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24 October 2009 @ 04:41 pm
You call this a quick place-filler post?  
Short Version: USSC happened.

Longer Version:
The US National Sudoku Championship was very much similar to past years' with 3 sprint rounds each consisting of three puzzles used to qualify for the stage (winner takes the spot in each individual round), then a single white board puzzle on the stage with the big prizes on the line. Its hardly my favorite format as it doesn't really rank more than a handful of solvers well, fails to select a US team, and times aren't reported for solvers after the event (Wei-Hwa, for example, was 4th in all three rounds and certainly a consistent solver, but that is not valued in the race for 1st in a round) but it has at least gotten good solvers on stage consistently including both me and Tammy McLeod the last two years. Most of my time today was spent solving puzzles and then answering interview questions as I do as a kind of ambassador for sudoku for different people including a TIME magazine video reporter who interviewed me and onigame the night before as well. I look forward to the piece. I also showed off my book a lot.

The puzzles, still printed too large at ~6" square, were for the most part similar to the others we saw online before the championship with one cool exception happening in the second round. So all D4 puzzles, boxes 2/4/6/8 important, solutions with pairs and triples which I really believe is the right level of hardest step for a competition sudoku since it won't reward bifurcation, and I did okay on the rounds. I broke and fully erased at least one puzzle on each round but finished the first set of three puzzles in 9:29 and clean for 1st. The second round had a secret theme; I'd commented here before about disliking asymmetry in puzzles and how I'd accept it with minimal puzzles and here was a round of just 17s that were rather fun to solve but which I broke entirely (2 with duplicated digits, one with my classic pitfall of writing a pair of notes on the grid, not seeing a forcing given in a row/column, and then trusting my note assignment for too long without relooking at for a deduction). Finished that round 7th (Tammy McLeod was the 1st). Third round went well, with the first two puzzles done in 6 minutes total and the last in a little under 6 more (it was another memorable void design), but while I finished first, it was apparently not clean with a 6 instead of a 9 or something (too much Hendrix?). Still, I'd already qualified and the mysterious late registrant "Eugene" was the third finalist (this is all I ever saw on his name tag; I'm sure he has a last name).

A lot of time passed before the critical moments, while age rounds and geography rounds happened (I still find it entirely inappropriate to give an on-stage finalist like me 50 dollars for my age group and not to the second place in the group since the concept of these extra prizes should be to spread the wealth). thedan, who finished second for 27-29, can pick up 50 dollars minus taxes when I next see him....

The finals were unchanged in format from last year: large whiteboards which Will Shortz/organizers may be the only people who like. Certainly no solver likes them, although I practiced for it and feel comfortable there now, but its unclear if it "benefits" the audience when many other options seem to have worked better. This format has in the past always tripped up different solvers and made a 2x time result pretty typical (round qualifying tends to be in 10 mins for 3 puzzles and a similar challenge on stage averages 7+ in all levels in this format which is silly). I practiced to get better at this, and set breaking 7 minutes as a goal. I proceeded to not just break the goal, but to absolutely crush the puzzle, which was an incredibly fun solve and which I won't spoil but can be found on philly.com/sudoku sometime I hope, in ~4:14. I checked for blank squares, saw none, said done. Tired, I didn't check my grid and instead sat facing the audience for awhile relieved at beating the whiteboard and winning. News of an error never came to me - the judges didn't see it but many in the audience did. I actually noticed it for myself two minutes later when I finally looked back at my grid and saw a problem. Basically, with a few numbers to go, I made a transposition error of a 46 pair which trickled one other wrong number up so a 46 and another 4 was entered 64 and another 6. An Epic Fail in a sense. If I had done anything close to my patented checking in the time I did not realize I would have, I would have found it. But as I felt the puzzle was easier than past finals, and the competition strong, I did not check and thus did not win. While this drama developed as the audience caught on to my error, Tammy continued and finished in 7:41 for what she thought was second place, a typical experience solvers have had in recent years at the ACPT tournament where the fastest solver has finished, left the stage even, and you know they are done but you cannot know they've made an error. As Tammy turned to congratulate me, I informed her that no, there are three wrong numbers on my grid, and you are the new champion. (Aside: the confusion was not later helped by Will Shortz announcing Tammy as second which I also helped correct since she had deservedly won.) "Eugene" had only 3 or 4 numbers filled in and this made no sense to anyone in the room.

