May 25th, 2005
|10:04 pm - The road to Hungary|
addedentry, bateleur, bopeepsheep, daweaver, dezzikitty, dr4b, dumbgenius, foppe, gwendolyngrace, imc, jvvw, len, mr_babbage, oinomel71, pchou, rhiannon333, songmonk, strangefrontier, tall_man, themightyuser, uqx, whipartist, xnera, zorac and Peter Sarrett, I'm calling y'all out... (and anyone else who wants to be called out, of course!)
The fourteenth World Puzzle Championships will take place in Eger, Hungary between the
12th and 17th 8th and 13th (whoops!) of October this year, the week after The Witching Hour. You can represent your country, if you can make the grade. This year, you have a better chance than ever of being at the main event: "If you do not make your national team, you can still be at the event as guest or as member of an unofficial B-team (you can compete like all the others, but your results will not be listed in the official results)." I've been to three World Puzzle Championships and blogged live from the most recent one.
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!
Current Mood: lookin' forward to it!
|Date:||May 26th, 2005 03:58 am (UTC)|| |
I'm not convinced that scores in the Maths Olympiad depended that heavily on familiarity with a range of puzzle archetypes. The people I know who got into the British team and did well are genuinely better mathematicians than me not just people with a greater familiarity with the type of problems.
A certain amount of familiarity helps in the sense that without it, you probably don't stand a chance, but you can certainly have that familiarity and not be able to do the problems.
I'd say it's a bit like the difference between getting the top upper second and the top first in exams at Oxford. You almost certainly won't get the top first without working through some old exam papers, but working through old exam papers, working hard and being bright enough to have been selected by the university in the first place probably won't guarantee you more than an upper second.
|Date:||May 26th, 2005 11:45 am (UTC)|| |
And I did get the top First… but I was still never any good at the Invariants/Achimedeans' problems drives.
|Date:||May 27th, 2005 02:06 am (UTC)|| |
Was that Maths or Maths and Comp?
I think there are slightly difficult types of mathematical intelligence and Oxford exams measure a slightly different type from the problems drives. In the same way that some people are more algebraists than topologists or analysts.
I had my share of success in Oxford exams, maths olympiad stuff and the problem drives, but I definitely felt most at home with Oxford exams because I like more abstract stuff.
|Date:||May 31st, 2005 08:15 am (UTC)|| |
It was indeed Maths and Comp.