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World Sudoku Championship 2011

The 6th World Sudoku Championship and 20th World Puzzle Championship was held on 6th-10th November, 2011 in Eger, Hungary.

Championship Page

This is the first time the WSC and WPC was held as a combined event.

Team India
The national finals of the Indian Sudoku Championship and the Indian Puzzle Championship was held in June 2011. Unfortunately, Ritesh Gupta and Gaurav Korde were unable to attend the WSC, and Harmeet Singh was unable to attend the WPC. So, we were forced to go down the list and finally are team consisted of:

Sudoku Team
Sumit Bothra (Bengaluru)
Tejal Phatak (Mumbai)
Prasanna Seshadri (Mumbai)
Rohan Rao (Mumbai)

Puzzle Team
Rajesh Kumar (Bengaluru)
Rajib Ranjan Borah (Mumbai)
Tejal Phatak (Mumbai)
Rohan Rao (Mumbai)

I was very busy since I had three exams before my trip and have my entire end-semester examinations immediately after my trip, so I spent minimal time for puzzles. Not the best thing to do by a national champion but I was left with little choice.

Last year I stood 15th in WSC and my goal this year was to reach the top 10. I really thought I could make it this time, especially with my improvement in the LMI tests and other championship results.

6th November, 2011
We reached Eger around 6pm, rested for a while, and went for the Welcome Party. All of us were quite tired and sleepy after an 8-hour journey and being 4.5 hours behind our usual time-zone, we immediately hit the sac.

7th November, 2011
The World Sudoku Championship 2011 began.

Part 1: Wrong Puzzles
Many players were of the opinion that this is not a 'sudoku-solving' round. I was indifferent. I didn't think it was completely random, nor was I convinced it was the best round to start a WSC with.

The puzzles were a pleasant surprise. There were a good mix of grids, with various fonts, styles, sizes and overall, it was a fun round. I don't think many people would have complained after the round, but surely, it was better than expected for most players.

In terms of scores, I started very poorly with a mere 68 points in this round compared to the highest 150 by David McNeill (UK).

Part 2: Sudoku Pieces
It took me a while in understanding the puzzle when I was studying the booklet. Once it was clear, I wasn't comfortable with this. I'm not very good at these kind of sudoku rounds. When it was announced that we had to place the pieces on the sheet itself, I thought I was doomed. I just wanted the round to begin and then end, as soon as possible. I was glad this round had partial scoring.

When the round started, it was a little comforting that there were 81 clues and no empty cells. I was slow to start, but after getting a few pieces, I was quickly able to crack the grid. I was mighty pleased with myself as (I think) this was the first time I said 'Finish!' at a WSC :-)

Part 3: Easy Classics
This round went quite average for me. Tiit Vunk (Estonia) scored an exceptional 605 points.

Part 4: Halved Squares Sudoku
I had a bad feeling about this round. I did not practise at all (not even the ones of the Hungarian championship) and I was quite sure this would be one of the bad rounds.

I will not say it was good, but it went better than I expected. A below average score though.

Thomas Snyder (USA) took a considerable lead from many top players after this round.

Part 5: Sudoku Central Clues
This round was good, and I was able to move up a few ranks. I think I was 17th or 18th after this round at the end of Day 1 of Individuals.

Part 6: Circle Sudoku (Team)
The concept of this round was well thought of. The execution, even better. I always enjoy solving linked puzzles and this was very exciting. We were able to solve 4 sudokus and missed one more by a few seconds.

Part 7: Vasarely Sudoku (Team)
Another nice team round and we were quite happy we were able to finish it in time. A lot of other teams finished it too.

8th November, 2011
Day 2 of WSC. I needed all my rounds to go extremely well in order to be in the top 10. Tough chance, but possible.

Part 8: Decorated Sudoku
This was one of the big rounds. I started well and scored 465 points. Just for argument sake, I equalled Thomas Snyder (USA) in this round!

Part 9: Sprint Sudoku
A fast-paced round. I need to practise these Sprint rounds. I tend to do better in longer rounds. Probably because of my mental stamina.

