Results of SOTR Holiday Quiz 2018-19

Happy New Year readers, with the first half of January passing by we will award our first winner of 2019. Let’s go through the answers to our annual Holiday Quiz.

Q1: David and Goliath [2 points]
One month before the 2018 WSC/WPC, another world championship was held in Prague. This 11-year old won and set a new record by being the youngest world champion at what?
Pictured was Keisuke Fukuchi, an Othello prodigy, who defeated 2016 world champion Piyanut Aunchulee from Thailand in a best of three finals.

Q2: Another David [2 points]
In that same month, a 16-year old dethroned a seven-time world champion at what?
Over on the other side of the Atlantic in Oregon; Joseph Saelee defeated Jonas Neubauer (both USA) who was the current and 7-time world champion at Classic Tetris. The coverage of the event is phenomenal. If like me, you stumbled on this via Youtube recommendations, you’d hear enough Tetris jargon to last a lifetime. If only puzzles were presented in a similarly exciting way.

Q3: Secret Santa [3 points]
Who is this person dressed up as Santa Claus?
This is the current World Puzzle Champion Thomas Snyder. He became the first person to win both WPF titles (WSC and WPC).

Q4: Mashed Puzzles [3,4,4,3,4 points]
Which two puzzles combine to give the anagrams below?


Perfect scores all around! I thought this was going to be difficult since most anagram solvers don’t have puzzle names in their database. Rakesh had a typo (List instead of LITS) but I marked it correct anyway.

Q5: Another Scrabble Controversy [3 points]
There was a controversy at this year’s World Scrabble Championship and it was caught on camera. What do you think is going on in this precise moment?

Nothing official was heard from the organizers but the incident in question involved Alexius Quashie (Ghana) allegedly peeking into the tile bag and swapping tiles he didn’t desire. The other side argues that because the bag at this event was transparent, they had to put the bag into another (opaque) bag. He claimed to have only look at where his hand was going when he felt that he was fishing into the wrong pocket. Nonetheless, he was disqualified.

Q6: Excelling at Art [4 points]
This 77-year old Japanese artist came up with a way to produce and sell drawings at his home. How does he do it?

Pictured here is Tatsuo Hirouchi, who makes Japanese landscape designs using Microsoft Excel. He’s been at it for over 15 years. You can visit his website here.

Q8: Wish Lists [2,3,2,3,3,3,3,3 points]
What do you think would be the most suitable puzzle for each house?

Let’s start from top to bottom going left to right.
Ken: Kakuro was what I had in mind. It turns out Kropki was equally valid.
Noah: A lot of you answered Star Battle Sudoku which is wrong because (normally) it would only contain 18 stars. The answer I had in mind was Star Product Sudoku which would almost always have over 20 stars. Tricky Noah.
Murat: Strawberry snake is the literal meaning of Hebi Ichigo. Ichigo is a pun that means “one to five”; signifying the length of the snakes.
Dave: The only cactus I remember seeing in a puzzle is in Area 51, a creation of David Millar. I also accepted Cows and Cactus but didn’t accept Tents (maybe with stylized trees?), Oasis (the actual puzzle type didn’t have any cacti, or anything symbolizing it) or jigsaw puzzle with a picture of a cactus (cheeky answer!).
Richard: Back in high school the Bunsen burner is often paired up with the tripod, hence Tripod Sudoku. I tried backing up Match Sudoku but couldn’t find any credible sources.
David: The correct answer is Psycho Killer. The creator, Serkan Yurekli, specifically mentioned Talking Heads as the inspiration for the name. This was back in 2009 during his amazing run of Oguz Atay Puzzle Contests. I didn’t accept Killer Sudoku since the actual name was exactly Psycho Killer. A couple of you submitted Cities which I vaguely remember as City Construction or the singular City – so I decided not to accept it. I tried finding other sources to score it but came up empty-handed.
Joy: This one had more acceptable answers that I thought. Intended answer was Tentai Show (Double Spiral Galaxies work as well); but I’ve also accepted Statue Park and Heavy Dots (even though the latter is in a grey area). Consecutive Quads Sudoku was not accepted because it is a number-filling genre. Paint by Threes also didn’t score because it doesn’t have circles.
Nick: Shakashaka. Not sure if there’s any alternate solution though.
ETA (18/1/19): As Rakesh has pointed out, there are some presentations of Paint by Threes that uses circles. This is accepted as correct and scores are changed accordingly.

Q8: Sequence [3 points]
Which puzzler would follow this sequence; Dai Tantan, Liane Robinson, Galina Titova, Zuzana Hromcova, Tejal Phatak, _____?

The list contains female puzzle solvers from China, UK, Bulgaria, Slovakia and India. These countries were also the host of WSC/WPCs from 2013. So any female puzzle solver from the Czech Republic (2018 host) would be acceptable. Two of you submitted Jan Novotny and did not score.

Q9: Christmas Trees [1,2 points]
Can you figure out which tree belongs to Manea? How about Giovanni’s tree?
Looking at the ornaments you could see that each tree has exactly one duplicate. The duplicate also happen to correspond to the first letter of the tree owner’s name. Angel for Amit, Ice-cream for Ivan, Elf for Edison and Raindeer for Rakesh.

We were looking for Manea’s and Giovanni’s tree and among the four choices below there’s tree #1 with two (m)istletoes and tree #3 with two (g)ingerbreadmen. Sorry, Salih!

11 submissions were received throughout the holidays. And the winner is…

Congratulations to James McGowan from New Zealand!


He will receive Nikoli no Penpa 2019 to enjoy throughout the year.
James’ encore of perfect 60 is remarkable. He has now swept the last three Holiday Quizzes. But the competition is definitely fiercer. Amit was only one question away from tying. Salih was virtually close to perfect as well.
Credits to Freepik for the lovely images used in question 9.

I’ll be spending 2019 looking for nuggets to make a tougher Holiday Quiz next time!

Due to the lack of hurdles last year, I owe you 2 Nikoli Hurdles, the first of which is coming up next. Near the end of January, if nothing goes wrong I’ll be competing in the Asian Sudoku Championships in the Philippines. So if you’re also attending do come say hello.

Thanks for playing the quiz.
Wish you all a happy 2019!