Light Read #5 – Searching for the 100th solver

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Here in the SOTR headquarters there’s a spreadsheet keeping track of all submissions since this blog began. I wanted to have a rough idea of how many solvers are entering, which events are popular, who’s been winning what, who hasn’t been winning, which events they liked, disliked – so improvements can be done. It is also a joy to see the list growing every year.

At one point, it looked like solver Arturo from Chile (!) was SOTR’s 100th entrant (not 100th entry since one entrant enters multiple events). But that was not to be. Solver Zach also entered Manila, but a good year before that he entered Colour Restore under another name. I found out only because he ended up winning :). Which meant Arturo was the 99th solver and the next newcomer would be the 100th.

That next newcomer is Jason V. Zuffranieri who entered Nikoli Hurdles 3 last November. (Applause). I remember seeing him race-solve Kakuro with World champion Kota Morinishi back in Beijing WSC 2013. Jason might lose this distinction if earlier entrants end up being the same person as another existing entrant. One frustrating example is Indian solver “Skynet”, who, despite being asked for his/her real name 3 times, continues to ignore me.

It may be uncomfortable giving away your name on the internet to a stranger, but I’m only using it to send you stuff when you win. And if it’s really that unsettling – you can always tell me to omit out your name.

By last count, SOTR has now reached the 100-solver milestone! (Applause).
Thank you for being a part of this achievement.
Here’s to another hundred!

Results of SOTR Quiz

Whether it’s the ill-timing with the holiday season or just that puzzlers don’t like quizzing in general as only 8 people entered the SOTR Quiz. Nevertheless, some impressive scores!
Let’s cruise through the answers.

  1. CHRISTMAS MAZE (2 points): You were given an easy maze to start off with. The correct path should have 13 turns.

  2. QUIZ #1 (2 points): Who is second most prolific solver, winning the second-highest number of individual WPC titles? That would be Wei-Hwa Huang with 4 wins. 
  1. QUIZ #2 (2 points): Who is the only female solver to have won an individual medal (gold, silver or bronze) in either the WPC or WSC? Jana Tylova, gold in at the 1st WSC, Lucca-Italy 2006. 
  2. SECRET SANTA (2 points):  Who is this person dressed up as Santa Claus? This is the current World Sudoku Champion, Kota Morinishi.
    kotaorig
  3. NOT TYPOS (1 point each): Puzzle names can come from weird mash-up of words, words from different languages and even made up words. Therefore, sometimes Microsoft Word thinks it is misspelled and promptly auto-corrrects them. Below are 8 puzzle names that have been auto-corrected, can you guess what the original puzzle names were?nottyposIn order: Nurikabe, Tapa, LITS, Araf, Kakuro, Nanro, Hitori and Masyu

  4. QUIZ #3 (2 points): In 2009, a man allegedly cheated his way to the finals of a Sudoku tournament. His poor onstage performance called for a retest a week later. Seeing his dismal results, the organizers disqualified him. Name this man. The man is Eugene Varshavsky, who was also believed to have cheated in the World Chess Open back in 2006 as well, nonetheless, we never knew how he did it.

  5. QUIZ #4 (2 points): In what U.S. state did the above event took place? A tricky question which called for Pennsylvania and not Philadelphia (which is not a state). 
  6. FLAG DAY (5 points minus 1 for each incorrect/missing solutions): A new tradition to the WPC is the new WPC flag. Nope. It isn’t the one below. The flag below consists of several past WPC logos. How many past logos were used? And from what year(s) were they from?wpcflagThe logo was made using 4 elements from the logos of 2001 (Brno), 2007 (Rio de Janeiro), 2011 (Eger) and 2014 (London). flagdayans
  7. QUIZ #5 (3 points): Ever since this blog started in 2012, one and only one Pokemon have made an appearance somewhere throughout the years. What is this Pokemon? Back in 2013 (it’s been 3 years already?), Pikachu appeared in this Tentai Show puzzle.hereheispika
  8. QUIZ #6 (3 points): How is the picture below related to logic puzzles? This is Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory (1931). Eureka! That’s a name of a logic puzzle! Invented by Serkan Yurekli (he named the type after this painting) for the OAPC.whatpicture
  9. QUIZ #7 (3 points): Who won the individual gold medal in the year when the WPC host city’s name has the highest percentage of vowels (than consonants)? Niels Roest, gold in 2002 WPC Oulu-Finland.

  10. QUIZ #8 (3 points): Twice have there been a WSC host city where there are more vowels than consonants in the city’s name. Who won the individual gold medal in those years? Thomas Snyder (2008, Goa-India) and Kota Morinishi (2015, Sofia-Bulgaria).

