Puzzle competitions coming up soon

Selsdon Park HotelThere are exciting puzzle competitions coming up soon, both in person and online. The online contests take place this weekend, the in-person ones next weekend. The online contests are free to enter and you can do so at a time and place of your own choosing; the in-person contest has a specific time and location and fees must be charged to cover the cost of booking it.

The second round of the World Puzzle Federation‘s Puzzle Grand Prix series takes place this weekend. It’s a 90-minute contest, which you can start as soon as 10am on Friday 19th February but which you must complete by 10pm on Monday 22nd February, so you have half a week in which to pick your 90-minute window. (Those times are the ones quoted in theory, the ones in practice may be an hour later.) This set of puzzles has been devised by the Slovak team. As with the previous round, the puzzles have been divided into Casual and Competitive sections, with the Competitive section more traditional constraint-based grid puzzles and the Casual section slightly more freeform, though not necessarily easier. Log in to the GP series web site then download the instruction booklet to find out the types of puzzles in advance, then plan your attack.

If you prefer Sudoku, though, then Logic Masters India have a contest for you this weekend where the puzzles have been devised by Belfast’s David McNeill, the over-50 World Sudoku Champion – and over-50 World Sudoku Champion, too! David has been a mainstay of the UK puzzle scene for well over a decade and is a very experienced puzzle setter, so this promises to be a treat. This weekend’s contest is called Triplets and Triangles; it too is a 90-minute contest, available between Saturday 20th February and Monday 22nd February at times to be confirmed. The contest has 14 puzzles, starting with classic 9×9 sudoku, running through some variants themed as the title of the contest suggests, and ending up with some brand new puzzles that seem to combine two other variants into a single new challenge.

In person, the UK Puzzle Association are running the UK Open tournaments in sudoku and puzzles on 27th and 28th February at the Selsdon Park Hotel near Croydon, pictured above; increasingly this has become the home of puzzles in this country, most famously for being the site at which the UK held the World Championships in 2014. Again the instruction booklets have been posted; most notable is Bram de Laat’s second round, “Two to Five”, with sixteen different puzzles in four general styles: room placement puzzles, split wall puzzles, division/dissection puzzles and number puzzles. In each of those four styles, there’s a puzzle that relies on two-themed properties (pairs of cells, sets of two adjacent rooms, dominoes with two digits and so on…), a puzzle themed around threes, a puzzle themed around fours and a puzzle themed around fives. Delightful design! The event is always highly convivial so do take a look and see if it’s your sort of fun.

Dates for your diary

weekly calendarThis site has got somewhat slack with updating its events calendar to the point where even linking to it in this article would feel wrong. Nevertheless, there are a few things worth looking ahead to already.

