Something a little less unusual…
At the end of the Grand Prix, the 10 Sudoku GP solvers and 10 Puzzle GP solvers with the highest cumulative scores will be invited to the next WSC/WPC to play off in person. If there is a tie in the results of the top 10 solvers, the solver with the highest ranking in any individual tournament will win the tiebreaker; if there is still a tie, then the solver with the next-highest ranking in any individual tournament will win, etc. If any of the finalists decides not to attend the WSC/WPC, the next best solver (or solvers) will be invited to take part.
The results of the online section have been published; you can see how they break down, event-by-event, though the interface for the detailed results is a little unwieldy. Essentially, the player with the most points in a contest (which will generally be full marks, plus a few bonus points for finishing quickly) earns 100 Grand Prix points for that contest, and everybody else scores between 0 and 100 in proportion to their score for that contest. Players’ five best 0-to-100 scores out of the possible six are added together to give an overall score, out of a possible 500, for the Grand Prix.
The top ten scorers, and thus the first invitees, are as follows:
1. Ulrich Voigt, Germany (471.11/500) – Ulrich has appeared on the podium of the World Puzzle Championship every single year beginning with a “2”, and nine of those 14 appearances were on its top step. A dominant winner online, and surely a strong favourite for the play-off.
2. Ken Endo, Japan (447.66/500) – Ken had the sixth best score in the main body of the 2013 World Puzzle Championship, but as a member of Japan’s B team, did not make it to the play-off. Japan had a super-strong B team that year. See also Tom Collyer’s discussion of B-team members and their participation.
3. Hideaki Jo, Japan (443.95/500) – Japan’s best finisher at the 2013 WPC, third before the play-off but fell to fifth after it. Also has a third-place finish at the 2010 WPC, and is legendarily strong at the Nikoli online puzzle site, appearing several times on their hall of fame.
4. Kota Morinishi, Japan (433.50/500) – eighth at the 2013 WPC, improving further on an eleventh-place finish at the 2012 WPC.
5. Michael Ley, Germany (414.74/500) – fourteenth at the last two WPCs, but has a vast amount of experience having appeared at the WPC since 1996 with four fourth-placed finishes along the way. Also a 5th dan solver at croco-puzzle.
6. Bram de Laat, Netherlands (412.71/500) – fourth at the 2013 WPC, improving further on a seventh-place finish in 2012, earlier WPC appearances stretch back to 2003 and has an excellent puzzle blog on our blogroll.
7. Yuta Nagata, Japan (401.66/500) – another Japanese B-team member at the 2013 WPC, finishing with the 21st highest score. Please forgive how little I have to say about the Japanese solvers, other than admiring the Japanese strength in depth.
8. Nikola Zivanovic, Serbia (392.68/500) – the reverse of Kota Morinshi, an official eleventh-place WPC finish in 2013 and an eighth-place WPC finish in 2012! WPC final appearances stretch back to 2005, with a sixth-place finish in 2009.
9. James McGowan, UK (389.81/500) – sixteenth in the 2013 WPC, nineteenth the year before. Arguably his best result to date is the 2014 UK Puzzle Championship, where he came first not just in the UK but globally, and look at the names he took in doing so.
10. Neil Zussman, UK (386.07/500) – 15th, 25th and 10th (in reverse chronological order!) in the three most recent WPCs, and as dominant in the 2013 UK Puzzle Championship as James was this year.
The play-offs will take place at the 23rd World Puzzle Championship, being held this year at Croydon, here in the UK. It’s certainly a bonus that the UK has two representatives set to be invited to the final ten. Many thanks to the World Puzzle Federation for organising the event, and to all the puzzle authors; it’s great to see a World Puzzle Federation event genuinely accessible to all hobby solvers, rather than just catering for world-class competitors. (Some rounds more so than others! Perhaps there’s scope to ensure that every round has sufficient low-hanging fruit to let the more modest competitors, like me, enjoy the whole of the 90-minute rounds.) 486 competitors took part in at least one Puzzle GP event; let’s look forward to next year’s season.