Results of Nikoli Hurdles 5

23 people crossed the finish line after twenty days of Nikoli Hurdles 5.

In order of submission, they are; John Davis, Swaroop Guggilam, Gavriel Hirsch, Nick Brady, Ivan Koswara, Murat Can Tonta, Edison He, Lewis Chen, Prasanna Seshadri, Kishore Sridharan Kumar, Michael Mosshammer, Grayson Holmes, Franck Wallez, Michael Tang, Michael Lasserre, Andrew Brecher, George Xing, Nikola Zivanovic, Arturo Vial Arqueros, Amit Sowani, Rakesh Rai, James McGowan and Anthea McMillan.

The winner will be determined by playing a game of Scattergories. Each player was to come up with 4 entries (beginning with S, O, T and R) for each of the 5 categories; sudoku variants, green things, body parts, sports and things you see in the sky. Each valid entry scores 1 point, but if any other solver came up with the same response – that entry scores nothing.

It was tough going through all individual entries. I was impressed by a lot of creative entries and even more impressed when other people repeat those entries! Let’s take a look at each category one by one.

[Note: a green box represents a unique entry that scores 1 point, a white box is a valid entry that has been repeated (scores nothing) and a yellow box is an invalid entry or the competitor had left it blank.]

First up is Sudoku variants:
Most popular entries were ODD-EVEN, OUTSIDE and THERMOMETERS. General judging criteria is that the sudoku type must be established and accepted among the puzzle community. A one-off puzzle on an obscure blog would not suffice. Edison’s TWELVE TONE was (frustratingly) considered valid because the “creator” went as far as having it self-published in book form.
Grayson’s OCTO-SUDOKU may have referred to the Octo puzzle, which is not a sudoku (but another sad, self-made, computer-generated clutter), or the Octothorpe Sudoku which would have been valid. Also unsure if TEMPERATURE was meant to be Thermometers but would score 0 points anyway.
Prasanna accompanied his entry (specifically ‘ROLLING THE DICE’) with a little note saying that he hopes Nikola wouldn’t enter. A few days later, Nikola submitted his own invention. Bam!

Standings: after round 1, we have a five-way tie for first between Swaroop, Edison, Kishore, Nikola and Rakesh.

Round 2: Green things.


We have sneaky entrants interpreting “green” as in “eco-friendly”, which produced a lot of creative answers; RECYCLING and TESLA. I also learnt that there are a lot of Pokemon fans among puzzlers who end up repeating each other.
You could see Andrew adopting a popular strategy of using scientific names of plants and scored a perfect 4/4. The obscure TARRAGON and RAPINI didn’t fare so well (I have never heard of both). SOTR’S BACKGROUND earns my applause but surprisingly didn’t score! STARBUCK’S LOGO and ONE-UP MUSHROOM were my favourites.
I didn’t accept RIVER ALGAE because RIVER merely acts as an adjective. Other invalid entries were OCTOPUS (too vague), SKIN OF HULK (doesn’t strictly start with S), TURMERIC (no matter how hard I try, it seems yellow to me) and RADIUM (science gurus will know that the cartoonish green glow of radioactive material is not due to radium, but to alpha particles hitting phosphor in the paint, however RADIUM WATCH DIAL would’ve been an excellent valid entry.)

Standings: Edison pulls ahead with 6 points. Nikola and Rakesh are close at second equal.

Round 3: Body parts
The amount of repeats for R was surprising, even RIBOSOMES didn’t score. RIBS and RIBCAGE were treated as the same thing. I could not find anything to validate Nikola’s RECTRICES (a flight feather) being a part of a human’s body and also gave him a benefit of doubt with SCALES (as in the plaque formed in wound healing process).
Rakesh’s OCULUS (latin term for eye) and RIGHT ATRIUM (even though “right” is an adjective, the right atrium is more clinically significant as opposed to, say, right kidney) were accepted after careful consideration.
RETINA, RADIUS and RECTUM were very common. And the alternative spelling of OESOPHAGUS didn’t score either.
There were a lot of muscles, nerves and bones you could’ve used here but a lot of points were awarded.

Standings: Edison and Rakesh leads with 9 points. Nikola and Andrew have 7 points.

Round 4: Sports
There were a lot of “games”, rather than “sports”, but as a chess fan who’ve read far too many games vs. sports debates; I’ve accepted them all. There were no invalid entries in this round. One way to score was using variants of a sport; OPEN-WATER SWIMMING, ONE-POCKET BILLIARDS, THREE-CUSHION BILLIARDS and ONE DAY INTERNATIONAL CRICKET were all valid.
Some clarifications; OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING is the proper term for the discipline (ie. OLYMPIC wasn’t used as an adjective) and similarly, TEAM HANDBALL is the common term for the sport and not treated as an adjective.
ORIENTEERING was by far the most common response; another four of you came up with OINA and my favourite entry SEPAK TRAKRAW hits close to home (if your home is in South East Asia).

Standings: Edison, Rakesh and Andrew are one point from each other. Can Edison be caught?

Round 5: Things you can see in the sky
A valid entry has to be something that can be “seen”; OXYGEN and THERMOSPHERE aren’t something you actually “see”. Almost everyone interpreted “sky” as “outer space”, which I didn’t have in mind at first, so the tons of other celestial phenomena that can’t really be seen (especially with naked eye), but can be “observed”, I generally accept them as valid.
Understandably, there were a lot of constellations and birds, unfortunately you were equally creative and repeated each other. Only two scored in O; ORIOLE and OLDWIFE UNDERWING.
ORBITING SATELITTE and TOY HELICOPTER are adjectives, THE BIG DIPPER starts with a B, while OUTDOOR LIGHTING is too grounded to be something you “see in the sky”. My favourite entry was Murat’s SUPERMAN.

And scoring 15/20… congratulations to Edison He from Hong Kong!

Thankfully Edison won with such a margin that even if all of my rulings were reversed; he’d still win. Hopefully that discourages anyone who wants to continue further arguments. Phew! That was a tiring game of Scattergories. You can be assured that I’m not going to bring it back next time.

This is Edison’s first win after 10 events at SOTR. I’m extra happy when a regular visitor wins 🙂
He is second to only Nikola, who is still winless after 11 events. Other people overdue for a win are Alan O’Donnell (9 events) and Swaroop Guggilam (8 events). One day!

I hope you had fun, and please take the time to vote for your favourite puzzles to be included in the next edition.
You can pick up to 3 choices among these recent Nikoli types.
[Poll closed]

Holiday quiz coming up very soon.
See you then!

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3 responses

  1. Thanks for the contest. It was fun reading all the responses. You may opt to repeat Scattergories, definitely better than rocks-paper-scissors.

    Just an observation: I found skyscrapers repeating in sudoku category but it fetched a point in the sky category.

    • Thanks Rakesh! You scored pretty well 🙂 I might revisit a similar game next time.

      In Scattergories, points are only deducted if they are in the exact same letter and category. Skyscrapers just happened to be valid for two categories.

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