WPC 2014: Day 2 Afternoon

I got to posting this a bit late, so a lot of stuff has happened and this will be a marathon post.

I realize that the final scores are not up on the WPC website yet, but I’d have a lot of rounds to put on the scoreboard and there are protests happening. So I’ll summarize instead and link to their scoreboard later.

EDIT: My teammate Will Blatt’s protest went through, so he just squeezed into 10th place, knocking out Roland. There are no other changes to the top 10 that are in this post.

The top 10 on the currently posted scores are Ulrich Voigt with 12050, Ken Endo with 11330, Florian Kirch with 11110, me with 10941 (after they fix an error of giving me too much bonus), Hideaki Jo with 10650, Peter Hudak with 10540, Bram de Laat with 9925, Zoltan Horvath with 9899, Kota Morinshi with 9640, and Roland Voigt with 9495. I am aware of at least one protest that would change the list. It hasn’t been resolved so I won’t do speculation here, but do keep in mind this list is not final. (I might edit this part of the post if it does change.)

Supposing this was the final list, this means Bram has to hold his 7th position in the 7-10 heat, with Zoltan at a 0:06 disadvantage, Kota at a 1:06 disadvantage, and Roland at a 1:40 disadvantage. Then I have to hold 4th against Hideaki at a 1:08 disadvantage, Peter at a 1:34 disadvantage, and whoever won the last heat (if Bram, he’d have 3:58 to make up; if someone else, more than that). Finally, the podium is decided by the final set where Ulrich starts immediately, Ken Endo is behind by 2:49, Florian is behind by 3:40, and either I am behind by 4:20 or someone else is behind by more than 5 minutes.

Next, a report on my rounds 6-10 scores that I hadn’t had when the last post went up. I missed a couple puzzles on round 5 since it was a sprint and I didn’t get time to check anything, but the score was still solid and no one else finished. My round 8 was clean and tied with several others for the highest score (whoever said finished seemed to have messed something up), and my round 9 was a disaster. A 100-pointer and 130-pointer were both very wrong, and I’m not sure I could have fixed both in the 4 minutes of potential time bonus. Oops. My 960 if clean wouldn’t have been hot, but now it’s a 670. That hurt my ranking. But then my round 10 was clean with 2060, and Ulrich at 2075 was the only other one to finish, so that brought me way up.

Here’s my rundown of the day 2 afternoon. In this case, I have the scores with me before doing this writeup. Regrettably, I threw points away every round here, bringing up my “points lost to mistakes” total to 1189. It’s not fair to compare where that would have put me since everyone else has their own, and especially since not all of my mistakes were trivial ones (959 might be a more honest count), but I bet I win the contest among the list of playoff qualifiers.

Round 11 was a set of variations and other slight twists on various well-known types. The type distribution ended up focusing on lots of Tapa and lots of Japanese sums. I blew through the Tapa, got through the Japanese Sums quickly enough to preserve some of that advantage, and did fine on the rest. Then it turns out that I dropped a missing operations cross-arithmetic puzzle for 50, reducing my time bonus to partial and costing another 15 (this loss is not reflected on the current scoreboard, as mentioned above).

Round 12 was the set of innovatives, or at least less familiar types. This one turned out to be another good run. There were a bunch of mazes that I flew through, and the fact that the arithmetic puzzles did not involve summing distinct one-digit numbers meant that I could get a little edge from that. After finishing with a couple minutes left, I start flipping through the booklet and find that I got one of the mazes wrong. 20 seconds left in the round. I erase that half, try, erase, try, erase, and nail it almost exactly at the time that we were asked to stop. So although it seemed I might have a chance for the full set of points, I never got to check a 100 point puzzle at the end that I tweaked heavily, so there went another 100.

Finally, round 13 was the “Afternoon Tea” round with a bunch of T themed puzzles. This one didn’t go so well since two puzzles I was approaching by bifurcation refused to work no matter what choice I made. I eventually got one (a Tapa) and did not get the other (a word fill-in). Then the round is handed back and only then am I made aware of an extra constraint in the first observation puzzle, so I had that one utterly wrong, and I could have used the time spent banging my head against the word puzzle to fix it. Oh well. Minus another 100.

