24HPC 2017 Recap Part 2

This is part 2 of the 17th 24HPC recap. Part 1 contains the event leading up to and after the competition. This part will contain my thoughts on each of the 13 rounds.

Everyone signed the welcome/farewell puzzle – made by Zoltan Horvath.

Round 1
Puzzles by Matus Deminger
Matus came up with a very interesting idea this year. The puzzles came in pairs with one classic type followed by a loop variation of that type. I jumped around quite a bit and enjoyed what I solved, largely due to them nicely being logically approachable. The large Kakuro loop was especially very clean.
Score: 620/1000 – 8th place
Favourite puzzle: Kakuro loop.

Competition hall

Round 2
Puzzles by Zoran Tanasic
Round 2 was my round so I solved Zoran’s jumping set. The presentation could’ve been improved, especially the Kropki dots since it was taking so much space. That aside, some of the big pointers were quite manageable. I was glad to get 175 points from the 3 Ripple Effects and both the Rekuto (85 points) and Loop Kropki (80 points) took some time but were cleaner than I expected.
Score: 660/880 – 9th place
Favourite puzzle: Kropki loop.

Round 3
Puzzles by Serkan Yurekli + Yunus Emre Buyukkale
I always look forward to Serkan’s puzzles and this year was no different. You’re always guaranteed a wide range of puzzle types; this set had loops and number-filling to shading and a pleasant word puzzle to top it off. I breezed through most of the easy-to-medium pointers and got stuck on the Zero Kakuro. I also had a costly mistake swapping two digits in the Kakuro. The large 140-point Top Heavy Number Place wasn’t as guess-y as I initially feared and it solved quite nicely.
Score: 821/1000 – 11th place
Favourite puzzle: Tight-fit Killer Sudoku.

Round 4
Puzzles by Silke Berendes
Silke’s set almost always consist of familiar types but with the difficulty level raised up a few notches. The puzzles came in an irregular grid but the solve weren’t too greatly affected. I botched up the large Yajilin and attempting both Japanese Sums (worth 200 points) left me with no time to collect easier points which was a shame. Five Fences scared me so much that I didn’t even look at it.
Score: 500/1000 – 9th place
Favourite puzzle: Japanese Sums.

Dinner time! The soup was pretty nice. Gyorgy walked in after 3 bites to announce that the next round is starting in three minutes. Ah. When will you ever be forced to hectically force down a handful of buns to get back to puzzling?

Dinner time!

Nice selection for dinner

Round 5
Puzzles by Fatih Kamer Anda + Hatice Esra Aydemir
There were classic types with weird rules that might trip up solvers who didn’t read the IB carefully. These were Slitherlink (with all possible 2s given), Skyscrapers (with all possible 3s given) and Countries (which, already, is not as common of a type – made harder with all possible 3s given). I always wonder why authors would do this to ruin otherwise a good puzzle. When numbers don’t go your way when writing puzzles; you tweak until it does – I find adding these random rules rather unpleasant.
The Slitherlink was most forgivable since the puzzle had just 2s and I can imagine the author aiming for this variation from the start. Not so clear with the other types. Battleships in Hexagon still remain unmanageable (again, the weird rule: all possible clues that apply to 2 rows are given) and the Non-consecutive Sudoku was senselessly impossible, even for Jan Zverina. And that speaks volumes.
Score: 640/860 – 12th place
Favourite puzzle: I thought the Fillomino was cute.

Round 6
Puzzles by Laszlo Osvalt
I immediately recognize Laszlo’s name from old 24HPC sets and it was good to see him back. He is partly the inspiration behind me routinely including a visual and a word puzzle into my sets. There were a lot of unfamiliar variants but they were straightforward variants and not some convoluted rubbish we were about to see later that night (see round 10). I really like the non-traditional Frame Game, Common Clues and Maximize – I feel having them worth little points is a good way to present these lesser-known (and non-culture neutral) puzzles so people who don’t enjoy them won’t quibble as much had they been worth lots.
Score: 620/1000 – 8th place
Favourite puzzle: Frame Game.

Round 7
Puzzles by Nikola Zivanovic
After this round was over, Prasanna, who I sat next to this year, asked if I had seen the theme. To which I gave a half-asleep confused reply, “Huh? What theme?”
Later after the competition, Michael Mosshammer pointed out that all the givens were numbers running from 1 to 200. Woah! I noticed the left-and-right theme in Nikola’s last set but I’m sure this was a lot harder to pull off. And the puzzles were nice too! Always enjoyed my share of Scrabble and the one-off puzzles were top-notch clean. False Fillomino was quite interesting. I also came in 4th too!
Score: 645/900 – 4th place
Favourite puzzle: Scrabble.

