World Puzzle Championship 2009 Experience by Harmeet

The 18th World Puzzle Championship (WPC) was held in Antalya, Turkey. Antalya is a beautiful city with a population of less than a million. It is a tourist city, very scenic and the weather is like Goa.
Indian Team at 18th World Puzzle Championship 2009 Antalya Turkey
Team India arrived at the Antalya Airport in the afternoon of 3rd November. At the same time, a five-member team from Greece also arrived. They were the first time participants in this event and were quite excited about it. The organizers had arranged a minibus for us to reach the hotel. It took about 15 minutes and we all arrived at the Hotel Delphin Diva. It was fabulous. There was a banner of the championship at the entrance and many volunteers from the organizing team waiting to receive different teams. We got our competition badges, the championship kits and of course the rooms in the hotel. It was on a twin sharing basis. The hotel was like a resort and we were free to use all the hotel facilities from pool to gym to tennis courts.
Welcome Party during 18th World Puzzle Championship 2009 Antalya Turkey
Jaipal and Harmeet moved to one room with the luggage and Puneet and Lovely to another. It was 2:30 and the lunchtime was about to get over. So we rushed to the dining place and had our lunch. From the past experiences, all the guys had a very limited expectation on the food quality but to our surprise, there was plenty of variety. Even vegetarians like Puneet and myself managed to get something or the other to eat. After lunch, we were tempted to take a stroll towards the beach. Lovely had plans of going for paragliding and water scooter after the championship. We also played some table tennis that evening and returned to our rooms for a bath and got ready for the welcome party at night. Most participants had arrived by that time and each team occupied a standing table. We got to know of different teams and slowly the feel for the championship ignited. 
The next day was supposed to be a day for an excursion. But Antalya faced a strong storm throughout the day and the tour was cancelled. The organizers asked us if we are interested to go for a tour to the archaeological museum but we thought of spending our time in a nearby mall and thereafter start practising for the tournament. That evening we got our act together and browsed through the instruction booklet. We prepared for the Question & Answer session which was held in the evening. it ran for nearly two hours. We were told of the sitting arrangements, visual rounds and answer submitting mechanism via the remote system. That night all four of us prepared for various rounds and we were awake till 2 am. 
The 5th of November was the D-day. We got up in time, got ready, had breakfast and rushed to the Auditorium for the first round of the competition.

Round 1 Team Round (Snake in the Woods)
Snake Round at 18th World Puzzle Championship 2009 Antalya Turkey
It was a team round where we had to place snake pieces on a 3D grid. The points were given for the longest non-touching snake. We had an OK performance in this round and got a 94-square long snake. The long snake was made by Hungary's team (112 square long). There was no break and in ten minutes we had to get ready with the first individual round.

