It’s World Puzzle Championship week

This year’s World Sudoku and Puzzle Championships are taking place in Bangalore in India. There can’t be as much coverage of this year’s event on Ex Exit Games as there has been of previous years’ events, but it shouldn’t go unmentioned altogether.

The World Sudoku Championship has finished. UK team member Tom Collyer writes: “the competition is over now, and congratulations go to Kota Morinishi who took a 3rd world title by the equivalent of a small fraction of one puzzle amongst 100s to edge out the previous champion Tiit Vunk. The team title was taken by the youthful and equally charming Chinese team. UK finished 6th overall, which I believe is an equal best showing. Individual results have David at 17th, myself at 30th, Mark at 32nd and Heather at 41st – which I think also represents our strongest showing for a while. Thanks to the Indian organisers for putting out a varied and high quality set of puzzles!

The World Puzzle Championship starts tomorrow. The UK A team is strong: Adam Bissett, James McGowan, David McNeill and Neil Zussman; James and Adam won their places at the online UK Puzzle Championship and Neil and David won their places at the in-person UK Open Puzzle Championship. (Tom Collyer, who wrote the above piece, finished third in both.) If people are in form, and the signs from both A and B teams in the sudoku event are highly promising, then perhaps an equal best showing in the puzzle championship might be within reach, which would be a highly impressive achievement. Every year I tip Japan for the team world championship and Germany win, but looking at the line-ups, I’m going to tip Japan again.

You can take a look at the instruction booklet for the World Puzzle Championship to see what sorts of puzzles they’ll face. I get the impression that the duration of the puzzles is high this year, even by World Championship standards, and the location of India has brought some teams to participate this year who appear less frequently. I think New Zealand are first-timers, Korea are sending a great number of teams, and while this may say more about my memory than anything else, I don’t recall seeing Bangladesh, Iran or the Phillipines represented (at least, in the World Sudoku Championship) in the past. Welcome!

October links

A golden chain of linksA few news stories that have been doing the rounds recently, courtesy of – in no order – Ken from The Logic Escapes Me, Dean from Escape Review and the denizens of (mostly the #uk-general channel of) the escape room Slack chat:

  • An interview with Tom Lionetti-Maguire of Little Lion Entertainment, the people behind both The Crystal Maze Live Experience venues. One crucial quote: “We will potentially be opening more Crystal Maze live venues. And we’ve got lots of new, exciting projects with Little Lion Entertainment, not just in the UK but hopefully abroad too. It’s a really exciting time for us. Hopefully we can announce some stuff early next year.
  • I really enjoyed this piece from Nowescape about ten reasonably closely-linked alternatives to escape rooms. Less closely linked, I would add Branson Tracks of Montana who permit go-karting on a track with hefty rises and falls, as a step towards a Mario Kart vibe, or at least 1988’s Power Drift.
  • There have been a couple of attempts to run events which would seem to have quite a bit in common with running-from-location-to-location puzzle hunts, sold as corporate challenges, but unfortunately neither seem to have stuck. (I don’t know why.) At least the Breakout Bristol web site is still up; the mooted We Are Not Alone event in Leeds seems to have had its tracks covered, with the only evidence for it remaining is this post on the UK Escape Room Enthusiasts Facebook group. There’s a spectrum between purely athletic, non-mental running races and purely mental, non-athletic puzzle hunts, with steps along the way including orienteering and the Intelligent Sport adventure races with incidental puzzles. These looked extremely relevant and interesting. Fingers crossed that someone can make them stick in the UK at some point down the line.
  • CluedUpp run dectective “Manhunt” games in towns across the UK, which feature city centre walking tours combined with operation of a custom Android (only, at this point) app. “On the day you’ll be competing with up to 100 other teams to track down virtual witnesses, eliminate suspects and rule-out murder weapons all across town. It’s like Cluedo meets Pokemon Go, but will your team work out whodunit?​
  • A company from East Kilbride called have a noisy web site detailing their espoinage-themed puzzle-solving games, which are apparently available to play from participating restaurants and hotels. Trouble is, it’s not clear where these might be. If you know, do comment below.
  • Professor Scott Nicholson recently appeared on episode 159 of the Ludology podcast. “Gil and Geoff are pleased to welcome Professor Scott Nicholson from Wilfrid Laurier University to discuss Escape Rooms. What are they, how do they work, and what lessons do they hold for game design?” Scott discussed Wizard Quest of Wisconsin Dells in passing, which is a long-term background interest. He is also rather more explicit in his views than most about the potential for mainstream leisure-focused escape rooms being on a bubble of popularity. I’m not sure I’d go along with that, but I have privately called the top of the UK market already several times and been wrong each time.
  • A date for the DASH 10 puzzle hunt has been announced: Saturday, September 22, 2018. The first DASH took place in September 2009 but DASHes 2-9 were all Spring events. No indication when DASH 11 might be; many thanks, as ever, to everyone who works on the project to bring the game to the people.
  • Lastly, congratulations to Tom Collyer who won the Times Sudoku Championship last month and wrote up his experience for his blog.