Results were published round by round.

Round 8
Puzzles by Pierre Billot
There were a lot of valuable sudokus in this round. The night before the competition when Neil, Tom and myself were going through the IB at the hotel lobby, I blurted out that the theme of the FF Sudoku (all 8s had to be in the shaded F’s) was probably the newly-released Fast and Furious 8. Boy. I couldn’t be more wrong. At the beginning of the round, Pierre made a speech that the puzzle was a tribute to his late father who passed away at 88 years old.
More than half the puzzles were Latin-square types (2 Skyscapers, 4 Central Parks and 4 Sudokus). The Masyu-Sweeper was interesting and Mountain Routes were a nice diversion from all those Latin squares. The Killer Sudokus (with all possible 8-cages given) were a bit too tough to chew for me.
Score: 650/760 – 6th place
Favourite puzzle: Worm Sudoku.

Round 9
Puzzles by Andrey Bogdnanov + Olga Leontieva + Vladimir Portugalov.
The beginning of my downward spiral! I only solved for an hour and slept for close to 30 minutes as this was held around 2am. My score for this round was alarming 20th. I was surprised it wasn’t lower. Resurveying the puzzle booklet; I don’t even recall solving Battleships, Nurikabe, Tapa or the Fillomino. Good to know that I could solve well-known types without my central nervous system working properly (zombie reflexes!). Not much to say since I was hardly conscious, but the Belorussian trio never disappoint. The puzzles were clean though I miss their regular sudokus this year.
Score: 435/1000 – 20th place
Favourite puzzle: Uhh.. my bed and my pillow

Round 10
Puzzles by Anurag Sahay
After that ordeal I went to shower my face with cold water and swigged a good portion of green tea hoping the caffeine would keep me alert. Did it work? Not when Anurag’s round is coming up!
Every year, I eagerly await the IBs of the 24HPC which is like a treasure trove of puzzle ideas. And when you’re competing, that eagerness shoots through the roof. Literally, my first thought when I saw this author’s name on the list was, “Oh no Pal. What have you done..”

Every puzzle author should live by this mantra; a puzzle is like a battle between the solver and the author, where the solver always wins. In other words; the author has to give enough tools for the solver to dismantle the puzzle, and most importantly, the solver should enjoy the process.

So I’m not so sure what these puzzles’ aim was. Was it to show that the author is capable of concocting puzzles that can fry our frontal lobes at 3am? Was it a gallant attempt to showcase as many “creative” variations as the author can? Or have we forgot that the entire point of writing puzzles is so that solvers enjoy solving them!? Argh!
To get a better picture, I highly recommend Neil’s vlog recap for this round.

I only got through 4 puzzles (Yes. Four. Out of 28) before I glanced at my neighbour Prasanna, he was (in this order) sighing heavily, shaking his head, erasing, threw both arms up, look back down and repeat step one. I looked up to see that there was 80 or so minutes left. Unlike the previous round, the decision to snooze through this round was a conscious choice.
See you at breakfast fellow warriors.
Score: 120/525 – 18th place. (Now that I know Ken only scored 525, I regret not putting in the effort to gain some precious tournament points).
Favourite puzzle: figuring out the optimal duration one should sleep for without feeling too groggy for the last 3 rounds.

Breakfast time! I didn’t eat anything. Only had one cup of hot chocolate and trying not to fall down the stairs.

Prasanna, Tom and Liane having breakfast.

Round 11
Puzzles by Sinisa Hrga
Sinisa’s round is slowly establishing itself as a sadistic fixture at the 24HPC. I can never logically solve Barriers, Arrow Maze or Arrows (usually the second one – made large and laborious). The last word puzzle was a gift in this set of difficult puzzles – not too hard, just methodical tracking and the points are yours for the taking.
Score: 430/940 – 12th place
Favourite puzzle: NBA.

The pain of losing 120 points 😦

Round 12
Puzzles by Alberto Fabris
During my high school days I was a regular on Alberto’s Puzzle Fountain so I was familiar with Alberto’s style. The Scrabble was a godsend because when it is tightly-packed (like this one), intuition kicks in and the puzzle swiftly falls. The rest contained mostly well-known types and I went through a healthy portion them before running out of time.
Score: 660/925 – 5th place
Favourite puzzle: HD Crossword.

