Results of SOTR Holiday Quiz 2017-18

Happy 2018 everyone!
How are your holidays?
I still had to work throughout New Year’s but because of that, I’m currently enjoying my share of break (albeit a week later than everyone else) back home. As per tradition, we find out our first winner of the year by announcing the results of the SOTR Holiday Quiz!

Here are the answers.

Q1: Bonjour [2 points]
The 2015 French Scrabble Championship was held in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. What was especially peculiar about that year’s championship?
It was won by Scrabble god Nigel Richards who spent nine weeks memorizing the French lexicon and he doesn’t speak a word of French. Back in 2015, he won the Classic Match Play division and just last year he beat Thierry Chincolle of France in the finals of the Elite division. Woah!

Q2: Secret Santa [4 points]
Who is this person dressed up as Santa Claus?

Only two of you recognized South Korea’s number one sudoku solver, Seungjae Kwak. He won the 2017 Grand Prix final held in Bangalore, India. To be fair, the picture on the left does look somewhat like Hideaki Jo (which a lot of you submitted).

Q3: Puzzle Spy [3,2,2,3,2,3,3,3 points]
Shh! Take a peek at these grids. Can you name these puzzles?
Some of these maybe debatable, but since these pictures were taken from actual puzzles, no points were given to different answers.
1 is Visionary Tapa, I didn’t accept Colour Tapa (my creation!) because the clues aren’t arranged in an arc.
2 is Odd-Even-Big-Small Sudoku, I tried covering up the Kanji but most of you still got it.
3 is Hidato, also accepted Hidoku. I’ve also seen another name for it: Mazuko. Are there any other puzzles with numbers this high?
4 is It’s Yours, created by Ko Okamoto.
5 is Slovak Sums, which was also the inspiration for this question. I was solving Slovak Sums and couldn’t get over how awesome the layout looks.
6 is Tight-Fit Killer Sudoku, a tricky one. Killer Sudoku is not accepted because there is a slash that separates a single cell.
7 is Sums Fillomino, another personal favourite.
8 is Pills, taken from the Swiss Puzzle Grand Prix. If you look carefully, the dots aren’t uniform.
Only James McGowan and Giovanni Pagano identified all 8 puzzles. Well Done!

Q4: Yokai [4 points]
An invisible Japanese monster who appears in front of passersby to block them from traveling, gives its name to which puzzle?

The pictured yokai is Nurikabe, whose name means “painted wall”. Legend of the Nurikabe dates back since the Edo period, the much younger Nurikabe puzzle was created in 1991.

Q5: Anecdote [2 points]
In 2006, a journalist tried competing at a particular national competition for the first time and won. He later recollect how he won the finals:
“…At the front door, I saw my friend Liz vivisecting a pig. Just inside, the Incredible Hulk rode a stationary bike while a pair of oversize, loopy earrings weighed down his earlobes… In my brother’s bedroom, I saw my friend Ben urinating on Benedict XVI’s papal skullcap…and at the foot of my parents’ bedroom door, myself moonwalking with Einstein…”
What on earth is he talking about?

In Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer chronicled his adventures practicing for, and later winning, the 2006 U.S. Memory Championship. The excerpt above is a common technique mental athletes use to memorize a deck of cards. An image is assigned to each card and multiple images combine to form weird scenarios that stick in your mind, hopefully long enough for the competitor to recall the entire deck.

Q6: Cryptic Crossword [3 points]
This crossword appeared in the Guardian back in 2013. What was so special about it?

Appropriate answers are highlighted.

Reverend John Graham, crossword writer for the Guardian under the byline “Araucaria”, announced in a crossword that he was terminally ill. The crossword ran in January 2013 before the 92-year old constructor passed away in November the same year. He had been providing cryptic crosswords for the Guardian since 1958.

Q7: Infographics [3,2,4,2,2 points]
Below are five graphs, each depicting some information. Can you decipher what each diagram represent? A short sentence briefly explaining each graph will be acceptable. (Click to enlarge).

A: Individual WPC titles won by each country.
The 11-title German slice were all from Ulrich Voigt, while America’s 6 titles were between Wei-Hwa Huang (4), Ron Osher (1) and Palmer Mebane (1). I predict that in the next decade Japan’s slice will grow due to the arrival of Ken Endo.
Count of different cell shapes in a standard Battleships puzzle. There are 20 ship segments in Battleships. 4 are submarines (circle), 4 are squares (middle segments) and the rest are the curvy ends of the ships.
C: Progression of the 3x3x3 
Rubiks Cube world record. The current record stands at 4.59 seconds by SeungBeom Cho (South Korea) during ChicaGhosts 2017 held last October. Competitively-speaking, cubists duel it out over 5 attempts and taking the average time, while excluding the fastest and slowest time. In that case, the current record is 5.80 seconds by Feliks Zemdegs (Australia) – who is also the record holder of several other Rubiks disciplines.
D: Letters that are also pentominoes. The standard set of 12 pentominoes have letter labels. There is actually an alternate labelling proposed by mathematician John Horton Conway which uses 12 consecutive letters from O to Z. Puzzlers will no-doubt prefer the original labels because of the resemblance to the letters.
E: Reinfeld values of chess pieces. Chess clubs all over the world will teach you not to swap rooks with a knight or bishop and that the King is worth 200. However, there are endless debates and other proposed values to chess pieces but let’s stick to the basics for now.

Q8: Cryptogram [8 points (1 each)]
Can you work out what these 8 entries are?From top to bottom: PIXEL PUZZLES, OEKAKI, KARE KARALA, PI-CROSS, PIC-A-PIX, PAINT IT BLACK, HANJIE and NONOGRAM. These are different names for the same puzzle depending on where you get your puzzles. Online cryptogram solvers could not decipher this so if anyone hacked their way through this, please share your experience!

Q9: Sequence [3 points]
What comes next in the following sequence?
Masyu comes next. The original type was called Shinju no Kubikazari (Pearl Necklace) and had only white circles. Black circles were later added and it was renamed Shiroshinju Kuroshinju (White Pearls Black Pearls). Nikoli president, Maki Kaji, misread the kanji as “Masyu” and the name stuck.

And the winner is….!!
Congratulations to James McGowan from New Zealand!
With this win, he breaks two records!
The perfect 60/60 is obviously the highest score we’ve ever had in our Holiday Quiz and he also becomes SOTR’s first triple winner! Balloons! Celebration! Applause! James will receive the Nikoli Penpa 2018 issue for winning.

Each year I always think this quiz is harder than the last but the scores indicate otherwise. I wasn’t aiming for difficult non-Google-able questions but I tried to make sure that you have to earn these points. Was the quiz too easy? Did anyone wing through this without Google? Had fun?
Anyway, hope you enjoyed the quiz and I wish everyone a fantastic year to come. Subscribe to the mailing list on the right hand side to not miss any future events.

Happy 2018!


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