Before we get to a scoreboard, let’s start with a fun quiz.
The rules of the (partial) puzzle shown above are that you have to have an equal distance between each flag and that you have to use all squares without trees. One can compute by counting that the distance for this puzzle is 11. Assuming that that the only incorrect parts of my solution are shown, how do you repair this?
Got it? Congratulations. You win 325 points that I did not get. And here’s the top ten (plus me) after 2 rounds:
(Rank. Name; Country; Total; Round 1; Round 2)
1. Ulrich Voigt; Germany; 1425; 840; 585
2. Ken Endo; Japan; 1400; 710; 690
3. Bram de Laat; Netherlands; 1395; 765; 630
4. Florian Kirch; Germany; 1380; 765; 615
5. Hideaki Jo; Japan; 1380; 750; 630
6. Neil Zussman; UK; 1299; 744; 555
7. Yuki Kawabe; Japan; 1290; 690; 600
8. Michael Mosshammer; Austria; 1280; 650; 630
9. Qiu Yanzhe; China; 1260; 795; 465
10. Martin Merker; Germany; 1245; 690; 555
17. Palmer Mebane; USA; 1100; 750; 350
Round 3 is still being waited on. I have 325 points of time bonus there and 29 puzzles that have to be correct to get it. Losing that (plus puzzle points) would make me question my chances of making the playoffs (top ten) at all. Fingers crossed…
(EDIT: And we have another oops. One minor mistake on round 3, minor enough that I was given partial bonus points and quizzing you on the fix would be pointless, still a loss of 166 points. This is not my year.)
The US team is currently 3rd (4th unofficially since Germany B is ahead by a small margin), with Japan and Germany neck and neck and us way behind. A lot of things in that scoreboard will change after more rounds, especially since round 3 was longer than the first two combined, but I don’t expect us to catch up on the team standings today.
And now here’s my experience with the day 1 afternoon, which did not go especially well.
We started with Round 4, Latin Squares. This was almost certain to be my weakest round of the championship. I was satisfied with my own performance. I didn’t break puzzles much and I wasn’t getting completely held up on any of them. Regardless of that I cannot match the pace of the top people on these types (same reason I don’t win Sudoku competitions). Ulrich finished (900) with 1 minute left (+15), which dwarfs my 620. I’m sure many others beat me as well.
Round 5 was next, instructionless. I’ll give credit to the organizers for making some reasonable instructionless puzzles. Everyone I talked to figured out all the types (compare to Croatia where an hour after the round at dinner both the US and Japanese teams were still stumped on the instructions for one of the types). Even with that perk, I am still bitter about the instructionless format. I had a pretty good round if you ignore the fact that I threw a huge amount of time at figuring out the rules for the last type once I had only two puzzles from it left. After I figured it out, I only had time to get one of the two out, so I was down one puzzle where others were finishing.
Then came round 6, the Sprint round. A lot of good types for me here. I broke the Shikaku and had to fix it later, but otherwise I was sprinting quite nicely. And then I got to the dreaded No Four in a Row at the back and my sprint hit a brick wall (ow). I managed to piece together one of them, but I did not get the second one. This is unfortunate because they were the highest valued puzzles in that round. That leaves me at 550 out of 600 in a round where I believe several people finished. Like round 2, that means a round with my strong types was essentially wasted.
Finally, so that I did not have to suffer over my individual performance anymore, we ended with a team round, Table for Four. Each puzzle was 9 by 9, and required filling in twenty squares with one of four colors of pens (one square would remain blank). Those twenty squares formed the solution to a standard puzzle we might see in a round: the first puzzle was two 10-length snakes, the second puzzle was a Paint By variation using the five tetrominoes, the third puzzle required four pentominoes using Easy As clues, and the fourth and final was standard battleships. So basically, it was four puzzles superimposed on one grid with the constraint that the solutions for each could not overlap. The catch was that each team member could only use one color of pen for the whole round, with no exchanging allowed, and of course the pens were not erasable.
Our team had a fairly good round. The Snake puzzle that got things started was much lower in value than the others, so we were rather surprised at how hard it was, and some tweaking was needed for us to finish it. But we fired out the other three worth much more at about the same space and with less error correction. We ended up finishing 32 minutes early in a 60 minute round, as far as I know only beaten by the Germans. I enjoyed the round quite a bit.
And now it’s time to start thinking about how to pull off a comeback on day 2, so I will close the post out here.