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!

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3 responses

  1. > 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.

    I don’t see how this is a problem; they are perfectly fine variations and can lead to interesting deductions. (Although the variation should have been written on the title too to alert people.)

    I went on to look at the puzzles you mentioned. The Slitherlink is clearly based on that variant so I didn’t test it. I solved the Skyscrapers; it had interesting deductions based on that variation, and the positions of the 3’s are pretty, so I’m sure it was planned and not a last-minute addition. I haven’t solved Countries for a long time, but from the previous two, I’m pretty sure it’s planned and not a quick fix at the end, even if the aesthetics are not strong.

    • I can accept them when they are a proper variation – like when Mellowmelon does it, but it helps if it was properly labelled. I remember solving the Skyscrapers without using the converse rules and guessing the remaining cells and it just worked.

      The particular Countries puzzle (as you noted – has no aesthetics) solved fine without the converse rule – in fact, it got up to just the last 2 blank cells where you needed that converse rule so the puzzle is unique. This is where I start to dislike the random addition of the converse rule – which I heavily felt was included just so the puzzle is unique without adding extra clues.

      • Yeah, the fact that the variations are not properly labeled is a mistake. That’s a problem with the quality of the IB.

        Oh, the Countries puzzle *is* just a quick fix? Then yes, in that case it’s terrible. They could have just added one extra letter in the grid or something.

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