Solutions to July Giants – Part 1/2

PDF booklet of July Giants
Right here!

Tapa Mastermind
I was solving Akil Oyunlari issue 72 and a few pages from that issue were devoted to puzzles from the first Tapa Variations Contest. One of them was Mastermind Tapa which used 4 small classic Tapas. I didn’t finish the puzzle, but it was enough to get me thinking about the idea of this Hydra puzzle.

Hydra had 9 heads so I quickly settled on having 9 puzzles. I quickly decided that the centre would be the last puzzle to be solved and it should be a classic Tapa. I had 8 choices to make regarding the surrounding Tapas so I referred to the Tapa Variants list that Serkan compiled a year ago.

I jotted down a few appropriate variants and started from there. A big puzzle like this one would inevitably have several starting points but my original path started at Compass Tapa and Alternative Tapa. I’m sure everyone else’s experiences will vary.


Personally this was my favourite puzzle as I thought all the grids worked out really well. I hoped Hydra wasn’t a walk-over and Thomas Powell concurs: I’m very slow at Tapa. That was 90 mins for me.

This was the first giant Masyu I’ve made. I consulted some examples of giant puzzles to see what sizes were optimal. Most were 20×36 so I just went with that. I didn’t have any ruler on me so I dot the corners in my grid book and splashed in a few circles.

I tried to include as many patterns as I can; there’s a flower on the top left, next to it is a question mark, a wave of circles in the middle, a spiral, four random plus signs and an X down at the bottom right. When everything on paper was done, it was straight to the computer to draw up the grid. I entered the 20×36 dimension, started plugging in circles and… hold on. Why is there room left?

I looked down at my notebook and slapped my forehead. I left out 5 whole rows!

Well, I’m not going to dismantle the whole puzzle. You’ll just have to make do with a 20×31 Masyu instead.
argusmasyuansThe puzzle was represented by Argus Panoptes, a 100-eyed monster, so it was thematical to drop a trivia question about that. This was where my laziness to triple check came back to haunt me. The original question read, “In what part of your body is the choroid?”

I originally had conjunctiva or sclera in mind but there were too many/not enough space so I had to find a 7-letter part of the eye. And yes, the answer is EYE. The choroid is a thin layer between the retina and sclera. It turned out within one hour of posting, a few solvers pointed out extra letters in the string. Doh!

The puzzle was tweaked and the new question read, “In what part of your body is the optic disc?”

Introducing language into a logic puzzle will unsettle some solvers. I also learnt that the Russian translation of optic disc is…

Andrey Bogdanov: I didn’t know what “Optic Disc” is. The Russian name of the same item can be translated as “Blind spot” – nothing in common.

Edison He was one of few who enjoyed the puzzle and noticed…
Now, if only there had been 99 clues in the grid, so that we would have pierced each and every one of them exactly. But as it stands, we seem to have blinded a number of innocent bystanders.


July Giants Results – Part 4/4

It has been a fun July and I thank you all for participating. Honorary mentions go to; Andrey Bogdanov, Andrew Brecher, Jakub Hrazdira, Edison He, Ivan Koswara, Yuhei Kusui, Matt Lahut, Antonis Lalatsas, Ken Levine, James McGowan, Alex Pei, Willy Petrenko, John Reid, Prasanna Seshadri, Stefan Tomlins, Robert Vollmert and Nikola Zivanovic who correctly solved all 4 giants.

As for statistics that take in account earliest submissions; the early bird gold medal goes to Edison He (Hong Kong), silver to Ivan Koswara (Indonesia) and bronze to Ken Levine (USA). But the main winner, who will receive the Nikoli Puzzle the Giants 2014, will be determined by rock-paper-scissors. We have narrowed down the field to four potential winners and now it is time to announce the winner!

For the final time: rock…paper… scissors!
Congratulations to Jack Bross from USA!
He got defeated by Hydra early on but bounced back with 3 correct entries to the last 3 giants. He won the Cerberus tournament and ultimately the Champion’s Throne.

