Favourite Puzzle: Chess Kings Sudoku
Anyhow, on to the review.
1-6 Classic Sudoku (18, 20, 16, 43, 20, 40 points)
I tend to like the classics being arranged in the order of difficulty, but I suppose the gimmick here were the patterns of givens, which were respectively a King, Queen, Rook, and a Bishop. This was followed by "b1c3" which I don't quite get (a Knight's opening?), and then "1/2" which I suppose is a draw. Nothing particularly difficult, nothing overly easy (despite some fairly low points totals) - I think the last one had some colouring going but generally a solid set of classics
7 Diagonal Sudoku (43 Points)
Another bishop shaped set of givens, I suppose this makes a lot of sense for a Diagonal puzzle.
8 Fortress Sudoku (39 points)
One of my favourite Fortress puzzles of recent memory. I don't much like the type, but this was remarkable firstly for (1) the clever use of a checkerboard pattern as the fortress with row numbering to the side, and (2) solving cleanly without me making a stupid mistake.
Scratch that, it's another fortress puzzle I've cocked up. This is utterly bizarre. I need to go away and practice these for a week until I stop cocking them up.
9 Queen Sudoku (69 points)
I definitely prefer the plural "Queens". This was nice enough for the points, but I do think this type suffers a little bit because as soon as you try and make one with any kind of difficulty it's very tempting just to guess the placement of the queens. The non-attacking constraint is pretty strong, which pretty much guarantees a quick contradiction if you happen to make a bad guess, and easy enough to double check if you make a good guess sans contradiction. Which I did.
10 Battenburg Sudoku (73 points)
Nice to see this type make an appearance. This is generally quite a puzzle-y type as the key to solving these is by first determining whether a particular cell contains an odd or even placement, with the converse rule also needing to be used heavily to make any headway.
I am not a fan of the phrasing "all such patterns are marked". I think it is far more friendlier to newer solvers to explicitly say "where there is no marking, there can be no pattern". It feels like I'm banging the same old drum here, but really we do ourselves no favours as a community when we make things harder than they need to be.
11 Antiknight Sudoku (85 points)
I made the strategic error of leaving this puzzle until last, and my placing suffered massively for it. It didn't feel particularly remarkable to me, just a tough version of a type I personally don't enjoy all that much.
12 Sum 10 Twin Sudoku (37 points)
Well done me for solving this without submitting an answer. An otherwise pleasant clone style variant.
13 Chess Kings Sudoku (44 points)
My favourite of the round, and a surprisingly elegant extension of the "No Touch" variant. The example for this novelty had the gimmick that you could isolate the pair of kings by considering the centres of the 3x3 boxes. This logic left me with 1,3,4,7,8 as the possible kings, and although this still leaves a possible 10 different pairs, actually these were eliminated almost instantly leaving the rest of the puzzle to solve nicely.
14 Unicorn Sudoku (53 points)
The constraint feels very very strong for this novelty, and I only used it around three of the placed 9's to solve the puzzle. I think it's probably stretching the chess theme a little thinly, and I don't think we'll see too many more of this type, but it solved pleasantly enough.
I had to take this test last on Monday in a bit of a rush, and my solving performance was down. It definitely wasn't helped by not submitting an answer to one of the puzzles. The preliminary results have now been released and it does looks like there have been a fair few mistakes. I ended up with 12/14 puzzles correctly solved, 11 submitted, 1 stupid error, and perhaps a couple of minutes extra required to finish the anti-knight.
Despite a disappointing result, and a mix of variants which aren't necessarily to my advantage, I did enjoy this round a lot, and hope that the remaining rounds can match this standard.
Top 3 (preliminary results):
1. Jakub Ondrousek (882.8 points)
2. Jan Mrozowski (872.3)
3. Sinchai Rungsangrattanakul (847.7)
I had to scroll down much further than I cared for to find my result, and I was surprised to see that I was just two places behind Dr. Snyder, who had 2 errors costing over 25% of the points plus bonus. I suppose I shouldn't complain too much. Commiserations also to Tantan Dai, who informed me of further computer problems which meant her initial submission of under one hour (a score in excess of 900) was not received by the server. Even then, re-submitting the answers via tapping them out on a mobile phone in an extra 10 minutes was still good for an incredible 6th place, and the current overall lead of the GP (see the link below).
As for the Brits:
35. Mark Goodliffe (561)
51. Heather Golding (483)
68. Tom Collyer (439)
Submitting my extra puzzle would have pushed me to 476 points, and 54th place, highlighting the magnitude of the blunder of leaving the anti-knight until last. Mark's performance is the best British score in any of the rounds this year, and represents a really strong solve - congratulations!
What is definitely interesting is this page - which highlights that Mark and Heather are separated by a single point over 5 rounds. Granted the dropping of the two worst scoring rounds will start coming into play here, but it's fascinating to see who will come out on top here.
I'm pretty confident I'm going to need to score bonus time on at least 2 of the remaining 3 rounds if I'm going to end up where I'd set my eyes upon at the start of the season. I'm not sure this is looking very likely at the moment!