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01 May 2010 @ 04:46 am
WSC Day 1  
Quick post as my day 1 draws to a close and I get some time to sleep. I spent most of the day assembling team packets or grading, specifically those papers that did not take advantage of our scoring area system and needed everything checked. This was hard work but I did my job fairly, and as expected people lost credit they wouldn't have if they'd checked the grids for blanks or, better yet, just written in the scoring area. Sometimes just this transposition step catches the dumb errors and the five seconds it takes are worth it for all the points one might lose. For example, I saw a few occasions where candidates were left in two cells - in the answer entry rows - and being forced to write the row would have fixed the mistake. Apparently at the rules meeting 50% thought it was a good idea and 50% not and that seems to be our successful usage rate. It makes most grading very easy but I've volunteered for the triage of non-scoring-area users where all the mess of the sudoku solution remains, as well as the 1/7 problems and 4/9 problems you can see from the forms of these numerals most common in different countries.

My main time in the testing room was to help proctor/judge the two team rounds today, which were either completely mine (Weakest Link) or certainly my concept (Number Place) with a mix of puzzle difficulties from Wei-Hwa and myself. I aimed for a lot of teams to have success in both rounds and was really glad when the fear before Weakest Link "How many teams do you expect to finish?" actually ended up being over half. The winner of this round was actually USA-B in a solid time of ~21 minutes.

Scores are available online here.

As a quick summary, after day 1 the top 4 are somewhat separated from the rest of the field and contain mostly names I expected with:

1. Jakub Ondrousek (CZE) - 653
2. Jan Mrozowski (POL) - 644
3. Florian Kirch (GER) - 632
4. Hideaki Jo (JAP) - 620

and a 56 point gap down to Byron Calver (CAN) in 5th.

Our decathlon format was meant to isolate different solvers' skills in different disciplines and this has already proven to be the case. I've believed for 2 years that Jakub Ondrousek is the fastest classics solver in the world and is on average 10% faster than me. His times in the first and fifth round (the 100m and 400m classics) were the fastest in both cases; he was the only finisher of the first round and used only 80% of the 35 minutes in the fifth round which is quite impressive. However, he was weaker on the mathematics round #2 (Long Jump) where all the other members of the top 4 got 50+ points back on him. Last year's champion and many people's presumptive favorite Jan Mrozowski got off to a slow start in the 100m round but pulled off solid performances in the variant rounds as expected and also finished the 400m classics round early, 3 minutes after Jakub O., to solidify a hold on 2nd. Florian Kirch had probably the best day in the variants to get third and Hideaki Jo had consistent results including tying Florian for top rank in two of the variant rounds for his 4th place spot. It still seems anyone's race and even those in 5th and below could catch up with a solid day tomorrow, on what is likely the harder of the two days. The morning starts with Just One Cell Sudoku, which I hope will surprise for being friendlier than expected in the same way Weakest Link did, followed by many extra constraint rounds, a tough geometry round, and the most likely solved by bifurcation classics round. The playoffs in the evening are certainly shaping up to be exciting, and with different skill sets clearly on display so far in the top 4, a lot of back and forth jockeying for position might happen as different roadblocks are met in the 10 puzzle final.

In the team competition, Germany A leads over Japan A and Canada A followed by the Czech Republic A and USA B who got the boost from their strong Weakest Link performance. Germany's lead is rather significant, but one failure in a team part (with a success of a close rival) could change the ordering.