Finals day at the World Puzzle Championships

Europe's "The Final Countdown" single coverTwo days down and one day to go at the World Puzzle Championships! Arguably today is the single biggest day in the world puzzling calendar.

Usual source Akıl Oyunları points to a scoreboard photo taken by Rejtvényfejtők Országos Egyesülete, which I believe is the Hungarian puzzle organisation. Germany are leading the team competition with a single round to go from Japan, by almost a thousand points. Germany B are in unofficial third place, but ineligible for the podium; in the official third place is the US team, but are only barely ahead of Slovakia in fourth place. There’s a long gap between the first two and third place – so, barring a remarkable disqualification from the final round, it’s practically head-to-head between Germany and Japan for the title. The fifteenth round, the final one before the individual play-offs, is a purely team contest:

This team round consists of three phases. The first two phases take place in one session, and the third and final phase takes place in a second session, with a break before it. In the first phase, which covers puzzles 1-4, each team will be seated at a table and will be asked to solve 4 separate paper puzzles. (…) In phase 2, which covers puzzles 5-7, the players move counters according to given rules in a series of steps. When the team are satisfied they have found the final position of each counter, they should mark the locations with the given stickers.

Bonus points will be awarded for teams who finish all 7 puzzles correctly in the allotted time, as
per the other team rounds. In addition, the first 8 A-teams to submit a correct set of solutions for both of the first two phases will qualify for the third and final phase. (…) Teams that successfully complete the final round will be awarded further bonus points according to their ranking position: 1st=2800 points, 2nd=2000 points, 3rd=1400 points, 4th=1000 points, 5th=700 points, 6th=500 points, 7th=350 points, 8th=250 points. In the final phase, the team players will themselves act as counters moving around a large grid on the floor, with each player playing the role of one of the four counters.

So Japan have a fair bit to do in order to catch up with Germany. If Japan complete the final round correctly and Germany don’t, that will be enough, but this seems unlikely. If Japan complete the first two phases more than three minutes more quickly than Germany, then they’ll be within 800 points of Germany and just need to win the third phase outright. However, if neither of these is true, barring a German meltdown, Japan will need to beat Germany in the third phase by at least two places to overtake them. Slovakia are within a couple of hundred points of the USA, so overtaking them to reach the podium looks like a distinct possibility.

The individual play-offs take place this afternoon, with the ten finalists being, in descending order of score:

  1. Ulrich Voigt, Germany
  2. Ken Endo, Japan
  3. Florian Kirch, Germany
  4. Palmer Mebane, USA
  5. Hideaki Jo, Japan
  6. Peter Hudak, Slovakia
  7. Bram de Laat, Netherlands
  8. Zoltan Horvath, Hungary
  9. Kota Morinshi, Japan
  10. Roland Voigt, Germany

The top-placed UK finisher was Neil Zussman, who missed the play-offs by fewer than fifty points when Roland Voigt overtook him to take the tenth spot in the last individual round. So close…

More later. This site doesn’t normally do multiple posts in a day, but finals day is an exception!


  1. LIve from the scene: “Und ist in 2:20 als erstes fertig. Der Team-Weltmeistertitel ist wieder in Deutschland”. Germany win the world championship! Many congratulations to them.

    Also: USA ist in 2:55 fertig, und damit an uns (B-Team) vorbeigezogen. Japan hat einen Fehler gemacht, und damit 0 Punkte. Canada sollte dritter sein, rückt damit in der Teamwertung etwa auf Position 10 vor. Japan should still finish second overall, despite their lack of bonus points from the final team round. The US will finish third overall, and ahead of the German B team.

    More to follow!

  2. The finals are scheduled to start at 2pm UK time; right now, I think there are still some score validations going on before either the final team scores can be published (though the positions are, I believe, not in question; Japan may have gone down in flames in the final, but they surely took absolutely the right approach, as they had nothing to lose and a faint chance of overtaking Germany with an outright win) or the final individual scores can be used to confirm the sizes of the handicap starts.

    There might be live Twitter coverage on the #worldpuzzle hashtag, there is likely to be live coverage (at least, score updates) in the “Live from London” thread – go the the latest page of the thread and keep updating. The commentary may be in German, but the numbers will be recognisable. Ten years ago, I attempted to produce minute-by-minute commentary of the quarter-finals, semi-final and final, though back in the day it wasn’t really realistic to actually update every single minute. (Ten years later, the silly style, adapted from other minute-by-minute commentary still sort of stands up on its own merits.) I wish I could be there, but we’re moving house and I’m working the day shift tomorrow. Ah well.

    During the break before lunch, people have been blogging; see what Roland Voigt and Palmer Mebane have to say. Many thanks to the organisers, and to everyone providing coverage from the event.

  3. I won’t attempt to relay live commentary from the various sources to provide live meta-commentary here (while it would be fun, there’s lots to do in real life), but see this comment about a successful scoring appeal: William Blatt of the USA has been promoted to tenth place and thus squeaks into the big show, knocking Roland Voigt down to eleventh (and, thus, out on the bubble) and Neil Zussman twelfth.

  4. Ulrich Voigt wins his tenth! Palmer Mebane up to second, and apparently well within a minute of overtaking Ulrich, Florian Kirch third, not much further back still, and Ken Endo fourth. Congratulations all round!


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