First, as planned, Puzzle 350 will be posted tonight, and it won’t be a marathon. I had to replace a hard drive today, but I’m pretty much back up and running. I had advance notice of the hard drive failing, so I had time to do backups, but I actually didn’t need that time since I’ve been doing them pretty often anyway.
As many of you know, the 2011 USPC happened last Saturday. So far the most I’ve said about my performance was in a comment on motris’s own recap post. I believed I had everything done 7 minutes and 52 seconds early, and that I’d be offline for a day or so to catch up on things. It’s been about a day since; here is an update.
Further update on 8/29/2011 2:13 PM: Confirmed score of 414.67.
Not long after that comment was made, I got a call from Nick Baxter who organizes the USPC about my performance. He hadn’t made a thorough check, but it looked like I had only one error: I didn’t catch the updated directions on the counting puzzle, although I had gotten the correct count. I never would have caught that; that’s the last place I’d expect to see a change in directions. Even the main instructions for the puzzle ask straight out for the count, with no indication that more information is needed. In the end it is my fault for not noticing, but the directions should not have an unannounced spot-the-differences puzzle, so I’m a bit irked. Evidently a number of other high scorers had done the same thing, so he said there’s a chance that giving a straight answer will give credit. I have no idea if this has been decided yet. (It turns out doing this does get credit this year.)
Anyways, now that the solutions are out, I can confirm that’s my only error. This might come as a surprise if you’re used to me botching this part on LMI, but I think (hope?) I’m finally starting to learn. The week before the test I had multiple practice runs on earlier USPCs where I was free of errors, which hardly ever happened in the past. If I get those counting puzzle points I have 412.5, and if not I have 380. Nick suggested either was enough to secure first place, but I’m not positive of this.
My last submission was a small correction to the counting puzzle, not that I missed seeing a square but that I computed a subtotal wrong. My last puzzle to solve was half of Barn Storm. I wasn’t keeping good track of my time during the test for obvious reasons, but I’m pretty sure I was near or before the 2 hour mark when I started looking for the last five differences. So altogether they took me 20-30 minutes to find (Later edit: Turns out more like 10 to 12, but it felt longer…), as is typical of me on differences puzzles. I despise them, as you might be able to tell. It’s the kind of thing I’d consider a “puzzle” instead of a puzzle.
I already have a draft of a much more detailed solving log, describing what I did in the 24 hours between the releases of the instructions and test and how I cracked each puzzle on the test itself. I’ll wait until full results are released before publishing that. One reason for that is that it’s a really long log, and so there’s a lot of proofreading and editing to do which I’m still not done with.