About eighteen months ago, I posted about the croco-puzzle site featuring logic puzzles of around three dozen different types and a walk-through (now slightly out of date) for participation in its daily puzzle structure. Since then I have been solving the daily puzzles most days, though I know to look in advance and see whether the puzzles are likely to take me half an hour or not and decide whether I have the time to spare. It's provided me with plenty of fun puzzles and a great deal of the most enjoyable sort of frustration.
I made passing mention of a ladder competition that I have run for most of that time on the UK Puzzle Association forum, which has added a little something to participation for about a dozen or so of us. In truth, the ladder has not quite taken off to the extent I had hoped, in part because of the degree of commitment it has required and possibly in part due to some slightly erratic administration on my part. We may have drawn about as much fun as there is to be had from the ladder already and in about three months' time, we'll take a break.
The timing of this is based on the forthcoming inauguration of the Croco-League, a team competition based on solving puzzles on that site. The description is all in German, and consequently I haven't heard as much discussion about the forthcoming league as I think there should have been. The league structure is cleverly designed, welcomes puzzle solvers of all standards so long as they have a basic familiarity with at least some of the site's puzzle types, and will require players to solve no more than three puzzles in alternate weeks. Participation is free.
Teams are divided into divisions of sixteen based initially on the average rating of their participants at the site already, with the bottom division containing 4-19 teams in order to permit all teams to play. Teams can consist of up to six players; teams will be unable to properly compete with fewer than four players and will suffer flexibility problems with fewer than the full complement. Teams should have some sort of geographic or affiliation tie, rather than just being "half a dozen solvers who want to be on the same extremely strong stacked team".
The season consists of fifteen rounds and a final promotion/relegation play-off. Rounds consist of matches between pairs of teams, so a 16-team division will be a single round-robin and fixtures for a non-16-team division will be organised through the Swiss system.
Each round lasts two weeks. The league takes breaks for the WPC/WSC week, the winter holidays and the summer holidays. In the first week of each round, twelve puzzle types are published, and each team determines which of its members will solve each puzzle in the second week. No player may solve more than three puzzles, so a four-player team will have all four players solving three puzzles each round and a larger team may have the flexibility to deal with the situation where one or two team members are unavailable, or otherwise to let solvers play to their strengths.
In the second week of each round, each player solves the puzzles which they have been assigned at a time of their choice. For each of the twelve puzzles, the performance of the solvers in each match are compared to each other; whichever solver has made the fewer incorrect submissions wins that puzzle, with the time taken between starting and correctly solving the puzzle breaking a tie (ideally, a zero-zero tie). An error-free slow performance beats a fast performance with any number of errant submissions before the correct one. Ties are possible, most likely to occur if both solvers in a match fail to complete the puzzle.
Whichever team in each match has won more puzzles wins the match; the match will be tied if the two teams win the same number of puzzles. Winning a match earns three league points; a tied match awards one league point to each team. (In a Swiss system division with an odd number of teams, the odd team that does not have a match earns two league points.) At the end of the season, the bottom two teams in each division swap with the top two teams of the division below, with the third bottom team defending its place in the upper division through a play-off with the third team in the division below. (Not sure what happens if this play-off match turns out to be a tie...)
Accordingly, playing in the league commits you only to solving no more than three puzzles every two weeks, and each team gets to assign certain puzzle types to people who particularly enjoy solving them. berni will generate the puzzles by hand, but suggests on the LMD forum (I think) that the standard will be about the same level as puzzles in the finals of the German Championships.
In conclusion, I think this looks tremendous. Looking at the sign-up list there are teams from Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Japan, China, the Czech Republic and Serbia as well as different parts of Germany. I know of at least seven UK solvers who are interested in being on a team, so it's likely that there will be at least two UK teams.
I reckon the "national team" approach doesn't work so well if there are more than six people from a nation who want to take part; I'd much rather represent a smaller part of the UK rather than representing a UK B- (or, more likely, D- or E-) team, but this is a personal viewpoint. Similarly, I would expect there are enough US- and Canada- based solvers to generate several US teams, when the US logic puzzle family gets as excited about the existence of the league as it should. (There is one "Team US/UK", but I don't know anyone on it; I don't even know where the people are based.) US logic puzzle family, consider yourselves informed!
Some familiarity with the Croco-Puzzle interface would be helpful but is by no means essential - after all, you can practice with several years' worth of prize puzzles, in conjunction with the English-language translations of the puzzles' rules. If you've ever wanted to be part of a logic puzzle team in a meaningful team competition, but (like me) have no chance of getting on one of the national teams for the world championships, there are no better opportunities.
Anyone else, particularly UK-based, interested in signing up for a team? I can put you in the right place!
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