  • The first leg of this year’s WPF Puzzle Grand Prix is in progress already, starting about half a day ago. You have until Monday evening, UK time, to identify a clear block of 90 minutes and earn as many points as possible by solving pencil-and-paper puzzles set by a team from India in the first leg of a metaphorical race around the puzzling world. Some of you may know that the puzzles are always very fine and the contest is reliably great fun; this year’s competition has an added twist to make it more accessible and help more people find their level of fun. More about that very soon, hopefully while the first leg is still in progress.
  • The Coney troupe of interactive theatre makers are holding a Scratch and Salon session at the Camden People’s Theatre from midday on Sunday. The “Scratch and Salon is an open event making play on the line between public space and corporate space, and exploring the ideas around the commons“. At midday, “A map will be unfurled of scratch adventures and other playful experiences to be discovered in the neighbourhood of CPT. You’ll need a mobile phone with credit to send text messages in order to play. From 3pm – We’ll reconvene in the Theatre and host a salon – first curated with provocations from speakers segueing into an open space discussion – on what it means to make play in this space, and the politics of public space and the commons“. Not immediately puzzly, but very likely to be relevant somehow; their shows always inspire interesting thoughts.
  • February 27th and 28th see the UK Open Puzzle and Sudoku Tournaments taking place at the Selsdon Park Hotel in Croydon; since the World Championships were held here a couple of years ago, this has surely become the spiritual home of competition puzzles in this country. The company is always excellent and it’s as close to the World Championship experience as you’re going to get.
  • Closer to the usual core of this site, Can You Escape? of Edinburgh are hosting a Disabled Access Day on Saturday 12th March. “Join us on Disabled Access Day between 10.30 and 12.00 to take a look around Operation Odyssey our space themed mission, giving you a chance to check if the room is suitable and have a go at some puzzles (not the ones in the room – that would be cheating!) ((…)) People taking part in Disabled Access Day can also get 30% off bookings on the day or bookings made on the day.” Clearly Can You Escape? takes accessibility seriously; see the entry in the FAQ, but also the site’s inclusion in Euan’s Guide for disabled access reviews. While it’s far from the only site to do so, Exit Games UK is not aware of anything quite like this Disabled Access Day before and this would appear to be an instant example of best practice, well worth consideration by sites up and down the country. If you want to see whether the site is right for you, e-mail Can You Escape? first because only a limited number of spaces are available.
  • April is set to be busy, busy, busy, though in a very good way. From 1st to 3rd April, Now Play This returns to the New Wing of Somerset House in London. It’s not clear what will be on the line-up this year as the open call is in progress; “This year we’re particularly keen on things with interesting controllers, games which deal with utopias, play in a city context, and work which encourages player creativity – but games outside these themes are also welcome.” The event is part of the larger London Games Festival, “running from 1 to 10 April 2016, the festival includes 15 official events across 10 different locations” – perhaps something exit game-related might be appropriate for the Festival Fringe?
  • The Canadian Caper will be running on April 9th at the Arts & Letters Club in Toronto. “A one-day only escape experience for up to 15 teams of six ((though it’s not immediately clear whether it’s 15 teams per show or 15 teams total over the three shows.)) This is very much an escape game. There will be puzzles to solve. Solving puzzles will allow you to progress through the space into new rooms where you will find new challenges and new puzzles. Ultimately your goal is to physically escape the space. Unlike a traditional escape game though there will also be actors that teams will need to interact with to gain information.” The first episode in the series was put on by a number of bloggers and their very talented friends; us UK types can just dream and be jealous, for it sounds hugely cool and it is delightful that the first episode is not just a one-off.
  • We don’t have it so bad in the UK, though; Saturday 16th April sees the Springtime Hunt in Shrewsbury organised by the Armchair Treasure Hunt Club. “Everyone is welcome to come along and compete, whether you are a member of the club or whether you just enjoy competing in treasure hunts. Gather for the hunt at 10am for an 11am start, and it’ll probably be about tea time when the treasure is unearthed. The £25 entry fee includes lunch as well as the hunt and its prizes. Go to the club’s website for more details of how to book your place.
  • Never enough, never enough; Up The Game happens two days later. “On the 18th of April Amsterdam will host the first international Escape Room & Real Life Gaming Conference.” Their speaker list is extremely exciting with speakers from several countries. While the early bird tickets have sold out, you can still buy Advance tickets at €100 each, plus a small booking fee, plus the Dutch version of VAT, which by the way has the charming acronym of BTW.
  • Last year, this site proposed an industry meeting at the forthcoming live The Crystal Maze attraction; while all 32 tickets have been sold (and there are already names at the top of the waiting list) it’s going to take place on Tuesday 26th April. Maybe something else interesting might be happening around that time too, you never know
  • And that’s not even referring to DASH 8, set to take place in cities around the world on Saturday 30th April!

What other events is this site missing?

Wrapping up the 2015 World Puzzle and Sudoku Championships

World Puzzle and Sudoku Championships 2015 logoLooking through older posts, the preview post for the 2015 World Puzzle and Sudoku Championships has been left hanging without a review for a couple of months. Here’s a quick summary of the scores from Sofia.

The sudoku championship was won by Kota Morinshi of Japan, who was number one going into the play-off as well as coming out of it, with the Japanese team victorious ahead of China and the Czech Republic. Silver medallists China took the top three places in the under-18 rankings, as strong a sign for the future as there can be. The UK finished eighth, taking the top two places in the over-50 rankings; David McNeill defended his over-50 title from 2014 and Mark Goodliffe was not far behind.

In the puzzle championship, three-time defending world champion Ulrich Voigt took a commanding lead into the play-off final, but Japan’s Endo Ken overtook him in the play-offs to take the title for the first time. (There is some discrepancy in the conversion of Japanese names to Western counterparts, but this site tends to consider it polite to prefer the name ordering that he chooses himself; this year, at least, he could just be referred to as Champ.) The under-18 title was won by Yanzhe Qiu of China for a third successive year, finishing ninth overall. This site calls search engine dibs on the phrase “future World Champion Yanzhe Qiu”.

