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Instant Reactions
   Old Forums -> USPC 2012 Discussions47 posts • Page 1 of 2 • 1 2
motris
Subject: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-25 8:35 PM (#8324) (#8324) Top




Posts: 199
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Location: USA
Once the test is done (but not sooner), please post your quick thoughts on the USPC here.
nickbaxter
Subject: RE: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 1:00 AM (#8325 - in reply to #8324) (#8325) Top




Posts: 10

Location: USA
I write this as I watch my private leader board (which assumes optimistic scoring), with two distinct and very hotly contested races unfolding, that for the top spot and that for the open spot on the A-team.

Always a concern for me is that overall difficulty of the test. This year the leaders were consistently at about 80 points per half hour (until the last half hour), which is perfect, and not a huge gap ahead of the peloton. That's about all I should say now about the scoring and results. I will do something like a top-10 today, but the rest of the scoring will wait until the weekend event is over.

I am experimenting with the open format, but I too miss the finality of a hard end and subsequent discussion, scoring, solutions, etc. We'll see what sort of reactions I receive.


Thanks to official test solvers: Ulrich and Roland Voigt. Also special thanks to Cihan Altay and Serkan YĆ¼rekli who composed the lion's share of the puzzles and also tested the rest.

Here are some starting comments, all based on test composition.

First, my apologies for not having a counting puzzle on the test this year; I know many are disappointed about that. Every year I would test solve the puzzles for Scott Kim's Puzzle-A-Day calendar, and would pick at least one puzzle from that source. Scott Kim now works at Sifteo doing cool stuff I believe I can't talk about (but you can guess!), and sadly he is no longer writing the calendar. But I think in the long run, puzzlers will be the better for this change.

It's been noted that the test is light on "word" puzzles this year, with no word search. That was not a conscious change, just luck of the draw. I think the balance is still within range. I now favor variations, such as Takeout the last two years, over traditional word search, so expect more of that type of thing in the future.

The sudoku was a something of a surprise. I breezed through it the first time, and immediately put in the traditional #2 slot. Subsequent solves were much slower, getting stuck at some key logical steps that I'm sure many of you experienced today. So I felt I had to move it later in the test. Still an excellent puzzle and the best I've solved recently (until starting in with next week's team qualifying puzzles!).

I didn't have anything else that was easy & familiar to replace sudoku as #2. Complementary Domains was a late add to the test and was familiar enough. So I chose the smaller and easier of the two puzzles submitted.

As for the Corral/Bag/Cave naming debate, the real problem is why Nikoli doesn't produce more of these. I'll admit that Corral may have the least opportunity for cute variation names, but I'm holding out--waiting for Nikoli to make the next move.

The observation puzzles (and I'll include Math Flip here) can give widely variable experiences. But that's their nature. Mostly then can be attacked logically and/or methodically, but the temptation can sometime be overwhelming to solve them intuitively. I know I'll get mixed reviews on these, and I welcome them.

Masyu was pretty routine this year, with no new ideas. Test solvers thought they had seen it before, and yes, it was similar in content to last year's puzzle. I hope no one is assuming the path passes horizontally through the I! I will remove that letter in future years.

Pentahouses was different, in that not all the pieces were clued; I was glad to see that Thomas' nice practice puzzle did not spoil that tiny surprise.

Space Probes was new to me, and was a pleasant alternative to Star Battle. I was a bit surprised to see that the Croatian championship had a whole section dedicated to this. So I was glad that Cihan was motivated to design one for the USPC. He was particularly proud of the 1-7 cluing.

Anyone who noticed the that sample Gapped Kakuro had a WPC theme should have expected USPC on the test!

That's it for design notes; feel free to ask questions about the selection and testing process. I look forward to hearing about the solving experiences.
motris
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 1:00 AM (#8326 - in reply to #8324) (#8326) Top




Posts: 199
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Location: USA
HELLO, CRUEL WORLD!

I thought this was a very good test but what is surprising about that? I stumbled a lot at the start on the second of Cihan's puzzles, and also at some spots in the middle, leaving a half-packed suitcase for example, but crushed the 30 pointers, and then cleaned up ok. This is the third time I've finished early and also the third time when I've finished early I've had enough time to check each page of answer entries. The question is did I make a mistake in a puzzle that I don't know about. If this is my SWAN SONG, it was a good one.
MellowMelon
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 1:03 AM (#8327 - in reply to #8324) (#8327) Top


Fillomino-Fillia 2 Author

100
Location: USA
Ah, so you finished. Well, I had a similar experience with the stuff on the earlier pages, except I was never able to clean them up... 348 maximum here. Checking was not thorough at all though...
spelvin
Subject: RE: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 1:21 AM (#8328 - in reply to #8324) (#8328) Top




Posts: 12

Location: USA
238 if no mistakes.

