Syzygy

Saturday, June 16, 2007

USPC 2007

ARGGG. I should've done better this year for the puzzle championship, but instead I did worse. I spent a little too long on 1. Battleships. It should've been a quick 5 minute solve, but ended up taking more like 10, because I missed the third 0 column. *smacks forehead* I missed 2. Diagonal Sudoku, because I did a really stupid end-game fill-in where I put 9 instead of 5. It should've been obvious that it was a 5, because everything else was solved! That makes a 20 point differential right there (15 for solve, -5 for penalty). 3. Sum Figure: Guess and check did the trick. I'm not sure of a methodical algorithm that is fast enough, but I didn't see the 0-9 until a few minutes in. Remind me to read the directions very carefully next time. 4. Count Me In: I think I had a nice method for this, which involves counting hypotenuses by enumerating along possible directions. So I counted by vertical, horizontal, positive and negative slope for the triangles, which worked. The check revealed one I missed, but I managed to get the right answer pretty quickly and am happy about the method. 5. Comic Strips should've been easy. I spent too much time worrying about reflections and rotations, when I should have looked for the key, which was the H in the last strip. It forces only three possibilities for Cho (without reflection), which then makes the solve really easy. That's another 15 points. On 6, I missed J4 for some reason, and put both cells for one of the two-cell changes instead. Not sure how they are going to grade it, could be a 9 (ignore the extra square, no penalty), 15 (include extra square, plus 5 point bonus), or 4 (extra square is wrong, 5 point penalty). 7. Circuit Maze also was quick, even if it looks daunting. From a couple minutes worth of playing around, it is clear that one can work backwards to eliminate dead ends. Meanwhile, using different color pens for the different layers, one can draw some of the necessary segments where there are only two elevators per path segment in one layer. That's another 15 points. 8. All About Rio was pretty straightforward. I accidentally had Maia placed incorrectly near the end, but realized it was probably a mistake and corrected. However, I spent time looking for the rest of the phrases to check, which may have been unnecessary. 9. Round Trip, I finished 5 minutes over, so I didn't submit an answer, but I stopped solving in the middle and returned to it later to finish. I think some more experience with this format and 10. Arrow Ring is going to improve my times on those puzzle types dramatically. So that's 10 points, and possibly 10-15 minutes shaved off if I were better at those types. 11. Tiling, is a piece of cake, and doesn't require cutting out the pieces either. That should have been another easy 15 points. 12. Masyu, I didn't finish, though I spent about 5-10 minutes on it. Wikipedia's tips are rather basic, and I self-discovered some more advanced constraints that would've been helpful if I had known them earlier. Still haven't solved this yet, though. 13. Fence Posts, and 14. Fridge Magnets are both puzzle types I'm bad at, so no solve for those two. 15. Gull from Ipanema: Perhaps I would be faster if I were more methodical. I'm thinking perhaps that a fast way to do these is to use a giant paper cutter to make individual squares for each and then group by some criterion (number and distribution of objects) to find pairs fast, but the labels wouldn't be there, so it might take longer to backtrack to find the coordinates to submit. I am not a big fan of the puzzle type for 16. Corral either, but this may just take some work. 17. Multiplicity looked daunting, so I didn't do it, but it works out rather easily if you enumerate the possibilities for each digit, realize that the 0 forces 5 or 6, and then the rest follows pretty naturally. I glanced briefly at 18. Double Murder for a bit, and realized it would've been hard to get started, much less finish in a short amount of time, so I skipped it. I worked on 19. No Parking twice, and got it the second time with 2 minutes before the end. I think the key here was the limited placement possibilities for "on one's honor". Also, I had the beginnings mostly correct the first time I approached the problem, so I probably would've gotten it marginally quicker if I hadn't switched to other puzzles. Other key phrases were "unobnoxious", "mano a mano", and "economic" for me. Once I filled those in a few of the cross phrases, I knew I was on the right track. 20. ORu Kakuro looked daunting, but I managed to get the bottom-right corner. I then tried the top-right corner to no luck, so I gave up, thinking this puzzle would take too long.

Score:
94, 99, or 105 depending on grading for 6.

Lost points that I might have gotten if I hadn't messed up or wasted time:
105

going to work on 18 and 20 now.

EDIT: It turns out that I forgot to submit when I had answers for 3. and 19., resulting in a score 40 points lower than I had thought. *ouch*. The grading for 6 was middle of the road, as I expected, giving me a total of 59 points, a significant decrease from 2006. However, overall, I felt like I performed better, with a number of puzzles very close to completion this year, as opposed to last year, where I was hoping to get lucky with guess and check.

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