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.

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