24HPC 2018 Recap Part 2

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.

24HPC Class of 2018

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24HPC 2018 Recap – Part 1



This is part 1 of 2 about my experience at the 18th 24 Hours Puzzle Championship (24HPC) which happened on 25-27th May 2018 in Budapest, Hungary. This first part will contain the events leading up to and after the competition. Part 2 will be a breakdown of my thoughts on each round.

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WPC 2017 Recap – Part 2

This is post 2 of 2 about my experience in the 2017 WPC in Bangalore, India. The first part contains the non-puzzling side of the event while this post will be my thoughts of each round.

With no play-offs, 23 rounds of puzzles (17 individual rounds and 6 team rounds) were crammed into three days. I feel most of these rounds were sadly undertimed and a lot of beautiful puzzles were missed. Or I’m just slow, but to the best of my knowledge, I don’t think many solvers were finishing these rounds.
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WPC 2017 Recap – Part 1

This is 1 of 2 posts about my experience in the 2017 WPC in Bangalore, India. This first part contains the non-puzzling side of the event while the next post will be my thoughts of each round.My flight arrived into Bangalore late Tuesday night. Ashish (Kumar) and Rakesh (Rai) picked me up from the airport and caught me up on the news regarding Kota’s miraculous 3-point win over Tiit (Vunk). Once at the hotel, I got to meet a long time acquaintance Rishi (Puri), who was leaving Bangalore later that night.
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See you in Bangalore!

This post was meant to go up before I leave for India. As you can see below, I’d made some frighteningly accurate predictions! Let’s see if they will hold true for the WPC as well.

  Hello readers,

Last month, I have been extremely busy with work and sorting out papers to ensure that I will be participating in the World Puzzle Championships! I’ll be heading out to India tomorrow night and join the ongoing World Sudoku Championships.

I couldn’t get a longer leave to compete in both WSC and WPC – so only one choice was possible. I opted for WPC because Thailand had already field in a WSC team (led by the energetic Sinchai), and pushing out one of our younger solvers is something I’m not eager to do. Most importantly, though, I enjoy puzzles more!

Interestingly, this will be my first time competing – which means I can potentially win the Best Debutant prize! Unless there are dark horses lurking in the Chinese or Korean team – I feel I have a decent chance.

The organizers made a bold choice by not having play-offs this year and this was reflected in the higher amount of puzzles than previous editions. We’re talking 23 rounds in 3 days! The last two weeks were spent digesting the heavy 90-page instruction booklet.

This year also sees the return of Thomas Snyder (USA) after a three-year hiatus from the championships. The new format without the finals might favour the consistent Ken Endo (Japan) over the 11-time and defending champion Ulrich Voigt (Germany). There are promising and scarily young talents; like Walker Anderson (USA) and Qiu Yanzhe (China), who make guys like Palmer Mebane (USA), Bram de Laat (Netherlands), Hideaki Jo (Japan and somehow in the B team?) or Nikola Zivanovic (Serbia) look like old guards.

The WSC is currently underway and I don’t see Jakub Ondrousek’s (Czech) or Jan Mrozowski’s (Poland) name in the starting list – so I predict another battle between Kota Morinishi (Japan) and Tiit Vunk (Estonia). However, team-wise we should also look at China who’s been steadily creeping up the world ranks with their young team.

Much excitement, can’t wait to be there. If you’re attending (or already there), please drop by and say hi!

See you in Bangalore!

24HPC 2017 Recap Part 2

This is part 2 of the 17th 24HPC recap. Part 1 contains the event leading up to and after the competition. This part will contain my thoughts on each of the 13 rounds.

Everyone signed the welcome/farewell puzzle – made by Zoltan Horvath.

Round 1
Puzzles by Matus Deminger
Matus came up with a very interesting idea this year. The puzzles came in pairs with one classic type followed by a loop variation of that type. I jumped around quite a bit and enjoyed what I solved, largely due to them nicely being logically approachable. The large Kakuro loop was especially very clean.
Score: 620/1000 – 8th place
Favourite puzzle: Kakuro loop.