So, I guess the story of this championship is that I found a new-gear for my on-stage solving and hit one out of the park. However, I missed third base on my way to score. I'm still unsure what my WSC plans (construct/solve) are - I'll think about it after the WPC. Lots to do before the championship I care most about in a week in Antalya....

[ETA: Here is the detailed Philly Inquirer piece - not sure what "pots of puzzle gold" I'm missing but I've never brought any of them back from overseas.]
 
 
 
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
thesubro on October 25th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
Congrats
Your goal was achieved, as you trained well and succeeded with your time improvements on white boards, returning to the stage and prevailing ... but a little transposition kept you from winning the prize that everyone knows you don't need. Technicalities ... schmechnicalities.

I have a 12 year old son who excels in math. Whenever he gets an answer wrong at his age and level, its only because he answered too quickly and didn't go back and check his work before handing it in. No matter how often I chastise him that math tests/quizzes are not a race, and he doesn't always have to beat his other competitive classmates, and that the winner is not the first one done but the last one (because the last one kept checking his answers again and again) ... he continues to occasionally fall from grace and make a mistake (sometimes a simple transposition or the like).

As I lay him down to bed tonight, I told him the story of the greatest puzzlemaster who ever lived and how he lost the 2009 US Sudoku championship because he finished first but didn't check his work before finishing. He understood the morale of the story as soon as I finished it. We chuckled about it unfortunately at your expense, but it will forever act as a tool for me to reinforce a lesson for him to abide by in the years ahead. Thank you for sharing.

Truth be told, you were in a competition where speed is almost everything. Sh%^&t happens, and this year it did. Take your strong whiteboard performance and abilities on the road and represent your country at the World Championship.

Cheers.

Ken
thesubro on October 25th, 2009 01:33 am (UTC)
Re: Congrats
Let me also mimic/paraphrase the first post I left for you many months ago ...

Thank you for this blog. You are one of my idols, and yet you take the time to share your behind the scenes thoughts about puzzle solving, puzzle creations, and puzzle competitions. You even respond to my entries, and other's. The puzzle community is all about the mind, and you share what is on yours. What a gift you give those who celebrate you - by way of access and dialogue.

The past months, your posts leading up to the USPC and then the USSC were invaluable and wonderful (I wrote wonderous, but that is a bit over the top). Thank you for these gifts.

A big big fan ...

Ken
motrismotris on October 25th, 2009 12:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Congrats
Thanks very much for these comments and your correct framing of the story as you'd tell it to your son. I started this blog 3.5 years ago to tell the story of the first WSC, as much to have the details remembered in the future by me as to let people inside my thoughts, warts and all. There too I followed incredible success (that first toroidal sudoku puzzle) with spectacular failure, but I at least hope to demonstrate how it is a solver like me thinks and how it is to experience a championship such as this.
Mike Selinkerselinker on October 25th, 2009 01:22 am (UTC)
Ah well. You're still a dynasty.
thedan on October 25th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC)
Yeah, "Eugene" was kind of bizarre. It would be one thing if he'd looked around in a panic and found no ways in, but he just stood there in a hooded coat and stared. Despite the loss, I think you made it clear (as usual) that your speed-solving is unmatched, modulo occasional human slip-ups.

I was disappointed that Tammy didn't get a warmer reaction from the crowd; a few of us tried to start a standing ovation for the new champion, and no one bit. The sad thing is that, as long as there's no community built around the USSC, no one cares about anybody except the two or three people they've heard of.

As for the $50, I will reserve you the right to retract that offer once you've gotten some sleep, but I will also gladly accept it if you don't change your mind. ;)
motrismotris on October 25th, 2009 12:07 pm (UTC)
The applause challenge may have been as much a problem as a good fraction of the audience not knowing she was first. Not everyone would have seen my error (not sure what the cameras were televising it but it was not announced).

This event has not done enough IMO to really build a community, to build a large ranking of solvers (which would give people more concrete goals to focus on), to even return answer books of give the puzzles to competitors (why not let registrants pick up or be emailed a copy of the three levels of puzzles to see), or to find the Merl Reagle/Neal Conan equivalent along with other changes to make the finals more compelling (I can certainly commentate, but unless people want to hear me talking as I'm competing I'm not sure it works). The lack of a pre-tournament event was an example of a step backwards in my opinion. Don't take this comment wrong organizers, I am glad there is any kind of a live US tournament to be at and a lot of the top solvers are still coming although not all, but I really wonder if this will exist for 3 more years let alone the 25+ years the ACPT has. The novelty is wearing off and the competition size is shrinking so some changes should probably be in store.

