24 hour Puzzle Championship preview

Two clock facesI have long held a suspicion that Hungary is home to one of the coolest puzzle communities of them all, and this provides yet more evidence why.

Next weekend sees the 14th “24 hour Puzzle Championship” take place in Budapest, Hungary. In recent years this event has been annual in the autumn, but 2013 was a fallow year and the schedule seems to have sprung to spring. Between 10am on Saturday 22nd March and 10am on Sunday 23rd March, participants sit 13 individual 100-minute puzzle contests; the remaining 140 minutes of the 1440 are taken up with ten 10-minute comfort breaks and two 20-minute meal breaks between rounds. The contests are in culture-free language-neutral logic puzzles, and you can see the instruction booklets in advance to see what sorts of puzzles there will be.

In practice, there are 14 different papers sat over the 24-hour period. Many of the participants will have written, or at least co-written, one of them, so everybody skips one of the thirteen (very probably the one that they wrote themself) and solves the fourteenth instead. Each paper will feature typically around 20-25 different puzzles, normally of around 10-15 different types. Scoring is normalised so that unusually hard or easy papers do not have an excessive effect on the overall result.

This year, there look to be at least 31 participants from 12 countries, which is fairly typical. Four of them come from the UK, all veterans of top-level competition at the World Puzzle Championship. Liane Robinson has experienced the extreme exhaustion several times and has written about her experience in 2010. Sounds like a contest and an experience like no other. One for a future year, perhaps.

The other reason why this is particularly cool is that the Hungarian organiser is also a big fan of exit games, and indeed of taking the opportunity to participate in (presumably not all of!) Budapest’s 44 exit games. Gyorgy writesWe’re also please to organise your extended stay in Budapest e.g. if you want to visit some logical live-action games […] So, if you want to do some extra mental games, we’re more than happy to reserve a place in one of the dozen great places – and we can also delegate some Hungarian puzzlers if you don’t have enough friends to form a team for these games.” This might even be a way to get to enjoy the exit games of Budapest without speaking Hungarian, if you’re in the sort of company who would enjoy translating and interpreting the content.

It’s rare to trigger both the “puzzle event” and “exit game” focuses of this site, but the 24 hour Puzzle Championship is one of a kind!

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