Puzzle Lounge Week 1: Girl Power

Session 1: Week 1
Let’s kick things off with a favourite of mine. I love thematic puzzles and Scrabble is a type you can incorporate a strong theme. Scrabble has been flourishing thanks to inclusions of it in recent puzzle GPs and LMI’s Casual and Word rounds. In my early days of construction, I tried using a crossword software, thinking it would optimally pack my words into the smallest grid it can. It didn’t. The results were appalling. To this day, the packing process is done by hand. In its purest form, the most common rule gives all instances of a particular letter, and the author has to make sure there is enough to reach a unique solution with that condition alone.

Nikola Zivanovic’s Scrabbles tend to use another rule: that is all given letters belong to only one word. This creates a new solving experience since with the former rule; after you’ve exhausted the given letter, you’re on your own at packing the remaining words into the grid. With Nikola’s rule, you rely on interconnections all the way and the process will be a lot less intuitive.

Weirdly, I rarely apply any of the aforementioned rules in my numerous Scrabbles. I’d give some letters but no further conditions so I minimize the labour of having to check if the implemented restriction reaches a unique answer. Sometimes it does. But at what cost? I’ve spent hours proving uniqueness and the experience was far from pleasant. Why would I expect a solver to enjoy this if I don’t?

A similar thing happened with this puzzle. After proving uniqueness for about 90 minutes, I was not happy with the puzzle and scrapped the entire grid. Then for the first time, I used Nikola’s rule and the end result is much more palatable. This theme was inspired by a TIME special article celebrating 100 years of the Woman’s Suffrage Movement in 1920.


Puzzle 1: Girl Power (29 points)
Place the all listed words into the grid so they read from top-bottom or left-right. No unlisted words may be formed and all the words must be interconnected. Some letters have already been placed. These letters can only be used by exactly one word only.

Word List: (Only enter the CAPITALIZED BOLD names)

Answer Keys: Enter the letters in the marked columns from top the bottom (from A to C). Ignore any spaces.

Click here for PDF


Happy 8th Birthday to SOTR

Next week will be the 8th year anniversary of SOTR. There was somewhat a chasm of no puzzle events during the last couple of years. It has been a long goal of mine to have two things happen. First is regular posting and, second, I wanted to include other puzzle genres. Previously I snuck in the odd word or visual puzzle here and there but I want to slowly add more to the mix.

With that, I’m pleased to announce Puzzle Lounge!

Think of it as a living room where you pop by, have a chat and solve a puzzle or two. Traditional logic puzzles will remain our focus but roughly a quarter of the puzzles will be something different like word, trivia, optimization or mystery hunt-style.

Solvers earn points by submitting correct answers to each week’s puzzles. Puzzle Lounge will run for 29 Fridays. The 29th and final week is exclusive and will only be opened for the top scorers. Spot prizes up for grabs. Details can be found at the Rules of Puzzle Lounge page above.

Hope to see you in the Lounge!

19th 24HPC 2019 Recap – Part 1

With this year’s 24HPC up in the air due to the coronavirus outbreak, this one-year late report of the last edition seems like a good occasion to relive the experience. This is part 1 of 2 posts about my experience at the 2019 24 Hour Puzzle Championship which happened on 5-7th April 2019 in Budapest, Hungary. This first part will be a personal account of events leading up to, during and after the competition. Part 2 will be a breakdown of my thoughts on each round.

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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.

SOTR Holiday Quiz 2019-20

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thank you for still stopping by even when the blog is so inactive. After a dismal showing at the WPC, I’m determined to improve and learn newer methods to solve puzzles, thus, I have been spending more time solving puzzles than constructing. Even though the blog is quiet; I still manage to pull myself together and write some puzzles that appeared in offline events in the UK, Hungary, India, Serbia and France. Maybe they will turn up in my Flashbacks section later in the future.

The SOTR Holiday Quiz, though I hope, is a permanent thing I can keep doing.

Instructions: Answer as many questions as you can. You don’t have to answer all the questions. Submit your entry at the entry form below. The highest scorer will receive a copy of Nikoli no Penpa 2020 published by Nikoli. You can submit multiple times but only your latest submission will count – so you can change your answers until the deadline on Thursday 9th January. Questions can be made by commenting on this post or by e-mail to roygbivpuzzles (at) gmail (dot) com.

Tie-Breaks: If the highest score is achieved by multiple entrants, the entry that scored the highest in Search What (question 4) wins. If the tie remains unbroken; the entry that scored the highest in Word Bubbles (question 7) wins. Rock-Paper-Scissors will decide any further ties.

Happy Quizzing!

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?