  11. PATCHWORK (3 points): Which of the following pictures is the odd one out? Briefly explain why. You either see it or you don’t. A is the odd one out because every other picture were taken from this blog’s logo.oddoneout patchworkans
  12. CONCOCTION (2 points each): Never before seen by mankind is the puzzle below. It is made by combining several specific puzzle types together. Can you extract all the ingredients? Not easy! There are 5 types here: the symbols on the left are from Weather Symbols (I also accept its old name Ikebana), the grid is clearly Kenken (also accept Calcudoku or Tomtom, although strictly speaking, Tomtom is handmade and not computer-generated), the sudoku variant seen is Triangle Sums Sudoku, the numbered arrows are from Pusula and the bottom-right segment of the grid is Blind Spot. Only one solver got 10/10, well done Walker Anderson!concoction
  13. PLACES TO PUZZLE (2 points each): What better way to spend Christmas than surfing the web for puzzles to do? Below are 4 places I visited, can you tell where I’ve been puzzling this Christmas? Active puzzlers should quickly identify The Puzzle Robot, Nikoli.com, Logic Masters India (sneakily taken from the ratings page) and Cleverly-titled Logic Puzzle Blog.  placesmeptpans
  14. LAST QUESTION (2 points): If you had answered all questions above correctly, one answer is used twice. What is this answer? Kota Morinishi was answer to questions 4 and 12…and now 16!

And now to the results…
The highest you can get is 60 points. First prize of Nikoli no Penpa 2016 will be sent to the highest scorer. No one aced the test but two were very close, scoring a nice 58/60. Woah! Those two are Gavriel Hirsch and a past winner Walker Anderson. This goes to the tie-breaks! The closest guess to the average score wins.

And the winner is…

sotrquizscores

Congratulations to Gavriel Hirsch from the United States! Our first winner for 2016!

Now on to some bad news. As for the consolation prize, less than 10 solvers entered – so I’ve decided to keep Dekabiro Kakuro for another occasion. The reason for this is because the winner of Guess the Average is ambiguous. The rules were to guess the average score of the Top 10 scorers, but only 8 entered and their average is 49.375 – which means either Prasanna (who guessed 49, only 0.375 off) or Kishore (who guessed 37.5 and if two zero scores were added, the average drops to 39.5) would win. Luckily this ambiguity doesn’t change the overall winner betwenn Gavriel and Walker. I apologize to both Prasanna and Kishore for this ruling and to make up for it – I promise an extra prize for the next event.

It’s been a long post. Thank you for being with SOTR at the turn of the new year. Next event drops early so stay tuned!
Have a great year to come!

 

Bye bye 2015

This year saw 3 more events held at SOTR. We started the year with Sudoku Excavation, followed by Manila and the recently-concluded Nikoli Hurdles 3. I hope the number of events increase for 2016. All past puzzles are available at the menu above.

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Currently, SOTR’s first Holiday Quiz is going on. Scroll down to the post below and quiz yourself with some puzzle-related questions. There is a prize for the highest scorer! Entries close at 6th January so you still have time. Do give it a try!

Happy New Year, 2016!

SOTR Christmas Holiday Quiz

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Merry Christmas my dearest readers!
If you have a few minutes (or hours) to spare during this festive season, then I invite all extreme puzzle fans to try out SOTR’s Christmas Holiday Quiz! Simply score the highest and Santa will send you something nice. No rock-paper-scissors, no lucky draws, only the best wins. You can also play “Guess the Average” for a chance to win a consolation prize.

Instructions:
Tackle these questions and fill in your answers at the ENTRY FORM on the menu above along with your personal details. You can submit multiple times but only your latest submission will count – so you can change your answers until the deadline on Wednesday 6th January.

Prizes:
The highest scorer of the Holiday Quiz will receive Nikoli Penpa 2016. Second prize of Dekabiro Kakuro will go to the winner of “Guess the Average”. Further details can be found at the ENTRY FORM page.

Questions: can be made to roygbivpuzzles (at) gmail (dot) com.

Take a deep breath… here’s the SOTR Christmas Holiday Quiz!