The day ended with a team round, which involved assembling puzzles that functioned as two types simultaneously from jigsaw pieces. Our team believed we had done quite well. I started with the Nurikabe-Numberlink set. The pieces were 4 by 4, two 3 by 7s, and two 7 by 3s with orientation given. A lot of arrangements were possible with few of them obviously wrong (e.g. no touching numbers for Nurikabe). I decided I’d have to solve the Numberlink before I could be sure I got the right one, and thanks to my good solve-Numberlink-in-my-head skills that’s exactly what I did. Then I moved on to help with others. The only other real hangup was a miscopying of regions in LITS – Star Battle; we almost thought there were multiple solutions to the LITS. Close one.

Then we got the round back and discovered we had a trivial Fillomino mistake. No partial bonus on team rounds, so minus over 2000 points for that. Yikes. So I didn’t get through any of the afternoon rounds unscathed.

I may as well talk about the team round that occurred just this morning too: “Square Bashing”. Eight (or seven) puzzles requiring us to find various squares, and only stickers to mark your answer with no writing utensils allowed. Point of annoyance: While it was our fault that we didn’t ask at any rules meetings, the rules seemed to very clearly imply that we’d get the first 4 puzzles at once, then the next 3 at once (and then the last one which was special). We discovered while sitting at the table that no, we do each one in sequence. The person talking needed to do some “SHUSH”ing of us afterwards, naturally because suddenly most of the teams need to rethink how they’ll get by without writing utensils that don’t involve dividing up work.

Let’s describe the types since they were somewhat interesting. The first one gave 20 dots, made us find 16 of them forming four squares, and had us sticker the remaining four. The second gave 12, made us find four sets of three dots that formed an isosceles right triangle, and had us sticker the vertices that turned each triangle into a square. The third was a play on Hamle, giving us eight numbers that to be moved that distance to form two distinct squares. Finally, we had four black chess pieces and four white ones, with each color moving to form squares. This one was tricky, and also the highest valued of the first seven.

The next four were all the same type, Counter Games, a weird play on Hamle and Chess where we start with four circled numbers, make them form a square Hamle style, then have each one move as a knight onto four other numbers with a specified sum and repeat the process. All we had to do was sticker the last square formed. We got the first three on paper, but the last one was played on a giant mats with team members functioning as the square vertices. Due to space and time restrictions, only the first eight teams to finish the round could do this one, and massive bonus points were at stake for the best finishers on this segment.

All of the types were pretty fun, even if a couple were a bit observational in nature. Any bloggers or constructors out there looking for new types to make: maybe try these?

Going into the round, we were 3rd, about 140 ahead of Slovakia in 4th place and too far away from anyone else for our ranking to change any other way. We got out the first set of 7 pretty well. I ended up having a very good run on the three Counter Games at the end and got most of the square-forming parts in a few seconds. We ended up finishing second behind Germany.

To our amazement, Slovakia missed the top eight finishers in this round, so we had locked 3rd place going into the final puzzle. So much for suspense. But we did fine on that eighth one too, second behind Germany again for a 2100 bonus. Germany and Japan were much closer in the team standings, and unfortunately Japan made a mistake and lost a chance for any bonus while Germany got it out first for a 2800 point bonus. Our final team ranking was 3rd. Considering Thomas sat out this year, I’m not too upset about that, especially since Germany and Japan are looking at three potential playoff contenders. We can’t chalk it up to errors (both mine and the team round yesterday) when Japan blew over 1000 points in the final team round.

And now it’s time to eat and finish some half-hearted playoff preparation. I stopped really caring about these 3 years ago after I got my one lucky break in 2011, and even the decent format this year won’t change that. In my mind I got 4th place this year and that’s my rank, whether the final standings show it go up or down. The post on what happened there will probably go up at the end of today (UK time), and that will be it for the 2014 WPC.

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