Round 2 (Sprint)
It wasn't a good round at all for team India (except for Jaipal). The puzzles were easy but our ambitions got us over. We tried too much resulting in making mistakes. The highest scorer was Peter Hudak who scored 14 out of 15 puzzles correctly in 20 minutes.
Round 3 (Classics)
This was a round of 20 classics puzzles including ABC, skyscrapers, magnets etc. We had a poor show in this round. The primary reason for this was we carried forward our disappointments of the previous round. None of us could even attempt more than 100 points. On top of that, there were quite many mistakes committed in this round. Consider the following: 17 of the 18 stars in the star battle puzzle were placed correctly leading to 0 points no doubt. This round had no doubt had some of the most beautiful puzzles. Lovely ranked 85th in this round.
Round 4 (Optimization)
18th World Puzzle Championship 2009 Antalya Turkey individual Round
This round was much relieving. It had three optimization puzzles to work out in 30 minutes. The puzzles were easy and competitors scored a lot in this. By this time we realized that our mistakes were causing the below-par performance. Lovely ranked 45th in this round. There was a lunch break and we assembled in the hall once again after one hour. 
Round 5 (Innovative)
This round had a new type of puzzles (23 in number). It included puzzles like Prime snake, Hang Up, Common Group Max and several other new types of puzzles. It was this round where Ulrich Voigt and Michael Ley top scored. Lovely ranked 83rd in this round. 
Round 6 (Screen Test)
It was a visual round of 15 puzzles to make equations right. In this round, we had to write answers within 30 seconds in the answer sheet and then the next puzzle used to appear. Puneet had the disadvantage of being seated in the front row and had to really strain his eyes to see from one side of the board to the other. Some equations were quite easy like remove/add one match stick. But the others were quite difficult where one had to move two match sticks thereby remembering and writing 4 locations. Lovely and Jaipal equally ranked 58th in this round.
Round 7 (Battleships)
We got bowled over in this round. There were 4 battleship cards to be arranged in sequence and solved. The grid size and the fleet was of-course bigger than given in the instruction booklet. We all managed to get the sequence right but none could solve a single battleship in time.
Round 8 Team Round (Weakest link)
This was one of the most engrossing team round. We had to solve the 4 encrypted Kakuro variations before proceeding for the Oru-Kakuro. Together we solved 4 out of 16 puzzles and were close to solving another 4. None of the teams managed to solve Oru-kakuro and Team India stood 15th in this round.
There was one mini-competition called Karala Cup that was held at 9pm. It was basically painted by numbers. There were two puzzles and the top 8 went to the playoff round. We could solve only one puzzle individually by the time the top eight had solved. The final was won by Michael Ley and he was handed over the first trophy of the tournament. 
The remaining 8 rounds were for November 6th. The results had started coming in. Our disappointments were obvious but we were better prepared for the next day. Without wasting much time we regained our composure and starting preparing till late in the night.
Round 9 (Assorted)
This was a visual round or rather a screen test 2. Turkish organizers had really prepared well for the visual rounds. Puneet and Jaipal scored well to equally rank 36in this round.
Round 10 (Tapa)
There were several Tapa puzzles including tapa distiller and tapa logic in this round. Our best rank in this round was 75th (Puneet and Harmeet). 
Round 11 (Matchmaker)
This round had 8 instructions, 7 grids but only 6 possible solutions. The puzzles from Hamle, Masyu, Top heavyweight, Islands etc were part of the instructions. Philip Weiss solved them in just over 23 minutes in the allotted 60 minutes and got huge time bonus. Harmeet ranked 36th in this round.
Round 12 Team Round (Four by Four for the Four)
This round had 4 sets for 4 puzzles. Jaipal and Harmeet started off with the 4x4 minesweeper which we solved in around 15 minutes. Lovely and Puneet worked on the Black and White puzzle and they could finish two out of four. We had prior decided to attempt Mr Universe only in the end. So Jaipal and Lovely started off with Half-life and Harmeet joined Puneet for the remaining puzzles of Black and White. This was a very well planned and synchronized way of solving puzzles as a team though we could score only 22nd rank as a team. 
Round 13 (Instruction-less)
There were 6 instruction-less puzzles in this round. Some of the puzzles were quite difficult to comprehend. No one could solve it completely. Harmeet ranked 27th in this round. Puneet had one puzzle correct but was not given an appropriate score. He got to know of this only after the protests were over!
Round 14 (Best of OAPC)
