USPC 2015 is over

I haven’t found much discussion online; maybe it’s on sites like Facebook where I’m not present, so let’s dump some thoughts here.

Tentatively, I finished, with 0:02:08 left on the clock. Unlike in the last two rounds of the WPF Puzzle GP (where I honestly ran out of time and had no illusions of getting a full score), I actually had time to check everything, so I’m crossing my fingers that 375 + time bonus will hold. (Update: The score held. No errors.)

Some quick comments on puzzles (and I’ve probably still forgotten to say something nice about at least one puzzle I liked):

7. Raindrops – If my solution was right, I got tricked in the way Cihan probably wanted and lost quite a bit of time. But I’m still only 99% sure I got it.

11. Intersections – This probably had my favorite logical step, using the 9348 string to deal with the 12 that had a second 12 in its row and a third 12 in its column.

12. Kakuro – Some nice logic here too about fitting 2,5,6,8 into the top two rows.

21. O’utcast – I was pretty worried about this one before the test, with good reason since it did take awhile. I really like the amount of logic that was possible at the beginning though, especially relating to Os on the edge or in intersections. The end of the test in general had some very cool types/variations that were fun to solve (even the Sudoku-ish Pinochlada and Pathfinder).

19. Pinochlada – The hardest puzzle in my opinion, but unexpectedly fun. The start required dealing with information overload, but it was extremely satisfying near the middle when squares I hadn’t even looked at before could be immediately deduced by using rank and suit together.

4. Airhead – I saved this for the end of time as usual, though unlike past years I didn’t have anything left to do when I started it. I found this one to be very difficult; I didn’t have any differences for the first 5 minutes or so, and none of the ones I found felt obvious. I did avoid long gaps between my last few though, which is probably why I still scraped by with a finished test.


5 Responses to “USPC 2015 is over”

  1. zotmeister Says:

    With having been retired, it seems that here would be the new bitching post 🙂

    I’m glad you liked my puzzle. I find it hard to believe it could possibly be the hardest one on the test (I didn’t compete today – or at least, not on the USPC) given the other composers there, but for now I’ll have to take your word for it. Fun fact: Nick Baxter changed its name twice, each time deleting one letter. I personally think he should have stopped after the first, because now it looks like it’s missing a syllable. Also, I *hate* that song. I came up with the name halfway through crafting the puzzle, and had the song stuck in my head the rest of the time. Perhaps my puzzle *was* the hardest if others had the same problem working on it 😄

    • MellowMelon Says:

      “Hardest puzzle for MellowMelon” is probably the correct (and not as distinguished) title to award that puzzle. As past USPC discussions have made clear, my perceived level of difficulty goes way up when a puzzle requires you to sort through a lot of information. It’s one of the main reasons my Sudoku solving speed is never going to catch up.

      I was wondering if that’s what the title was supposed to be; the missing syllable did indeed confuse me. Also, I know the phrase but I didn’t even know it was from a song until just now, though my musical knowledge is beyond abysmal.

      • zotmeister Says:

        Well, properly it’s the name of a rum cocktail (and properly has a ‘y’ sound thrown in after the ‘n’ as it’s properly spelled ‘piña colada’ and that’s what one does with a tilde over an ‘n’, but it’s probably mispronounced more than it’s pronounced properly) that happens to be the “national drink” of Puerto Rico, but to the rest of the U.S. in practice it’s a toss-up as to whether it’s better known as a flavor combination (pineapple/coconut – I detest it) or a lyric from a Rupert Holmes song (titled “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”: “If you like piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain…”). Given my teetotalism, that’s a hat trick of hatred for me.

        I *think* I got all the quote marks and parentheses correct in that paragraph…

  2. ksun48 Says:

    Some comments

    Raindrops: answer I got was 7, I think I have a proof that that’s optimal?

    Intersections: Personally I thought this puzzle (and this type) was pretty silly since it makes literally no use of the grid. You didn’t even need to write the numbers into the grid to get the answer.

    Kakuro: It was nice, somehow I got stuck on this for a while.

    Nurikabe Loop: Liked the interactions between the loop and the islands in this puzzle.

    Outcast: Glad I skipped it on the test, definitely the longest puzzle in terms of time. I thought I broke it a few times only to realize that I missed a word in the word bank.

    Kakuro with Pentominoes: Can I have a hint on this puzzle? The only progress I’ve made is a few numbers in the corners + middle row and that the sum is twenty-six.

    Anyway, I’m hoping for 240 + 2 differences assuming no answer entry mistakes.

    • MellowMelon Says:

      For Kakuro with Pentominoes, first of all I think you can get virtually everything in the top right and bottom left once you get the magic number. (EDIT: Or rather, there are a few pairs that are resolved later. This is probably why you said “few” instead of “all”. You probably did get as far as you could in these corners.)

      After that, think about the top left square where the 9 and 20 cross. If that cell merges with the cells below to make a pentomino containing all the numbers of the 9 sum, then the other two pentomino cells are 8,9, contradicting the vertical 6 sum nearby. This is enough to deduce that it’s an L pentomino containing all numbers of that 20 up top. Now you can get a whole bunch of other pentominoes, and this opens the door for a lot of “sum this group of cells in two ways” logic.

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