Re: the Grant - well, it may not be a single bill when I repay you but I also suspect I may not see you until I'm back in Philadelphia so it may be forgotten by then.
zundevilzundevil on October 25th, 2009 07:55 am (UTC)
Thanks for the recap. As you know, I don't believe it's possible to devise a "realistic" format less suited to rewarding the top solver than this one, given only three chances to qualify, the one-puzzle final, the one-mistake-and-you're-done angle of said final, and the on-paper solving leading incongruously to using whiteboards. Thus far #'s 2 and 3 have come into play the last couple of years, possibly with #4 to blame as well. As such I think you're taking this unnecessary twist of fate particularly well.

(You'll note that I don't include any hypothetical rules like "Surrendering early to impossibly difficult puzzles is to your benefit" because, hey, let's be *realistic* here...)

(Also, none of this is to say that Tammy isn't a deserving champ. She's made the finals all three years, and finished this year's puzzle clean and in a good time. But a 3.5 minute gap ought to be worth 3 wrong squares in some world, tho apparently not this one.)

4:14, even with the me-esque errors, is ridiculous. I'm not an elite vanilla solver, admittedly, but even *having seen the puzzle before* and *without all the on-stage b.s.* I still would've lost. My two tries at that one were 5:52 and 4:24, fwiw.

I still think you should compete at next year's WSC, but it's a tough call. What is the world's top *solver* and *author* supposed to do? Is there some way you can do both?
motrismotris on October 25th, 2009 12:13 pm (UTC)
I hope to post the fail video when I can, but it should be a good example for the community of a solid white-board solve with 2 seconds of absolute hero to goat at the end as only a Buffalonian may know how.

Re the last point, I'd say I'm 80% leaning towards a solution of "Write a SudokuCup competition, as I was asked to do, to show the community what a Snyder round would be like, but then compete in Philly." Still, I'm waiting until after Antalya to be sure.
(Anonymous) on October 25th, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
As much as I've been the victim of such anomalies in the past Jason, I think I have to disagree. A line has to be drawn somewhere with regards to solving accuracy, and by far the most reasonable place to join it is at complete accuracy.

In any competition format, the best candidate does not win 100% of the time - that's just the way of the world. Perhaps the USSC needs a review of its format (that's another discussion) - but I don't think the idea of rewarding any form of inaccuracy should be entertained.

Tom.C
zundevil: Zeebazundevil on October 25th, 2009 10:49 pm (UTC)
It wouldn't be rewarding inaccuracy, as you put it. It would be penalizing an inaccurate initial solution...and allow the solver to have another go at it. This isn't some trivia thing where you take guesses and hope you're right, so no new information is really gained after you are told "This solution of yours is incorrect".

The method from the India semifinals -- we will check it for a minute and tell you during that time whether you're correct or not -- is significantly better (IMHO) than what is done at the USSC and UKSC. A time penalty would be applied, which is a reasonable middle-ground between indiscriminate guessing-and-declaring and the current system.

I wouldn't claim that this would necessarily be an improvement for the ACPT -- there maybe you just might not be able to decide between two possible letters for a given square or something -- but in these sorts of logic competitions I believe it would be.
motrismotris on October 26th, 2009 09:37 am (UTC)
I certainly agree with a lot of what Jason is saying in terms of structures that can work. As someone who built his reputation in part with that magic finger checking format in WSC2 if it wasn't already there after the toroidal in WSC1, I can say that in a multi-puzzle format I am way more comfortable giving up 20-30 seconds on a puzzle to check all constraints. I do this during rounds, during the USPC, etc., as I feel I have the time. Even so, I've never seen or heard of others doing this on stage though at those events. For example, in the classic competition in Goa, in three of the rounds, I did just this. It kept me clean (even though I did not spot an error as I had in WSC2), and I won the title. Only in the single round (#2 I think) where all other competitors had already said done when I finished did I not waste time not finding a mistake I did not make. In a one puzzle final, where there is no margin to try to preserve a lead or use other competitors' finish times as a signal to finally stop checking, my finger guiding my eyes as I scan is not a smart strategy. Yes, I blazed through the puzzle, but I could not know how hard it would be to the other two solvers, one of whom was the only more likely finalist in my mind than Wei-Hwa entering the event (unless half of Europe's top solvers showed up to compete), and the other a complete unknown that still gets my Snyder-sense all tingly. So, I made sure the grid was full, since I've seen Wordplay, and said done. Maybe I can check my last 5 digits the next time, but otherwise I think checking is inappropriate in a 1 puzzle format and so the typical potential for human error will never be gone for me. I don't really have any concern of people not thinking I'm a good sudoku solver if I don't win every year. They'll just learn I'm both fast, and human.
(Anonymous) on October 26th, 2009 11:20 am (UTC)
Hmmm. Well I wasn't there in Goa and this idea has never occurred to me - perhaps because at our own championship that logistics of giving back papers after they had been handed in would be all but impossible.