We now come to the end of another event. As usual, I will devote the next few posts looking back at the puzzles in greater detail. I plan to make a full PDF booklet of July Giants soon so I will keep the menu above until I complete that. Plans for the next event are well underway it is scheduled for October but things could change, updates will be made here.

A lot of my audience is in London for the WSC and WPC right now so safe travels everyone. Thanks for being with me throughout July and I look forward to seeing you next time.

July Giants Results – Part 3/4

We are about to find out the winner of Medusa. The final four were already introduced so without further ado… Rock paper scissors!

Congratulations to Nikola Zivanovic from SerbiaHe will join the last battle for the throne later on.

Lastly, we had 28 solvers defeating Cerberus.
Four byes were awarded for the earliest submissions. There was a noticeable match-up between occupants of the throne; James and Yuhei, in the first round.
cerberr4You can also see a wild scuffle between Ivan and Prasanna in round two. And another tough battle for Ivan against Jack in the third round.

We have our last set of final four.
Andrey Bogdanov is the head of Russian puzzle club Diogen. When I first discovered logic puzzles, a few years before LMI existed; Diogen was one of few sites that were active at that time. It was a pleasure seeing his entry in my blog. Andrey’s opponent will be Jack Bross. Jack has been with SOTR since the early days of this blog and has continued his participation ever since. He has reached final four once, which was way back in Nikoli Hurdles (February 2013), where he was knocked out by the winner Prasanna.
The other side sees Giovanni Pagano, a fellow test solver when Ivan hosted Deception on LMI. July Giants is his first entry at SOTR and like me; he also actively solves word puzzles. Maybe I can lure him back with a word puzzle contest sometime later. Facing Giovanni is James McGowan who is looking to take a second spot in the finals. No introduction needed, he is probably solving some puzzles in a very competitive environment somewhere in London right now.


And… congratulations to Jack Bross from USA! 
He joins the three past winners to the Champion’s Throne. Which now looks like this:

Exactly 24 hours from now the post revealing the winner will be posted. Sorry to keep you waiting this long, but processing and triple-checking the RPS hands took time. Worse, drawing each grid up took way longer than I anticipated. Nonetheless, I had fun. I hope you did too.

Don’t miss the final showdown tomorrow!

July Giants Results – Part 2/4

Continuing where we have left off.
Round 3 of Argus Panoptes, where 8 contenders remain:

argusres8Japan is a top 10 country that toggled the most visits at SOTR. Curiously, Yuhei Kusui is Japan’s first entry to any event I’ve ever hosted. The first seed will be up against Ken Levine, who you might recognize as “The Subro” where he solves puzzles at numerous blogs. In the other corner, Matej Uher, who once reached a crazy final in a RPS tournament earlier this year, will be facing Matt Lahut, a newcomer and July Giants is his first event.

Who will prevail? And the winner of Argus Panoptes is…

argusres4And the first-seed delivers! Yuhei Kusui from Japan occupies the second seat in the Champion’s Throne!

We now come to our third week to determine who will take the third spot. 27 people defeated Medusa so the bracket will award 5 byes to the earliest submissions.

medusares32There are two reasons why I use RPS as the method to determine the winner. Firstly, I enjoy the suspense while conducting them. Secondly, I just find “the winner from a random draw is so-and-so” such a plain way to end any contest. RPS not only introduces randomness but it also allows a little window of strategic play.

For example, in Argus Panoptes: James McGowan opted for PPSSSSSSSS and Matt Lahut reached the finals with PSSSSSSSSS. Coincidence?
Now in Medusa, 3 sneaky players adopted the same strategy.
Robert Vollmert: PPPPPPPPPP
Andrew Brecher: PPPPPPPPP
This explains why paper is so popular in my stats. Ben Wootten also did something similar: RRRRRRRRRR

Let’s see if this strategy works:
medusares4(Errata 14/8/14: Fixed incorrect symbols)
Nope! Ben got as far as the final 8 until he eventually had to face a paper. Matt Lahut, with a different set of hands, is once again in the final four! Could he take his revenge? He will be facing puzzle master Nikola Zivanovic. Nikola is one of SOTR’s top solvers who always came up short in these luck-based games. On the other side, Czech’s puzzle ace Jakub Hrazdira (known as “Gotroch” in the puzzle community) will take on Dylan Gibbs, who certainly exercised his beginner’s luck as Medusa was his first submission ever with SOTR.

