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 Nikoli Hurdles 5

23 people crossed the finish line after twenty days of Nikoli Hurdles 5.

In order of submission, they are; John Davis, Swaroop Guggilam, Gavriel Hirsch, Nick Brady, Ivan Koswara, Murat Can Tonta, Edison He, Lewis Chen, Prasanna Seshadri, Kishore Sridharan Kumar, Michael Mosshammer, Grayson Holmes, Franck Wallez, Michael Tang, Michael Lasserre, Andrew Brecher, George Xing, Nikola Zivanovic, Arturo Vial Arqueros, Amit Sowani, Rakesh Rai, James McGowan and Anthea McMillan.

The winner will be determined by playing a game of Scattergories. Each player was to come up with 4 entries (beginning with S, O, T and R) for each of the 5 categories; sudoku variants, green things, body parts, sports and things you see in the sky. Each valid entry scores 1 point, but if any other solver came up with the same response – that entry scores nothing.

It was tough going through all individual entries. I was impressed by a lot of creative entries and even more impressed when other people repeat those entries! Let’s take a look at each category one by one.

[Note: a green box represents a unique entry that scores 1 point, a white box is a valid entry that has been repeated (scores nothing) and a yellow box is an invalid entry or the competitor had left it blank.]

First up is Sudoku variants:
Most popular entries were ODD-EVEN, OUTSIDE and THERMOMETERS. General judging criteria is that the sudoku type must be established and accepted among the puzzle community. A one-off puzzle on an obscure blog would not suffice. Edison’s TWELVE TONE was (frustratingly) considered valid because the “creator” went as far as having it self-published in book form.
Grayson’s OCTO-SUDOKU may have referred to the Octo puzzle, which is not a sudoku (but another sad, self-made, computer-generated clutter), or the Octothorpe Sudoku which would have been valid. Also unsure if TEMPERATURE was meant to be Thermometers but would score 0 points anyway.
Prasanna accompanied his entry (specifically ‘ROLLING THE DICE’) with a little note saying that he hopes Nikola wouldn’t enter. A few days later, Nikola submitted his own invention. Bam!

Standings: after round 1, we have a five-way tie for first between Swaroop, Edison, Kishore, Nikola and Rakesh.

Round 2: Green things.

We have sneaky entrants interpreting “green” as in “eco-friendly”, which produced a lot of creative answers; RECYCLING and TESLA. I also learnt that there are a lot of Pokemon fans among puzzlers who end up repeating each other.
You could see Andrew adopting a popular strategy of using scientific names of plants and scored a perfect 4/4. The obscure TARRAGON and RAPINI didn’t fare so well (I have never heard of both). SOTR’S BACKGROUND earns my applause but surprisingly didn’t score! STARBUCK’S LOGO and ONE-UP MUSHROOM were my favourites.
I didn’t accept RIVER ALGAE because RIVER merely acts as an adjective. Other invalid entries were OCTOPUS (too vague), SKIN OF HULK (doesn’t strictly start with S), TURMERIC (no matter how hard I try, it seems yellow to me) and RADIUM (science gurus will know that the cartoonish green glow of radioactive material is not due to radium, but to alpha particles hitting phosphor in the paint, however RADIUM WATCH DIAL would’ve been an excellent valid entry.)

Standings: Edison pulls ahead with 6 points. Nikola and Rakesh are close at second equal.

Round 3: Body parts
The amount of repeats for R was surprising, even RIBOSOMES didn’t score. RIBS and RIBCAGE were treated as the same thing. I could not find anything to validate Nikola’s RECTRICES (a flight feather) being a part of a human’s body and also gave him a benefit of doubt with SCALES (as in the plaque formed in wound healing process).
Rakesh’s OCULUS (latin term for eye) and RIGHT ATRIUM (even though “right” is an adjective, the right atrium is more clinically significant as opposed to, say, right kidney) were accepted after careful consideration.
RETINA, RADIUS and RECTUM were very common. And the alternative spelling of OESOPHAGUS didn’t score either.
There were a lot of muscles, nerves and bones you could’ve used here but a lot of points were awarded.

Standings: Edison and Rakesh leads with 9 points. Nikola and Andrew have 7 points.

Round 4: Sports
There were a lot of “games”, rather than “sports”, but as a chess fan who’ve read far too many games vs. sports debates; I’ve accepted them all. There were no invalid entries in this round. One way to score was using variants of a sport; OPEN-WATER SWIMMING, ONE-POCKET BILLIARDS, THREE-CUSHION BILLIARDS and ONE DAY INTERNATIONAL CRICKET were all valid.
Some clarifications; OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING is the proper term for the discipline (ie. OLYMPIC wasn’t used as an adjective) and similarly, TEAM HANDBALL is the common term for the sport and not treated as an adjective.
ORIENTEERING was by far the most common response; another four of you came up with OINA and my favourite entry SEPAK TRAKRAW hits close to home (if your home is in South East Asia).

