Well, this year the ALCS is becoming background noise for my solving sudoku as I'm again on edge. After finding myself sudoku book-less, I did go to a Barnes and Noble to see my book and to get MENSA Absolutely Nasty Sudoku Level 2 which seemed to be a good match to the expected level of competition. So far this is very true - hard execution of singles, pointing pairs, and hidden/naked pairs/triples but not too many non-standard requirements. I've been doing those as we stretch late into the night.
Today's posted puzzles are back to the D4 Stefan I expected (yesterday's Advanced was some kind of wild pitch in the dirt and will hopefully not be seen again).
Beginner - 1'32" - insert standard 36 given complaint here.
Intermediate - 2'8" - 2468 strategy as already described is how I started this one.
Advanced - 3'48"* - main sticking point was seeing a 47 pair in column 6 that gives a digit in row 4 to break through. This was not impossible to spot, but the most satisfying step so far in these Stefan puzzles.
*From now on all Advanced times will be for white-board solves of these puzzles. I made a DIY grid out of electrical tape and a 4' by 8' piece of shower board for about 15 dollars. Its slightly undersized relative to the official grid, but is so much better at region demarcation with 3x tape width between boxes (note to organizers: you've never fixed your 2x problem!). I also have the same issue of needing to change my note style from singletons to doubles as I can't write on the border lines, so its a good format for practice. I like seeing my average here sub 4-minute. The last two years, I've been sub 4-minute per puzzle on paper, but averaging 8 minutes on stage. I don't believe the finals puzzles have been that much different so I'm learning to cut the gap in my large format times by at least 50%. Specific goals are to learn penmanship and note erasure where needed, as the lack of pencil light/dark is the main confusion I experience besides the challenge of scanning the grid and the inability to write my notes the way I write them.
(When "posing" for the photo, I went for the entirely unlikely for me R5C5 space. I'd likely actually get to the 6 chain first.)