Neil, Ken and Liane solving the farewell puzzle

Round 13
Puzzles by Bram de Laat
Bram’s puzzles have a reputation for being that much harder than your typical offerings. There was a small pairs theme going on here but otherwise these were just 18 clean puzzles. Either this set was easier than Bram’s usual level or I’m getting more familiar with his style. Both Retrogrades puzzles were amazing and the Gemini section was interesting. Wish this round lasted longer because it was a pleasure to solve.
Score: 630/865 – 8th place
Favourite puzzle: Retrograde Pentomino and Retrograde Sudoku.

If anyone beats Ken Endo in any round – they would get this sumo-killer certificate. Prasanna won in round 13.

Thanks to all the authors for many beautiful puzzles this year. I hope I can see you again next year!

24HPC 2017 Recap Part 1

This is part 1 of 2 of the 17th 24HPC recap. This part contains the event leading up to and after the competition. Part 2 will contain my thoughts on each of the 13 rounds.

Group photo of this year’s competitors

The 24-Hour Puzzle Championship is a puzzle marathon that reached its 17th edition last weekend. I arrived on Thursday evening and joined two-thirds of the UK delegates; Neil and Tom, for dinner at the hotel’s lobby. Afterwards, we casually went through the IBs before retiring to bed.

Budapest train station

My hopeless circadian rhythm got me waking up at 4am which was followed by a series of ineffective naps. The three of us used the free day to enjoy some escape rooms in the city. We bused down at noon and were joined by Gyorgy at the first venue down a fancy alleyway. Aptly dubbed the “White Room”; all 360 degrees of the room were all white. It was a non-linear room containing 5 separate passwords for unlocking the final puzzle.

Neil wins 7-4!

We used 58 minutes of the generously given 90 minutes without using any hints. I accidentally left my own pen inside the room and kind of missing it right now (I also forgot my iPad adaptor at a store). Before walking to the next venue, we visited a nearby arcade. Here, you could tell that Neil’s arcade games experience is higher than the average John Doe. First, he smoked Tom at air hockey before smoothly beating me and Tom (simultaneously) at foosball. We then tried out a variant of air-hockey where we were given swinging sticks instead of a hand-puck. A blackout prematurely ended my misery before my score against Neil was to be anymore embarrassing. (I did have my moment of glory by beating both of them at a flashy light-punching game.)

Rainy day at Budapest

Now to the next escape room; this one was at Kalahu, a restaurant where you order using screens planted on each seat. We were warned that this venue was more about “hunting for stuff” than actually figuring out methodically what to do. The room had a stunning first impression, easily the best production value I’ve ever seen. We entered a very realistic submarine and the props were very good. Alas, I couldn’t say the same for the puzzles in there. The format was linear but the instructions were too vague to be any enjoyable. We burnt our last 15 minutes on a Twister-like activity where you had to press light bulbs (placed far away from each other) using all our available limbs combined. We were told there was a whole extra room we hadn’t cover when our time was up which definitely left a horrible taste afterwards.

Jakub, Jan and Matus at the Q&A session

That night ended with a poorly-attended Q&A session and the next morning we were about to start the puzzle marathon! Pal announced that this year was about finding 2nd place as he was very confident that Ken Endo would easily win outright. Other favourites I pre-picked were Neil, Nikola, Prasanna, Michael and Matus

Previous winners of the 24HPC

[24 hours later]
And we have survived the 17th 24HPC! Prasanna said he could go for another few rounds but funnily he and Ashish were absent during lunch. We made fun about them probably being unconscious right now ;).

Podium finishers. Ken Endo (1st), Neil Zussman (2nd) and Nikola Zivanovic (3rd).

It was a no contest for Ken Endo who annihilated the field. Neil zoomed up to second during the last half overtaking Nikola. Prasanna came 4th and Matus came 5th. I was glad to fulfill both my goal of finishing in the top 10 (I came in 9th) and improving my score (I scored 838).

Results of the 17th 24HPC

This year I decided to make my return trip straight away, previously I ended up asleep until late at night at the hotel anyway. I joined Tom for one last drink together at the airport before leaving for home. It has been a week since the 24HPC and I haven’t touched a single Skyscrapers, Doppelblock, Gaps or Easy as ABC since.

Last hot chocolate in Budapest. You can see Tom’s arm in the background.

See you in Budapest

The 24 Hour Puzzle Championship is happening this weekend, and I’ll be attending for the third time. All eyes are on Ken Endo to see if he can live up to his number one rating position!

