This is part 2 of 2 about my experience at the 18th 24 Hours Puzzle Championship (24HPC) which happened on 25-27th May 2018 in Budapest, Hungary. This second part will contain my thoughts on each round.
Puzzles by Fatih Kamer Anda and Hatice Esra Aydemir
Fatih has been a regular feature of the 24HPC for many years. I felt the collaboration with Hatice is more prominent this year. For example; there were no AZOT-slitherlinks, Catwalk or the impossible Battleships in Hexagons – all trademarks of Fatih. I started badly and spent way too much time on puzzles I’m not usually comfortable at. Kurotto and Slitherlink aren’t really my forte, yet I invested an unwise amount of time on them. After the 70-point solve of Different Neighbours went haywire, I was left scrounging for points elsewhere. 17th is probably the lowest I’ve ever been on any scoreboard in my previous 24HPC appearances. My horrible performance aside, this was a nice warm-up set with generally well-known types to start the marathon. Pal gave compliments to this set during editing because he remembered having to fix no mistakes.
Score: 430/885 by Nikola Zivanovic – 17th place
Favourite puzzle: Fillomino
Puzzles by Team India
Round 2 was my round so I solved Team India’s set which served as this year’s jumping round: a concoction of mixed types by Prasanna Seshadri, Rakesh Rai and Ashish Kumar. Team India always pump their set up with a sheer number of medium-ish puzzles, so it was advisable to hit the ground running at types you’re cozy with. I ploughed through the easy-medium pointers and decide to try my luck against the Transparent Yajilins (worth 250 points!). The first one was slightly fidgety but fell after a few crucial deductions; the second one though, was much tougher to chew on. The grid being 15×15 didn’t help one bit. I wisely ditched the Yajilin to amass more of the easier points.
Score: 615/1000 by Michael Mosshammer – 11th place
Favourite puzzle: Spiral Galaxy. Honourable mention goes to Sum Fillomino.
Puzzles by Puzzlers Club
A few months ago I was invited to join a Discord group (a chat room app) named Puzzlers Club. At the time of this writing, Puzzlers Club has a population of 36 puzzle enthusiasts discussing and group-solving all sorts of puzzles. Led by Ivan Koswara, the set was written and test-solved by numerous puzzle bloggers who probably solves more puzzles in one day than I do in a year.
The theme was centred around the number 3, “because 2 and 4 always get the spotlight”. I couldn’t agree more with the subtitle because I, myself, used to fall victim to over-24-ing puzzles in my earlier sets. And after 18 editions of 24HPC, it’s becoming a worn out cliché now.
Based on secret intel (and just looking at the IB), no one is going to come close to finishing this round so strategizing is imperative. The set is roughly sorted into three parts; individual puzzles, a type and an all-3 variant of that type and larger puzzles. Working from front to back, if one minute elapsed without progress I would move on to the next grid. Implementing this tactic, by the time I finished Kropki (the last puzzle) I only had around 5 minutes left. I gambled on spending those last minutes on the Nonogram and fortunately it came through. There are a lot of gems in this round but they will be appreciated more if the overall balance was gentler. I look forward to see what Puzzlers Club has in store for 2019.
Bonus anecdote: I sat in front of Serkan this year, and he came up with an alternate solution for Triopia where one of the arrows didn’t point to anything – it was marked wrong :p.
Score: 357/627 by Nikola Zivanovic – 13th place
Favourite puzzle: It’s a close one. And the nominees are… Fillomino, Creek and Kropki. And the winner is…. Creek!
Puzzles by Alexander Angelov
A new name in 18-year-old Alexander Angelov from Bulgaria. This was one of the rushed rounds to be included at the last minute. There were 3 perfect scores and a very high average compared to other rounds. Competition-wise I felt this was unfair to those who sat out this round. Where else are you going to score 900? Anurag’s round?
There were three point-heavy sudokus which were fairly difficult, but just took time. I was right in suspecting that the Fortress Sudoku had multiple solutions as I was credited by giving an alternate solution. In the end, only the Magnets was left unsolved before time ran out.
Multiple solutions, rectangular grids, poor formatting and sudokus with no symmetry remind me of my early days of puzzle construction. I won’t be too harsh here; we all have to start somewhere right? If Alex’s passion doesn’t dissipate, with more practice he has promising odds of improving in the future.
