WPC 2014: Pregame

I’ve been in London a couple days now. The 2014 World Sudoku Championship just finished. The top 10 after the preliminary rounds that made the playoffs, from #1 to #10, were: Tiit Vunk (Estonia), Kota Morinshi (Japan), Bastien Vial-Jaime (France), Jakub Ondrousek (Czech Republic), Seungjae Kwak (Korea), Dai Tantan (China), Hideaki Jo (Japan again), Michael Ley (Germany), Takuya Sugimoto (Japan again again), Jin Ce (China again)

I don’t know the exact rank reordering rules, which the IB did not specify, but I think the only shakeup from the playoffs was Tiit and Kota switching, meaning Kota is the new world champion. Though Tiit beat him in the GP finals the day before, which had the exact same top three seeds and no shakeup in the podium.

The playoff format looks decent, for once. They have three heats. Seeds 7-10 all do a series of puzzles done on paper until someone comes out on top. That winner and seeds 4-6 do a second series to determine a winner, then that winner and seeds 1-3 play until a top 3 is determined. The solvers’ work is shown on a projector, which is a nice feature to have in these playoffs that I last saw in 2010 (my first WPC). The time advantage is that, as a base, seed 1 has a 10 minute advantage over seed 10 (in the hypothetical case of them being in the same heat), and seed M’s advantage over seed N is linearly interpolated from that in every heat, with the highest seed starting immediately and everyone else translated appropriately. So if 1st is 1000, 5th is 900, 6th is 800, and 10th is 700, then 5th has a (900-800)/(1000-700)*10 minute advantage in the 4-7 heat, or 3m20s. That’s a lot of weight to put on the preliminary standings since the series aren’t very long, which if you’ve seen my playoff posts from other years is something I like.

Two downsides. though. First, although they announced the puzzles in each series of the Sudoku playoffs, we know nothing about which ones are used in the Puzzle playoffs, where such information is much more important. Second, there was a grading error in 1-4 heat. I don’t know the details and refuse to speculate, but there were no repeats / backup puzzles used [EDIT: The error affected the 3rd-4th place race only, so the resolution was to give a tie for 3rd]. I’ll just say I hope they figure out how to avoid a repeat of this by the time WPC day 3 rolls around.

In a couple days, the WPC will start. I won’t make guesses on where I’ll end up, but I think there are more rounds and types in the IB that I like than ones I don’t. There are also a couple of rounds that probably have everyone scared. One is an Instructionless round, which was last done as a team round in 2012 and an individual round in 2009, in both cases being a bit too hard. We’ll see what they throw at us here, but those worried about their final standing are probably not excited about it. Second is Club 200, a series of puzzles worth 200 points (where a medium puzzle in another round is around 50-60). This round has a whopping 22.2 points per minute available (90 minutes, 2000 points), compared to 15 for most other rounds. What’s worse, it’s on the second day, at the end of a morning following two hour-long rounds, and we’ll all be hungry for lunch. I foresee some huge scoring shakeups there.

The next post here will probably be after the day 1 morning is over, so a bit less than 48 hours from now.

One last note: WordPress seems to have changed the editing interface over the last year, and it took me some time to figure out how to actually finalize the post. That is a huge ****ing fail WordPress.

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