Standings: Edison, Rakesh and Andrew are one point from each other. Can Edison be caught?

Round 5: Things you can see in the sky
A valid entry has to be something that can be “seen”; OXYGEN and THERMOSPHERE aren’t something you actually “see”. Almost everyone interpreted “sky” as “outer space”, which I didn’t have in mind at first, so the tons of other celestial phenomena that can’t really be seen (especially with naked eye), but can be “observed”, I generally accept them as valid.
Understandably, there were a lot of constellations and birds, unfortunately you were equally creative and repeated each other. Only two scored in O; ORIOLE and OLDWIFE UNDERWING.
ORBITING SATELITTE and TOY HELICOPTER are adjectives, THE BIG DIPPER starts with a B, while OUTDOOR LIGHTING is too grounded to be something you “see in the sky”. My favourite entry was Murat’s SUPERMAN.

And scoring 15/20… congratulations to Edison He from Hong Kong!

Thankfully Edison won with such a margin that even if all of my rulings were reversed; he’d still win. Hopefully that discourages anyone who wants to continue further arguments. Phew! That was a tiring game of Scattergories. You can be assured that I’m not going to bring it back next time.

This is Edison’s first win after 10 events at SOTR. I’m extra happy when a regular visitor wins 🙂
He is second to only Nikola, who is still winless after 11 events. Other people overdue for a win are Alan O’Donnell (9 events) and Swaroop Guggilam (8 events). One day!

I hope you had fun, and please take the time to vote for your favourite puzzles to be included in the next edition.
You can pick up to 3 choices among these recent Nikoli types.
[Poll closed]

Holiday quiz coming up very soon.
See you then!

PuzzleDo Mystery Revisited

I haven’t properly sent off PuzzleDo that happened three months ago, both Michaels have already received their prizes long ago. PuzzleDo has been a project lying dormant for about 7(!) years; the logo, characters, weapons and room cards were all drawn 7 years ago before I even entered college. It was originally intended to be an LMI test with a completely different format and progress on it went on and off numerous times. Late last year, while hunting for ideas, I re-explored my old files and saw the raw materials for PuzzleDo.
Continue reading

Puzzledo Wild Cards

You were told there were 9 rooms in Tudor Mansion, but only a handful realized that there was a 10th room. That room was the basement.

In the billiard room, you were given 5 sudoku puzzles to solve. Once that was done, you could hear Mr. Black mentioning a basement, something about South Africa and a colourful lock.

However, the video footage of the billiard room had more to offer. Once you’ve finished reading you might’ve been tempted to close the tab and solve other puzzles – but if you looked at the scroll bar, you would notice that the room had something more below.

Scrolling down…

You see the secret basement!
But alas! It is locked.

Maybe the sudoku had something to say…

If you weren’t too carried away, you might have seen something in S is for Sudoku.
The given letters of each row, except for the top one, spell out LESOTHO LONGEST RIVER.

Lesotho, a country completely landlocked by South Africa, has a few rivers emptying into the Atlantic. The longest (and the only “colourful” one) is the Orange River. ORANGE opens the basement and reveals an optimizing puzzle which only two people solved (the two highest scorers would earn wild cards).

Basement: Billiard Champions
[Wild Card]
Enter the listed billiard champions into the grid so that each word is read in any one of eight straight directions.
Scoring: Total number of letters in all the words you can fit into the grid.
The two highest scorers will earn the Wild Card spots in the main tournament. You can enter multiple times but only your latest entry will count.

Can you beat Michael’s score of 107?

Results of PuzzleDo

16 solvers participated in PuzzleDo. I promised two prizes; one for the main tournament and one for everyone who scored over 100. All 16 of you scored over 100 so everyone is qualified for the second prize.

First, let’s take a peek at the standings:

The main tournament will be filled up as follows:
Early bird awards go to Ivan Koswara (first to reach 100 points) and Stefan Tomlins (first to correctly solve the mystery). Two wild card spots go to Michael Tang and Giovanni Pagano in that order (more about these wild cards later). Once you take those 4 out of the standings, the next top 4 scorers (coincidently, all with 190 points), are Nick Brady, Franck Wallez, James McGowan and Arturo Arqueros. This was the order I received their latest submissions.

Now for the consolation prize, people in the least picked room will face off in duel. As you can see in the grid above, there must be something in the lounge and the library as those two rooms attracted 10 solvers! The two facing off in Duel for the consolation prize will be Michael Lasserre and Grayson Holmes! They were the only two people alone in their rooms.