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24HPC 2017 Recap Part 1

This is part 1 of 2 of the 17th 24HPC recap. This part contains the event leading up to and after the competition. Part 2 will contain my thoughts on each of the 13 rounds.

Group photo of this year’s competitors

The 24-Hour Puzzle Championship is a puzzle marathon that reached its 17th edition last weekend. I arrived on Thursday evening and joined two-thirds of the UK delegates; Neil and Tom, for dinner at the hotel’s lobby. Afterwards, we casually went through the IBs before retiring to bed.

Budapest train station

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See you in Budapest

The 24 Hour Puzzle Championship is happening this weekend, and I’ll be attending for the third time. All eyes are on Ken Endo to see if he can live up to his number one rating position!

I’m aware that the Japanese puzzlers traditionally gather at Hideaki Jo’s house over the Golden Week period to simulate the 24HPC each year.
They would post their results online and the scores would always be ridiculously high, and more often that not, one (or four) of them would even surpass the winner of that year’s 24HPC.

Defending his title will be Neil Zussman who would need all the lucky breaks he can get. My bet is on another solver with the same initials – Nikola Zivanovic, a great author as well as a great solver. He has won before so he knows what it takes to regain his title!

As for myself, I came 12th in both of my previous appearances (2014 and 2015) with the same score of 777. So improving either the position or the score would be great. But the 24HPC scoring system is based on the top solver of each round – so I’d have to put in a ton more effort to catch Ken to keep my triple-7 mark.

If you’re in Budapest this weekend, come by and say hi!
Happy Easter!

24HPC recap without the puzzles

[Personal recap of the 24HPC]


Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport

On the forward trip, I sat next to a Turkish college student who was studying in Hungary. I asked what “Akil Oyunlari” meant in Turkish. He said “umm…like brain games”. He was born in Antalya so I was like, “hey, that’s where they hosted the 2009 WPC”, which was an excuse to explain why I was going to Budapest to solve puzzles. Pushing my luck of shoving puzzle talk to a stranger’s face, I also asked if he knew who Serkan Yurekli was. And I got a positive response!
“Yeah. He was on TV one time, I think he makes puzzles right?”
I admit I’m terrible at coming up conversation topics.

Like last year, I was the first to arrive and the last to leave Budapest. It certainly helps to spare a couple of days rinsing off your jet lag, especially when one had just covered over 17,000km in about a day and half. My first priority of looking for non-sparkling water was achieved at a dairy just across the road. Illiterate in Hungarian had me buying bagfuls of snacks based solely on its marketing appearance. I did enjoyed most of them fortunately.



The next day, I met Tom and Neil at breakfast and had plans for two escape games in the city. We went early in case of the very likely event of us getting lost, which meant we had a good hour munching on coffee and cake at a lovely store next to the location of the first escape game.

We were joined by the German puzzle team of Silke, Robert and their friend Hammond. The first game was held in a quiet residence and was hosted by a polite woman who apparently wasn’t the host of the English-language version, but we can agree that she did a fantastic job running the game.


On board the SS.Elzzup!

As with all escape games, the theme was loosely-based on a narrative. Hell, I can’t even remember the theme now. A friend is getting married in France? Somehow you’re on a boat to New York? He was framed for something? We needed to find a train ticket? A ring? Oh, I give up.

[Spoilers ahead: if you plan to play an escape game in Budapest, you might suddenly be the most competent member of your team]

So the first room was decorated like a boat and we had to find 5 coins to open up the next room. It wasn’t obvious, but there were 5 “things” to do and it was sensible to assume that they run independently and each lead to a coin. We had no system going in, everyone just solved whatever they felt like they could. All I can recall was peeking through a chest to see a picture of a sailor, holding a mop and hitting a seagull. On the ceiling was a seagull and there was a mop lying on the floor. The clever trick was that the mop was magnetic and it had to drag a key from a ledge on the ceiling. Going on simultaneously in the room, was a map puzzle being solved to unlock a rope ladder which Robert had to climb to a balloon which contained a coin.