This round contained some of the best puzzles from earlier 9 OAPC online competitions. Ulrich routed this round by solving all the puzzles just within time. All the four team members of Team India had nearly equal performance scoring between 170 and 180. 
Round 15 (Upgrade)
This was one of the most unique rounds where three 3X3 skyscrapers were to be upgraded to 5x5 skyscrapers by placing 6 cubes in 9 places on the grid. To add to this 3 cubes had one orientation of numbers and the other three had another. Only one guy (Derek Kisman from Canada) in the championship could solve all the three puzzles. From India Lovely scored 29th rank in this round by solving one puzzle. There were 41 puzzlers who could not score in this round. 
Round 16 Team Round (WPF)
Team Round 16 at 18th World Puzzle Championship 2009 Antalya Turkey
In this round, we had to create 6 faces where the word "puzzle" could be read in sequence. Twenty teams managed to solve this before time. We could manage only once face. A lack of experience in this round proved costly since in the hotel rooms we could independently solve this puzzle in less than 15 minutes.
We had realized that our positions and rankings this time will not be up to the mark, Nevertheless Puneet and Lovely were quite excited about another mini-event called Sudoku Cup that was held at 8:30 pm the same evening. The rules were simple. Solve 6 Classic Sudoku and the best 8 will go to the next round. Lovely narrowly missed reaching in top 8. The other three of us could manage to solve just 4 by then. The cup was won by Thomas Snyder.
Paragliding at 18th World Puzzle Championship 2009 Antalya Turkey
The third and the last day of the championship (7th November) turned out to be the most interesting one. The reason for this is explained below. We know we are out of the team and individual playoffs (writing in the most optimistic way). So we preferred to hang around. Jaipal and Harmeet went to play some Tennis and Puneet and Lovely simply went to a nearby Hotel (Delphin Palace). They also got a very good deal of paragliding for 25 Euro a person. 
Team India With World Puzzle Champion @ 18th World Puzzle Championship 2009 Antalya Turkey
We returned in the evening only to see the finals of the team round. An extremely strong Germany team scored an easy 4-0 win over Team USA. After this, it was time for the individual playoffs. The top 12 players were chosen for the playoffs. The players ranging from 7 to 12 had the first round. The winners, Peter Hudak and Zoltan Horvath were the winners who joined 3rd to 6th rank holders for the second round. The second round saw the likes of Thomas Snyder bowing out. The winners were Peter Hudak and Hideaki Jo who met Ulrich and Mehmet Sevim in the final playoff. Ulrich got the time advantage based on his score in the first two days. He started off well but got stuck in the second puzzle when his answer was given wrong by the judge. He had to wait for 1 minute before proceeding for correcting his solution. Suddenly he was seen to leave the hall in an extremely angry mood. We got to know that the solution sheet of the second puzzle was incorrect. The championship halted there. After a lot of deliberation, it was decided that the round will be played again after dinner. Everything got delayed including the press conference. Finally, the playoff happened and as expected Ulrich managed to solve all the 5 puzzles well within time. But Peter Hudak and Mehmet Sevim closely followed him by solving 4 puzzles each and attaining 2nd and 3rd position. 
18th World Puzzle Championship 2009 Antalya Turkey winners
The award ceremony was excellent. It was declared that this event was the best organized World Puzzle Championship (WPC) event ever. One of the organizing members Kamer Alyanakyan who was the general coordinator of WPC 2009 was declared to be added to the board members of World Puzzle Federation (WPF).
It was indeed a great and enriching experience. Team India has a lot of scope for improvement. We are proud to represent India at this level. And there are many more miles to go to beat the champions!

----------Further Reading----------
Do checkout below mentioned write-ups on the similar Puzzle and Sudoku events across the world
List of Puzzles and Sudoku Events

1.  World Sudoku Championship (WSC) 2009 Experience by Gaurav Korde: This is the experience written on WSC 2009 by Gaurav Korde, the best Indian Sudoku solver during that time. 

2. WSC Sofia 2015 – A retrospective by Rakesh Rai: Read about World Sudoku Championship 2015 by one of the Indian experienced player Rakesh Rai

3. Indian Puzzle Championship (IPC) 2017 by Rajesh Kumar: Read the experience of 5 times Indian Puzzle Champion Rajesh Kumar's experience of IPC 2017.

4. Bangalore Puzzle Meet August 2016: In Bangalore Puzzle solvers in the city meet regularly to learn from each other. Here is the experience of Rajesh Kumar during one such Puzzle meeting in Bangalore.

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