Thursday 29 June 2017

UK Championships Review

This weekend saw the UK Puzzle Championship, a contest I believe that has in recent years eclipsed both the much celebrated and long running US Puzzle Championship as the best one-off puzzle contest on the web, and indeed also the WPF's Puzzle GP series.  In the first instance, I think the UKPC offers greater flexibility and a better balance of puzzles, and in the second instance I believe it offers a far more interesting variety of puzzles over a more testing time period (albeit this year was 2 hours rather than the usual 2 1/2 hours).

First of all the results:
1. James McGowan 588 pts
2. Adam Bissett 403 pts
3. Tom Collyer 402 pts
First of all, congratulations to James and Adam, who both now qualify for the world championships.  Having also finished 3rd in the UK Open championship I have very narrowly missed out on the A team.

They say bad luck comes in threes.  I have a particularly good sob story/bout of sour grapes this time round, probably best filed under couldawouldashoulda, and which perhaps my dearest readers would care to hear about.  Maybe not.  Either way I feel I need to get this off my chest, so here goes.

Exhibit A is my wireless printer, which somehow dropped off the network for the first 10 minutes of the 2 hours (despite having printed the instructions an hour beforehand absolutely flawlessly) meaning the start of my solve was restricted to paint.  I feel this didn't go my way when I wanted to submit my answer to the Two Step Maze about 30s after the end of the test.

Exhibit B is the piece of paper containing puzzle number 5 (Double Block) and number 6 (Touching Pentominoes) which I carelessly misplaced when entering answer keys, thereby not scoring for these puzzles.

Exhibit C is a classic Dickhead Error in misreading the answer code to battleships.  The puzzle was solved correctly, but I mistook a clue outside the grid for an answer key coordinate and therefore the answer key was not.  Whilst I'm very grateful my appeal for partial points was upheld, this still meant not getting the full points amount.

Sooooo... I could have got by with any 2 of these 3 exhibits and still finished in 2nd place.  But as it happened, events have conspired against my and I'm left feeling in equal parts: (1) an absolutely idiot with only myself to blame; (2) very sore about not qualifying for the WPC; and (3) a little guilty about highlighting this all as I'm entirely confident that the UK team of Neil, David, James and Adam is going to do the UK proud.  I'm not posting all this in expectation of any sympathy - rather I didn't think it was particularly healthy keeping it all to myself.

Two weekends also saw the UK Sudoku Championship.  I am a little more removed from this as I actually ran and organised the contest, as well as authored all of the puzzles.

I hope the competition went well.  I have been doing it for several years now, and how I have run this contest over the years definitely influenced my stint as Competition Director for the WPF's Sudoku GP series.  My aims for the contest have always been to (1) give UK solvers a decent chance of finishing the set within 2 hours, and (2) maintaining a certain amount of consistency and familiarity in order to promote the contest.

I'd like to think that I achieved these aims in 2017, and that the UKSC represents a competition held in similar esteem as the UKPC - but that's not really for me to say.  What is for me to say is to congratulate the UK solvers who filled out the podium:
1. Mark Goodliffe - 804 pts
2. Heather Golding - 734 pts
3. Neil Zussman - 630 pts
Both Mark and Heather finished the set, and join myself and David in qualifying for the WSC.  I am very happy to be on the team with these three, and I hope we can come close to matching the best ever UK team result (6th, in 2010) - something I believe is well within reach as I think we are all individually capable of finishing in the top 40.  Having not made the WPC, the WSC will definitely be my priority.  Having thrown away an eye-watering amount of points last year and still finished 25th, I also hope I can beat my best ever finish of 23rd.  I guess time will tell!


  1. I'm not sure if you'd feel better had the margin been 50 points instead of that 1 point.

  2. I think I would a bit. I'm used to having any number of individual cock-ups costing me points and places that I can put that down to my own incompetence. Even if it were just 2 of the 3 things then it'd have been easier to accept. But 1 point and 3 bad turns of luck is kind of raw.

    The silver lining is the pressure is completely off the WPC, and I can really focus on having the kind of WSC I feel that I'm capable of!

  3. UK sudoku championship is a very fun tournament that I wouldn't like to miss.
    I enjoyed it as testsolver or as a player each year.
    Thanks for the good work !


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