Tom’s head on a bus

The second room was the train scene. We had to fill a briefcase with the correct set of five items to finish. There was an invisible code written on the mirror that Neil helped me solve, a classic logic puzzle that Hammond and I solved, while others revive a dead cellphone to get specific time schedules for a train ticket hidden behind a picture. There was a dummy in the room (I think it was the ticket collector) which we mercilessly murdered because what else do you do in escape games? You flip the whole room upside down and look into every inch of every single item that was there. The dummy’s head rolled right off by the time we finished.

We clocked in at 36-37 minutes, without hints, and were told that the current record was around 34 minutes. Ah, we did great. Afterwards, we returned to the same café (called Death by Decaf) for seconds and headed to the next escape game. It was held in a spacious cellar (or “dungeon”, as Neil insisted). The theme this time was that we had to stop a biotechnical warfare by finding some sort of poison concocted by some mad professor. The room was his lab and there were heaps of things to solve.


We had better times

My favourite had to be where a box was opened by placing a stethoscope on to the heart of a skeleton. Several puzzles ended up adding one piece to a chessboard so we incorrectly assumed that the chessboard was probably the last thing to be solved and proceeded to solve other puzzles in the room. We burnt at least 20 minutes trying to figure out how to make sense of colourful chemicals on the table and got nowhere.

We had to phone for help and the host directed us to “a green monster”. There was a green rubbish bin and surely enough, magnetized to inside of the lid was the crucial final chess piece. Gahh, honestly we must’ve opened that bin at least five times each. Good warm-up for the 24HPC.


Another 300 or so puzzles to understand the rules of


Listening to my occasional sighs; my table neighbour Matthew Stein from USA.

Fast forward to the end of the competition, I left Budapest for Dubai. The purpose of entry on my VISA was cultural/sports which prompted “what sport were you playing in Budapest?” at the customs. I thought for a second before replying, “puzzles.”
Of course I got a confused look.
“Like sudoku”
That elicited an “Ahh… I know sudoku. Wait. You flew all the way from Auckland to solve sudoku?”


The newly renovated competition room meant generous working space for us

In Dubai, I tried their Snooze Cube, which was a little bedroom for transits. Air-conditioned, free Wi-Fi, universal outlets and the room goes pitch black when the lights were switched off. Absolutely perfect.




I listended to a few podcasts and slowly nodded off…


Home time!


Quiet Melbourne Airport at 5am

After two more transits at Melbourne and Auckland. One last domestic flight carried me home.


No more planes for me.
Until next time!

Nikola, Robert and Zoltan tops 15th 24HPC

10395820_826304097429959_4078698941160149976_n The 15th 24 Hour Puzzle Championship is already behind us and I had a blast! Undisputed winner Nikola Zivanovic was in a league of his own and soared away from the competition very early on, earning another (his second or third?) victory at the 24 HPC. The race for second place was won by the very consistent Robert Vollmert. Zoltan Horvath, who came straight from his third place win at the Poland Championships, rounded off the three podium finishers.

Left-Right: Robert Vollmert (Germany), Nikola Zivanovic (Serbia), Zoltan Horvath (Budapest) [Photo courtesy of:  Rejtvényfejtők Országos Egyesülete]

Left-Right: Robert Vollmert (Germany), Nikola Zivanovic (Serbia), Zoltan Horvath (Budapest)
[Photo courtesy of: Rejtvényfejtők Országos Egyesülete]

Speaking of consistency, I scored 774 (just 3 point less than my last year’s score) appropriately finishing at the exact same position: 12th place. A clear and mildly depressing indication that one year went by with no improvement whatsoever. My thumb is still numb from 24 hours of pencil-gripping.

Full results

Full results

Big thanks to the organizers, authors and the lovely company of Neil, Tom, Liane, Michael, Rob, Adam and Katrina for such an amazing weekend. 11095083_878410352219333_6284051748742055371_n A little funny story before ending this post. Our booklets are returned after each round and at one point, Neil’s had “Sorry, no points” written in red pen next to a sad face. Wondering for a second why he wasn’t awarded his points for the Futoshiki, we realized that he was solving the accompanying example! Even better, the answer was right next to it! I have another 24-hour adventure in the form of 4 long flights back to New Zealand starting tomorrow. Only this one, I’m not looking forward to with as much enthusiasm.