The UK team finished seventh, within a gnat’s Kropki of equalling their best ever performance of sixth, and David McNeill won the over-50 title for both puzzles and sudoku. Congratulations to all the participants; I’m pretty sure that the UK teams are largely happy with their performances this year. If there’s a disappointment from an outside perspective, it’s that there wasn’t nearly as much coverage of the event as I’d have liked; Endo Ken has written up his experiences in English, modestly and honourably noting that he only won the play-off rather than the body of the tournament, but there’s little otherwise to share, unless you know otherwise.

At the risk of being a little reductive, possibly the easiest and most accessible way to enjoy the championship as sport is to consider it a contest between nations. 24 nations sent “A” teams of four solvers, each of whom scored points over 11 rounds of competition. These four solvers’ totals are added, along with the team’s results from three rounds of team competition, to produce an overall total score which determines the national placements. (As well as the 24 “A” teams, there were also 11 national “B” teams, 3 national “C” teams and 8 “United Nations” transnational teams, for 46 teams in total. By comparison, the German B-team would have beaten all but two of the national “A” teams, and the Japan B-team would have beaten all but five.) Here are those national totals:

			1st	2nd	3rd	4th	Total	Team	Grand Total
1	Germany		5910	4380	4055	3940	18285	7940	26225
2	Japan		5475	4630	4620	3325	18050	6680	24730
3	USA		5055	4150	3605	3225	16035	7780	23815
4	Hungary		4610	4365	3525	2708	15208	6180	21388
5	Czech Republic	4025	3500	3435	3260	14220	6060	20280
6	Slovakia	3880	3700	3637	2585	13802	5140	18942
7	UK		3725	3280	2765	2745	12515	6340	18855
8	Poland		4105	3790	2815	2135	12845	4800	17645
9	Serbia		4460	2190	2190	1965	10805	6260	17065
10	India		3805	2830	2640	2210	11485	5500	16985
11	France		3205	2955	2505	2490	11155	5660	16815
12	Netherlands	4625	3080	2395	1230	11330	5100	16430
13	Turkey		3215	3155	2150	2020	10540	3600	14140
14	China		4505	2230	1895	1525	10155	3700	13855
15	Romania		3240	2005	1730	765	7740	3500	11240
16	Italy		2490	1900	1660	1630	7680	3100	10780
17	Estonia		3160	2075	1600	600	7435	2800	10235
18	Greece		2230	1825	1500	1140	6695	2200	8895
19	Russia		2125	2060	1340	865	6390	2500	8890
20	Switzerland	1995	1645	1305	990	5935	1700	7635
21	Croatia		2235	1555	1135	735	5660	1400	7060
22	Finland		2890	1440	1415	1025	6770	0	6770
23	Bulgaria	1015	865	725	375	2980	800	3780
24	Korea		625	570	335	230	1760	800	2560

Back in October, this site proposed some odds, just for fun, and wasn’t too far off. True, the prediction was for Germany to only be second favourite, narrowly behind Japan, and was for the Czech Republic to be joint seventh rather than fifth. It gets a bit too close to being personal to say “If only _______ hadn’t got such-and-such a puzzle wrong!” Other than that, this site’s top seven is not looking too bad!

The 2016 championships will take place in Senec in south-west Slovakia. Fly to Vienna in Austria then travel fifty miles East and you’ll get to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia; another ten miles or so further and Senec will serenade you. The first chance to qualify for the UK teams for 2016 will be face-to-face at the UK Open Puzzle and Sudoku championships at their usual home of the the Selsdon Park Hotel near Croydon on 27th-28th February, with the top two finishers in each contest winning their places on the team!

Meet the teams

UK teams at the 2011 World Sudoku and Puzzle Championships

The UK teams at the 2011 World Sudoku and Puzzle Championships in Eger, Hungary

The first-choice teams have been announced for the UK’s representatives at this year’s World Sudoku and Puzzle Championships, taking place in mid-October in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The Sudoku team is as follows:
– David McNeill (Reigning World Senior Sudoku Champion)
– Heather Golding (winner, UK Sudoku Championship 2015)
– Tom Collyer (winner, UK Open Sudoku Championship 2013, multiple-time setter)
– Mark Goodliffe (winner, Times Sudoku Championship 2014)

1st reserve: Neil Zussman
2nd reserve: Michael Collins

While everybody has been too right-minded to say anything foolish, the continued and repeated success of women in sudoku competitions worldwide would surely shoot down at a stroke any stray sexists who wanted to make an issue, where none exists, of the differences between men’s and women’s ability at competitive puzzles.

