October 18th, 2004
|05:28 pm - Not even diagonally?|
We forgot to set the alarm on Friday night, but happily we woke naturally at 9:16am, so only two snoozes later than intended. Quick shower (using the last of the soap - the hotel have not seen fit to refill our bathroom supplies until we completely ran out) and then down in time for the start of the quarter-finals at 10am.
At this point, a couple of other things to note about our idiosyncratic bathroom. As well as needing to flush the toilet, it is also required to unflush it; pressing the handle (actually, button) a second time will stop the water running from the cistern to the bowl and so refill the cistern. Pressing the handle an odd number of times will result in water flowing into the bowl (and hence Up Around The Bend, and so forth) indefinitely. The bathroom also contains a fantastic concave shaving mirror which appears to blow your face up to a considerable magnification if you position yourself at the focal length and so forth. I appreciated the clarity, but ericklendl thought it made him look "like a cross between Gandalf the Grey and Driller Killer".
You've probably by now seen the very full coverage of the play-offs, so I don't need to retell the stories there. Our team-mate Alan O'Donnell was snapping photos away like mad and has a fantastic one from the end of the second semi-final. Nick Deller spotted at the time that Zoltan Horvath almost completely filled one puzzle in but left a square missing in the far bottom left, and the marker has pointed this out and explained why he can't award credit for the puzzle. Zoltan knows that but for that one empty square he would have made the final and looks almost in tears. I'll try to get a copy of this photo and probably edit this post to include it at this point if I do.
We used up the remaining minutes of wireless access on our 100 Kuna 90-minute card and went to lunch, which bore a striking resemblance to every other lunch served here this week. As usual, I got a plateful of cheese-and-ham salad, a bowl of soup, a plate with a slice or two of beef accompanied by chips and any targets lit among peas, carrots and/or rice before attacking the Dessert Island. Today I had a two-inch cube of chocolate sponge-and-mousse cake and a similar portion of a sponge-mousse-and-jello confection with a strawberry motif. The latter had a big swirl of (fake) cream on the top; as yesterday, the cake server proved a sufficiently unwieldy implement that the cake toppled off and landed cream side downmost. Yesterday this was as a result of an impromptu and inadvertent cake-server joust with Mr. D, but today it was the result of gravity.
The afternoon was free. Alan and David went to join the football match (apparently disappointing - lots of potential players and only one single small hall, so not much football played per person) whereas Nick and I returned to our room. Nick had an afternoon nap and I lazed about playing Civilization II. (Nearly finished! I'm up to 2000 AD and the game finishes in 2020, so I guess I probably won't be able to launch my spaceship quickly enough to get it to Alpha Centauri...) We also did most of our packing. Frankly, I have accumulated so much swag on this trip that I may have difficulty meeting the weight allowances. Much of this swag is in the form of puzzle magazines from around the world - while we may not understand the instructions, we can at least recognise what sort of puzzles they are and hence solve them based on the English-language instructions we know from other, similar-looking puzzles - but I have a very nice event T-shirt and a beautiful cloth bag. Puzzler Media publishing director Tim Preston also gave the UK team members physical puzzles of considerable vintage as gifts, of the "roll metal balls into specific holes" skill-game fashion. Fun!
Ongoing joke of the week has been "not even diagonally", normally a reference to the ways in which things may or may not be permitted to touch each other. In fact, the phrase "not even" has lost all meaning outside that context. When we were being told before round one that "puzzlers may not smoke inside the building, not even..." then the rest of the sentence became immediately obvious, even if not quite as intended.
Final engagement for the evening was the closing banquet at the Hotel Kvaerner, a ten-minute walk away. (We took a gorgeous, but circuitous, seaside route to get there, which took a few minutes longer. The banquet was waiting for us in the Crystal Ballroom, a venue already known to Eurovision enthusiast ericklendl as the regular venue of the Croatian National Final for several years. Whisper it, but the banquet probably did not quite match up to that on offer here at the Hotel Ambasador, though the room was beautiful and contained what were claimed to be literally several tons of spectacular cut glass chandeliers.
Musical entertainment was provided by Josefina and Trio Rio, singers with a synth who got what might be politely termed a decorous response - a token ripple of appreciation. I'm not going to name which puzzler inserted ear-plugs in their ears and got on with solving puzzles, but even though they were very discreet about it, they weren't that discreet. There was a large dancefloor, almost always empty. We were sat next to the Turkish team, who unfortunately did not share our attitude as to the politeness or otherwise of smoking dirty great cigars at the table, but never mind.
Team awards first, from 22nd up to first place: the awards were simply copies of the official group photo, the national team photos and one copy per team of all the puzzles on CD. (Very convenient! Full marks, Croatia.) I went up wearing my shirt as a solver for the United Nations B team in seventeenth place, but I wore a tie and a jacket to go when acting as captain of the twelfth-place UK team. Gorgeous cups for the top three, a big shell for the youngest solver (a Japanese lad who finished 18th) and a trinket for the best lady (a Czech woman who finished 16th). No sign of the Puzzle Star trophy, alas; I hope it's in safe hands! Later on, the top three individual solvers received cups to herald another round of photos.
After that, both Nicks and I returned to the hotel rather than staying for further music. (Frankly, we're not really a very mingly sort of team, unfortunately.) This was a move that really got the party stopped; our exit opened the floodgate and quite a few others followed suit. (Came home, finished packing, wrote this.) It was nice to be first at something this week... :-)
Current Mood: pooped!
Isn't that bizarre when you have to "unflush" a toilet? I encountered one while travelling last month.