The fourteenth World Puzzle Championships will take place in Eger, Hungary between the
Finding out about your country's selection test is sometimes a little easier said than done; the puzzle ratings blog mentioned the Dutch qualifying competition, for instance. However, parts of the UK, US and Canadian teams are selected by the Google US Puzzle Championship, the biggest and most famous qualifying competition of them all. Safe to say, wherever you are in the world, a strong performance in the US qualifier is likely to catch the selector's eye. If your country doesn't have a formal team - ringbark, you would be solving from New Zealand at the time and could probably represent them if you liked - then you can use this to knock up at least part of a national team with yourself on it. Brits, the standard required isn't that high - I was able to qualify twice, after all! - and there's a free holiday, one of the best holidays of your life, at stake. (If that wasn't enough, the fact that Google sponsor the event and will be impressed by strong competitors as potential employees doesn't hurt...)
The other reason why you should be interested is that it's just plain fun. Two and a half hours to complete as many of the fiendish, imaginitive and interesting logic puzzles on the paper that you can. Two and a half hours is enough that you can really get into it and eliminate distractions from behind; it's not so long as to be inaccessible. The paper will probably have about fifteen or twenty puzzles on it; the puzzles are hard, and last year's median (half-way-up) US score was about 82 points out of 432, so about 19%. Every single puzzle answered is a little triumph. They're not knowledge puzzles, they're not language puzzles, anyone can do them - cold hard logic, coupled with imagination to work out the winning technique. It's also free to take part, too! Tell your friends!
Put the date in your diary: Saturday June 18, 2005 at 1pm ET - 10am Pacific time, 6pm British time. Make sure you register at least two days in advance. Look, British folk, if you've been at all amused by the current Su Doku craze, try this - this has more imagination and variety than a month of daily columns. If you like solving Su Doku, you'll love solving these.
If you're keen, the best way to get practice (or, the other way to look at it - the other way to get lots of fun puzzles to solve!) is the archive of the previous six online qualifying tests, with answers. The precise puzzle formats change from year to year, which is part of the reason why they're so good, but the flavour remains the same. I think things have broadly got tougher over the years, so start with the 1999 event and have a concentrated stab at it. Don't worry about the time limit, just try to solve as many as you can. (You'll get faster with practice!) If you're really struggling, here are discussions of solution techniques for the 1999 and 2000 qualifying tests - you'll see that they are hard, but definitely possible.
Bank on hearing about this here at least, ooh, once or twice more before the qualifying test itself on Super Saturday. Now get solving!