Results of SOTR Holiday Quiz 2019-20

We’re almost a quarter into 2020 and already we’ve witness a slew of depressing headlines. As my working conditions get gloomier by the day due to the Covid-19 ripping across the planet, the global lock-down provides an opportune diversion for some blog-keeping.

Let’s finally close the Holiday Quiz for good. Here are the answers.

Q1: Octochamps [1 point]
For the first time in its 92-year history, after competing well past the schedule into the night, this year’s edition had 8 people finishing first equal. What were they competing in?

This question was not so Google-resistant. Just searching for “8 winners” or anything along those lines immediately point you to the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee, where the 8 champions exhausted the judges’ wordlist. Rule change, anyone?

Q2: Train of Thought [3 points]
Take a look at this train of thought during a solving of a sudoku. Who is solving the sudoku?
Only 2 of you correctly identified that this was the working of E.coli bacteria solving a 4×4 sudoku under lab conditions at the University of Tokyo, Japan, as part of a 2010 research. I’ll spare you the technical details.

Q3: Secret Santa [2 points]
Who is this person dressed up as Santa Claus?
This is the 2019 WSC champion Ken Endo. He came agonizingly close to winning both WSC and WPC titles back to back in Kirchheim last October. Ken led the field up until the last round and was ultimately pipped by Philipp Weiss.

Q4: Search What? [2,2,2,2,4,3,2,2,3 points]
Can you figure out which puzzles I was looking for?

In order; 1 is Tapa, which happens to also be a Spanish food. 2 is Anglers. 3 is Domino Castle, not just Dominoes. Note the pictures are all of a construction. 4 is the literal Snake Egg. 5 is Sashigane, which is Japanese for framing square. 6 is Curve Data, two curves and one set of data. 7 is Ripple Effect. 8 is not just any wall but Castle Wall. 9 is Tren, which is ‘train’ in a number of languages.

Q5: Instructionless [3 points]
Figure out what this puzzle type is.
This is Meandering Numbers, also acceptable is Worms. In Meandering Numbers, you have to fill in numbers 1-N in each region so that identical numbers cannot touch, not even diagonally. In addition, it must be possible to travel across adjacent squares, starting from 1 and going up in order without skipping. Impressively, Sed Holaysan discovered this rule himself but cannot name the type (incorrectly submitting ‘Capsules’ – which is close, since Capsules doesn’t require the consecutive numbers to be adjacent to each other).

I really wanted to get rid of the “4” but Christmas was approaching too fast for me to revise the grid.

Q6: Not Today, AI [3 points]
This year, in Stamford, what computer program finished in 14th place.
Dr. Fill competes at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament every year since 2012. As long as the roster of puzzles include those pesky Thursday-gimmicks (like rebuses or writing answers backwards or other unconventional methods), it is going to be very hard for Dr. Fill to beat the country’s best solvers. But it is improving, so maybe the end is near.

Q7: Word Bubbles [1,2,2,3,3,3,3,3 points]
Figure out the names of each puzzle type using the given word bubbles.

From the top; Cross the Streams, Norinori (also accepted Suraromu and Nurimezu), Araf, Gapped Kakuro, Trid, Mathrax, Kropki Pyramid and Partiti.

Q8: Sequence [3 points]
What shape would come next in this sequence?

The 5 symbols are 1 to 5 on a dice. The 6th image would be 6 pips with black-white being inverted. I accepted both vertical and horizontal patterns.

Q9: Christmas Trees [3 points]
Can you figure out which tree belongs to Manea?

Note that all trees have 5 ornaments and every owner has 5 letter names. This is cryptogram on a Christmas tree. Manea’s tree would be number 1 (one solver fell for my trap, submitting tree #3).

9 people submitted answers and the winner is…

Congratulations to James McGowan from New Zealand!

James scored 57/60 along with Amit Sowani of India but won on the rock-paper-scissors tie-breaks. However, in an excellent display of sportsmanship, James requested the prize be given to Amit instead, so Amit will receive the 2020 issue of Nikoli no Penpa..

Hope to get some back logs of recaps and events up soon.

So until then,
stay safe everyone.