Score: 920/1000 by Nikola Zivanovic, Robert Vollmert and Zoltan Gyimesi – 4th place
Favourite puzzle: Nothing really stood out, maybe the Battleships.
Puzzles by Nikola Zivanovic
From the IB we see a A, B and A+B theme going on. Reminds me of Puzzle Fusion, an online test I wrote for LMI way back in 2011.
This round felt like playing a zombie-shooting arcade game where the zombie outnumbers the hopeless lone shooter. Nikola’s test solvers must be really good because there were a lot of puzzles here.
We had a cute wordsearch to boot and I took a few minutes to wrangle the 70-point Fillomino Search. I haven’t seen this type before and this puzzle was dazzling. I have an affinity for word-puzzles and in my 4-year experience at the 24HPC, I had solved every word puzzle there is. Heck, I even solve Anurag’s Scrabble. However that streak came to a screeching halt, when my intuition came up short and I couldn’t finish this round’s Scrabble (with Hungarian chess players). The upside of having too many puzzles is that there are a lot of materials leftover to keep you occupied for days.
Score: 500/600 by Neil Zussman – 5th place
Favourite puzzle: Fillomino Search.
Puzzles by Anurag Sahay
Buckle up, it’s Anurag. Going into this round with so much pessimism did a whole bunch of good. When expectations are low any slight wonder gets magnified. Firstly, formatting did improve, but still needs improvement. The three Tapas were screaming for more leg room. Another tip is fidgety puzzles (like Scrabble) ideally shouldn’t be that small.
On the brighter side, there were less bad alignment (see the IB) and the author finally nailed the layout of having instructions-puzzle-instructions-puzzle in the right order. The fact that compliment is earned by overcoming this trivial obstacle kind of tells you how low my expectation bar was set.
Onto the puzzles in general, hey, it wasn’t that bad at all. Let’s define what separates a human puzzle from an inhumane/Anurag puzzle.
Star Pentominous, Bending Four Winds and Cipher Cave are variants on a well-established type. The puzzle flows nicely with little need of bifurcation: human.
Roleplay, Worm Web, Islands and Capitals and Fusion are fairly unique creations with a smorgasbord of any rules I can throw in because I’m the creator and I can add any rules as I please. The puzzle does not flow nicely and requires a cargo-load of bifurcation: inhumane.
Compared to the atrocity he made last year, this set had more human puzzles which made it much more tolerable. We could easily do without the Anurag-esque types but the trend is positive. Although I’d be more than gleeful if Puzzlers Club wants to write more rounds to substitute for next year.
Score: 475/740 by Michael Mosshammer – 6th place
Favourite puzzle: How on earth did I score 6th here?
Puzzles by Serkan Yurekli and Yunus Emre Buyyukale
Moving on to a more reliable household name, Serkan teams up with his star pupil Yunus for round 7. I just looked at the solutions sheet and was surprised by how much of these were written by Yunus. At such a young age Yunus had already grasped the basic foundation of puzzles – nailing grid design, symmetry, basic logical paths and presentation were just clean across the board.
I felt there was slightly too much number-filling going on; we have 3 Tight-fit Sudokus, 2 Tomtoms and 7 Kakuros. The Kakuros alone were already worth 423 points. Like many others, I was attracted to those 423 points and was bogged down by the meaty Kakuros, leaving little time to solve anything else.
Revisiting the easier puzzles, they were top-notch clean as you’d expect from Serkan, a familiar name we know and love. Sadly no word puzzles this year.
Score: 538/752 by Nikola Zivanovic – 9th place
Favourite puzzle: Tight Fit Sudoku
Puzzles by Matus Demiger and Jan Zverina
In this round the puzzles came in pairs; a type plus a Star Battle variant of that type. There’s a certain feel to Matus’ puzzles, one can compare solving his harder puzzles to mining. It’ll fall eventually; you just need to patiently chip away the big rock bit by bit. Don’t know what I mean? Solve the Easy as ABC Star Battle or the Japanese Sums (the 24 gimmick was lovely) to see what I mean.
Given the Star Battle twist, I felt a lot of these were very constrained so it was impressive to see Shikaku Star Battle being so clean.