Before the test I commented that my time management on puzzle tests has been bad recently, and while I don't think I used time as poorly as I could have, I was far from a well-oiled machine.

Started by doing most of the puzzles in order, skipping the two 5/10 puzzles, which is unlike me since I usually do a few and then jump right to something big. Though with so many 20's, nothing on this test was a massive point grab. Skipped the mice (er, mouse and lots of ducks), got stuck on the multiplicative corral, which surprised me, jumped to the sudoku to calm my nerves, and then jumped to the big ones.

Solved the gapped kakuro and musketeer sudoku, but didn't even attempt the fences variation. This was partially because I committed a cardinal sin: I didn't check the grayscale capabilities of the office printer I was using. It printed a lot of gray elements *extremely* lightly, meaning I had to squint to see letters in the musketeer sudoku, and the outlines in the fences were virtually invisible. I tried printing again with different settings with no success, and eventually decided my time was better spent solving than playing with the printer. Of course, looking at it now (even with the poor print job), I immediately see ways to get started, so this was a probably a terrible move.

And then I hit what I'll call the 20-limbo, the worst part of the test for me, a period in which I basically picked at 20-point puzzles without making much headway on them. This was where I wasted the most time, and worse, it prevented me from going back for the 5/10 pairs (I did solve both 5's, but didn't try either of the 10's, and after the test I found Shadow Boxing 2 to be a gimme). Eventually I did solve Packing for Croatia and the very time-consuming Snail's Nest, but I left a big swath of white in the middle of my answer sheet. I made a good run on Magic Order toward the end, but I must have gone too fast, because I broke it, didn't have time to fix it, and ended up staring in vain for the last two differences in Pond Scum as time ran out. A decent number of puzzles solved, but with five 20-pointers unfinished, not an inspiring point total.

With this score, I doubt I'm in the A-team hunt that Nick described (perhaps someone will have posted a better score while I'm typing this rant), although there have been a few years recently when I thought I did horribly and it turns out everyone else did too. That said, I'd be really surprised if there's a 150+ point gap between people on the team, and if it turns out there is, it just goes to show what amazing solvers Thomas and Palmer have become.
standupcanada
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 1:27 AM (#8329 - in reply to #8327) (#8329) Top




Posts: 11

Location: canada
Ugh - pretty sloppy throughout, Congrats for finishing Thomas. Spent far too long on the packing after having no problem with the Bulgarian one. Couldn't finish even after a complete restart - should have gone elsewhere. The big sudoku and the Snail fell OK but the kakuro didn't. Solved the well prepped Magic Order while waiting to post here. Will play around with the front half now - probably should have gone that route originally.
affpuzz
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 1:35 AM (#8330 - in reply to #8324) (#8330) Top




Posts: 5

Location: United States
Argh... Well, a good first half and fell apart afterwards; I wasted too much time on the Pentahouses, and that just started the mistakes (packing for Croatia took way too long as well). Oh well, 180 if clean; almost assuredly breaking my 4 year streak of Clean-10th, mistake-23rd, clean-10th, mistake-23rd. Hopefully I was clean, but I'd be surprised if 180 was 10th....
nickbaxter
Subject: RE: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 1:48 AM (#8331 - in reply to #8328) (#8331) Top




Posts: 10

Location: USA
@spelvin. Sorry about the printing. The letter is Musketeer were 50%, which should have been ample. The paths in Kakuro were 20%, but still should have been fine and quite dark enough for me.

Edited by nickbaxter 2012-08-26 1:49 AM
MellowMelon
Subject: RE: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 1:51 AM (#8332 - in reply to #8331) (#8332) Top


Fillomino-Fillia 2 Author

100
Location: USA
I seem to recall in old USPC instruction booklets that there was a small gradient so that you could check the printer's grayscale. Guess that stopped happening at some point?
nickbaxter
Subject: RE: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 1:55 AM (#8333 - in reply to #8332) (#8333) Top




Posts: 10

Location: USA
It got moved to the Practice Test a couple years ago. But probably should go back to the instructions.
cnarrikkattu
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 2:00 AM (#8334 - in reply to #8324) (#8334) Top




Posts: 25
20
Location: USA
I start with the musketeer sudoku and the regular sudoku. I should have done them faster, but it's a fantastic pace for a USPC.
Magic Order was surprisingly straightforward after doing the practice puzzles people posted (thanks!). Half an hour in and I have 70 points (okay, in things I'm relatively good at).

And then it all goes downhill from there.
Normal corral is solved, but not very quickly for the 10 points. I go to the multiplicative corral, get almost to the end, then hit a contradiction that I can't remember how to back out of. Ugh.