The Puzzle team is as follows:

– James McGowan
– Neil Zussman
– David McNeill
– Tom Collyer

1st reserve: Mark Goodliffe
2nd reserve: Emma McCaughan

The puzzle team looks at least as strong as the UK has ever had. The UK’s best performance at a World Puzzle Championship (sixth in 2013) was with that line-up except for Thomas Powell instead of David McNeill – and McNeill, as well as clearly being on great form, has been the top UK solver at the WPC four times out of his five appearances.

This is the UK team that Exit Games UK has long hoped for. The puzzles are getting harder and the standard is getting stronger; you need to run ever faster just to keep up. When this site predicted a 35% chance that the UK team produces its best performance in the next World Puzzle Championship, beating its previous best of sixth from the twenty national “A” teams in Beijing in 2013, it hoped to see a line-up just like that one to break the national record.

The very best of British luck to both teams!

UK Puzzle Championship 2015: the stats

Latest UK Puzzle Association logoFour weeks ago, this site previewed the UK Puzzle Championship taking place that weekend. The results have been published and this site congratulates everyone who is happy with their result.

The biggest congratulations of all go to James McGowan, the 2015 (and, overall, four-time!) UK champion; the UK podium exactly matched the one from the previous year, with all three performances proving extremely competitive in global terms. The number of UK participants on the scoreboard was a little down, from 20, 22, 23 and 25 in recent years to 20 this year. Good to see four first-timers taking part this year; the slight drop in numbers might be attributed to some of the regulars having to miss a year. (We’re down to six ever-presents now…)

In fact, we can continue to update a year-on-year chart of UKPC performances, in the style of Tim Peeters’ charts:

 201120122013 20142015BestTimes
James McGowan1121115
Neil Zussman 212214
David McNeill23   22
Tom Collyer8643335
Steve Barge3 35 33
Michael Collins9469745
Emma McCaughan610811445
Thomas Powell 1257444
Adam Dewbery 13 4 42
Ronald4    41
Roderick Grafton1251010955
Paul Redman5    51
Nick Gardner 106  62
Adam Bissett  136 62
Saul Glasman    661
Nick Deller107 151174
Eva Myers147 161274
Mark Goodliffe7 13131574
AJ Moore  971973
Ben Neumann    881
Chris M. Dickson1018192217105
Paul Slater   1310102
Gareth Moore16 11 13112
Chris Nash  11  111
Heather Golding   12 121
tom123513    131
Anthea McMillan  151714143
Liane Robinson1514   142
Timothy Luffingham 14   141
Kenneth Wilshire18201621 164
Robin Walters 1718 16163
Sam Boden 161719 163
Abigial See17    171
Alison Scott   18 181
Chris Harrison    18181
blueingreen19    191
quixote 19   191
Andrew Brown20 21  202
Laurence May 20   201
United Kingdom  20  201
David Cook   20 201
Jonathan Wilson    20201
Eilidh McKemmie 22   221
Gary Male  22  221
River Edis-Smith  23  231
Daniel Cohen   23 231
Abdul Hadi Khan   24 241
shirehorse1   25 251

Errors and omissions excepted and corrections are welcome; note that this site declines to split places between players on equal scores on the “time left” tie-breaker. Many thanks to everyone who has been involved with setting the puzzles or organising the contest over the years, especially serial compiler Liane Robinson.

There’s one online puzzle contest taking place this weekend: the eighth and final round of the World Puzzle Federation’s Sudoku Grand Prix. The instruction booklet for the 1½-hour round is available – coincidentally, also set by UK organisers! – and the puzzles will be available to solve until Monday evening.