Who will occupy the third seat in the Champion’s Throne?
To be continued

July Giants Results – Part 1/4

With the departure of Cerberus, we now come to the end of July Giants. Each giant were slain be numerous solvers so now we will see which solvers will make it to the Champion’s Throne.


Today, I will announce the results of the Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS) Tournament for the first giant, which was Hydra. The RPS tournament will be single-elimination and seeded according to order of submission. Looking back at Hydra; we have 21 participants in the RPS tournament. The last 10 entries will fight for 5 spots in the Round of 16, where 11 earliest submissions were already seeded to the next round.
You can read why byes are required.

Here is the tournament bracket:

Results for the first three rounds:
(Click the diagram to zoom)


Let’s meet our final four.
Ivan Koswara
is a regular at SOTR, submitting early most of the time, but has never won an event. He will be facing John Reid, a newcomer who had just entered in his first contest here at SOTR.
The next pairing sees two former winners going head to head and RPS. James McGowan, who will be participating in the World Puzzle Grand Prix Final in London next week, has already won Race up the Sky (held in July 2013) but that event didn’t involve RPS. Whereas Prasanna Seshadri, has won an RPS tournament not once, but twice! And now he’s in the final four for the third straight time! That is mathematically impressive.

The winner of Hydra is…
hydrares3James McGowan from New Zealand!
He will take the first spot in the final four, congratulations!

Full results of Hydra:
Moving on to Argus Panoptes, that week saw a record-breaking 31 correct entries.

The above diagram was printed with the highest resolution I could afford to, if you’ve entered try look for your name.
Since we are one away from 32, the number for a full 5-round tournament, the first entry will be seeded to Round of 16 and the remaining 30 will start at Round of 32. Receiving the only bye was Yuhei Kusui, so he can sit back and watch Round 1.

Picture1[Errata 15/8/14: The top-right pairing between Ivan and James had the two hands swapped. So PP for James and PS for Ivan]
Most of the top seeds are through to the Round of 8. Interestingly the semi-finalists at Hydra, Prasanna and Ivan, both survived their first two matches! Further results will continue in upcoming posts.
Stay tuned!

All Giants defeated, results pending

I had to urgently cover for a friend during the last two days and have just finished a 48-hour shift. Hopefully that explains why confirmation emails were sent on the last day. 28 solvers defeated Cerberus throughout last week. There were no incorrect submissions but there were plenty of kind comments and feedbacks that I very much appreciated.
To the list of solvers of Cerberus,

1. Dylan Gibbs
2. Nikola Zivanovic
3. Nick Brady
4. Matt Lahut
5. Ivan Koswara
6. James McGowan
7. Zoltan Horvath
8. Michael Mosshammer
9. Andrew Brecher
10. Antonis Lalatsas
11. Stefan Tomlins
12. Edison He
13. Jack Bross
14. Logan Dymond
15. Scott Handelman
16. Andrey Bogdanov
17. Ken Levine
18. Walker Anderson
19. Robert Vollmert
20. Willy Petrenko
21. Prasanna Seshadri
22. Jakub Hrazdira
23. Giovanni Pagano
24. Matej Uher
25. Alex Pei
26. Neil Zussman
27. Yuhei Kusui
28. John Reid

With this, we have our candidates for the Champion’s Throne. I will need a few days to digest all the rock-paper-scissors in my inbox and will announce all the results on a day-to-day basis. The final four results will be announced on the 5th day. Why the formality? Well, I like the suspense and I hope you do too but most importantly I need the few extra days to double check all the rock-paper-scissors match-ups for any errors.

Watch this space in a couple of days for the results!

Three turned to stone


I apologize for being one day late. I had my days mixed up this weekend. To compensate, I will extend the deadline for Cerberus by one more day. Entries will be accepted until August 4th.