  1. CHRISTMAS MAZE (2 points): Find a path from the top-left picture to the bottom-right picture, travelling only through horizontally and vertically adjacent cells. You can only travel across squares that have the same picture or the same colour as the previous square.holidayquizcmaze How many turns does your path take?
  1. QUIZ #1 (2 points): Ulrich Voigt has been dominating the WPC since 2000, capturing 10 individual titles. Who is second most prolific solver, winning the second-highest number of individual WPC titles?
  1. QUIZ #2 (2 points): Who is the only female solver to have won an individual medal (gold, silver or bronze) in either the WPC or WSC?
  2. SECRET SANTA (2 points): Ho! Ho! Ho! Have you been good? Who is this person dressed up as Santa Claus?
    secretsanta
  3. NOT TYPOS (1 point each): Puzzle names can come from weird mash-up of words, words from different languages and even made up words. Therefore, sometimes Microsoft Word thinks it is misspelled and promptly auto-corrrects them. Below are 8 puzzle names that have been auto-corrected, can you guess what the original puzzle names were?
    nottypos
  4. QUIZ #3 (2 points): In 2009, a man allegedly cheated his way to the finals of a Sudoku tournament. His poor onstage performance called for a retest a week later. Seeing his dismal results, the organizers disqualified him. Name this man.
  5. QUIZ #4 (2 points): In what U.S. state did the above event took place?
  6. FLAG DAY (5 points minus 1 for each incorrect/missing solutions): A new tradition to the WPC is the new WPC flag. Nope. It isn’t the one below. The flag below consists of several past WPC logos. How many past logos were used? And from what year(s) were they from?wpcflag
  7. QUIZ #5 (3 points): Ever since this blog started in 2012, one and only one Pokemon have made an appearance somewhere throughout the years. What is this Pokemon?
  8. QUIZ #6 (3 points): How is the picture below related to logic puzzles?
    whatpicture
  9. QUIZ #7 (3 points): Who won the individual gold medal in the year when the WPC host city’s name has the highest percentage of vowels (than consonants)?
  10. QUIZ #8 (3 points): Twice have there been a WSC host city where there are more vowels than consonants in the city’s name. Who won the individual gold medal in those years?
  11. PATCHWORK (3 points): Which of the following pictures is the odd one out? Briefly explain why.
    oddoneout
  12. CONCOCTION (2 points each): Never before seen by mankind is the puzzle below. It is made by combining several specific puzzle types together. Can you extract all the ingredients?
    concoction
  13. PLACES TO PUZZLE (2 points each): What better way to spend Christmas than surfing the web for puzzles to do? Below are 4 places I visited, can you tell where I’ve been puzzling this Christmas?
    placesme
  14. LAST QUESTION (2 points): If you had answered all questions above correctly, one answer is used twice. What is this answer?

Submit your answers at the ENTRY FORM on the menu above.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Results of Nikoli Hurdles 3

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Results time!
42 entrants have made it to the finish line of Nikoli Hurdles 3.
In order of submission, they are: 1. Swaroop Guggilam, 2. Edison He, 3. Robert Vollmert, 4. Zach Polansky, 6. Ivan Koswara, 7. Gavriel Hirsch, 8. Arturo Vial, 9. Kishore Kumar, 10. Ken Levine, 11. Nikola Zivanovic, 12. Matej Uher, 13. Raphael Lehrer, 14. Franck Wallez, 15. Michael Mosshammer, 16. Maja Gribajcevic, 17. Rakesh Rai, 18. Nick Brady, 19. Prasanna Seshadri, 20. Dylan Gibbs, 21. Manea Constantin, 22. Alan O’Donnell, 23. Jack Bross, 24. Jason Zuffranieri, 25. Tom Collyer, 26. Liane Robinson, 27. Eva Myers, 28. Thomas Powell, 29. Walker Anderson, 5. **Emma McCaughan, 30. Antonis Lalatsas, 31. Grayson Holmes, 32. Andrew Brecher, 33. Neil Zussman, 34. Gareth Moore, 35. Michael Lasserre, 36. Sumet Juariyamark, 37. Steve Barge, 38. Jakub Ondrousek, 39. Jakub Hrazdira, 40. Anthea McMillan, 41. James McGowan and 42. Sinchai Rungsangrattanakul.

Phew.

The above list of 42 racers includes 10(!) past prize winners and 4 newcomers. Interesting mix!

Never thought giving away byes in further rounds could cause so much trouble. I ignorantly assumed there would be a magical tournament bracket generator somewhere in the world-wide-web where you could input these byes in, but when searching for such program came out empty-handed, I had to work this out by hand. Our tournament bracket is summed up below.

nh3tourneybracket

Swaroop (labelled “1”) would enter the tournament at the final 8, while Edison (2), Robert (3), Zack (4) and Emma (**who although was 29th to enter will be labelled 5th for convenience) will enter from the round of 16. Three more byes are given to Ivan (6), Gavriel (7) and Arturo (8) -earliest to submit among the remaining – for round of 32, while everyone else fights for the remaining 17 spots. All pairings follow the single-elimination seeded tournament rule (where the nth-to-last seed always play nth-seed) as normal.
Find that confusing?
Me too.

Note your number, let’s look at Round 1!
nh3r1

Most matches are decided by one hand. What are your methods of choosing these hands?
Jakub Ondrousek bravely copied the example I provided and … hope that your example will be the best one for the tournament ;). It produced the longest match (4 hands) but he ended up losing to Raphael anyway. Better luck next time!
Both Tom Collyer and Walker Anderson submitted PPPPPPPPPPPP – no voodoo powers here, as they’re both eliminated in round 1. I’m not sure if Neil Zussman‘s fingers slipped as he entered PPPPPPPSPPPP.