Mid-July news

Rolled-up newspaperA jumble of short news stories this time:

  • After recently moving to Caledonian Road, clueQuest have opened two more “Plan 52” rooms between Thursdays and Sundays, to go with their first two open daily. Additionally, they have released plans to expand further with a new game, Revenge of the Sheep; a trailer video reveals a little more. There’s still one free trial spot left for 3:30pm on Wednesday; apply via their Facebook page.
  • Tomorrow is the second Tuesday of the month, which makes it Puzzled Pint day around the world, notably in London. This month represents the fifth anniversary of the event starting and the theme reflects its Portland origin. Solve the latest location puzzle to find out where the London East and London West groups will be meeting. London East has a few spaces left (tickets are free, but run out to limit numbers) – London West has no limits other than those imposed by the space of the bar.
  • As previously discussed, there are still a few hours left to take part in the UK Puzzle Association‘s annual online UK sudoku championship. Start by 11:59pm tonight and you have two hours to solve as many of the sudoku and variants as you can, with the top two qualifying for the UK team for the World Sudoku Championship later in the year.
  • The Exeter Express and Echo had a news story a little while ago about an upcoming exit game there. If you’re in town, you might be interested in this Kickstarter campaign; the town had a pop-up board games café for three months in a temporary location and are now crowdfunding to set up for good. An exit game and a board game café would make for a very fun town.
  • Also as previously discussed, the Kickstarter campaign for Hyde only has three days to go, and the impressive £12,000 of pledges raised is sadly only about a quarter of what the campaign needs to fund. The creators have plans for a dark maze that they could make in practice with current technology this year; while it’s not the same thing, perhaps success there may help sell people on the concept for a second attempt to crowdfund while there isn’t a 500-pound gorilla being funded at the same time.

News round-up: convention, DASH 7 video and sudoku championships

News round-upLots going on at the moment. Normally this would be three separate posts, but there’s so much else to write about!

1) This site recently mentioned the Escape Games Convention in Stuttgart, Germany on 4th September. Katharina Wulf of co-hosts ExitVentures (who are apparently putting together a printed German-language magazine) wrote on a forum as follows:

We (as the oragnizing team) are trying to make it valuable to come for English speaking people as well. Here some information in English: One highlight will be the talk of Attila Gyurkovics. He is the first operator of live escape games in Europe with ParaPark (Budapest) and the first one who developed live escape games on the basis of flow theory. Attila Gyurkovics will talk about his experience and his future visions. Prof. Nicholson (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada) will give scientific insights into the field and an overview over the North American market via video message.

((…)) In addition there will be some workshops focusing on following topics: “Live escape games next level” (about innovative new room concepts) and “Live escape games association” (about the creation of common structures for the industry in Germany). ((…)) The video message from Prof. Nicholson and the speech from Attila Gyurkovics will be in English. Beside that we will offer the workshops in English, too. Furthermore we will be able to provide you with information in English for the other agenda items. In the session the participants will elaborate relevant topics in small groups. This can be realized in German or English.

It’s looking ever more tempting, especially for us non-German-speakers!

2) The UK Puzzle Association are running their annual UK Sudoku Championship online this weekend. Start after midday on Thursday, up until the end of Monday, and you have a two-hour window of your choice to score points by solving the 17 sudoku and sudoku variant puzzles. The top two finishers will earn places on the UK team for the World Sudoku Championship. It’s always a great contest for sudoku fans and there are no charges for taking part.

3) Lastly, back at DASH 7, Yasmin Curren took extensive video through the day. She has taken weeks of hard work, for which we’re all surely very grateful, to apply her magic; the results are a spectacular three-minute summary of the fun to be had, though perhaps the puzzles – being less telegenic – have to take second place. Be sure to look out for the Quidditch, Wronski Feint and all:

Your country needs you

Latest UK Puzzle Association logoNext weekend, the UK Puzzle Association will be holding its annual UK Puzzle Championship. This takes place online, it’s free to enter and it’s open to everyone in the world. You should enter.

Clear yourself a 2½ hour window at a time of your choosing between noon on Friday 26th June and 2am on Tuesday 30th June. (Both times are quoted as British Summer Time; you can start at any point up to 11:30pm on Monday 29th June, so you have 3½ days.) During that time, you aim to score as many points as possible by solving the 28 puzzles, submitting your answers on a web form as you go.

The puzzles are a mixture of logic puzzles, arithmetic puzzles and word puzzles. Go to the contest page and download the instruction booklet which tells you what sorts of puzzles that there are on offer this year. Maybe you can find ways to practice some of them, or puzzles like the ones in the contest, but some are original and working out how to solve them is part of the fun.

There are plenty of online puzzle contests in the calendar; however, the UK Puzzle Championship has been my favourite or second favourite of the year for several years running. It’s deliberately accessible, so as many people as possible can enjoy the thrill of proving to themselves that they really can solve puzzles that looked impossible at first. Normally I finish about three or four places from the bottom (which used to be good when there were only half a dozen UK entrants at the start, but these days there are something like two dozen, so it’s rather less good) but even so I have had a great deal of fun along the way – and you can too, no matter how little you rate your own puzzle solving skills.

