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Sudokulogy: 5th World Sudoku Championship

I made it home from Philadelphia, physically fatigued from lack of sleep and mentally exhausted from the cerebral calisthenics of the weekend. Despite my final condition, it was an excellent experience all around.

The puzzles at this competition were written by the 2007 and 2008 US Sudoku Champions, Thomas Snyder and Wei-Hwa Huang, both of whom have numerous world titles under their belts as well. Everyone had high expectations of the two, and I don’t think a single person was disappointed. Every single puzzle was beautifully constructed, designed to result in an elegant and enjoyable solving experience, and I certainly look forward to solving them again at leisure, once I’ve recovered sufficiently. Under the time constraints of competition (35-45 minutes per round), and given the difficulty level of the puzzles and sheer number we had to solve (8 or more a round!), it was impossible to give them their due appreciation.

The championship was structured as a decathlon — 10 rounds each comprising of puzzles designed to test a particular aspect of sudoku solving ability. The overwhelming majority of the puzzles were sudoku variants, which unfortunately, I am rather slow at, as a general rule. It was a well-executed concept, at any rate — and it certainly allowed each competitor the opportunity to realize his individual strengths.

The finals were especially interesting. One doesn’t usually think of Sudoku as a spectator sport, but Thomas and Wei-Hwa provided excellent commentary for the hour-long playoffs, accompanied by a real-time color coded chart that showed each person’s progress through the puzzles, as well as their projected performance for each upcoming puzzle, so the audience could clearly see if one competitor was likely to be faster than another in a particular area. This was made possible because each of the 10 playoffs puzzles was representative of each of the 10 championship rounds, and chart displayed the competitors performance in each round as a corresponding color.

2 days. 30 countries. 120 competitors. 100+ puzzles. 1 excellent championship.

A big thank you to all the organizers for a job well done and to the sponsors for making possible such a wonderful event. Congratulations to Jan Mrozowski of Poland for winning the individual trophy, and to Germany for winning the team events.

Tammy McLeod

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  1. Tammy, maybe it’s me, but I can not find a COMPLETE set of the rules and regulations governing the Philadelphia Inquirer’s (or an other major Sudoku organization’s) competitive events. Any help or direction, from a pdf to a weblink would be greatly appreciated.


    — jim roberto · Nov 29, 08:34 AM · #

  2. Hi Jim, I don’t believe there is a standard set of rules and regulations for events. The World Puzzle Federation is the closest thing there is to a governing body Each participating country also has an organization that handles the events on the national level, for example, Team USA

    — Tammy · Dec 1, 08:43 AM · #