UK puzzle contest history

Mixed US and UK flagYesterday, this site discussed the upcoming UK Puzzle Championship, which starts at midday (UK time) today and runs through to the end of Monday. Looking further around the UK Puzzle Association site – and then going a little further and looking “underneath the hood” – there is (apparently an early version of) a UK puzzling “Hall of Fame” page, which is a lovely piece of work.

There are two areas to focus on: first, mention of the results of the past three years of the UK Puzzle Championship. James McGowan won the first two in 2011 and 2012, with Neil Zussman pipping him by 26 puzzles to 25 in 2013. (Neil also had the distinction of being the top global solver out of the 164 entrants from around the world, taking some extremely accomplished names with his accuracy and speed.) Secondly, the chart of UK team members at the World Puzzle Championships is extremely interesting. It still needs a little interpretation; for instance, I am listed with a position in 2004 despite being a non-playing captain, earning my position for solving on a United Nations team – but, on the other hand, that Guardian article I linked to yesterday reminded me that Nick Gardner was captain in 2006 and is yet not listed.

Nevertheless, we can use this to create an all-time A-team appearance table for UK team members. (This does give credit for appearances in 2002, where there were two UK team members attending but no UK A-team as such.) Credit, also, to Tim Peeters’ site for information about the UK team in 1996.

Six appearances: Nick Deller
Five appearances: Nick Gardner, David McNeill
Four appearances: Ken Wilshire
Three appearances: Simon Anthony, Steven Barge, Tom Collyer, Alan O’Donnell, Liane Robinson, Ronald Stewart, Neil Zussman
Two appearances: Chris Dickson, James McGowan, Gareth Moore
One appearance: George Danker, Meriel Lewis, Stuart Madison, Thomas Powell, Nick Savage, Lionel Wright, Chris Yates

We can also put together some stats about UK participation in the US Puzzle Championships, with a counterpart hall of fame as to which UK participants were highest-placed each year:

2014: Adam Bissett (6 participants)
2013: James McGowan (12 participants)
2012: Neil Zussman (22 participants)
2011: David McNeill (24 participants)
2010: Steven Barge (13 participants)
2009: Steven Barge (13 participants)
2008: Steven Barge (20 participants)
2007: Michael Collins and Nick Gardner (12+ participants)
2006: Steven Barge (26 participants)
2005: David McNeill (12 participants)
2004: David McNeill (6 participants)
2003: Luke Pebody (12 participants)
2002: Nick Gardner (4 participants)
2001: David McNeill (6 participants)
2000: Lionel Wright (6 participants) (courtesy of e-mail from Michael Curl of

A sharp fall in UK participation in the US Puzzle Championships in recent years, but this can be explained in part by the rise in emphasis on the UK Puzzle Championships, the USPC’s fixed timeslot, the shift in selection practices for the UK team for the World Puzzle Championship and a fall in the global participation in the US Puzzle Championships. Another interpretation is that there are dozens and dozens of past UK puzzle championship participants who have been lost to time; surely a challenge for the UK infrastructure is to get them involved once again.

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