I find 8 differences quickly, but missed the tail size and the fox glasses until the very last few minutes.
Got stuck in Battleships, got stuck in Masyu. Solved the first Shadow Boxing, but never remember to enter it.
I almost packed for Croatia, but always had a problem near the end. Wasted a lot of time there.

In the last few minutes, I give up packing and redo multiplcative corral, this time correctly.

So I had 70 points in the first half-hour thanks to the sudoku, but only get 40 the next 2 hours. At least all the puzzles next weekend are Sudokus. And the question for next week is by how many points do I not qualify for the team (0.208 in 2010, 5 in 2011) ;)


Edited by cnarrikkattu 2012-08-26 2:01 AM
spelvin
Subject: RE: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 2:02 AM (#8335 - in reply to #8333) (#8335) Top




Posts: 12

Location: USA
As I noted in my recap, I take full responsibility for the printing issues; considering how OCD I am about checking various things (I brought FOUR pencils and backup lead), it was very out of character for me not to look into it. Certainly not an asterisk situation.
standupcanada
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 2:09 AM (#8336 - in reply to #8324) (#8336) Top




Posts: 11

Location: canada
Whoops - looks like I'm still not done packing. Chop 20 to put me in the 140-150 range --- again.
Nilz
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 2:28 AM (#8338 - in reply to #8324) (#8338) Top




Posts: 27
20
Location: United Kingdom
Some thoughts from an outsider:
As expected, this was a nice test, with some very enjoyable puzzles. Snail's Nest was probably my favourite, with A Crossword second, and then Gapped Kakuro, Frozen Pentominoes and Musketeer Sudoku close behind.
In terms of organisation, from my point of view I'm not sure that allowing weekend-long participation has been a complete success, but it's certainly not been a disaster either. Firstly, because of the well-known issues with post-competition discussion, although this forum has helped diminish the problem somewhat (thanks Deb & LMI!). Secondly, the competition page itself probably needs a bit of an update- not having a reliable timer for each individual solver is quite an annoying flaw in my opinion (when I first refreshed the password page, there was no personal countdown clock, so I had no idea until after the test that that was available. And the fact that it refreshes if the page is refreshed is not ideal either). And it would be nice to be told when time is up, too. :-)
But as I said, I didn't have any major issues, so thanks to the puzzle composers for some enjoyable challenges. 265 if I've made no mistakes, which looks like it falls into the category of 'fairly good, but nowhere near Tom & Palmer (as expected!)'.
motris
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 2:29 AM (#8339 - in reply to #8334) (#8339) Top




Posts: 199
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Location: USA
cnarrikkattu - 2012-08-25 1:00 PM
So I had 70 points in the first half-hour thanks to the sudoku, but only get 40 the next 2 hours. At least all the puzzles next weekend are Sudokus. And the question for next week is by how many points do I not qualify for the team (0.208 in 2010, 5 in 2011) ;)


I wish you luck on the USSC, having had such close calls in the past (and other "just missed" moments in your competition history that were not your fault). If anything, repeating your past performance will get you on with the extra spot this year.
LordKinbote
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 2:31 AM (#8340 - in reply to #8324) (#8340) Top




Posts: 5

Location: USA
Pretty much same as every other year. Started off really strong but then was left with a bunch of half-finished monstrosities. If it's clean, I'm thinking 146 for me. I enjoyed Grant's corral variation.
onigame
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 2:51 AM (#8343 - in reply to #8324) (#8343) Top




Posts: 4

Location: USA
I'm at 306, assuming no mistakes.

Missing: both Math Flips, Frozen Pentominoes, Gapped Kakuro, four Spot-the-Differences.

Math Flips I might have had a chance if I had focused practice on them, although this year I wasn't able to get the puzzle instructions until about 2 hours before the test and when you only have 2 hours practice you have to choose your battles. They were probably 20-pointers by my time.

Frozen Pentominoes was probably where I actually lost points. Assuming that my current solution is correct, my blind spot was not noticing that there was room for the L pentomino in the lower-right. On the other hand I'm not confident of my current solution -- it's not unique (the N can rotate 180 degrees), although all the constraints seem to work under double-checking. So maybe I'm missing something fundamental about the puzzle. In either case, the 5-10 extra minutes I spent on this probably would be better spent finding the 4 spot-the-differences I didn't get to.

Gapped Kakuro I must be totally missing some technique. I'm happy I didn't attempt it because it was a 52-minute solve for me afterwards. The logic is clean but short of intuitive guessing I don't see how I could have gotten my time to the 30-point range.
MellowMelon
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 3:00 AM (#8345 - in reply to #8324) (#8345) Top


Fillomino-Fillia 2 Author

100
Location: USA
My Frozen Pentomino solution has the N able to move down one if it's rotated like that. I actually missed this before I checked my work and had to correct it, but it ended up not affecting answer extraction strangely.

