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!

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!

March is Detective Month

Coming up is SOTR’s first long narrative event. It will based on the classic board game Cluedo (or just Clue for American readers).

clue-boxA prize-winning economist Dr. Black was murdered inside his own Tudor Mansion. Your job is to use a series of whodunit-style clues to solve the mystery (which VIP guest killed the doctor, with what weapon and where). Clues are presented in the form of video footages within each room. To unlock each VDO camera you must solve the puzzles in each room.

Solving puzzles and the final mystery earns you points, (maximum is 200). However, the highest scorer isn’t necessarily the winner. You are competing to earn one of 8 spots in the Main Tournament; 4 spots for the highest scorers, 2 wild card spots and 2 spots for early birds (1 for the first person to reach 100 points and 1 for the first person to solve the mystery).


Therefore it is a race to secure one of these 8 spots. If you’re aiming to be the early bird, you are advised to submit partial entries to secure those spots as quickly as you can. You can then later re-submit for more points.

The doors will open on 1st March and will last one month. Take this time to carefully read HOW TO PLAY PUZZLEDO on the menu above for all the details in this event.
See you at Tudor Mansion!


Results of SOTR Quiz


And we are ready to announce this year’s first winner!
But first, let’s look at the answers.

Q1: Inklings
Can you figure out what other puzzles have been solved based only on their inklings?quizinklingsA is Yajilin,
B is Sudo-kurve,
Most of you said Classic Sudoku for B which I decided to not accept. It is too unnatural for a sudoku to have all corner 3×3 boxes already filled in, which would make a very lousy puzzle. The geometry seen here was a typical layout of Sudo-kurve. Only Manea got this one right.
C is Tents,
D is Tight-Fit Sudoku, note how some numbers are larger than others.
E is Different Neighbours. Note how dots are marked where all four vertices meet.

Q2: Architect
What is this construction?quizfeatThis is the 17x17x17 Rubik’s Cube – which is the largest dimension ever built that can actually work. The man is Oskar van Deventer, a Dutch puzzle maker.

Q3: Secret Santa
Who is this person dressed up as Santa Claus?

santawho Only two people identified Wayne Gould. In 2004, this New Zealand-born Hong Kong judge walked into the London Times office and got them to publish Sudoku in their newspapers. This created the worldwide Sudoku boom.
Thanks Wayne!


Q4: Instructionless
Tell me what this puzzle type is.

christmaswhatIf you tried solving this as a Ripple Effect, it will have a unique solution. Boy, this puzzle was frustrating to make. Took me almost two hours.

Q5: Art Gallery
What puzzle type is this?


Japanese solvers would recognize the kanji above as Akari. Here’s a picture from the latest Nikoli Puzzle Box. I wonder why the romanji for ‘museum’ wasn’t used as the name instead.


Q6: Turkish Art Gallery
Turkish Art Paint is better known in the puzzle community as what?
According to its inventor Serkan Yurekli, Tapa is actually an acronym and is short for Turkish Art Paint. I can’t help but smile when I received an entry from Serkan himself!

Q7: Christmas Trees

Can you figure out which two trees (out of the given choices) would belong to Swaroop and Grant?

quiztreesquizztrees2No maths is involved here, the stars simply resemble to the first letters of the tree owners’ names. Swaroop’s tree would be number 1 (S) and Grant’s (G) would be number 2.

Q8: Transformations 
Can you figure out what these puzzles have become?

8a) Masyu rules apply; however all cells must be visited. There is no requirement of having to go straight after turning at a black circle. You can also go through white circles without having to turn immediately before or after each white circle.
8b) Nurikabe rules apply; however shaded cells do not have to be connected. You may have 2×2 areas of shaded cells.
8c) Spiral Galaxies rules apply; however some circles are black. Once you have completed the puzzle, shade in regions with black circles.
8d) Slitherlink rules apply; however clue numbers outside the loop represents the number of its edges that are not used by the loop.

Tough set of questions here.
In 8a, Masyu turns into Dutch Loop.
8b, Nurikabe turns into Lakes.
8c, Spiral Galaxies becomes Tentai Show. Also acceptable is Sym-a-Pix (Conceptis).
8d, Slitherlink becomes Polygraph. Some of you had In-Out Slitherlink which was unacceptable because the clues outside the loop had to increase by 1 to represent the unused edges.

Q9: Sudoku
Below is a sudoku, what is so significant about this particular puzzle?

quizsudoFinnish mathematician Arto Inkala came up with this puzzle in 2012. He claimed, by using some algorithms and advanced programming, that this is the world’s hardest Sudoku ever. I’m not going to solve it and you shouldn’t either.

10 solvers submitted answers. Edison and Antonis were set to tie for first with 44/60 (with Edison having the better tie-break). Then Alan scored 43/60, which had me re-verifying and triple checking everyones’ answers. Then out of nowhere on the last day, James blasted the field with 54/60!
sotrquiz1617resCongratulations to James McGowan from New Zealand!

He wins the Toteoki Fillomino to keep him busy throughout the entire year. As the only person to score full marks in the Transformations section, I can’t help but think that he just reeled off all the answers from the top of his head without any research.
James becomes the second double-winner at SOTR. Long time readers would remember who the first double-winner was… woah… that was a long time ago.

Thank you to all those who took part, it is great to see fellow puzzle fans showing their puzzle knowledge and experience here.
By the way, the next event is happening shortly.
It is another boardgame-inspired one.

See you there!