Grief, there are a lot of online puzzle culture-free language-neutral contests all happening this weekend. (Next weekend looks almost totally bare by comparison!)
The highlight is undoubtedly the 2½-hour UK Puzzle Championship; start at any point after midday on Friday, so long as you finish by the end of Monday. As you’d expect for a UK tournament, these are based on the UK time zone. Score as many points as possible by answering some or all of the 26 puzzles. The instruction booklet is available so you can see what sorts of puzzles you’ll be asked in advance; perhaps there’s something of a focus on number puzzles, word puzzles and loop puzzles.
The UK Puzzle Championship is definitely deliberately at the accessible end of the long-form puzzle contest tradition – and 17 of the 26 puzzles are relatively low in tariff, so even relatively moderate solvers may well find good opportunities to surprise themselves that they really are able to solve puzzles that looked impossible at first site. More advanced competitors are requested to identify themselves for possible selection for the UK team in the World Puzzle Championship, this year held in mid-August in Croydon. (Recently, the report in the Guardian from the 2006 World Puzzle Championship turned back up again – broadly, good stuff, all round.)
The UK are also holding their 1½-hour round of the World Puzzle Federation Grand Prix this weekend on a similar timescale. This has 15 puzzles, the first 10 of which are reasonably familiar formats and the last five look slightly more unusual. There are two particularly high-value puzzles in the fifteen, so going for either of them would pose a rather high-variance strategy.
As well as the UK holding their annual Puzzle Championship, this weekend also sees India do the same thing. It too is the standard 2½-hour national championship length; while Indian solvers have very little leeway in their timing, global solvers have all weekend to choose their 150-minute solving window. There are 35 puzzles here, though slightly fewer different types. James McGowan has set some of the puzzles here, and also for the UK round of the WPF GP, both of which bode well.
Lastly, if you’re up between 6am and 8am UK time on Saturday 24th, there’s the 2-hour Japanese Puzzle Championship, whose 25-puzzle instruction booklet is something of a work of art in interesting variants. Unusually, the 10th, 20th, 30th, 40th… and so on finishers each win an official T-shirt, which is cute!
All of these are free to play and open to solvers all around the world. Enjoy!