Monday 17 October 2022

WSPC 22: Day 1

On to the first day of competition at the world sudoku championships. I started the day full of excitement, but perhaps not quite with a level of mental sharpness ready to start the competition. 

We’re up to lunch now and I’m licking my wounds; the morning’s solving counts as one of the more chastening experiences I have had in 15+ years of solving. 

I’ll edit in more later, but for now I am at least comforted by the general consensus in the room that it has been hard! Seriously hard! Hard enough to make me wonder whether having a non-zero round represents a good achievement now. I will be even more studiously avoiding anything looking like scores or a leaderboard from now on. That was always going to be the case, but the readjusting of expectations this morning has hit me hard and left me low and disappointed. 

The first round was classics only, and I think the only way to look at things is an acceptance I choked. I got one puzzle done, tried enough twice, convinced myself there was an unresolvable contradiction and from there on in I was making errors left right and centre. 

The rounds after were disappointing in many ways. The second was looking ok, but ended up spending a lot of time on a puzzle without being able to finish it. Round 3 had a combination of 1 and 2’s woes, wasting a large amount of time on a puzzle I was convinced could not have a solution. Round 4 was just hard all round - no contradictions this time, but also not much in the way of puzzles solved either. I think I might have one. 

The morning ended with round 5, a very large samurai sudoku with 14 overlapping grids. Speaking with others this was also very hard, but I finally managed to get a good round under my belt. I’ll claim 11/14 completed grids in the 30 minutes - which is going to be close to my round 1-4 scores combined if there are no errors. Let’s hope not!

As far as the contenders are going, I don’t really have a feel for things. I had a nice chat with the ever-kind Tiit Vunk about the mental side of long distance running - he’s not feeling the pressure too much this year and is instead focussing on enjoying all the puzzles he’s able to solve. I’m not sure many are finishing rounds, or even close to, but performance of the day goes to Kota Morinishi - he got that Samurai out in what I think was 18 minutes. 14 9x9 grids in 18 minutes! And that’s with what felt like the requirement to place numbers in about 8 of them before you could really get going. I think I heard Tantan declare with roughly 5 to go as well, but I think given how things have gone so far I can imagine Kota being an imperious position at the front of the pack. 

On to the afternoon!

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