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Archive for the Category "Number puzzles"

Could you be Black Rod? Nov 12

The post is a high-profile and challenging one suitable for someone at a senior level in the public or private sectors with proven leadership and administrative skills. The ability to work in a complex political environment, and experience in the area of security, are essential.

So says the job ad in theguardian seeking a replacement for Sir Michael Willcocks, who retires next April. The job will be a scaled-down version of the current role, according to the Telegraph, retaining ceremonial duties – and, judging by the job ad, security responsibilities – but passing the running of the Lords to a new director general.

Still, a senior civil service salary and the chance to dress up in tights and wave a big staff around aren’t to be sniffed at.

Equally cursed and blessed Jul 24

Despite what I thought was a good showing in the regional heat, I didn’t make it to the final of the Independent‘s sudoku championship – the eventual winner was 27-year-old Becky Hewitt, last year’s winner Edward Billig having erred in the semi-final. (Reassuringly, the runner-up was a 16-year-old – we were disappointed by the lack of a teenage prodigy last year.)

My own number puzzling is on hiatus as I’ve stopped buying a newspaper in order to concentrate on reading books during my daily commute.

The competitive streak is still there, though, so I have a couple of auditions for TV shows in August. It’s been a few year’s since I was last on a quiz show so hopefully I’ll do well enough to get another go. Fingers crossed.

Regional heat in the nationwide heat Jun 07

Today was the day of my sudoku heat – it turned out it was the very last regional final in this year’s Independent Sudoku Grand Master Championship.

Having killed time after work in the National Library and had a dinner of traditional brain food – at Burger King – I headed off to find the hotel where the heat was being held. I walked up Leith Street and on to Leith Walk and could feel the heat and the air pollution from the major A-road making my already sore throat dry and my eyes start to react. I soldiered on but failed to find the hotel. Only once I had walked down a steep flight of steps, back up a steepish road and completely doubled back on myself did I realise I’d walked straight past it. I then proceeded to get slightly lost in the maze of corridors within the hotel. Not a good start.

Nevertheless, I got there with plenty of time to spare and registered. We had ten minutes to late so I worked on theguardian‘s quick crossword and kakuro puzzle to pass the time. A few people passed out from the previous session. Before long, we were ushered into the exam room.

The format was the same as last year, although there were fewer people in my session. It was exam conditions, 45 minutes to complete four standard 9×9 sudoku grids, the fastest 60 nationwide going through to the final in London in July.

Almost immediately I was tempted to put a number in the wrong place but stopped myself. Quickly adjusted eyes to the size of the grids (it matters) and rattled through the first two puzzles. The third was the tricksiest, although only because I wrote the wrong number in one square and, although I realised straight away, it then distracted me whenever I looked at that column. More haste, less speed – but when you’re against the clock it’s risky to go slower. The fourth puzzle pleasingly straightforward and I was done. I briefly considered checking through all the grids but decided it would take too much time: if they were right, I’d have lost valuable seconds; if wrong, they’d take so long to fix I’d probably be out of the running anyway.

I was the first to finish of the ten or so people in the room, taking somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes. Picked up my goody bag, which included a t-shirt to complement last year’s and a nice pen and pencil, and headed towards the station. I had that sudden post-match rush as I walked, realising my heart was pounding from the mental exertion, and recalled having exactly the same feeling after last time. I didn’t qualify for the final then, but I’m sure I did better this year – although that just means I’ll be more disappointed if I miss out again. The fewer entrants this year could mean fewer hardcore sudokuists – or it could mean fewer casual players.

All in all, quite an exciting day – and the week’s not over yet.

Sudoku heat May 13

I received a letter today from The Indepdendent telling me that I’ve qualified for the regional final of their national sudoku grandmaster championship. This is as far as I made it last year, and progress will be harder this time as there are 60, rather than 100, places in the final. I have a few weeks before the regional heat so I’ll be practising away…