Over the last 8 days, I received 30 entries to Medusa’s Snake Pit. The answer keys were a tad messy but that didn’t stop 27 solvers from getting to the correct solution.
Here is the list of correct entries in order that I received them:

  1. Edison He (who was also first in Hydra)
  2. Ken Levine
  3. Dylan Gibbs
  4. Adam Vangness
  5. Robert Vollmert
  6. Ben Wootten
  7. Nick Brady
  8. Alex Pei
  9. Logan Dymond
  10. Jack Bross
  11. Scott Handelman
  12. Stefan Tomlins
  13. Prasanna Seshadri
  14. Michael Deluca*
  15. Yuhei Kusui
  16. Willy Petrenko
  17. Eric Odenheimer*
  18. Antonis Lalatsas
  19. James McGowan
  20. Jakub Hrazdira
  21. Ivan Koswara
  22. Zbigniew Laskowski
  23. Nikola Zivanovic
  24. Branko Ceranic
  25. Andrey Bogdanov
  26. Zoltan Horvath*
  27. Matt Lahut
  28. Andrew Brecher
  29. John Reid
  30. Thomas Powell

Oh no! Three entries were incorrect.*
I cannot accept their entries since Medusa had already turned Michael, Eric and Zoltan to stone. Sorry! But do try again with Cerberus.

As for the 27 correct solvers, they will participate in a rock paper scissors tournament right after Cerberus leaves. Speaking of the devil, here he comes! Check out his puzzle at the menu above. The three-headed beast will linger around for the next 8 days.

Thank you for being with me throughout this year’s July Giants.
Enjoy the last puzzle!

Medusa has arrived


Argus Panoptes has been defeated!
In just over a week, 31 solvers defeated Argus Panoptes. Here is the list of solvers in order of their submission times:

  1. Yuhei Kusui
  2. Ivan Koswara
  3. Alex Pei
  4. Ken Levine
  5. Prasanna Seshadri
  6. Zbigniew Laskowski
  7. Antonis Lalatsas
  8. Nick Brady
  9. Robert Vollmert
  10. Andrew Brecher
  11. Walker Anderson
  12. Jakub Hrazdira
  13. Edison He
  14. Matt Lahut
  15. Alan O’Donnell
  16. Tom Collyer
  17. Michael Deluca
  18. Thomas Powell
  19. Jack Bross
  20. Willy Petrenko
  21. Maja Gribajcevic
  22. Giovanni Pagano
  23. Stefan Tomlins
  24. Logan Dymond
  25. Branko Ceranic
  26. Matej Uher
  27. Nikola Zivanovic
  28. Andrey Bogdanov
  29. Neil Zussman
  30. John Reid
  31. James McGowan

The giant Masyu seemed to be really easy in comparison to Hydra’s Tapa two weeks ago. Fret not!
You will spend the next 8 days surviving in Medusa’s Snake Pit!
Can you slither your way to victory? Get the puzzle at the menu above.
There are a lot of rules to swallow in this one, so if you’re unsure about the instructions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


Kota retains BRANDS Sudoku title

The 2014 BRANDS Thailand Sudoku Open concluded today. The usual 2-day format was increased by one day since in Thailand; it’s a 4-day weekend. The tournament started on Friday and the venue shifted from Siam Paragon to Central Ladprao, both are department stores in Bangkok.

Three to a table in the middle of a department store? Come on.  [Photo: Thailand Crossword Association]

Three to a table in the middle of a department store? Come on.
[Photo: Thailand Crossword Association]

From what I see, the conditions were awful. The instruction booklet was very sloppy and an unhealthy fraction of the puzzles were clearly computer-generated. Really the only thing this event is still attracting both local stars and international participants is the money. The winner gets to pocket a nice $5000 US.

This year saw an all-time low of international names. Just Jan and Kota returned. Yuhei was busy and the entire Indian team had to cancel their visit because the dates clashed with their hastily-organized Times Championship. Last year’s finalists Farhan Hassin (Malaysia) and Tung Yi Wu (Taiwan) were also absent. My friend, Gabriel Gan (Singapore) usually turns up as with a handful of Chinese players but none came this year. The only country to consistently field in a team every year is the Philippines. But ever since variants start to make more appearance than classic sudokus, none of them managed to leave any impressive results for the last 6 years.

