It was nice to share stories from fellow championship organisers - our efforts date back a few years now to 2014 - but also a little sobering to hear about the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Poland, particularly with regards to military logistics. Later meeting some of the Japanese team brought tales of longer flight times due to diversions around Russian airspace. This year, there is no Russian presence at the championships as there usually would be, although a good friend from Belarus did manage to make it. These issues of course are far bigger than a puzzle championship, but that doesn’t mean they should not be discussed or shied away from.
After a walk through some nearby woods in the crisp autumn sunshine, the rest of the day was spent in the hotel greeting a steady stream of arrivals. The UK team is all here now and looking forward to the competition. I’m curious to see how newcomer Jack does at his first competition, and I was pleased to tease Cracking The Cryptic’s Mark Goodliffe that he was probably the most famous person here, with his 500,000+ follows. Probably enough to outdo the likes of Will Shortz, even if he has had cameos on the Simpsons and his I met your mother.
Perhaps my favourite time of the day was spent well with my good friend of many years now and anlso general all-round Chinese phenomenon Tantan Dai. I’m probably not totally partial here, but I think she is a narrow favourite for the Sudoku title ahead of the likes of Estonia’s Tiit Vunk and serial world champion from Japan Kota Morinishi. Those three are all mind-blowingly talented as well as being really good decent people in a way that it is hard to do justice - whoever comes out on top will be a worthy winner - but this year I’ll be firmly rooting for Tantan!
No surprises in the evenings Q&A - although the team rounds sound like they might be eventful. More to come tomorrow!