Q2: Train of Thought [3 points]
If you happen to be peering over the shoulders of a puzzler and hear, “2 has to go here, and 9 can’t be here… so it must be here. Ok. Now this row is missing… a 5…”, you can be certain that a sudoku solve is in progress. Take a look at another train of thought during a solving of a sudoku. Who is solving the sudoku?
Q3: Secret Santa [2 points]
Ho! Ho! Ho! Have you been good? Who is this person dressed up as Santa Claus?
Q4: Search What? [2,2,2,2,4,3,2,2,3 points]
I image-searched several puzzles but, unfortunately, they are not popular enough to produce pictures of the actual puzzles. Some of my findings for each search are shown here. Can you figure out which puzzles I was looking for?
Q5: Instructionless [3 points]
Solve this puzzle. Oh. I seem to have misplaced the instructions. In that case, just figure out what this puzzle type is. [This puzzle is not a variant of an existing type. It has a unique solution.]

Q6: Not Today, AI [3 points]
Ever since IBM’s Deep Blue 1997 defeat of world chess champion Garry Kasparov, several other once human-dominated pursuits have slowly been taken over by artificial intelligence. In 2011 supercomputer Watson disposed two Jeopardy champions and later in 2016 AlphaGo defeated go champion Lee Sedol.
Not quite IBM’s calibre, but another computer program has been trying to outwit humans in a popular endeavour since 2012, where it debuted in 141st place. It has unofficially competed yearly ever since. This year, in Stamford, it finished in 14th place. What is the name of this rapidly improving computer program?

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. Letters in green bubbles are consonants whereas yellow bubbles are vowels. Names are written in lower cases; so tall bubbles would represent tall letters (b, d, f, h, k, l, t) and hanging bubbles would hold letters with a “tail” (g, j, p, q, y).

Q8: Sequence [3 points]
What shape would come next in this sequence? A brief description of the next image would be enough.

Q9: Christmas Trees [3 points]
A group of friends have decorated their personal Christmas trees. Due to a mix-up while transporting them, one of the trees has been lost in the mix. Can you figure out which tree belongs to Manea?
Choose from the four choices below.
Submission form:
[Submission closed]

Thanks for playing!

See you in 2020!

2019 ASC Recap – Part 2

This is part 2 of 2 posts about my experience at the 2019 Asia Sudoku Championship which happened on 25-28th January 2019 in Clark, Pampanga, Philippines. This part will be a breakdown of my thoughts on each round.

Booklets of the 2019 ASC

Reliving the event by going through the booklets, I feel more positive about the puzzles at the ASC. The grids were very clean and themes for some individual puzzles were stunning. For a competition, I personally enjoy medium to medium-plus difficulty and the hardest grids here I felt were right in that range. There was only one minor mistake in round 4 that may have tripped people up but questionably nothing was done about it.
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2019 ASC Recap – Part 1

Yes. This recap is 8 months late. This is part 1 of 2 posts about my experience at the 2019 Asia Sudoku Championship which happened on 25-28th January 2019 in Clark, Pampanga, Philippines. This first part will be a personal account of events leading up to, during and after the competition. Part 2 will be a breakdown of my thoughts on each round.

The Asia Sudoku Championship is a relatively young event on the WPF circuit with this year’s event being only the 3rd iteration. The previous 2 editions were both held in South Korea with the 1st of its kind seeing only 3 nations (China, Korea and Japan) compete. The 2nd ASC, held in 2018, expanded to 8 countries with over 50 entrants in the Open section. Held alongside were several well-attended age groups for younger solvers (age categories include U-8, U-10, U-12 and U-15).

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Sorry for the Drought

During the 8 month drought here at SOTR, a plethora of things have been happening behind the scenes. I will spend the next few weeks posting recaps of 3 offline events I’ve attended this year; the Asia Sudoku Championship, the 24 Hour Puzzle Championship and, most recently, the Brands Sudoku Queen’s Cup.

Next month, I will be in Germany for the World Puzzle Championship. The recap for that should follow soon. After the WPC, I hope to squeeze in some SOTR events before our traditional end-of-the-year Christmas Quiz.

Blog maintenance aside, I’ve been trying to cram in as much puzzle-solving into my life as I can. Somehow I’ve never made it past 1 Puzzle GP and only competed in 6 Sudoku GP’s. Same goes for LMI’s Sudoku Maharabat and Puzzle Ramayan where I missed out too much to realistically rank among the world’s best solvers. But the odd brilliant finishes were encouraging enough not to give up speed-solving entirely.

Meanwhile, Puzzlers Club has written 2 laudable LMI tests and members are continuously chipping through floods of imported Japanese puzzles from Twitter. I have yet to jump on the bandwagon solely because I’m more of a paper guy than a Puzz Link solver. Though, I’ll get there one day when I get around to purchasing a new phone and/or iPad. I also discovered a trove of nice puzzles in LMD’s Puzzle Portal which can easily last a lifetime.

Word puzzles have also been pillaging spare time as I have renewed my subscription to Games magazine, the New York Times crossword and the American Values Club crosswords. Not to mention the handful of Puzzle Wright titles sporadically arriving in the mail. So many good puzzles and so little time to do them. Sigh.

Any other puzzle sources you’d recommend?

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!