jan Mrozowski - Pol - 1000
3. Tiit Vunk - Est - 994
4. Michael Ley - Ger - 990
5. Vincent Bertrand - Bel - 970
6. Hideaki Jo - Jap - 934
7. Nikola Zivanovic - Ser -932
8. Florian Kirch - Ger - 929
9. Kota Morinishi - Jap - 920
10. Bastien Vial-Jaime - Fra - 906