Saturday, 26 November 2011

WPC '11: update 6

Right dearest reader, I have a nice and empty Saturday morning to fill and we are going to get through this together!

I think I’ve managed to get this far without describing some of the quirks of the hotel. The first is that the hotel was internally connected to another adjacent hotel, which in particular had the restaurant where we had our buffet dinners and in particular, the large selections of cake. Let me tell you, the three cakes for dinner on the Friday evening (I guess bringing me to a count of circa 250 were an immense struggle and I made Jason take a photo of the finished plate once I was (eventually!) done. I suppose the walk to and from the restaurant helps justify all this cake as I can’t exactly describe it as short!

Another quirk of the hotel was the staircase leading up from the lobby and reception, to the space on the first floor outside the competition hall. In particular, this staircase is directly responsible for a massive phobia of hand rails. Maybe it’s fair to describe me as a highly charged individual, but these blasted hand rails would give me a small static shock every time I even thought about reaching my hands out to them! You’d have thought I’d have learned, but each time I did it I realised my mistake too late to pull my hand away from the inevitable ZAP. Perhaps what sums up my feelings on the matter best is expressed by what happened when I tried explaining this to whoever I was (I think Dave B), who calmly remarked he had no such problem and demonstrated that he could put hi hand on the rail with no such problem. I look on with incredulity, and then try the other hand rail. You don’t need to be a Monty Python writer to know what happened next.

I think in the evening Julian and Jason had planned on going to a nearby karaoke bar, and had maybe even convinced some local girls to come with them – but I remained a little whacked out from competition and instead focussed on finishing my slitherlink. There were no apparent seats or sofas going, so instead I followed Will B’s lead and sat myself on the floor propped up against a wall. This was actually quite fun because lots of people came over at various points to see what I was doing. Luckily for me it wasn’t immediately obvious that the puzzle I had made was verrry broken.

As I was beginning to format everything up on my laptop, I was dragged in to the competition hall for the evening programme. (Are you sure you can use a laptop for this?) This, turned out to be another round of puzzles, this time some out-takes from both the WSC and the WPC. I was still sat at my desk, struggling to turn my 10×10 slitherlink template into a 17×17 template, and assumed that I’d be assimilated into a team nearby, presumably with Aga B and the Poles; but in the end it turned out to be Byron, Jason and Vasso. Which actually forms a pretty strong team now that I think about it. I was handed a page full of sudoku, and struggled my way through these slowly but solidly. I had more fun with the sick kropki, and then even more fun with the borderless skyscrapers. I suddenly understood the fits of laughter that were emerging every now and again when what I thought was a broken puzzle could in fact by solved rather trivially as a 1×1 “grid!” Apparently there was also another trick like this with the borderless islands puzzle. Towards the end, I guess when my puzzle solving abilities were re awakening I was quite pleased to solve what I thought was quite a beastly non-consecutive sudoku by finding a finned x-wing to eliminate a 5 from a set of 589 which then brought some consecutive constraints into play which then solved the puzzle. Will B afterwards assured me that this wasn’t strictly necessary! In the last 3 and a half minutes I thought I’d give the odd/even view sudoku a go, not expecting to get it out. But I did, with barely seconds to spare, which was quite a high point to personally end on.

Much amusement was had later when Jason, who has gone to hand in the papers, swiftly returned to inform me that I had not written my “name” on the paper. I swiftly rectified this sorry state of affair by writing my “name” in the two empty squares I’d left in the non-consecutive puzzle. I’m glad to say that’s the first time all week that I’d actually made that particular dickhead error.

The rest of Team Vasso has also done very well, because we ended up finishing in 7th place, behind the likes of two Japanese team, an American team, a combined Czech and Slovak team and so on. We were also one team up from a certain GBR-A, who informed me that they’d clearly have done a lot better if they had another sudoku solver on board. Whoops!

There was much debate about what to do next – apparently the karaoke bar looked not only dead, but wanted an entry fee as well – however as always with these debates the single line of “let’s go to the pub.” Cue a few more beers, some games of pool, some bowling and much merry-making with by now what was becoming the usual crowd.

And whilst I’m on the subject of pool, and with a doubles pairing with Byron I feel I need to introduce my unofficial role of WSC & WPC Sports coach (and yes sports over sport is definitely a nod towards my North American brethren). Early in the week whilst we’d been bowling, I felt I played an integral part in turning around Jason’s so-so start into his one man show. The secret? A quiet word in Jason’s ear, calmly telling him that what he needed to do was “to bowl it down the middle.” We now move onto the pool, where I again wheeled out my calm-yet-authoritative tones and gently mentioned that if Byron wanted to start potting balls, he needed to “hit the object ball with the cue ball just there.” Again, this seemed to work a charm, as we doubtlessly romped to victory. Or something haha. More from Sports Coach Collyer tomorrow!

I can’t remember how long we were there for, but I guess we were there til the small hours of the morning again. I think that as I was leaving the Poles + others were gathered round a table playing poker. This was probably just as well because I find poker to be quite a dull game and this would certainly have sent me over the edge into some much needed sleep. Incidentally, Przemek has the same opinion, especially with regards to online poker. His approach is to play lots of games at once to keep him on his toes, whilst earning enough money from doing so to, say, not bother with anything quite as tiresome as a job.

Ok this entry is getting quite tangential now, so I am going to break off before I cover the last day in Eger!

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