As I didn’t make it to the play-offs, the WPC was essentially over for me. Still, we went to watch the finals, which was in the morning. The setup for the WPC finals is essentially the same as the WSC’s, with the decreasing rows of desks. Unlike the sudoku finals, however, there were no fancy cameramen and projectors. The difficulty of the semi was also a lot easier than that of the WSC’s in comparison. On the other hand, the final head-to-head puzzles were a lot harder.
Anyways, the final 3 were Ulrich Voigt, Palmer Mebane, and Thomas Snyder. Palmer was far ahead in the semis due to the advantage carried over from day 1 and 2. Thomas finished second, but due to an error in his final puzzle, he got a 1 minute penalty during which Ulrich finished his final puzzle. So, the finals was between Palmer and Ulrich.
The first puzzle was a tapa that was made of 6’s and 7’s. Both contestants made a mess of their paper, and had to get new sheets. Palmer made a mess of the 2nd one and wanted a new sheet, but they ran out. In fact, the sheet was so messy that I wondered whether he guessed. (Turns out he didn’t, but guessing may not be a bad choice here.) Still, he was able to finish the puzzle before Ulrich, making the score 1-0 Palmer.
The next was a Kakuro that Ulrich beat Palmer on, even if Palmer didn’t make a mistake on the top left. This tied the score to 1-1.
The third puzzle was a digit place. Palmer wrote a 0, then a 3 on 1 of the digits. In retrospect, this was from adding up the number of times a segment for all the digits from 1~9. I was thinking that Palmer was guessing on that puzzle since I couldn’t see the other digits, but that made no sense. Anyways, the mistakes cost him this round, giving Ulrich 2-1.
The fourth puzzle was a pentomino place, which given the number and position of the shaded squares, made it very difficult. Both contestants slogged through the puzzle, but in the end Ulrich was faster and knocked out Palmer 3-1.
After the finals were over, we stuck around and tried to solve the remaining puzzles that they had, as a group. We managed to get through all of them, before we headed to lunch. After lunch was soccer, which I did not attend. I just stayed in my room and solved puzzles and played with my iPad. From what I heard though, they had a pretty good setup with refs and jerseys. Prasanna of the Indian team broke his finger and had to go to the hospital as well.
Afterwards was dinner and closing ceremony. We discussed over dinner on the directions of our team, which lead this the existence of this very blog. After dinner, I went down to the karaoke and the bar to see whether anyone was there. Since there wasn’t, I went back to the hotel and went to sleep. Apparently, they went to the bar a short while after I left, and I have completely missed the party. Sad.
Next day was the departure day. Most of the teams were leaving in the morning, and only ~10 people were leaving in the afternoon, Canada team included. We had breakfast with the US team, and I asked Thomas on whether Palmer was guessing since it looked like it. Turns out the answer was no. Then, the staff came and told us there won’t be lunch! We were not happy. They changed that decision pretty quick, and we ended up having lunch. The lunch queue was separate between us and the normal customers, though I can’t actually see any difference between the 2 except for the skewers. Anyways, we took the shuttle to the airport, where a lady was trying to get someone to carry some luggage for her. She claimed those were costumes, but chances are, there were probably drugs. Anyways, we went back to Canada without hassle, though again without sleep in my case. After arriving in Toronto, I had to take another shuttle back to Waterloo, and came back very tired.
This marks the end of my WSC/WPC trip in Beijing, and the end of this series of posts. I hope you all enjoy my ramblings, and wish me luck for next year.
P.S. I bought a lot of puzzle books from the championship, including last year’s WPC and WSC. Instructions were in Chinese, but that’s no barrier for me since I read Chinese. The Four Winds book they had was very disappointing, but the “Extra Spicy” Sudoku books were quite good.