I’m aware that the Japanese puzzlers traditionally gather at Hideaki Jo’s house over the Golden Week period to simulate the 24HPC each year.
They would post their results online and the scores would always be ridiculously high, and more often that not, one (or four) of them would even surpass the winner of that year’s 24HPC.

Defending his title will be Neil Zussman who would need all the lucky breaks he can get. My bet is on another solver with the same initials – Nikola Zivanovic, a great author as well as a great solver. He has won before so he knows what it takes to regain his title!

As for myself, I came 12th in both of my previous appearances (2014 and 2015) with the same score of 777. So improving either the position or the score would be great. But the 24HPC scoring system is based on the top solver of each round – so I’d have to put in a ton more effort to catch Ken to keep my triple-7 mark.

If you’re in Budapest this weekend, come by and say hi!
Happy Easter!

Puzzledo Wild Cards

You were told there were 9 rooms in Tudor Mansion, but only a handful realized that there was a 10th room. That room was the basement.

In the billiard room, you were given 5 sudoku puzzles to solve. Once that was done, you could hear Mr. Black mentioning a basement, something about South Africa and a colourful lock.

However, the video footage of the billiard room had more to offer. Once you’ve finished reading you might’ve been tempted to close the tab and solve other puzzles – but if you looked at the scroll bar, you would notice that the room had something more below.

Scrolling down…

You see the secret basement!
But alas! It is locked.

Maybe the sudoku had something to say…

If you weren’t too carried away, you might have seen something in S is for Sudoku.
The given letters of each row, except for the top one, spell out LESOTHO LONGEST RIVER.

Lesotho, a country completely landlocked by South Africa, has a few rivers emptying into the Atlantic. The longest (and the only “colourful” one) is the Orange River. ORANGE opens the basement and reveals an optimizing puzzle which only two people solved (the two highest scorers would earn wild cards).

Basement: Billiard Champions
[Wild Card]
Enter the listed billiard champions into the grid so that each word is read in any one of eight straight directions.
Scoring: Total number of letters in all the words you can fit into the grid.
The two highest scorers will earn the Wild Card spots in the main tournament. You can enter multiple times but only your latest entry will count.

Can you beat Michael’s score of 107?

Results of PuzzleDo

16 solvers participated in PuzzleDo. I promised two prizes; one for the main tournament and one for everyone who scored over 100. All 16 of you scored over 100 so everyone is qualified for the second prize.

First, let’s take a peek at the standings:

The main tournament will be filled up as follows:
Early bird awards go to Ivan Koswara (first to reach 100 points) and Stefan Tomlins (first to correctly solve the mystery). Two wild card spots go to Michael Tang and Giovanni Pagano in that order (more about these wild cards later). Once you take those 4 out of the standings, the next top 4 scorers (coincidently, all with 190 points), are Nick Brady, Franck Wallez, James McGowan and Arturo Arqueros. This was the order I received their latest submissions.

Now for the consolation prize, people in the least picked room will face off in duel. As you can see in the grid above, there must be something in the lounge and the library as those two rooms attracted 10 solvers! The two facing off in Duel for the consolation prize will be Michael Lasserre and Grayson Holmes! They were the only two people alone in their rooms.

Shall we look at that match-up first?
In Duel, points are scored by shooting at the opponent or bluffing a protected opponent. In case of a tie, the first scorer wins.

Congratulations to Michael Lasserre from France!
Michael, and some others, picked the example as their Duel hands. Although the score was tied at 1-1, Michael drew first blood and therefore, wins the first Nikoli no Penpa 2017!

We now return to the main tournament, starting with the quarter final matches:

QF1: Nick vs. Giovanni
Not so efficient strategy from Nick. Since draws are broken by whoever scored the first point; Nick’s protecting and idling for the first three turns seemed eerie. Both duelists bluffed successfully and the match came down to the wire! Wild game!
Giovanni moving on to the semifinals.

QF2: James vs. Ivan
Now we’re talking strategy! Both James and Ivan started out with guns blazing for that important first point! Pew pew pew! Ivan’s string of shoots eventually penetrates through James’ bluff and he takes the match 1-1!
Ivan moving on to the semifinals.

QF3: Arturo vs. Stefan
A brave early bluff by Stefan scored a quick 0-2! Even a successful bluff from Arturo couldn’t make up for that deficit.
Stefan moving on to the semifinals.