Why does your country need you? Well, the UK Puzzle Association uses this as a qualifying tournament for its team at the World Puzzle Championship, which this year will be held in Sofia in Bulgaria in mid-October. Last year’s event was in Croydon here in the UK; this site covered the event extensively. Opportunities to represent your country in meaningful global competition come rarely; puzzle fans, there are no better ones!

Coming up this weekend: the UK Open Sudoku and UK Open Puzzle Tournaments

Selsdon Park HotelThis post is a little closer to a repeat than usual, but it’s an important topic and there’s easily sufficient new information to be worth a nudge.

As previously discussed, this weekend sees the UK Puzzle Association‘s annual UK Open tournaments in sudoku and puzzles. At the top end, this event will qualify two members of each UK team for October’s World Championships in puzzles and sudoku, this year taking place in Sudoku Sofia (what a Freudian slip)! in Bulgaria. For the rest of us, it’s a weekend of good company and fun in-person puzzle competitions.

The sudoku tournament happens on the Saturday between 10:30am and 3pm; the puzzle tournament has its first session between 4pm and 6:30pm on Saturday and its second session between 10am and 4pm on Sunday. There will be a communal meal after the Saturday session and the reports of the catering from the World Championships (and the previous year’s UK Open) were very favourable.

The instruction booklets for the four rounds of the sudoku competition and the six rounds of the puzzle competition have been published. They look superb. Additionally, there are two team rounds, the details of which are yet to be published. Round six of the puzzle competition looks particularly interesting: standard examples of eight different puzzle formats, but the gimmick is that you go on to transfer your answers to the grid of a metapuzzle, which can then be solved for extra points.

In-person puzzle events are always fun; this one particularly caters for those towards the competitive end of the scale. It’s very probably too late to get involved this year, but if you haven’t done so already, do take a look and see if it tickles your fancy. (This site eagerly – and jealously – awaits reports of just how much fun it turned out to be!) There’s always next year for the next in-person UK Open, and there will also be the online UK championships in puzzles and sudoku coming up, probably over the next two or three months.

Events to enjoy in March and May

many-handsSo this photo represents either many hands making light work, or a little-known hundred-player team puzzle. (Perhaps a puzzle where the players are rooted to their various spots but still have to transport items around the room from where they are located to where they are needed?)

There are fewer than a hundred days remaining until the scheduled global date for the seventh DASH puzzle hunt. The same stories, puzzles and (effectively) hunt will be played in locations across the US and also London; the London leg saw eight teams in 2013 and 21 in 2014. This was before Puzzled Pint started to get anything like the traction that it has done in recent months, so it’s hard to know just how big London DASH might get – or, if there is a 25-team limit like last year, how soon it might sell out. A recent post suggests that DASH 7 will be played in at least fourteen locations so far, with a couple of DASH usual suspects (including previously-ever-present Los Angeles) still to check in. Still time for other cities to join the party, including if anyone wants to run one elsewhere in the UK, but the deadline for city registration is March 15th.

Fingers crossed – but no inside information – that the theme of the event gets revealed reasonably soon after that, and team registration starts not much later still. Last year, team registration opened just under two months before the event, so maybe it’s time to think about whether you want to play, and who you might want to play with. Whatever happens, if you’d rather help out than play, the London team will be sure to welcome playtesters and (particularly) on-the-day volunteers; they’ll ask for expressions of interest very soon.

Before then, though, is the UK Open weekend, taking place in person at the Selsdon Park Hotel and Golf Club in East Croydon. This will feature a sudoku championship on Saturday 21st March and a puzzle championship stretching over Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd March. The UK teams for the 2015 world championships (taking place in Sofia, Bulgaria in October) will be decided in part by performance at these tournaments.

Apparently there are 40 registrations so far, making this the largest UK Open event to date by quite some distance, and strong testament to just how successful the World Championships held by the UK team at the same venue the previous year were. (Over 10% of registrations come from overseas, hence the second part of the title UK Open, representing quite some commitment.) It’s still possible to book, though the block room booking has been made and remaining accommodation is subject to the general availability at the hotel.

They’ve both been spectacular in the past and are both very likely to be tremendous again this year. Pick your favourite, or play them both!