Still, whilst it appears to have obvious merit and appeal (indeed I don't think speculative bifurcaters would be rewarded at all - if they spot that their bifurcation was wrong it makes perfect sense to simply rub out and start again rather than to hand in; if they don't spot it and it gets handed back most likely the puzzle will have to be started from scratch and they'll be beaten anyhow; and if it was right then there is no difference), I still have serious reservations.

At a championship, as the organisers here are fond of pointing out, the accuracy of solving is more important than the speed. The aspect of being as sure as you possibly can be of handing in a correct solution, knowing that once handed in that's it, is a critical difference between solving for fun and competitive solving.

It's an additional pressure that only adds to the credibility of an eventual winner that overcomes it - indeed it's not an insignificant pressure - for example at our championships, only 24 of over 100 solvers actually correctly solved the 8 preliminary puzzles.

I'd rather interpret this episode (and with the utmost respect for Thomas, whom I don't particularly like to unnecessarily attack on his own blog!) as a personal failing that can be easily rectified in the future - making him an even more formidable solver. If you are that much of a quicker solver then that still hands you the advantage of a better opportunity to go back over your puzzle and check your answer.

Tom.C
motrismotris on October 26th, 2009 11:24 am (UTC)
There is also a reasonable question of how long the final puzzle should run, given this accuracy question. In the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, there is some controversy in the lengthening and maintaining of the final round puzzle at 20 minutes (from 15) when the fastest finishers in recent years, with an error, have been easily at a third of this time. While slow and steady (Tyler Hinman) won with a 20 minute time length, this arbitrary choice would have a different champion if 15 was still being used. My question then, if the sudokus in the tournament averaged 4 minutes for everyone on stage, is if 5x that time is appropriate. 15' might make sense, but no more.
zundevilzundevil on October 26th, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
It's no insignificant amount of pressure, for sure, although I think the contention that it adds credibility to the eventual winner is circular reasoning. With all due respect to the other competitors (particularly three-time finalist Tammy), there is little or no doubt in my mind who solved the finals puzzle the quickest. I guess it depends on what you mean by "solved", but what I mean by it strikes me as being closer to the true definition of it than what is rewarded here...IMHO of course. If, OTOH, Thomas declared an incorrect solution...and was followed 10 seconds later (cleanly) by someone else, then it's quite reasonable to say the second person was the fastest solver. Maybe 30 seconds too. But 3 minutes?

(Incidentally, a part of me wonders what would be worse: declaring a wrong solution with a large lead on second-place that (quadruple)-checking was warranted *or* finishing and spending time checking a clean grid...and getting caught in the process! With no real way of knowing how well the other people are doing -- aside from general intuitive feel for a given puzzle or outside knowledge of "She's very good and this other joker is probably a cheater" -- either seem very possible, needlessly (to me). Maybe we can have a real-time "Sudokounter" installed that tells the people on stage how well the others are doing?)

Most competitions with this sort of all-or-nothing scoring system (e.g. long jump) allow for multiple attempts; and other competitions like gymnastics or figure skating penalize for mistakes rather than essentially nullifying the entire attempt. I guess a one-attempt long jump competition would require a different sort of strategy, but I don't think that would add much in the way of value -- or in the sense of determining who's "best" at the activity. Maybe that's not the point here? Anyhow, nothing's likely to change (other than the headphone rules) by next year, so let's just settle on...if I ever run one of these competitions it will have multiple puzzles or it will have some way to fix screwups. :)

The "Checking the last five digits" concept was suggested to me before it was cool. Sadly it wouldn't have even served any real purpose in Zilina.

This whole discussion is telling me that I should write up my Grand Prix system of puzzle tournament scoring, maybe on that defunct LJ of mine...
(Anonymous) on October 26th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC)
Your dilemma re checking I think is one of the beauties of competition - of course there is no best way to determine that much more than on that rather vague intuitive level. Maybe I'm a little too fond of a mindgame or two though.