In all a solid contribution from our ever-reliable Czecho-Slovakian friends.
Score: 500/885 by Nikola Zivanovic – 8th place
Favourite puzzle: Shikaku Star Battle
Puzzles by Takeya Saikachi
Japanese rounds are always a treat due to their sheer creativity. Remember Yuki Kawabe’s Searching for Unsolvable Numberlink? Or Takeya’s pretty Skeleton Crossword?
Unfortunately this year, Takeya had only chosen a selection of puzzles which appeared in last year’s puzzle GP. Not exactly off-beat material but some of these puzzles stood out nonetheless. The Yajilin-Shapes’ solving path was particularly adventurous. You had a false sense of security when the initial steps were so trivial, only to be left alone in the dark during the last half where there was only one combination of pentomino placement that created a complete loop. It was around 2-3am here, and my line of vision was severely cut short in that if any puzzle had a two-step deduction, I wouldn’t see it.
I also ate my last chocolate bar here and that still couldn’t keep me awake – which is a shame because it was a fun round to miss out on.
Score: 440/815 by Neil Zussman – 13th place
Favourite puzzle: Normally I’d give it to the Scrabble but the Yajilin-Shapes can take this spot for now
Puzzles by Sinisa Hrga
Noticeable absentees from Sinisa’s set this year were Barriers and Pipes. Otherwise we still have the usual suspects: Honeycomb Islands, difficult asymmetrical sudokus, the impossible Arrows and a football-themed word grid at the end. The 110-point Minesweeper felt overvalued as was the Domino Skyscrapers (80 points). The trio of puzzles in ABC Game was a nice feature and I always enjoy my share of the word-puzzle at the end.
This is probably the first time I couldn’t solve one of his sudokus, despite guessing 3 layers deep, the Parquet sudoku still stands unsolved.
Performance-wise, I was starting to burn out. Not being able to solve a 20-point ABC Connection is a clear indication of fatigue.
Score: 540/1000 by Nikola Zivanovic – 13th place
Favourite puzzle: Champions League, I guess?
Puzzles by Alberto Fabris
Still groggy from previous rounds, I performed horribly here producing my worst result of the year. We have some interlinked puzzles in the form of Skyblocks (a link between Skyscrapers and Doppelblock), Positional Minesweeper (think of 8x8x4 minesweepers) and Campari (a nice cross between Tents and Akari). I was way too sleepy to tackle the intricate high-pointers and was desperately finding as many easy pointers as I could. Also spent a while on Morra Path and a miscount scored me zero for all that effort.
Nothing too special and in all, we have a fine mix from Alberto this year.
Score: 335/758 by Michael Mosshammer – 21st place
Favourite puzzle: Hula loop
Puzzles by Andrey Bogdanov and Vladimir Portugalov
It would be more advantageous for me if this round lasted only an hour. When 60 minutes was up I had solved everything I could solve. That is, if you’ve given me another day, I would still score 475. Earlier this year I had one of my best online results in the Forsmarts Annual contest. Triangular Minesweepers, Ravel and Slasher all made an appearance there – and I struggled with those during the online test. It didn’t change now.
A new type (at least for me) was Pins. The type was rather interesting; no doubt the 175 point value played a part in drawing my attention to it. However, I couldn’t even find a breakthrough to the first Pins (worth a measly 20 points). So the last half of the round, I fiddled with the second Railway and couldn’t solve it.
Score: 475/745 by Neil Zussman – 12th place
Favourite puzzle: Football Tournament
Puzzles by Bram de Laat
Bram takes round 13 for the second year in a row. This round’s gimmick was having a pair of puzzles play out on (more or less) identical grids. I got caught in the snares of the Regional Yajilin, but eventually got it after a lot of tries. Meandering Words was falling nicely until I hit a wall and couldn’t see the next deduction step. Also broke Outis (a nice type, by the way) but managed to fix it in time. I enjoyed this round a lot because with Bram’s puzzles, you know and trust that there is a logical path somewhere. This is also backed up by the nice variety of genres and an appropriate ratio of easy-hard puzzles. Another nice solid set from our Dutch friend.
Score: 630/780 by Robert Vollmert – 9th place
Favourite puzzle: A lot to choose from! I felt the most impressive one was the quirky Sashigane