See the first WPC 2013 post for an explanation of the post date.
Day 1 is now over. It went only slightly less than well. At the very least, I think I have good chances of holding 1st after all the rounds are scored.
The organizers are doing a great job of grading rounds efficiently. All of rounds 1 to 3 were scored before the afternoon began. We were clean on round 1 and got a good lead from it on team standings, I was clean on round 2 and got a good lead from it on individual standings, and I made a stupid error on the highest-valued round 3 puzzle so my 360 dropped to 290. On the plus side, the high score on the round was 310, so I was a very safe 1st from those two rounds, with my 920 total a bit less than 200 points ahead of Ulrich and Thomas, who I am keeping the biggest eye on given the podium for the last two years.
The around the world rounds are now done. They were all really nicely made, so the concept was probably a good idea. We’ll see if the normalization of scores works well though.
Round 4 was the Dutch round. This one was odd in that it seemed like all the puzzles were about equal difficulty. I blew through many of the high-valued ones, but the low-valued ones were struggles given the point value. The round went well but not fantastic. I ran out of puzzles I could do well near the end of time, and after lots of shifting around just managed to tweak a mid-valued Spokes to work. I expected 87/120 (pre-normalization), which I believed would be pretty good; papers are handed back and I was clean, so that’s what I got.
Round 5 was the Indian round. This was nicely themed with each puzzle having a prominent letter and the 20 puzzles spelling a message. The message was ENJOY WPC 22 INDIAN ROUND with the 22 packed into one grid; I noticed the letters during the round, but I was way too busy racing through puzzles to bother seeing what it spelled. And I raced through quite a few: my expected 101/120 should have been pretty good. But papers are handed back and I dropped the high-valued Kakuro variation to a dumb error, so now it’s 90/120. Arg. Why is it the high-valued ones both times? What should have been a great round became okay-ish… but I think the score is still solid.
Round 6 was the American round that I helped write, so I sat this one out. It was a Doubled Decathlon (Thomas writes lots of decathlon themed tests), with ten classic types paired with a doubled variation of each. I made the Nurikabe, Shikaku, and Rolling Maze pairs for this one. From what I hear, it seems Thomas’s prediction that our round was the most difficult came true; the scores I hear were a bit low. I heard some interesting reports about how people found some individual puzzles. As the testing times suggested, some found the second Rolling Maze easy and overvalued, and others were totally clueless on it.
Round 7 was the Serbian round. This one had a whole bunch of bizarre types and had me really worried. But the actual round was quite smooth and nearly finishable. I certainly didn’t finish; since I threw about 10 minutes combined away on two puzzles where I had nearly solved each but misled myself into believing something didn’t work. That probably stopped me from finishing one of the two high-valued puzzles I didn’t get to, though I had everything else. That would be 101/120; Thomas and Ulrich were both hovering around 110, as I would have expected to get on a better run. But who knows what will happen after mistakes factor in… this round is not scored yet.
Overall, every round went good but not great, though the Indian round was about to be great. Given the grading speed, we’ll probably have everything scored in the morning, though I guess I don’t know when the normalization will be computed. I hope to hold the 1st place position I have right now. For day 2, there are rounds I feel very comfortable with mixed with short, low-valued rounds that scare me (including a visual puzzles round), so I have about the same level of optimism as I did for day 1. Fingers crossed that I can hold my rank all the way and achieve my main goal of a first place preliminary round finish.
One thing bothering me: it’s not as bad as in some of the European sites, but there’s quite a bit of smoke in the air, even a bit in the competition room. My head always starts aching a little when I inhale it. That hasn’t affected me in the competition yet; I hope it stays that way.