Poramet didn't actually turn up. [Photo: Thailand Crossword Association]

Two funny things: 1. The logo has been re-used for the last 4 years (note “2011”) and 2. Poramet didn’t even sign up.
[Photo: Thailand Crossword Association]

Let alone solvers from overseas, Thailand fielded an even less impressive roster. Only two members of our national team turned up. Sinchai Rungsangrattanakul, who recently entered to world’s top 10, was our nation’s favourite. College had me and Poramet occupied for the weekend so only rising star Supachai Thongsawang join Sinchai as our front-runners.

Given the many absences, the final five was somewhat predictable. Sinchai collected the most points in the preliminaries so he earned the stage’s centre. Sandwiching him was Jan and Takuya Sugimoto, a newcomer to the event. Kota was placed 4th and I understood there was a tight race for the last spot which was narrowly won by Supachai.

Close race a spot in the finals. [Photo: Thananon Boonkrong]

Close race for a spot in the finals.
[Photo: Thananon Boonkrong]

The finals must have been a nail-biter as Kota became the first person in this event’s 8-year history to successfully defend his title. Jan finished second again and the revelation of the tournament goes to 18-year old Supachai who squeezed out a third place win.

Finals on stage [Photo: Thananon Boonkrong]

Finalists on stage from left to right: Kota, Jan, Sinchai, Takuya and Supachai
[Photo: Thananon Boonkrong]

Here is the puzzle that was used in the finals. Print out a large copy and try solving it standing up on a wonky board to get the real simulation of the finals.

Final puzzle [Photo: Supachai Thongsawang]

Final puzzle
[Photo: Supachai Thongsawang]

You can compare your times with the finalists, here:
#1: Kota Morinishi (JPN) 8.43
#2: Jan Mrozowski (POL) 11.39
#3: Supachai Thongsawang (THA) 12.13
#4: Takuya Sugimoto (JPN) 14.03
#5: Sinchai Rungsangrattanakul (THA) 20.00 – DNF

I would love to welcome international solvers to this event, but I still think there are too many things this tournament can improve on. Our national association is not very energetic at addressing them so do come along but don’t expect the best hospitality cause you’ll probably be disappointed. Lastly, can I ask again who wrote the few handmade puzzles for this event? A lot of people want to know who our national association has ties with and why they are making it so secretive.

Hydra defeated, Argus appears


Entries for Hydra have now been closed. When you submit an answer I will normally take no more than 3 days to reply. I have replied to every submission I’ve received so if you think you’ve entered and haven’t heard from me yet, contact me immediately.

As for Hydra, 23 warriors took a shot in the last 8 days. I asked for the number of black squares in the central Tapa, the correct answer to Hydra was 35.
Here is the list of solvers in the order of submission:

  1. Edison He
  2. James McGowan
  3. Prasanna Seshadri
  4. Andrey Bogdanov
  5. Antonis Lalatsas
  6. Jack Bross*
  7. Serkan Yurekli
  8. Alex Pei
  9. Ivan Koswara
  10. Andrew Brecher
  11. Nick Brady*
  12. Nikola Zivanovic
  13. Tamas Antal
  14. Ken Levine
  15. Stefan Tomlins
  16. Willy Petrenko
  17. Yuhei Kusui
  18. Matt Lahut
  19. Michael Deluca
  20. Jakub Hrazdira
  21. Thomas Powell
  22. Robert Vollmert
  23. John Reid

*Alas! Hydra claimed two victims!
Jack and Nick (both submitted 34 and were one cell off from the right answer) will have to be excluded from the tournament bracket. Sorry! Try again!

As for the remaining 21, I won’t reveal the results just yet. You’ll have to be patient. Why not increase your odds of winning by slaying a few more giants?

Argus Panoptes is now the current giant on this blog, he is a lot tamer than Hydra. Click on his name at the menu above to see what you’re up against this week. You have until the 18th July to solve the puzzle before Medusa arrives.

Have fun!