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17 April 2008 @ 09:51 am
WSC 3 - This one goes to 11  
I've never used the word before, but "w00t!"

Okay, technically I tried to use the word before, but showed my complete unhipness by spelling it without numb3rs.

So, while ~40 hours of travel await before I can get home, I can announce once again that I am world sudoku champion. The official site does not list the results, but the individual competition was a very tight race between myself and Jakub Ondrousek. He blazed through the classic rounds bonus-wise while I could not bank a lot of bonus as the variant rounds had none. He and I were the sole finishers of round 2 with him about 5 minutes faster. His relay round time though gave him a ridiculous 12 minutes of bonus points which carried him slightly over me for the top individual placement entering the playoffs. Still, the two of us were significantly separated from the field with Yuhei Kusui from Japan in third. As I predicted, in a championship with strong scoring biases towards classics, all 4 "classics trophy" players were in the top 8 (1,2,4,7). We went through long playoff rounds (that continued to be adapted seemingly on the fly in an unsettling way - we first got a list with 3 puzzles in the 3 rounds, then it suddenly became 4 before they started. We had semifinal/final/classics final listed on the page but they ran it semifinal/classics final/final.

So, anyway, after struggling with jet lag and round and round of puzzles I broke but perservering to have a solid qualification, I pulled out two stellar finals rounds where it mattered on stage under the cameras and won both titles, hopefully putting to rest the need to run two "separate" championships. I appreciate having classics more represented in the competition, but the sad truth of classics puzzles is that if you make them very hard, competitors will go to the "nuclear option" of bifurcation to solve them fastest. I like poker and roshambo as much as the next person, but a sudoku tournament should test skill not luck and so the hardest classic in the playoffs being a total guess-fest was silly.

Negatives aside, the puzzles were excellent, many were incredible with artistic themes and beautiful solving themes. I'll enjoy solving them slower soon.
THrpipuzzleguy on April 17th, 2008 04:41 am (UTC)
I shall also show my complete lack of hipness: Yeeeeeeah, boooiiiiii!!!

Have fun with the aftermath; maybe you'll have better luck with the late-night TV circuit than I've had.
(Anonymous) on April 17th, 2008 04:56 am (UTC)
Congratulations on your success. I hope you will post a detailed account of the happenings in Goa (and some puzzles if possible).

thedan on April 17th, 2008 05:16 am (UTC)
There was never any doubt in this corner. Now go write some sweet Hunt puzzles.
Georgi Benevbenevg on April 17th, 2008 06:22 am (UTC)
congrats, Thomas! :)
ze top blurberryztbb on April 17th, 2008 07:21 am (UTC)
Teesside Snog Monster: swingsjiggery_pokery on April 17th, 2008 08:25 am (UTC)
Superb! Many congratulations!
ivoryvampire on April 17th, 2008 09:38 am (UTC)
CONGRATULATIONS once more, Thomas! ;D
(Anonymous) on April 17th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
Grats but where is the photo with you holding your book or posing with Q L hand sign?
nickbaxter: USPCnickbaxter on April 18th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
Plugging the battleship Sudoku book
For the on-stage finals, each contestant got to sit at a desk and solve for an overhead video camera. The four contestants' puzzles were projected on a large screen, which was nice for the audience.

While other contenders were erasing the waste produces of their ill-fated nuclear attacks, Thomas took advantage of the free advertising space!

thedan on April 18th, 2008 03:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Plugging the battleship Sudoku book
Shandrewshandrew on April 19th, 2008 08:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Plugging the battleship Sudoku book
Congrats on your win!

*runs off to buy Battleship Sudoku*
motrismotris on April 18th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
You never trained me to do an effective Q L sign. I need to have it well formed in advance lest I accidentally offend someone in the audience with a hand signal.

So instead, I advertised the philly championship, then my book, then Pentel pencils and Moma Tombo erasers, and then lacking the Ruffles Ad on the back of the Turkish puzzle magazines, I advertised the next potential puzzle craze - "word searches" - when I figured I had 11 minutes between puzzles as I was waiting for the slower finalists to get done and pulled one of those out on camera.
(Anonymous) on April 17th, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)

'...hopefully putting to rest the need to run two "separate" championships. I appreciate having classics more represented in the competition, but the sad truth of classics puzzles is that if you make them very hard, competitors will go to the "nuclear option" of bifurcation to solve it fastest.'

I agree wholeheartedly. Though I will say the rest of the world has a better chance of coming close to your unparalleled classic level as opposed to your unparalled overall level! I look forward to hopefully seeing the championship puzzles soon.

m_a_malone on April 17th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
Fantastic!!! Way to go, Thomas!!
I can't wait to hear about your trip. Touch base when you get back.
Bobby: Due Southshouldvesmiled on April 17th, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC)
Congratulations, Thomas!
i_am_magooi_am_magoo on April 18th, 2008 08:04 am (UTC)
Very well done, Thomas. I hope the wider world recognises your awesome abilities. The (London) Times says: "The outstanding player of the tournament was Thomas Snyder, of the United States. He won the championship for the second year running, beating a Japanese player and two Czechs in the play-offs. He also won the competition to find the best solver of classic Sudoku puzzles, beating David McNeill, of Britain, into second.

Dr Snyder, 28, who has a PhD in biochemistry and is studying bio-engineering at Stanford, is the closest the Sudoku world has to a superstar. He has the technique and the experience, but mostly a brain that processes the visual data in Sudoku faster than anyone else. But he is uncomfortable talking about himself, and says simply: “I take advantage of my talents.” "
motrismotris on April 18th, 2008 11:19 pm (UTC)
This was a surprising quote from Michael Harvey given how much I did talk about some of my methods and so on. I think he wanted me to say in an elitist way that I am "special" and I wouldn't completely go there. My friends will tell you I am hardly shy about speaking about sudoku or about myself, so I chalk it up to reductive simplism.

The final players in the tournament were very similar from WSC2 and I was glad in the classics round that over the first three puzzles which were all "fair", David and I were neck-and-neck (he beat me by the smallest margin on the GOA-given sudoku that ran in the Times but I was ahead about 24 seconds after the first three puzzles with bigger margins over the other two finalists. The final playoff puzzle, far too difficult, took longer than those three puzzles combined.