Shall we look at that match-up first?
In Duel, points are scored by shooting at the opponent or bluffing a protected opponent. In case of a tie, the first scorer wins.

Congratulations to Michael Lasserre from France!
Michael, and some others, picked the example as their Duel hands. Although the score was tied at 1-1, Michael drew first blood and therefore, wins the first Nikoli no Penpa 2017!

We now return to the main tournament, starting with the quarter final matches:

QF1: Nick vs. Giovanni
Not so efficient strategy from Nick. Since draws are broken by whoever scored the first point; Nick’s protecting and idling for the first three turns seemed eerie. Both duelists bluffed successfully and the match came down to the wire! Wild game!
Giovanni moving on to the semifinals.

QF2: James vs. Ivan
Now we’re talking strategy! Both James and Ivan started out with guns blazing for that important first point! Pew pew pew! Ivan’s string of shoots eventually penetrates through James’ bluff and he takes the match 1-1!
Ivan moving on to the semifinals.

QF3: Arturo vs. Stefan
A brave early bluff by Stefan scored a quick 0-2! Even a successful bluff from Arturo couldn’t make up for that deficit.
Stefan moving on to the semifinals.

QF4: Michael vs. Franck
An aggressive string of shoots from Franck secured an early 0-2! Just when it looked like the end for Michael, he turned the tables around with a successful bluff and a hit! Exciting game!
Michael moving on to the semifinals.

SEMI 1: Giovanni vs. Stefan
Another wild game and another successful bluff from Stefan! Giovanni’s bluff couldn’t overcome the draw odds when the match ended at 3-3.
Stefan moving on to the finals.

SEMI 2: Ivan vs. Michael
These two fought hard. The first match, which ended at 0-0, didn’t produce a winner so they replayed. Michael saved his last bullet against Ivan’s aggressive play and that earned him a spot in the finals!
Michael moving on to the finals.

Finals: Stefan vs. Michael
Stefan’s bluff failed and Michael narrowly escaped with the victory!
Congratulations to Michael Tang from the United States!

What are the odds of 2 Michaels winning PuzzleDo? They will both receive the Nikoli no Penpa 2017. I will be posting some secrets of Tudor Mansion in upcoming posts. Puzzles are now available at the Past Competitions tab on the menu above. I would like to give credit to Freepik who produced the lovely icons (weren’t those flowers in the Nurikabe beautiful?) which were used in PuzzleDo.

To not miss information on future events, subscribe for updates to your inbox on the right hand side.
See you next time!

Puzzledo closing in 2 days

PuzzleDo will be closed in just over 48 hours from now.

If you’re still lost in Tudor Mansion, I highly recommend submitting partial entries. You can still win the Pick a Room prize without qualifying for the main tournament, providing you scored at least 100 points. You can also guess the final mystery and hopefully have a few correct guesses in there.
Anything to increase your odds!

Results will be announced shortly after the contest closes.
Good luck everyone!

Somewhere in Tudor Mansion…

We have about 12 days left of PuzzleDo.

The tournament bracket is still filling up. However, as of now, Wild Card spots have not yet been taken. If there are no wild cards by the end of the event, the two spots will be left empty. This means the solver that takes positions 1 and 2 in the main tournament will automatically qualify to the semi-finals.

How to get those Wild Cards, you say?
Well, Tudor Mansion is very big. You might stumble across one if you’re vigilant enough… or perhaps listened carefully to what someone said in the video footages…

You could always qualify for the main tournament by scoring in the top 4. Right now, there are less than 4 perfect scores so it will be close.

Happy solving!

Crack on!

cluebanner1And we’re off!

Important political figures and billionaires gathered at Tudor Mansion celebrating entrepreneur Dr. Black’s winning of the prestigious Holmstrom-Hart Award. As the party die down and guests trickle out the door – the adventure in the after hours begin.

By dawn, Dr. Black’s lifeless body was found outside the mansion’s gates. Detectives concluded that the murder actually took place somewhere inside.

Who killed Dr. Black?

With what?

And where?

Truth will only be revealed with the help of 9 video tapes, each located in different rooms. The video cameras are encrypted and can only be opened with the correct passwords. Unfortunately, only Dr. Black knows what the passwords are. However, you can too, by solving the puzzles in each room.

Enter each room at the menu above and submit your answers at the CELLAR. Partial entries are accepted and only the latest entry from each person counts. Further details can be found at the HOW TO PLAY PUZZLEDO.

Here’s a checklist to keep track of your progress: Checklist


Good luck and stay alive!