For Gapped Kakuro, if your logic was clean you're probably not missing anything. The first couple Serkan instances I did (which were in previous Akil Oyunlari I think) also took me gobs of time also, like your 52-minute solve. I think this is because Serkan's Gapped Kakuros have some of the narrowest solving paths of anything I have ever seen. I had to get a few of them under my belt before I got really used to sniffing out where the trail led to next.

Maybe someone can put up a walkthrough in the other topic motris posted for you to compare to.

EDIT: and like thedan, I had one bit of uniqueness too, probably the same one. Couldn't be a 5 in row 3 column last because the 9-row could be 13-5 or -4-5 then.

Edited by MellowMelon 2012-08-26 3:04 AM
spelvin
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 3:01 AM (#8346 - in reply to #8343) (#8346) Top




Posts: 12

Location: USA
> Gapped Kakuro I must be totally missing some technique. I'm happy I didn't attempt it because it was a 52-minute solve for me afterwards. The logic is clean but short of intuitive guessing I don't see
> how I could have gotten my time to the 30-point range.

I solved every one of these I could find last night and it definitely helped. It's still possible that my time-to-points ratio was high, but I didn't feel like I ever got stuck when solving. (As opposed to, say, Snail's Nest, where I finished but had a lot of awkward pauses.) Although now that I think of it, I think I used a uniqueness argument at some point.

Congrats on preventing me from going on another "Waaaaah! I beat Wei-Hwa but he still gets to be on the team!" rant by a significant margin. :)

EDIT: Re Melon's edit: Yup, that's the one.

Edited by spelvin 2012-08-26 3:14 AM
Aerion
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 3:19 AM (#8347 - in reply to #8324) (#8347) Top





Posts: 4

Location: USA
It seems like Packing for Croatia caused a lot of trouble for people. I managed to get through it OK, but with some starts and stops. Maybe not the most efficient solve ever, but I found it enjoyable. I did a whole bunch of Tren last night and this morning; that paid off nicely. Many thanks to those who linked practice puzzles for that on motris's blog.

Multiplicative Corral might have been my favorite so far, though with the disclaimer that I haven't done most of the back of the packet yet. I was trying to force myself not to expect the connection along the top, but was glad when it turned out to be right in the end. (I somehow wrote down "2,3" on the top instead of "2,1" ... glad I was cross-checking by counting interior squares, so I corrected it -- whew.)

Fences was nice, too -- I wish I'd attempted it during contest time.
onigame
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 3:28 AM (#8348 - in reply to #8324) (#8348) Top




Posts: 4

Location: USA
Ah yes, the N can slide down one if it's rotated. Looks like I have the right answer then. (no points though :( )
SKnight
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 4:03 AM (#8349 - in reply to #8324) (#8349) Top




Posts: 25
20
Location: USA
Not a good day for me -- claiming 146, and really I think I ought to have been able to get 40-50 more points.

I thought both Corrals were pretty easy (though I particularly liked Grant's variant -- good to see him writing for the USPC).

A bit disappointed with the Masyu from an aesthetic point of view. I don't like the "patchwork quilt" style of design much (big chunky thematic clumps that don't really relate), and it's basically similar to the past year's examples. The loop logic was fairly nice, at least.

I usually feel like I'm capable of doing a good job on the big Kakuro variants, and solved it cleanly this year, though not as quickly as I might have liked.

Magic Order was a fun puzzle and not too bad to crack.

Mostly mad at myself for breaking the vanilla sudoku (which was hard, but which I felt like I had a healthy start on) and the tren (which I just screwed up on, but which isn't that hard, really). Also I should have tried the snail puzzle, but didn't get around to it. Somewhere in those puzzles are the extra 40 points I wanted, in other words.

Also wondering how many people will accidentally mark the wrong hippo tooth in the STD -- the left tooth is missing below, but that means the right tooth in the original is the one that's different.

craigkasper
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 4:13 AM (#8350 - in reply to #8324) (#8350) Top




Posts: 1

I'm only getting here now, but my initial reaction was short enough to remember here verbatim:
"Man, have I gotten rusty!"
motris
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 4:16 AM (#8351 - in reply to #8350) (#8351) Top




Posts: 199
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Location: USA
craigkasper - 2012-08-25 3:13 PM

I'm only getting here now, but my initial reaction was short enough to remember here verbatim:
"Man, have I gotten rusty!"


Missed your puzzles this year Craig. I heard it was more a matter of selection, but definitely want you to bring the heat again soon. I still may get around to that ?-Agony someday.
prasanna16391
Subject: Re: Instant Reactions @ 2012-08-26 4:28 AM (#8352 - in reply to #8324) (#8352) Top


WSPC Organizer

Posts: 1226
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I took about 100 minutes after the test started to realize that the test had started. Oops.
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