Bringing in any analogies is difficult because sudoku solving strikes me as being a genuinely unique process...for example with multiple attempts at a long jump, it's always the same sandpit you jump into, whereas a sudoku puzzle can vary wildly. Equally with something like gymnastics, the difficulty of a routine can vary with competitors and even then it is very rare to get it done without a mistake - when it does the champion is obvious. The trouble with sudoku is there are lots of people perfectly capable of a "perfect routine".

I feel I've been doing a fair amount of shooting-down here - indeed I hadn't thought about the issue Thomas brings up as well (there's a lot to be said there!) - but I should emphasise that I do sympathise with your guiding principle. Indeed I think in an online scenario (perhaps one of these sudokups I keep miserably failing at) I think there's something in it; after all it's exactly how nikoli.com and the Fed sudoku site operate. I think it'd be particularly interesting in a series of connected competitions (as opposed to, say, a one-off prestige tournament).

I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on a "Ziti Grand Prix" event. I'm sure your spin on how to set the rules would give even the most seasoned organisers some food for thought!

Tom.C

PS my own personal take on the checking the last 5 digits is to make sure I say the digits in my head before entering them to slow me down...beyond that my method is the simple no-empty cell check.
(Anonymous) on February 10th, 2013 07:01 pm (UTC)
accuracy
I couldn't agree more.
ANY incorrect element should be a complete elimination.
Otherwise, how about I just fill in ANY number anywhere and finish first, in under 30 seconds?
motrismotris on February 10th, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC)
Re: accuracy
The discussion has to do with allowing, with penalty, a solver to resubmit until they are correct. Your suggested approach is a sure way to never win. Leaving one cell blank in an otherwise complete grid is quite different than putting 9s into every cell.
johan_de_ruiter on October 25th, 2009 10:41 am (UTC)
When you search for his name as mentioned in the Inquirer, first hit will be this:

http://www.avlerchess.com/chess-misc/The_Man_with_the_Hat_beats_Grandmaster_Smirin_at_World_Open_221891.html
(Anonymous) on October 25th, 2009 11:45 am (UTC)
It seems quite obvious to me that there was a cheat going on with Eugene V. In my opinion the organizers should disqualify him (even without proof) and let him (if he dares) sue for the 3K of price money.
The third place should be awarded to the player who would have qualified for the finals if Eugene had not competed at all.
motrismotris on October 25th, 2009 12:37 pm (UTC)
This person, Chris Narrikkattu - last year's intermediate winner, was also "second place" to me in the round I qualified in. I feel sorry for both the structure of this tournament and now this controversy as he is a good solver and will certainly make the stage in the future in advanced.
motrismotris on October 25th, 2009 12:11 pm (UTC)
We'll call him the man in the hoodie this year; "Eugene" certainly had a suspect performance on stage after qualifying for the money on paper. The proctors in this event did not keep people from having listening devices, and they hardly seemed like they are aware of the ways technology can spot and solve the puzzles nowadays. Having taught many college classes in my time, there are many ways to imagine being able to cheat and it should be harder in the small advanced section but would be easily problematic in the other parts of the room. There should be no headphones, no music players, no bags on the desks - just the papers and pencils and erasers. Whatever happened, it is just another crazy aspect of an already crazy championship.
motrismotris on October 25th, 2009 12:35 pm (UTC)
I'll add this NYTimes story too - no photos to find of him, but given the same location for the competition, same name, and "Unabomber" look which would be helpful in concealing a listening device added onto the shockingly unexplainable grid reminiscent of someone never having seen a sudoku on stage (all the 9's and all the 3's are trivial to get and these weren't even there) - I'm not entirely certain the sudoku world didn't just get punk'd.
(Anonymous) on October 25th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
I know the feeling all too well - it's a really shit feeling and an especially bitter pill to swallow. Still, the biggest test a champion can face is bouncing back from disappointment even stronger than before. From a competitor's point of view, whilst the puzzles you write have undoubted quality, I think that your reputation as THE person to beat raises everyone's game and makes for better overall championships - so I hope that you'll be there at the WSC, and indeed the USSC next year which I'd very much like to compete in.

If it's any consolation, you marmalised the pen and paper test-solving times of both me and Jason whilst burdened with the handicap of large-format solving. Although perhaps there is something to be said about having had 9 puzzles worth of warm-up :) I am glad that the final puzzle proved to be as enjoyable as we thought it might have been!