Round 2 and round 3:
nh3r2and3
Getting the boost helped after all, the top 6 all survived! Alan (22) and Jason (24) are definitely the underdogs as they had to beat three people to get here. Let’s see if they can keep their hot hands. This is also the third time Prasanna eliminated Matej in a RPS-tournament, their encounters date back to 2013!
From this point first seed, Swaroop now make his entrance. 

Round 4 and 5:
nh3r4and5
Robert edges out second-seed Edison for a showdown between first and third seed! (Not shown is two papers -drawn- between Edison and Robert)
For the finals;.. paper, scissors… rock!nh3finals

Congratulations to Robert Vollmert of Germany!
He will receive the latest Nikoli no Penpa 2016 for winning this event. A little story here, I’m happy that Rob won since during the last event, Manila, he lost a tie-breaker to Nick Brady (who won a prize) but an early miscalculation from my part got me sending a congratulatory e-mail to Rob that he had won! Before Rob can even send me his address I had to reply that oops… you didn’t win after all. This time, however, it’s yours!

Here’s the full tournament results:
nh3sumup

Thank you for joining me in this event. I hope to see you next time – some puzzles have already been written but I’m still uncertain when the next event will be held. Keep up to date with the latest SOTR events by subscribing – click the Subscribe button on the right hand side of this page. I don’t post often so I won’t be flooding your inbox anytime soon.

Puzzles from Nikoli Hurdles 3 has been added to the “Past Puzzles” page on the menu above.
Also, as part of Readers’ Choice for the next Nikoli Hurdles, please spend a minute to vote for your favourite puzzle types here (you can choose up to 5 types):

[Voting closed – 28/11/15]

Until next time.
Bye!

NH3 extended by 2 more days

Nikoli Hurdles 3 will be extended by 2 more days to 21st November. The competition will now close in exactly one week from now. All entries, thus far, should have received a reply email from me. If you believe you’ve entered and did not hear from me. Please try resubmitting again.

Our prize, Nikoli Penpa 2016, is now available on Nikoli. You could help yourself to a copy there or you could try winning the rock-paper-scissors (RPS) tournament at the end of this Nikoli Hurdles track. If you haven’t already, head over the Puzzle 1 and start now!
penpa2016

As mentioned before the start of this event, 5 lucky people (1st-4th and the 29th entrant) will be awarded with byes in the RPS tournament. As of now, more than 29 runners have already reached the finish line so let’s announce who those 5 lucky entrants are!

First place goes to Swaroop Guggilam, submitting from India, he was also first to enter on two other events. Rightly deserving a boost to round three in our RPS tournament, a top contender to win this event for sure!

Four spots in round 2 goes to Edison He (2nd to submit from Hong Kong), Robert Vollmert (3rd to submit from Germany), our last winner Zach Polansky (4th to submit from USA) and 29th place Emma McCaughan (from the UK). These five people have increased odds of winning but ultimately it all comes down to luck. The winner may very well be from the majority starting from round 1. We’ll see what happens in one week from now.

Happy puzzling!

NH3: Problem with Puzzle 6

An error in Puzzle 6 caused problems for a few solvers. I understand and agree with suggestions that I should have test solvers. However, the idea of having someone to not be eligible for prizes irks me.

So what I do the last couple of years is this: I launch an event. And then I stay in front of the computer screen for a few hours until several entries start trickling in. The early solvers essentially act as test solvers and, even better, they can still win prizes. What happened last night was that Nikoli Hurdles 3 started and a moment later, I received a handful of submissions.

Thinking nothing went wrong, I went to bed and then to class. Now I realize (from a lot of emails) that Puzzle 6 indeed had multiple solutions, it is fixed now. I hope this does not distract you too much and I will try even more to get rid of these errors in the future.

Nikoli Hurdles 3 starts now!

Nikoli Hurdles 3 is finally ready.
So we’ll have 8 puzzles to be solved in chronological order starting at Puzzle 1 and all the way to Puzzle 8.

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Everyone who reaches the finish line will have a chance to win the latest Nikoli Penpa 2016.   For Nikoli Hurdles 3, we will be revisiting Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine our winner but with a little twist. In a knockout tournament, we lose half of the competitors in every round, eventually ending with the sole winner. This time, 5 solvers will get an extra-boost to increase their odds of winning.

The first solver to reach the finish line will enter the tournament in round 3! That means he/she will compete with only ¼ of the solvers. That’s a huge advantage, but does not necessarily mean that he/she will win. Additionally the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 29th solver to reach the finish line will start the tournament from round 2. Those 4 will start competing with half the original line-up of competitors. The rest is fair game.

More information can be found at the ABOUT NIKOLI HURDLES 3 page on the menu above.
To get started, head to START-0m and start puzzling!

Good luck and have fun!