Part 10: Sudoku Mix
Another big round. This round pulled me down a bit. I got stuck in Tetris and Increasing Roundabout and lost some time.

Part 11: Not Easy Classics
I got the highest score in Hard Classics in WSC 2010 in Philadelphia. Well, fluke rarely happens twice!

Part 12: 3D Sudoku
I'm not particularly good at solving Cube Sudokus, but I surprised myself and was able to solve it in time. So, second time in one WSC, I said 'Finish!'. Pretty cool!

Part 13: Weakest Link (Team)
A standard weakest link round where each player of the team solves an individual puzzle and then goes to the team table. Our team finished this round and we were confident of finishing in the top 10 in the team rankings.

WSC Playoffs
I finished 12th. Missed the playoffs by about 80 points. The playoffs consisted of a good set of players.

The format of the playoffs was interesting. Top 10 puzzlers start solving based on a time difference in proportion to their scores. The last 3 players to finish the first 3 puzzles are eliminated. Then the last 2 players to finish the next 3 puzzles are eliminated. Then a fight to the finish with the next 4 puzzles.

Thomas Snyder (USA): World Sudoku Champion 2007, 2008. He had a big lead and would surely win if the playoffs went smoothly for him.

Jan Mrozowski (Poland): World Sudoku Champion 2009, 2010. He was probably the biggest threat to Thomas.

Tiit Vunk (Estonia) and Kota Morinishi (Japan) were looking very strong in the championship.

Florian Kirch (Germany), Jan Novotny (Czech Republic), Nikola Zivanovic (Serbia), Michael Ley (Germany), Hideaki Jo (Japan) and Jakub Ondrousek (Czech Republic) complete the top 10.

The playoffs started with a shock. Jan Mrozowski was stuck on the second puzzle while everyone else proceeded. He probably had some problem on his end. Kota Morinishi was racing through the puzzles and catching up with Thomas who was always one table ahead. Thomas kept the lead and calmly finished all the puzzles. Kota finished second, and Tiit,  with a slight stumble midway finished 3rd. Hideaki, after starting 9th, finished a creditable 4th.

Playoff Results

1. Thomas Snyder (USA)
2. Kota Morinishi (Japan)
3. Tiit Vunk (Estonia)

Individual Results

1. Thomas Snyder (USA) - 3760
2. Jan Mrozowski (Poland) - 3525
3. Tiit Vunk (Estonia) - 3459

Indian Results

12. Rohan Rao - 2983
44. Sumit Bothra - 2154
54. Tejal Phatak - 1966
71. Prasanna Seshadri - 1725
101. Rajesh Kumar - 1314

Complete Individual Results

Team Results

1. Germany - 16436
2. Czech Republic - 16181
3. USA - 14488

8. India - 11708

Complete Team Results

Overall, it was a great championship. The sudokus, the rounds, and the format and organisation was as good as it could get. With WSC and WPC combined, it involves a lot of effort and work, and the Hungarians did a wonderful job.

I am happy with my performance. Top 10 would have been ideal, but at least I was close. Maybe next time.

Congrats to Thomas Snyder for winning his 3rd WSC title. He has been very consistent throughout the year and is a deserving winner.

It was good meeting up with old friends and new ones, and I hope this trend of WSC+WPC continues.


Z said...

Was waiting for this, thanks for the update. Is there a way to obtain the championship sudokus/puzzles?

Deb said...

I think Sumit is from Bangalore

Z said...

Ok, let me check with him. Thanks :)

Rohan Rao said...

Usually the organisers do not upload the sudokus/puzzles. So, the only way to obtain it is to ask someone, who was a participant. In that case too, you would get a solved hard copy.

Rohan Rao said...

I was contemplating over Kolkata and Bangalore. Couldn't choose, so flipped a coin.

Rajesh Kumar said...

Very well written Rohan. I was waiting for your experience at championship.

Rajesh Kumar said...

Looking forward for you writeup on WPC 2011

Rajesh Kumar said...

I am missing the regular update on this blog.