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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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
[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 ;).
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).
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.