QF4: Michael vs. Franck
An aggressive string of shoots from Franck secured an early 0-2! Just when it looked like the end for Michael, he turned the tables around with a successful bluff and a hit! Exciting game!
Michael moving on to the semifinals.

SEMI 1: Giovanni vs. Stefan
Another wild game and another successful bluff from Stefan! Giovanni’s bluff couldn’t overcome the draw odds when the match ended at 3-3.
Stefan moving on to the finals.

SEMI 2: Ivan vs. Michael
These two fought hard. The first match, which ended at 0-0, didn’t produce a winner so they replayed. Michael saved his last bullet against Ivan’s aggressive play and that earned him a spot in the finals!
Michael moving on to the finals.

Finals: Stefan vs. Michael
Stefan’s bluff failed and Michael narrowly escaped with the victory!
Congratulations to Michael Tang from the United States!

What are the odds of 2 Michaels winning PuzzleDo? They will both receive the Nikoli no Penpa 2017. I will be posting some secrets of Tudor Mansion in upcoming posts. Puzzles are now available at the Past Competitions tab on the menu above. I would like to give credit to Freepik who produced the lovely icons (weren’t those flowers in the Nurikabe beautiful?) which were used in PuzzleDo.

To not miss information on future events, subscribe for updates to your inbox on the right hand side.
See you next time!

Puzzledo closing in 2 days

PuzzleDo will be closed in just over 48 hours from now.

If you’re still lost in Tudor Mansion, I highly recommend submitting partial entries. You can still win the Pick a Room prize without qualifying for the main tournament, providing you scored at least 100 points. You can also guess the final mystery and hopefully have a few correct guesses in there.
Anything to increase your odds!

Results will be announced shortly after the contest closes.
Good luck everyone!

Somewhere in Tudor Mansion…

We have about 12 days left of PuzzleDo.

The tournament bracket is still filling up. However, as of now, Wild Card spots have not yet been taken. If there are no wild cards by the end of the event, the two spots will be left empty. This means the solver that takes positions 1 and 2 in the main tournament will automatically qualify to the semi-finals.

How to get those Wild Cards, you say?
Well, Tudor Mansion is very big. You might stumble across one if you’re vigilant enough… or perhaps listened carefully to what someone said in the video footages…

You could always qualify for the main tournament by scoring in the top 4. Right now, there are less than 4 perfect scores so it will be close.

Happy solving!

Crack on!

cluebanner1And we’re off!

Important political figures and billionaires gathered at Tudor Mansion celebrating entrepreneur Dr. Black’s winning of the prestigious Holmstrom-Hart Award. As the party die down and guests trickle out the door – the adventure in the after hours begin.

By dawn, Dr. Black’s lifeless body was found outside the mansion’s gates. Detectives concluded that the murder actually took place somewhere inside.

Who killed Dr. Black?

With what?

And where?

Truth will only be revealed with the help of 9 video tapes, each located in different rooms. The video cameras are encrypted and can only be opened with the correct passwords. Unfortunately, only Dr. Black knows what the passwords are. However, you can too, by solving the puzzles in each room.

Enter each room at the menu above and submit your answers at the CELLAR. Partial entries are accepted and only the latest entry from each person counts. Further details can be found at the HOW TO PLAY PUZZLEDO.

Here’s a checklist to keep track of your progress: Checklist


Good luck and stay alive!

March is Detective Month

Coming up is SOTR’s first long narrative event. It will based on the classic board game Cluedo (or just Clue for American readers).

clue-boxA prize-winning economist Dr. Black was murdered inside his own Tudor Mansion. Your job is to use a series of whodunit-style clues to solve the mystery (which VIP guest killed the doctor, with what weapon and where). Clues are presented in the form of video footages within each room. To unlock each VDO camera you must solve the puzzles in each room.

Solving puzzles and the final mystery earns you points, (maximum is 200). However, the highest scorer isn’t necessarily the winner. You are competing to earn one of 8 spots in the Main Tournament; 4 spots for the highest scorers, 2 wild card spots and 2 spots for early birds (1 for the first person to reach 100 points and 1 for the first person to solve the mystery).


Therefore it is a race to secure one of these 8 spots. If you’re aiming to be the early bird, you are advised to submit partial entries to secure those spots as quickly as you can. You can then later re-submit for more points.

The doors will open on 1st March and will last one month. Take this time to carefully read HOW TO PLAY PUZZLEDO on the menu above for all the details in this event.
See you at Tudor Mansion!