Coming up this weekend: the UK Puzzle Championship

The eighth annual UK Puzzle Championship takes place this weekend. It’s an online contest with no charge for participation. You have two and a half hours to solve the language-neutral culture-free logic puzzles in the test. This year there are 36 puzzles in the test; 9 styles of puzzle appear twice with different levels of difficulty, the other 18 puzzles appear once each. There are some number puzzles and others are styles you might recognise from some newspapers. Others still might be new to you unless you’ve gone looking for puzzles on the Internet already, or taken part in previous competitions; a few may well still be new to you even if this is far from your first such puzzle contest. The instruction booklet is already available from the official competition page – and, if there were any clarifications, they’d be on the discussion thread on the forum.

It’s a pleasant development that newspapers seem to be including more interesting puzzles these days; you may well recognise some of the puzzle styles in the championship from newspapers. If you know that you enjoy those, there’s a good chance that you’ll enjoy the less familiar ones. There are plenty of places to find examples of most of the puzzle styles to practice beforehand, though you’ll need to do some digging, and sometimes let automatic translators take the strain. Start your search at the janko.at puzzle site, or at Croco-Puzzle. You can play a variety of logic puzzles using Simon Tatham’s Portable Puzzle Collection, which is available on many major operating systems for both computers and phones. The “Logic Games – Time Killers” app is available for iOS and Android as well.

If you finish in the top two places (excluding those who have qualified already at the live event earlier in the year…) among UK solvers then you become eligible to represent the country as part of the national team in the 27th World Puzzle Championship. This year it’ll be taking place in early November in Prague, along with the World Sudoku Championship. The UK team finished a superb fifth out of 19 official national teams in the World Puzzle Championship last year and sixth out of 23 in the World Sudoku Championship, so you’ll need to be extremely strong to compete on a global stage.

You can start the two and a half hours that you have to take on the puzzles whenever you like after midday (UK time) on Friday 22nd June, but you must get your responses in by 2:25am on Tuesday 26th – so Monday evening is the latest time that you can start. You’ll need to register for an account at the UK Puzzle Association site, and download a file with an encrypted version of the puzzles from the contest page. You’ll get the password to open the puzzle file when you choose to start your clock.

This contest traditionally aims to cater not just for world-class solvers but for ones of much more modest ability as well, with the inclusion of relatively accessible puzzles as well as tougher examples of the same types meaning that there’s something for many different puzzles. Only the very best in the world will be able to solve all the puzzles within the time limit and not too many will come close, but there’s plenty to get your teeth into even if you only manage to crack a handful of puzzles in the time allowed. Several UK-based escape room enthusiasts have taken part in the past and enjoyed it. Whatever your level, if this sounds like your sort of fun in theory, it comes highly recommended in practice!