Despite her obvious USSC pedigree, I don't think I've come across Tammy at a WSC - however I'm sure she'll only add to the strength of the ever formidable US team next year. You can't argue with a winner - and I hope the small issue with the other person will prove to be unworthy of any serious coverage, especially in comparison to the achievements of a champion.

Tom.C
motrismotris on October 25th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC)
Tammy has had good practice times on our USSC qualifiers on classics but will need to practice more on the variants I think to do well for the breadth of the WSC. Still, it will be a good addition imo.
(Anonymous) on October 25th, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC)
We can see the grid of the final in the video (It's probably the Eugene's grid: just 2 numbers added lol) . I copied the grid and solved it: the chrono shows me: 4'12 :) . Of course not on a large board, just on paper. I've never try to solve sudoku on large board, it is certainly more difficult and it takes more times to solve, so congratulations Thomas.

Fred76
(Anonymous) on October 26th, 2009 02:20 am (UTC)
age category
If you think it's ridiculous to always win your age category then why don't you sit it out? The rest of us who will always be the same age would greatly appreciate a fair shot. Thanks.
motrismotris on October 26th, 2009 06:22 am (UTC)
Re: age category
If you're reading this blog but missed the discussion of the WSC this year, let me be very clear again with the first principle of any competition:

I do not come to competitions to not solve puzzles.

I will certainly not turn in an incomplete paper to set a time standard when I have not finished all the grids. I will also not go to sleep and miss an 11 pm Nightmare in Zilina round (or any of six rounds earlier in the day) when I qualified for the playoffs 12 hours previously after a huge score on the 1st round that itself was higher than the overall score after all the rounds of the last playoff entrant.

Competitions should be for the puzzlers and about the puzzles. Not solving puzzles you are given is anathema to me; why else are we there?

So why not just not turn it in you say? Well, first, before you know for sure you've made the stage (and you do not know until your name is called much later because errors happen all the time, believe me), it might be nice to at least have a shot at another prize to salvage a bad day. As a competitor, I should not have to choose to solve or not or turn in or not or use another gear or use my left hand or whatever instead of just solving puzzles.

So, your complaint if you are 27-29 should not be with me but with the organizers who think it is appropriate to keep rewarding the two-time world champion with an extra prize. It is on the organizers to have thought of WHY they are giving out extra prizes. The WHY of these prizes in my opinion is always about giving more things to more people, not more things to the same person. This functions like a "registration fee refund" and you get your name in the paper. It will make more people feel good. Set this kind of prize up to do this. Of course, before dealing with this issue, I wish there would be a real and reported ranking of the finishers of each round (names are only quickly flashed through in a powerpoint, never printed anyway, and times aren't given at all). I wish people who pay a lot to register for the event were given some way to get the puzzles back (or at least fresh copies) of the 30 sudoku that were used across all rounds. Even if you only are as good as an intermediate solver for speed, you'd likely enjoy seeing what the advanced solvers did for next year. Good luck seeing them here. Why is that? 75 dollars not enough to buy those 9 puzzles too? Again, in an event about the puzzles and for the puzzlers, this isn't even an issue. Having been fortunate to solve at dozens of tournaments now, and running several of my own, I feel I have a good appreciation for what gets people coming back and it is always being thoughtful to what the solvers will want. The novelty of there being a championship or meeting Will or whatever is supposed to be the gimmick here is not going to be enough if the event itself is a hollow shell of what it could be for the sudoku community, such as even having social activities before/after as happens for the ACPT. Imagine something like an evening activity talking about things that sudoku people would want to hear about, like a lecture from someone on how you construct these puzzles or how uniqueness comes up in these challenges or what a world sudoku championship is like or watching a copy of the Sudokumentary. Throw in a sudoku-based puzzle hunt that you've got to solve as a team or other puzzle challenge with some book prizes. Will's ACPT would not be what it is if it was not for the friendships and relationships that have been built by it and the evening events where you are suddenly teaming up with someone you've never met before encourages new interactions and making new bridges.

So, anyway, maybe I've taken your tone as more bitter than it is, but I do not and cannot appreciate anyone thinking I or anyone would go to a championship about puzzles and skip the puzzles. Leave after round 1, go to a bar, come back at 3:30 when they need me again. If that was the case, you probably care about the money and being fresh and don't love the puzzles themselves. I'm there to solve sudoku.
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